Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

The Strategic Issues & International Relations Forum is a venue to discuss issues pertaining to India's security environment, her strategic outlook on global affairs and as well as the effect of international relations in the Indian Subcontinent. We request members to kindly stay within the mandate of this forum and keep their exchanges of views, on a civilised level, however vehemently any disagreement may be felt. All feedback regarding forum usage may be sent to the moderators using the Feedback Form or by clicking the Report Post Icon in any objectionable post for proper action. Please note that the views expressed by the Members and Moderators on these discussion boards are that of the individuals only and do not reflect the official policy or view of the Bharat-Rakshak.com Website. Copyright Violation is strictly prohibited and may result in revocation of your posting rights - please read the FAQ for full details. Users must also abide by the Forum Guidelines at all times.
RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 20:47

I am creating this thread to focus on Kurdistan, its history, its economy, its politics and most importantly its current occupation by other nations - Turks, Iranians and Arabs.

I am of the view that Kurdistan should be the foundation of Indian power projection in West Asia. And we should do our utmost to see to it that Kurdistan becomes Independent and United.

Please contribute!

Thanks

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 20:49

X-Posted from West Asia - News & Discussions Thread

Published on Aug 09, 2011
By M.K. Bhadrakumar
Syria lays bare India’s foreign policy: Rediff Blogs
India’s predicament is going to be acute. The plain truth is that geopolitics lie at the core of the Syrian crisis. Turkey has territorial ambitions over its former colony. It also has dreams of reclaiming the Ottoman legacy in the region. The NATO wants to arrive in the heart of the Muslim Middle East, which would be a huge leap out of Europe in its journey to become the premier global security organisation. For the US and Israel, the regime change in Damascus means the weakening of Hamas and it also opens the way to isolate Iran and Hezbollah, which in turn enables Israel to regain its regional dominance. The Sunni-Shi’ite schism provides the ideal backdrop for the US to retain its regional dominance over the strategically important Arab world — ‘divide-and-rule’. The Persian Gulf autocrats are hoping that Syria would divert attention away for a long while from their own rotting parishes.

All-in-all, the decision India takes at any UN Security Council process can only be viewed as ‘ideological’ insofar as it will be about: a) India’s strategic partnership with US and the need to harmonise with US regional policies; b) India’s dependence on the Jewish lobby in the US and the military ties with Israel; and, c) India’s time-tested friendship with the Syrian regime. If India votes with a US-Israeli-Saudi-Turkish move against the Syrian regime, will it bring India closer to UN Security Council membership? No way. Does India have stakes in the Sunni-Shi’ite schism that is going to tear apart the Muslim world? Certainly not. Does India have partisan interests in the Saudi-Iranian rivalry? Unlikely — even making allowance for the Saudi/Wahhabi/petrodollar clout over the ruling Congress Party in India’s domestic politics.

Finally, what happens if there is a regime change in Syria? Will it be any better than the chaos that unfolded in Iraq or Libya? Does India have any clear-cut vision to offer for a post-Assad Syria? Not even a brave heart in South Block will claim it has one. The strong likelihood is the emergence of the Islamist forces in yet another part of the Middle Eastern landscape. In sum, India’s stance on Syria in the UN is going to be something to write home about. It will lay bare the beating heart of India’s foreign policy establishment.

M.K. Bhadrakumar opines that India does not have any strategic interest in West Asia, only ideological reasons to vote one way or the other!

Syria is up for grabs, and the decision is about retaining a Shi'ite Crescent or doing away with it. Either India would end up pissing off the Saudis, with whom our relations have improved, or pissing off the Iranians beyond the little irritation we gave them due to our vote against them in the IAEA. This pissing off would be long term!

Indians should however play our own Great Game in West Asia! And what would that Great Game in West Asia be for India?
  • India's Great Game should be to create a contiguous region of influence from India to the Mediterranean, and
  • to break up every other power of consequence on the way, and
  • to control the dynamics of the Sunni-Shia shism
  • to control energy

The powers that need to be broken up are Iran and Turkey. Why Iran? As long as Iran remains strong, Iran would consider itself as the primary power in Central Asia. This India cannot allow! The only power to hold sway in Central Asia can be India, and all other centers of power have to bow to Delhi, including Tehran! Also Turkey needs to be broken up into Turk and Kurdish areas.

The foundation of our power in West Asia should be an Independent United Kurdistan consisting of parts of Kurdistan, today spread over four countries: Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Kurdistan should be today what once the Mittanis were in ancient times.

We should consider a break-up of Syria seriously, as it would help us create Syrian Kurdistan and join it up with Iraqi Kurdistan! That would be one more part of the puzzle solved, leaving us with the part in Iran and in Turkey.

Why Kurdistan?

Kurdish belongs to the Indo-European group of languages. It is closely linked with Baluchi language, and we propose to have Baluchistan as part of India someday. The Kurds are mostly a secular group, subjugated by other Muslim ethnicities - Turks, Persians, Arabs, etc. They will be very grateful for an Indian role in their liberation. So if USA has Israel in the Middle East as its power-base, we should develop Kurdistan as our power-base.

Some day, a much smaller Iran would build the geographical link between India (Baluchistan) and Kurdistan.

We should support the Alawites to create their own country in the North-West of Syria on the Mediterranean contiguous with Syrian Kurdistan. Also Syrian Christians can move to the North-West around Antioch and get some safe haven for themselves.

Thus the Shi'ite Crescent will be broken and the linkage would be through Kurdistan, a place where India would/could have a lot of influence. So we would control how much influence Iran can exert on the Mediterranean - in Lebanon, in North-West Syria. Of course, we would allow some, for North-West Syria would also give Kurdistan access to the sea.

Some day Iran too would throw away the yoke of Theocracy and even Islam itself and embrace its Aryan and Zoroastrian roots. Some day, Iran too may become a part of the Aryan Crescent stretching from India all the way to Mediterranean.

India too should develop long-term national interests in the region! As we grow into a power, we will need all the geostrategic space we can get!

However as many Indians like M.K. Bhadrakumar are still captive to Marxism, they are unable to see any Indian national interest anywhere, and presuppose that Indians will only be sucking up to one or the other power center in the world.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 20:50

X-Posted from West Asia - News & Discussions Thread

ramana wrote:RajeshA, Might be OT but the extent of Indic thought and customs (Indic memes) in Asia is from East of Syria desert to Plain of Jars in Cambodia.

The West of the Syrian desert is out of area for Indic memes. All in between look to India for guidance for a large part of their history.

MKB has lost it long ago.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 20:51

X-Posted from West Asia - News & Discussions Thread

ramana wrote:RajeshA, Might be OT but the extent of Indic thought and customs (Indic memes) in Asia is from East of Syria desert to Plain of Jars in Cambodia.

The West of the Syrian desert is out of area for Indic memes. All in between look to India for guidance for a large part of their history.

ramana garu,

that (North-East) is about till where the Kurds are spread out, beyond that, that is why I am espousing an alliance with the Alawite-Syrian-Orthodox North-West Syrian country, separated from the Sunni Arab parts. That would bring Indian reach all the way to the Mediterranean, something I call the "Aryan Crescent".

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 20:52

X-Posted from West Asia - News & Discussions Thread

Carl wrote:
RajeshA wrote:The foundation of our power in West Asia should be an Independent United Kurdistan

RajeshA ji, thanks for highlighting the importance of the stateless, brutalized, Kurdish nation.

Good point also about the Mittani-Indic connection to that part of the world. Apart from taking geostrategic positions on the evolving turmoil in the ME, there are many other things India can do to increase its own cultural and ideological footprint in that area (instead of the reverse as the idiot MKB suggests). For one, a lot of Kurdish cultural contributions have been subsumed under the "Iranian" rubric. These need to be distinguished. For example, most of the instruments used in Dastgahi classical music are of Kurdish, not Persian, origin. We need to invite their artists and help them raise their international profile. Secondly, Zoroastrianism also resonates deeply with them, while today's Iran defines itself primarily in pan-Islamist lines in order to project its power. If the external compulsion of that pan-Islamist logic were undermined, perhaps the Persians would come around to being comfortable in their true Indo-Aryan identity. Many other religious sects in Kurdistan, both explicitly non-Moslem as well as fringe Moslem, have echoes in India. Tremendous similarity between Sikhism and a couple of Kurdish sects, for example. All these need to be encouraged, via cultural, educational and tourism channels.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 20:56

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 1

Exploring Kurdish Origins

The question of Kurdish origins, i.e., who the Kurds are and where they come from, has for too long remained an enigma. Doubtless in a few words one can respond, for example, that Kurds are the end-product of numerous layers of cultural and genetic material superimposed over thousands of years of internal migrations, immigrations, cultural innovations and importations. But identifying the roots and the course of evolution of present Kurdish ethnic identity calls for a greater effort. It calls for the study of each of the many layers of these human movements and cultural influences, as many and as early in time as is currently possible. And to achieve this, one needs to delve deep into antiquity, and debate notions as diverse as anthropology, linguistics, genetics, theology, economics and demography, not to mention simple old narrative history.

Presently, at least 5 distinct layers can be identified with various degrees of certainty.

Halaf Cultural Period

The earliest evidence thus far of a unified and distinct culture shared by the people inhabiting the Kurdish mountains relates to the period of the ‘Halaf Culture’ that began around 8000 years ago. Named after the ancient mound of Tell Halaf west of the town of Qamishli in what is now the Syrian Kurdistan, this culture is best-known for its easily recognizable style of pottery which, fortunately, was produced in abundance. Exquisitely painted, delicately designed Halaf pottery are easily distinguishable from earlier and later productions. Judging from the pottery remains alone, Halaf culture appears to have been extant between 6000 to 5400 BC, a period of about 600 years.

In fact taking Halaf pottery as a prime example, many archaeologists now point out by that shared pottery style is a simple but crucial tool in helping to classify prehistoric cultures in the Middle East. Yet, while shared pottery can imply shared culture, it can no more imply shared ethnicity for the people who produced them than shared rug designs can now. Today, for example, the Turkic Qashqai, Luric Mamasani and the Arab Baseri peoples of southern Iran all share similar rug designs. Ethno-linguistically, however, these three peoples share virtually nothing else. This fact should serve as a clear warning to those who would use shared artistic styles and plastic arts as an indication of shared ethnicity. Pottery styles must be taken in tandem with other evidence in order to make a case for shared culture and ethnicity. But, wide-spread Halafian excavation sites have much more in common than styles of pottery.

Solid evidence has now emerged indicating striking similarities in food, technology, architecture, ritual practices and ornaments, all of which merge to suggest something more substantive. Archaeologist Julian Reade, now a curator at the British Museum’s Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities thus states: "While we really know little about how the inhabitants of a Halaf village thought, let alone what languages or languages they used for thinking, and what levels of abstraction could be expressed verbally, it seems likely they had comparable social structures, sharing many of the same implicit values, and that even those who did not travel regularly many have met from time to time in a religious or administrative centers." (footnote 1)

With the aid of these archaeological criteria, J. Reade as well as M. Roaf (archaeologist and former director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, now at the University of California, Berkeley) have determined the boundaries of the Halaf culture. They coincide almost exactly with the area the ethnic Kurds still call home: from Kirmanshah to Adyaman, and from Afrin near the Mediterranean Sea to northern areas of Lake Van. The distribution of the Halaf pottery and the distribution of ethnic Kurds today are a near-perfect match. The single exception is the Mosul-Tikrit region of the Mesopotamian lowlands. (footnote 2) James Mellaart, better known for his excavation at Catal Hüyük, meanwhile, has found many of the motifs and composite designs present on the Halaf pottery and figurines still extant in the textile and decorative designs of the modern Kurds who now inhabit the same excavated Halafian sites. (footnote 3)

It is highly unlikely that the Halaf people constituted an immigrant population. According to several demographic studies, the Zagros mountains were the site of perennial population surplus and pressure from 12000 to 5000 years ago, which must have resulted in many episodes of emigration. (footnote 4) This population pressure in the Zagros-Taurus folds was a consequence of successive technological advances in domestication of common crops and animals, and resulted in a prosperous agricultural economy and trade, ergo high population density. The Halafian phenomenon is likely the result of a massive internal migration which succeeded to culturally unify the population in Kurdistan.

The fact that the Halaf Culture spread so rapidly over such a considerable distance across the rugged Kurdish mountains is thought to have been the result of the development of a new life-style and economic activity necessitating mobility, namely nomadic herding. All the pre-requisite technologies had been developed and the necessary animals, particularly the dog, had now been domesticated by the settled agriculturists. The Halafian figurines of dogs (with jaunty upcurled tails uncharacteristic of any wolf), excavated from Jarmo in central Kurdistan is the earliest definitive evidence of the development of "man’s best friend" and the herder’s most prized protection. (footnote 5) Nomadic herding has since been a very mobile cornerstone of the Zagros-Taurus cultures and societies.

Ubaid Cultural Period

The Halaf Cultural period ends with the arrival, circa 5300 BC of a new culture and, quite likely a new people: the so-called Ubaidians.

Named after the archaeological mound of al-Ubaid in modern Iraq, where their remains first excavated, the people of Ubaid culture expanded in time from the plains of Mesopotamia into the mountains. The culture of the Ubaidians, or the proto-Euphratians, as they are sometimes called, caused a hybrid culture to emerge in the mountains. This new cultural phase in Kurdistan comprised of the earlier Halafian heritage, superimposed by this new, but foreign influence. The Ubaid cultural ascendance predominated in most of Kurdistan and Mesopotamia for the ensuing 1000 years.

Of the language and ethnic affiliation of the Ubaidians we know nothing beyond the barest conjecture. However, it is they who gave the names ‘Tigris’ and ‘Euphrates’ to the primary rivers of Kurdistan and Mesopotamia. (footnote 6)

Personally, I have come to suspect that the Ubaidian people may be identical or related to the enigmatic "Khaldi." The Khaldi are well represented in ancient Kurdistan, and were time Kurdicized to survive today as many Kurdish clans and tribes bearing variations of the old name, such as the modern Khallikan.(footnote 7) The modern survivors are found precisely were the classical Graeco-Roman sources recorded the Khaldi around 2000 years ago: mainly in northern and western Kurdistan. In support of this one may note the important fact that as the Ubaidians were found in lowland Mesopotamia as also in highland Kurdistan, the same is true of the Khaldi who were found in large numbers in both regions. Like their highland branch, the lowland Khaldi were also in time assimilated. In Mesopotamia, the Ubaidians were Semitized, becoming known as the celebrated Chaldeans.

The cultural impact of the Ubaidians on the mountain communities, nonetheless, was vast, although apparently it was not particularly deep.

Hurrian Cultural Period.

By approximately 4300 BC, a new culture, and possibly a new people, came to dominate the mountains: the Hurrians.

Of the Hurrians we know much more, and the volume of our knowledge becomes greater as the time becomes more recent. We know, for example, that the Hurrians spread far and wide into the Zagros-Taurus-Pontus mountain systems, and intruded for a time also on the neighboring plains of Mesopotamia and the Iranian Plateau. However, they never expanded too far from the mountains. Their economy was surprisingly integrated and focused, along with their political bonds, which runs largely parallel with the Zagros-Taurus-Pontus mountains, rather than radiating out to the lowlands, as was the case during the preceding Ubaid cultural period. Mountain-plain economic exchanges remained secondary in importance, judging by the archaeological remains of goods and their origin.

The Hurrians spoke a language, or properly, languages, of the north-eastern group of the Caucasic family of languages, distantly related to modern Chechen, Lezgian and Lakz. Their direction of Hurrian expansion is not yet understood, and by no means should be taken as having been north-south, i.e., an expansion out of the Caucasus, as often is presumed without any evidence. It may well be that it was the prolific Hurrians who introduced Northeast Caucasian languages into the Caucasus, instead of having originated from that tiny, sparsely-populated region.

For a long time the states founded by the Hurrians remained small, until around 2500 BC when larger political-military entities evolved out of the older, Hurrian city-states. Six polities are of special note: Urartu, Mushq/Mushku, Urkish, Subar/Saubar, Baini, Guti/Qutil and Manna. The kingdom of Mushku is now believed to have brought about the final downfall of the Hittites in Anatolia. Their name survives in the city of Mush/Mus in north-central Kurdistan of Turkey. The Subaru who operated from the areas north of modern Arbil in central Kurdistan have left their name in the populous and historic Kurdish tribal confederacy of Zubari, who still inhabit the areas north of Arbil.

The Guti/Qutils of central and southern Kurdistan, after gradually unifying the smaller mountain principalities, became strong enough in 2250 BC to actually annex Sumeria and the rest of lowland Mesopotamia. A Guti/Qutil dynasty ruled Sumeria for 130 years until 2120 BC.

Four legendary emporia, Arrap’ha, Melidi Washukani and Aratta served the Hurrians in their inter-regional trade with the economies outside the mountains. With certainty, Arrap’ha is to be identified with modern Kirkuk, Melidi with Malatya, while Washukani and Aratta are probably to be identified, respectively, with the rich archaeological sites of Godin Teppa (near Kangawar in southeastern Kurdistan, Iran) and Tell Fakhariya (west of Qamishli, in west-central Kurdistan, Syria). By the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, the culture and people of Kurdistan appear to have been unified under a Hurrian identity.

The legacy of the Hurrians to the present culture of the Kurds is fundamental. It is manifest in the realm of Kurdish religion, mythology, material and martial arts, and even the genetics. Nearly three-quarters of Kurdish clan names and roughly half of topographical and urban names are also of Hurrian origin, e.g., the names of the clans of Bukhti, Tirikan, Bazayni, Bakran, Mand; rivers Murad, Balik and Khabur, lake Van; the towns of Mardin, Ziwiya and Dinawar. Mythological and religious symbols present in the art of the later Hurrian dynasties, such as the Mannaeans and Kassites of eastern Kurdistan, and the Lullus of the southeast, present in part what can still be observed in the Kurdish ancient religion of Yazdanism, better-known today by its various denominations as Alevism, Yezidism, and Yarisanism (Ahl-i Haqq).

It is fascinating to recognize the origin of many tattooing motifs still used by the traditional Kurds on their bodies as replicas of those which appear on the Hurrian figurines. One such is the combination that incorporates serpent, sun disc, dog and comb/rain motifs. In fact some of these Hurrian tattoo motifs are also present in the religious decorative arts of the Yezidi Kurds, as found most prominently at the great shrine at Lalish.

By the end of the Hurrian period, Kurdistan seem to have been culturally and ethnically homogenized to form a single civilization which was identified as such by the neighboring cultures and peoples. Sumerians, for example, called everybody in the Kurdish mountains as "Subaru," while the Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians used the term "Guti/Qutil." To the ancient Jews, they were are all the "Qarduim." All these ancient appellations have modern representatives in the names of major Kurdish clans, and were by no means the artifacts of the imagination of those early Mesopotamians. The lowlanders of Mesopotamia must have seen the uniformity of the culture (and presumably the ethnicity) of the peoples of the Kurdish mountains, prompting them to call these mountaineers by a single native ethnic/tribal name that was most familiar to them at any given time. Likewise, today we know all of these same mountain people as Kurds. This portrait of a culturally homogenized Kurdistan was not to last.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:00

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 2

The Aryan Period

As early as 2000 BC, the vanguards of the Indo-European speaking tribal immigrants, such as the Hittites and the Mittanis (Sindis), had arrived in southwestern Asia. While the Hittites only marginally affected the mountain communities in Kurdistan, the Mittanis settled inside Kurdistan around modern Diyarbakir, and influenced the natives in several fields worthy of note, in particular the introduction of knotted rug weaving. Even rug designs introduced by the Mittanis and recognized by the replication in the Assyrian floor carvings, remain the hallmark of the Kurdish rugs and kelims. The modern mina khâni and chwar such styles are basically the same today as those the Assyrians copied and depicted nearly 3000 years ago.

The name ‘Mittani’ survives today in the Kurdish clans of Mattini and Motikan/Moti who inhabit the exact same geographical areas of Kurdistan as the ancient Mittani. The name "Mittan," however, is a Hurrian name rather than Aryan. At the onset of Aryan immigration into Kurdistan, only the aristocracy of the high-ranking warrior groups were Aryans, while the bulk of the people were still Hurrian in all manners. The Mittani aristocratic house almost certainly was from the immigrant Sindis, who survive today in the populous Kurdish clan of Sindi—again—in the same area where the Mittani kingdom once existed. These ancient Sindi seem to have been an Indic, and not Iranic group of people, and in fact a branch of the better known Sindis of India-Pakistan, that has imparted its name to the River Indus and in fact, India itself. (footnote 8 ) While the bulk of the Sindis moved on to India, some wondered into Kurdistan to give rise to the Mittani royal house and the modern Sindi Kurds. Others, still, remained in Europe, and are recorded in the 1st century AD inhabiting the Taiman Peninsula on the Sea of Azov between Russia and Ukraine.

Expectedly, the Mittani pantheon includes names like Indra, Varuna, Suriya and Nasatya is typically Indic. The Mittanis could have introduced during this early period some of the Indic/Vedic tradition that appears to be manifest in the Kurdish religion of Yazdanism.

The avalanche of the Indo-European tribes, however, was to come about 1200 BC, raining havoc on the economy and settled culture in the mountains and lowlands alike. The north was settled by the Haigs who are known to us now as the Armenians, while the rest of the mountains became targets of settlement of various Iranic peoples, such as the Medes, Persian, Scythians, Sarmatians, and Sagarthians (whose name survives in the name of the Zagros mountains).

By 850 BC, the last Hurrian states had been extinguished by the invading Aryans, whose sheer number of immigrants must have been considerable. These succeeded over time to change the Hurrian language(s) of the people in Kurdistan, as well as their genetic make-up. By about the 3rd century BC, the Aryanization of the mountain communities was virtually complete.

Since the star of the Mittani shown brightest in 1500 BC, Aryan dynasties of various size and influence continued their appearance in various corners of Kurdistan. None, however, was to match, and in fact surpass the Mittanis as the Medians. The rise of the Medes from their capital at Ecbatana (modern Hamadan) in 727 coincided with the fall of the last major Hurrian kingdom: the Mannaeans. Ignoring the proud legacy of the Hurrian states and even the Aryan empire of the Mittanis which can squarely be claimed by on every ground by modern Kurds, it is the Medes that the Kurds have grown most fund of. Medes are claimed regularly by the Kurds and pronounced by others to be the ancestors of them. This is strange, when realizing how many millennia of cultural and ethnic evolution preceded the rise of Medes into Kurdistan. In reality, Medes are no more the ancestors of the modern Kurds as all other Halafian, Hurrian and Mittani who came before them or the legion of other peoples and states that came after them. Nonetheless, today, even the first Kurdish satellite television transmitter is given the name "Med TV" (Kurdish for "Median TV"). Fascination of the Kurds with the Median Federation (a.k.a., Empire) that ended in 549 BC remains supreme, indeed.

It is surprising to most that among the Kurds the Aryan cultural was and still remains secondary to that of the Hurrians. Culturally, Aryan nomads brought very little with to add to what they found already present in the Zagros-Taurus region. As has been the case, cultural sophistication and civilization are not what nomads are known for. On the contrary, nomads are inclined to annihilate what settled life and culture they find in their path as adversaries for possession of land and political dominance. We have no ample evidence, including a bona fide economic dark age lasting for roughly 500 years in the areas touched by the Aryans, that they behaved much the same barbarian way.

The Aryan influence on the local Hurrian Kurdish people must have been very similar to what transpired in Anatolia 2,500 years later when the Turkic nomads broke in after the battle of Manzikert in AD 1071. Much insight can be learned from this more recent nomadic dislocation for the older, murkier Aryan episode. Following the Manzikert, the Turkic nomads gradually imparted their language to all the millions of civilized, sophisticated Anatolians whom they converted from Christianity to their own religion of Hanafi Sunni Islam. Almost everyone in Anatolia gradually assumed a new Turkish identity when converted to Islam. But, this did not mean that the old cultural, human and genetic legacy ceased to exist. On the contrary, the rich and ancient Anatolian cultures and peoples continued their existence under the new Turkish identity, albeit, with the addition of some genetic and cultural material brought over by the nomads.

Architecture, domestic and monumental, decorative arts, farming techniques, herding practices, and religion remained much the same in Kurdistan following Aryan settlement, while the people progressively came to speak the Indo-European, Iranic language of these Aryan immigrants, admit new deities into their earlier Hurrian pantheon, and become lighter in their complexion. No abrupt change is encountered in the culture of Kurdistan while this linguistic and genetic shift was taking place under the Aryan pressure, barring the appearance of the so-call, "gray ware" pottery.

Near every thing in the contemporary culture of the Kurds can be traced to this massive Hurrian substructure, with the Aryan superstructure generally quite superficial and "skin deep"—to use a pun, in many fundamental ways. Even the time-honored Kurdish tactic of guerrilla warfare finds its roots among the Hurrian Gutis long before its was put into good use as a well-tested and developed tactic by the Median Cyaxares in this Assyrian campaigns in 612 BC. In the Bisitun inscription, the Persian king Darius I also makes note of this battle tactic used by the mountaineers against his forces, calling the guerrillas the kara (a lexical cognate of the term, "guerrilla"). Eight hundred years later, King Ardasher, founder of the Persian Sasanian dynasty, faces the same defensive tactics by the Kurds. The term he uses for them is jan-spâr, which means almost identical with the modern term Kurds give their guerrilla warriors: the peshmerga.

So far the victory cylinder of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser I (r. 1114-1076 BC) is the oldest record of the incidence of the ethnic name of the Kurds. It records the "Kurti" or "Qurtie" among the peoples whom the king conquered in his mountain campaigns south of the Lake Van region. The more exact location of these "Kurti" is given by the same document as Mt. Azu/Hazu. We are extraordinarily lucky that this "address" was still current until about sixty years ago—over 3100 years after Tiglath-pileser I. The town of Kurti in the Mt. Hizan region south of Lake Van is the same as the "Kurti in the Mt. Azu" of the Assyrians. The town of Kurti was still serving as a seat of a Kurdish princely house when the Kurdish historian Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi added the dynasty’s history into his celebrated history, the Sharafnâma, in 1597. This "birthplace" of the Kurds continued to be known with the archaic name until the Turkish government changed its name and that of its eponymous river, respectively, to Aksar (at 38.30 N, 42.49 E) and Büyük river in the 1930s. The oldest Kurdish place name—its "birth place" thus joined history so recent in history.

The Akkadian term "Kurti" denoted vaguely and indeterminate portion or groups of inhabitants of the Zagros (and eastern Taurus) mountains. To their very end in the 6th century BC, on the other hand, the Babylonians loosely (and apparently pejoratively) called most every body who lived in the Zagros-Taurus system a "Guti", including the Medes! But Babylonian records also attest to many more specific subdivisional names such as the Mardi, Kardaka, Lullubi and Qardu, the last three of which have all been used frequently in the needless controversy over the roots and antiquity of the ethnic term ‘Kurd,’ and the question of the presence of a general ethnic designator.

By the 3rd century BC, at any rate, the very term Kurd (or rather "Kurti") had been conclusively established. Polybius (d. ca. 133 BC) in his history when reporting on the events of 221-220 BC, (footnote 9) and Strabo (d. ca. AD 48) in his geography (footnote 10) are the earliest Western sources I am aware of to have made mention of the Kurds with their present ethnic name, albeit, in latinized form Cyrtii, "the Kurti." Historians Livy, Pliny, Plutarch, and much later, Procopius also mention this ethnic name for the native population of Media and parts of Anatolia for the classical times. Ptolemy inadvertently provides us with an array of Kurdish tribal names, when he records them as they appear as toponyms for where the tribe resided. Bagraoandene for the Bagrawands or Bakrans of Diyarbakir, Belcanea for the Belikans of Antep, Tigranoandene for the Tirigans of Hakkari, Sophene for the Subhans of Elazig, Derzene for the Dersimis and Bokhtanoi for the Bokhti (Bohtans) etc. These tribes are still with us today.

When the Aryan Medes and Persians arrived on the eastern flanks of the Zagros around 1000 BC, a massive internal migration from the eastern Taurus and northern and central Zagros toward the southern Zagros was in progress. By the 6th century BC, many large tribes which we now find among the Kurds were also present in southern Zagros, in Fars and even Kirman. As early as the 3rd century BC, the "Kurtioi" are reported by the Greek, and later Roman authors (in the Latin form of "Cyrtii") to inhabit as much the southern Zagros (Persis or Pars/Fars) as the central and northern Zagros (Kurdistan proper). This was to continue for another millennium, by which time, the ethnic name of "Kurd" had become established for nearly all if not all inhabitants of the mountains, from the Straits of Hormuz to the heart of Anatolia. Northern Zagros and Anatolia once teamed with various and related groups of people speaking Iranic tongue(s). By about 2000 years ago, many of these, such as the Iranic Pontians, Commagenes, Cappadocians, the western Medes and the Indic Mitannis, like the earlier Hurrian Mannas, Lullus, Saubarus, Kardakas, and Qutils, had been totally absorbed into a new Kurdish ethnic pool. These are among many mountain-inhabiting peoples whose assimilation has formed genetically, culturally, socially and linguistically the contemporary Kurds. The Kurdish diversity of race, tradition and spoken dialects encountered today point to the direction of this compound identity.

Reflecting on the gradual and organic assimilation of one of these groups into the larger Kurdish ethnic pool, Pliny the Elder (d. AD 79) tries to reconcile what appeared to him to be rather a name-change for a familiar people. Enumerating the nations of the known world, he states, "Joining on to Adiabene [central Kurdistan centered on Arbil] are the people formerly called the Carduchi [the Kardukh] and now the Cordueni past whom flows the river Tigris…" (footnote 11)

These Carduchi mentioned by Pliny are the same people whom Xenophon and his fellow ten thousand Greek troops had encountered nearly three centuries earlier when retreating through Kurdistan in 401 BC. Xenophon called them the “Kardukhoi” The name is likely the same as that of ‘Kardaka,’ (the people who provided a part of the Babylonian royal guards before 530 bc), and the ‘Qarduim’ (mentioned frequently in the Talmud). (footnote 12)

The early Islamic sources enumerate tens of Kurdish tribes and family clans outside Kurdistan proper in the southern Zagros, the Caucasus, Elburz, Taurus and Amanus mountains. In time, however, all of these assimilated into the local. This fact has been an unwarranted source of puzzlement for many modern writers on Kurdish history. Unaware of the history and extent of early Kurdish migrations and finding, at present, very few Kurds in these other mountain areas, they have often drawn the wrong conclusion that the term "Kurd" could not have been an ethnic name but rather a designator for all mountain nomads in general. This facile hypothesis is hardly worthy of refutation, realizing that no such doubt is cast on any other mobile nations such as the Turks and that Arabs who have spread and contracted periodically over thousands of miles of territory. (footnote 13)

From the time the Kurds are Aryanized until the 16th century of our era, the Kurdish culture remained basically unchanged, despite introduction of new empires, religions, and immigrants. The Kurds remained primarily followers of the ancient, Hurrian religion of Yazdanism, spoke an Iranic language that the medieval Islamic sources termed Pahlawani. Pahlawani survives today in the dialects of Gurani and Dimili (Zaza) on the peripheries of Kurdistan. Only the loss of Kurds of the southern Zagros through their metamorphosis into Lurs and a fresh expansion of Kurds into Elbruz and Pontus mountains that are noteworthy events.

Semitic and Turkic Periods

After the Aryan settlement, Kurdistan continued to receive new peoples and cultural influences, none however, strong enough to alter the Kurdish cultural and ethnic identity as did the Aryans. Large numbers of Aramaic-speaking people seem to have only settled in more accessible valleys of western Kurdistan. Through the introduction of Judaism, and later Christianity, some Kurds, however, came to relinquish Kurdish and spoke Aramaic instead despite the paucity of the Aramaic demographic element. It is fascinating to note through examining contemporary Kurdish culture that Judaism appear to have exercised a much deeper and more lasting influence on the Kurdish indigenous culture and religion than Christianity, despite the fact that most ethnic neighbors of the Kurds between 5th and 12th centuries were Christians.

The role of the Arabs and the impact of Islam on the Kurdish society and culture is less difficult to survey. The Arabian peninsula was experiencing a runaway population explosion when the advent of Islam translated that pressure into a massive outburst of Arabian nomads and brought about their settlement of foreign lands. In Kurdistan Arab tribes settled near almost every major town and agricultural center. By the 10th century, the Islamic historians and geographers report Arabian populations living among the Kurds from northern shores of Lake Van to Dinawar and from Hamadan to Malatya. These eventually assimilated, living behind only their genetic imprint (as the darker-complected city Kurds), and bequeathing of two exotic Semitic sounds into the speech of many Kurds: glottal a and h.

The same fleeting influence was true of the Turkic settlement of Kurdistan and its cultural impact. Several centuries of Turkic nomadic passage through Kurdistan beginning with the 12th century, wrecked havoc with the settled Kurds and their economy, as the Aryan migrations had done so 2500 years earlier. The Turkic cultural legacy was in itself nil, but the forces of internal change it unleashed within the Kurdish society turned out to be nearly as decisive as the Aryan invasion and settlement. Kurdistan would surely have turkified under this tremendous nomadic pressure and destructiveness, had it not been for one group of Kurdish nomads, the energetic Kurmanj, who emerged from the Hakkari highlands to fill nearly every niche left vacant by the agriculturist Kurds and less energetic nomads under the Turkic pressure. The Turkic nomads were primarily steppe nomads, and proved less of a match for the Kurmanj mountain nomads in the rough terrain of Kurdistan. Some Kurds were Turkified to be sure; e.g., the populous tribes of Dimbuli, Sheqaqi, Barani and Jewanshir. Conversely, many Kurdish tribes with Turkic names (e.g., Karachul, Chol, Oghaz, Jambul, Devalu, Ivä, Karaqich and Chichak) are in fact assimilated Turkish and Turcoman tribes who have left behind only their names and were in every other respect kurdicized.

This massive tribal dislocation that could have subsided over time took a new and more destructive turn by the advent of a century-long holocaust in Kurdish and Armenian territories in eastern Anatolia in the 16th century. The decisive turn for massive nomadization of the Kurdish was made by the long Perso-Ottoman wars and particularly the Safavids’ "scorched-earth" policy. More importantly still was the deadly economic blow brought about by the shift for the sea transport of the East-West commerce which also commenced at the turn of the 16th century. Together they heralded the beginning of the end for much of the social fabric and sophisticated culture of Kurdistan as it had existed since the time of the Medes. The agriculturist, urban-based Kurdish culture and society was to shift to a nomadic economy under a newly assumed identity. The nomadized Kurdish farmers eventually accepted the Shafiite Sunni Islam from the Kurmanj nomads and began speaking the vernacular of Kurmanji, a close kin to the old Pahlawani. In time, the older Kurdish society—religion and language notwithstanding—was marginalized and physically pushed to the peripheries of Kurdistan. At present, over three-quarters of the Kurds speak various dialects of Kurmanji and similar numbers practice Shafiite Sunni Islam. In a sense, the "Kurmanj" assimilated the "Kurds," and in the process they assumed the old ethnic name and inherited all that was left of the older culture. Until only 50 years ago, a vast majority of the "Kurds" would identify themselves as Kurmanj and their language as Kurmanji. It was the outsiders and the educated that continued to uniformly call them Kurds, regardless of the dialect they spoke, religion they practiced, or the economic life style they followed. In the past 50 years, however, the term Kurmanj as an ethnic designator has been ruthlessly suppressed by the native population themselves and their leadership in favor of the time-honored term, "Kurd." Only in the most remote areas in the mountains and the detached but populous Kurdish exclave in Khurasan and Turkmenistan is the term "Kurmanj" given routinely by the common people for their ethnic affiliation. This too is disappearing fast under the influence of the educated Kurds.

There is, as should be expected, a strong correlation between practice of ancient Yazdani religion and the speaking of Pahlawani, as there is also a close connection between being a Muslim and speaking Kurmanji. The shift from the former to the latter identity in Kurdistan is accelerating, and seems destined to totally submerge the residual Pahlawani-Yazdani identity of the older Kurdistan. Only a shrinking number of Kurds still speak Pahlawani in the form of the dialects of Dimili (Zaza) in far northwestern Kurdistan in Turkey, and as Gurani, Laki and Hewrami (Awramani) in southeastern Kurdistan in Iran and Iraq. The old religion of Yazdanism is still practiced as Alevism, Yezidism and Yarisanism (the Ahl-i Haqq) denominations, but these too are shrinking in number and import.

With introduction of modern age communication systems into the Kurdish society, the process of cultural and ethnic homogenization of the Kurds has inevitably accelerated. The last step in the evolution of Kurdish cultural and ethnic identity is near completion today. The Kurdish ethnic identity is thus destined to comprise Kurmanji-speaking, Shafiite Muslim people, the last layer to be added to the many former layers which, in combination, render the Kurds what and who they are today: the heirs to millennia of cultural and genetic evolution of the native inhabitants of the Zagros-Taurus mountain systems.

Agnimitra
BRF Oldie
Posts: 5150
Joined: 21 Apr 2002 11:31

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby Agnimitra » 10 Aug 2011 21:02

Some recent news items reported in the Iranian state-controlled press:

Aug 6th: Iranian forces act against PJAK - deny allegations of entering Iraqi Kurdistan
“The operation against the group will continue until all members are killed.”


And yesterday: 'PJAK kills 5 Iranian security forces'
Five Iranian security forces have been killed when their vehicle was ambushed by members of the terrorist group of the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) in northwest Iran, an official says.

[...]

Iran has recently deployed 5,000 military forces in the northwest of the country along its common border with the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:10

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 3

Race, Antropology and population
RACE

Kurds are now predominantly of Mediterranean racial stock, resembling southern Europeans and the Levantines in skin, general coloring and physiology. There is yet a persistent recurrence of two racial substrata: a darker aboriginal Palaeo-Caucasian element, and more localized occurrence of blondism of the Alpine type in the heartland of Kurdistan. The "Aryanization" of the aboriginal Palaeo-Caucasian Kurds, linguistically, culturally and racially, seems to have begun by the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, with the continuous immigration and settlement of Indo-European-speaking tribes, such as the Hittites, Mittanis, Haigs, Medes, Persians, Scythians and Alans. The process was more or less complete by the beginning of the Christian era, by which time the Kurds had absorbed enough Iranic blood and culture, particularly Median and Alan, to form the basis of their contemporary physical typology and cultural identity.

Anthropology

"And the Kurdish nation divides into four branches, each with its own different tongue and customs. First is the Kurmanj, second the Lur, third the Kalhur, fourth the Guran.

The Sharafnâma, Prologue, 7-9.
Prince Sharafaddin Bitlisi, AD 1597

POPULATION

Kurdish lands, rich in natural resources, have always sustained and promoted a large population. While registering modest gains since the late 19th century, and particularly in the first decade of the 20th, Kurds lost demographic ground relative to neighboring ethnic groups. This was due as much to their less developed economy and health care system as it was to direct and horrendous massacres, deportations, famines, etc. The total number of Kurds actually decreased in this period, while every other major ethnic group in the area boomed. Since the middle of the 1960s this negative demographic trend has reversed, and Kurds are steadily regaining the demographic position of importance that they traditionally held, representing 15% of the overall population of the Middle East in Asia-a phenomenon common since at least the 4th millennium BC.

Today Kurds are the fourth third largest ethnic group in the greater Middle East, after the Arabs, Persians and Turks. Their largest concentrations are now respectively in Turkey (approx. 52% of all Kurds), Iran (25.5%), Iraq (16.%), Syria (5%) and the CIS (1.5%). Barring a catastrophe, Kurds will become the third most populous ethnic group in the Middle East by the year 2000, displacing the Turks. Furthermore, if present demographic trends hold, as is likely, in less than fifty years Kurds will also replace the Turks as the largest ethnic group in Turkey itself.

There are now two Kurdish cities with populations of around a million (Diyarbakir and Kirmanshah), two with over half a million (Antep, Kirkuk), six between a quarter and half a million (Arbil, Dahuk, Hamadan, Malatya, Sulaymania, Urfa), and eighteen with between 100,000 and a quarter of a million people (Adiyaman, Ardahan, Agri, Batman, Tunceli, Elazig, Erzincan, Haymana, Islahiye, Kangawar, Khanaqin, Mardin, Qamishli, Qochan, Sanandaj, Shahabad, Siirt, Van and Yunak).

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:12

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 4

Religions in Kurdistan - Islam

ISLAM

About three-fifths of the Kurds, nearly all of them Kurmânji speakers, are today at least nominally Sunni Muslims of the Shafi'ite rite. There are also followers of mainstream lmâmi (Twelver) Shi'ite Islam among the Kurds, particularly in and around the cities of Kirmânshâh, Kangawar, Hamadân, Qurva, and Bijâr in southern and eastern Kurdistan in Iran, and in much smaller numbers in and around Malâtya, Adiyâman, and Maras in far western Kurdistan in Turkey. There are a large number of Shi'ite Kurds in the Khurâsâni enclave as well, but they are not a majority there, as some sources have erroneously reported. The Shi'ite Kurds number no more than 1 to 1.5 million, i.e., between 5 and 7% of the total Kurdish population.

The Shafi'ite Sunni rites emerged among the Kurmânj in medieval times when Iran was also Primarily Shafi'ite Sunni Muslim. Arriving from the east toward the end of the medieval period, the Turkic tribes that proceeded to populate the better part of Anatolia brought with them the Hanafite rite prevalent in central Asia. The Hanafite rite became quite influential in the formerly Christian Byzantine lands to the west of Kurdistan, but did not change the Shafi'ism of the Kurds. It did, however, succeed in introducing the Naqshbandi Sufi order, an order indigenous to central Asia, into Kurdistan (see Sufi Mystic Orders). Kurdish Shafi'ite Muslims now constitute the single largest community of adherents to this once pervasive Sunni rite in the northern Middle East. They are now sandwiched between the Shi'ite Persians and Azeris on the east, Hanafite Sunni Turks on the west and north, and Hanafite Arabs of Syria and northern Iraq (the birthplace of Hanafism per se) on the south.

Kurdistan straddles the very heartland of Islam, coming within 50 miles of Baghdad and 200 miles of Damascus, the two medieval cultural and spiritual capitals of the Islamic caliphates. The land was among the first to be breached by the Muslim forces, as early as the 7th century AD. Despite this centrality, there are very few mosques to be seen in Kurdistan, including in the cities. Why so?

Until at least the 12th century the Kurds were mostly, and rightly, reckoned as non Muslims by influential medieval Muslim writers like Nizâm al-Mulk ' Abu Mansur alBaghdâdi, and lbn Athir, who referred to the Kurds as mushrikir4 i.e., polytheists. It appears that Islam touched Kurdistan rather superficially and primarily on its peripheries. While there existed a notable minority of Kurdish Muslims the majority adhered to the old religion (Cult of Angels, Judaism, and Christianity) resisting Conversion until a gradual change in the socioeconomic life of the predominantly agriculturalist Kurdistan began to take shape from the 12th to the 15th centuries, and the destructive migration of the Turkic nomads through Kurdistan.

The fact that most early Kurdish Muslim thinkers and men of fame come from cities like Dinawa.r, Suhraward, and Hamadâii, or tribes like the Khalkâns and Fadhlâns, all bordering on the neighboring Muslim ethnic groups, further strengthens the contention that the majority of the Kurdish Muslims were relatively late converts to Islam, perhaps as late as the 16th century. This time coincides with the onset of an extended socioeconomic decline in Kurdistan, which may indicate a fact of the necessary stability and finances to construct durable and/or monumental mosques, accounting for their dearth today.

By the end of the 15th century, the old religion had been undercut steadily by the socioeconomic stress caused by the influx of nomads. From the besieging of the 16th century, the expansion of these nomads came at the expense of settled agriculturalists. The deterioration of their strength enabled the native Kurmânji-speaking Kurdish nomads to expand their dominance of the Hakkâri region (southwest of Lake Urmiâ) to cover most of Kurdistan. The Kurmânj were Shâfi'ite Sunnis, and as they expanded their power and numbers they expanded their religion, Islam. They gained the decisive momentum in the beginning of the 16th century, with the collapse of the trade routes through Kurdistan and its disruption of the Kurdish economy. The Kurmânj nomads soon overwhelmed and converted the sedentary, Pahlawâni-speaking, non-Muslim Kurds in most of Kurdistan. This pattern of intertwined linguistic and religious change had also occurred earlier, when Kurds of the southern Zagros mountains assumed new identities when they converted to Shi'ite Islam. These southern Kurds gave up their Kurdish language for Persian, and became the ancestors of the modern Lurs and other ethnic groups in the southern Zagros. Kurdish society is now approaching a period of homogenization under the Kurmânji language, through Konversion to Sunni Islam of the Shâfi'ite rite.

The lateness of their Conversion should not however be interpreted to discount the importance of Islam to the Kurds, particularly now and specifically in major cities and towns where the majority of inhabitants truly adhere to conventionally recognized Islamic denominations. In fact, even in medieval times Kurds produced many Muslim thinkers and authors whose works are of great value to the entire Islamic world. Kurds like al-Dinawari, lbn Athir, lbn Fadlân, Ibn Khalkân, Suhrawardi, and Ba'di ul-Zamân al-Hamadâni are well known for their contributions to Islamic civilization (see Medieval History).

Since their conversion to Islam, conflict has existed between Muslim Kurdish groups following various Islamic denominations, and particularly between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites. This is not, however, any different in nature, intensity, or frequency from similar factional conflicts in other parts of the Muslim world. In the region around the city of Kirmânshâh in southern Kurdistan, for example, where lmâmi Shi'ism is the religion of the plurality, annual feasts are held in which effigies of 'Umar, the Muslim caliph revered by the Sunnis, is burned with fanfare (see Popular Culture). This is done despite the presence of many Sunni Kurds in the city and region, and sometimes just to provoke them. Kurdish Shi'ism, with its extremist traits, has created a large body of provocative rituals, figures of speech, and literature just for the purpose, going back to the vigorous re-introduction of extremist Shi'ism in Persia under the later Safavids, whose Kurdish connections and background are discussed below under Cult of Angels (see also Early Modern History).

The suppression of the Shi'ites by the Sunnis has been much more pervasive in Anatolia than in Iran, where for centuries the Shi'ite Persian government would have harshly punished such acts. In Anatolia, when the Ottoman sultan Selim the Grim embarked in the early 16th century on a series of widespread massacres of Shi'ite and Alevi inhabitants (Turkmen as well as Kurd), the Sunni Kurdish clergy provided a willing helping hand in the pogroms.

In the last decades of the 19th century, and particularly the early decades of the present, the fervor of the Germanic thinkers to rediscover their "Aryan" roots led them to study, elaborate, and glorify Aryan religions over the Semitic Judeo-Christian religions. The religions of India and the Zoroastrianism of Persia were prime points of departure for these "Aryan nationalists." The Kurdish intelligentsia, which frequented European capitals and were strongly influenced by their trends, came to view Islam-the other Semitic religion- as their fellow Germanic "Aryans" viewed Judaism and Christianity. Abjuring Islam, the "Arab" religion, the Kurdish literary-cultural journal Hewâr (published 193243, see Press & Electronic Mass Media) championed Yezidism as the native Kurdish religion that had kept its native purity despite centuries of aliens' suppressions. Their erroneous supposition was that Yezidism was a direct offshoot of Zoroastrianism, the "Aryan" religion glorified by the Germanic authors.

The degradation of Islam and the down playing of its relevance to Kurds (or rather Kurdish nationalism) was a well-developed vogue until the end of World War II and the violent death of Aryanism in the ashes of the Third Reich.

Despite this, many educated Kurds continued their fascination with the pre-lslamic religions of their people, paying misplaced attention to the primarily Persian religion of Zoroastrianism as a source of inspiration. The poet Jagarkhwin (1903-84) exalted Zoroastrianism at the expense of Islam for a good deal of his life and work. It was only towards the end of his life and a change of tides in the Middle East toward an Islamic identity, that he tilted toward Islam, albeit a vague, idealized, non-Arabian, clergy-free Islam.

Even today, there are many older Kurdish intellectuals whose fascination with Zoroastrianism, Yezidism, and other native religions is equaled only by their distaste for Islam. Now, however, they have to be more careful in openly attacking Islam at a time when the religion's radical revival happens to be a chief preoccupation of many governments and political groups in the area.



Further Readings and Bibliography: Martin van Bruinessen, "Kurdischer Nationalismus und Sunni-Schi'I Konflikt," in Geschiclite und Politik religiöser Bewegungen im Iran, lahrbuch zur Geschichte und Gesellshchaft des Mittleren Orients (Berlin/Frankfurt, 1981),

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:16

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 5A

Religions in Kurdistan - Yazdânism
Yazdânism

Most non-Muslim Kurds follow one of several indigenous Kurdish faiths of great antiquity and originality, each of which is a variation on and permutation of an ancient religion that can loosely be labeled the "Cult of Angels," Yazdâni in Kurdish. The actual name of the religion is all but lost to its modern followers, who retain only the names of its surviving denominations. The name Yazdânism or Cult of Angels is a variation of the Kurdish name of one of its isolated branches, Yezidism, which literally means "the Anglicans." There are some indications that Yazdânism was in fact the name of the religion before its fragmentation. An even older name for this creed may have been Hâk (or Haq), which is the name given by this religion to its pre-eternal, all-encompassing deity, the Universal Spirit. A brief argument in favor of the former view is presented in this section under Yezidism.

Only three branches of the Cult of Angels have survived from ancient times. They are Yezidism, Alevism, and Yârsânism (also known as Aliullâhi or Ahl-i Haq). Alevism now also encompasses Nusayrism, which is followed primarily by a minority of Arabs in Syria and most of the Arab minority in Turkey.

All denominations of the Cult, past and present, hold a fundamental belief in luminous, angelic beings of ether, numbering seven, that protect the universe from an equal number of balancing dark forces of matter. Another shared belief, and a cornerstone of the Cult, is the belief in the transmigration of souls through numerous reincarnations, with reincarnations of the deity constituting major and minor avatars.

The Cult believes in a boundless, all encompassing, yet fully detached "Universal Spirit" (Haq), whose only involvement in the material world has been his primeval manifestation as a supreme avatar who after coming into being himself, created the material universe. (Haq, incidentally, is not derived from the Arabic homophone haqq, meaning "truth," as commonly and erroneously believed.) The Spirit has stayed out of the affairs of the material world except to contain and bind it together within his essence. The prime avatar who became the Creator is identified as the Lord God in all branches of the Cult except Yezidism, as discussed below. Following or in conjunction with the acts of creation, the Creator also manifested himself in five additional avatars (Bâbâ or Bâb, perhaps from the Aranlaic bâbâ, "portal" or "gate"), who then assumed the position of his deputics in maintaining and administering the creation. These are the archangels, who with the Creator and the ever-present Spirit, number the sacred Seven of the First Epoch of the universal life. This epoch was to be followed by six more, a new epoch occurring each time the soul or essence of the avatars of the previous epoch transmigrates into new avatars, to again achieve with the Spirit the holy number 7. Following these original seven epoches and major avatars, new, bur minor, avatars may emerge from time to time. However, their importance is limited, as are their contributions, to the time period in which they live.

In this century three individuals have risen to the station of Bâb, or "avatar": Shaykh Ahmad Bârzâni (supposedly a Muslim), Sulaymân Murshid (a Syrian Arab Alevi) (see Modern History), and Nurali llâhi (a Yârsân leader). Their impact, however, has been ephemeral. This was not the case with another avatar who appeared a century earlier.

In the 19th century, Mirzâ Ali Muhammad, now commonly known as The Bâb, rose to establish the religion of Bâbism, which soon evolved into the world religion of Bâhâ'ism. The religion spread at the same wild-fire pace as Mithraism in classical times, from the Persian Gulf to Britain in less than a century's time (see Bâbism & Bâhâ'ism).

The rites and tenets of the Cult have traditionally been kept secret from non-believing outsiders, even when followers were not subject to persecution. In the present century an appreciable number of the scriptures of various branches of the Cult of Angels have been studied and published, allowing for better understanding of the nature of this native Kurdish religion, as well as the extent of its contribution to other religions.

The Cult is a genuinely universalist religion. It views all other religions as legitimate manifestations of the same original idea of human faith in the Spirit. The founders of these religions are examples of the Creator's continuous involvement in world affairs in the form of periodic incarnations as a new prophet who brings salvation to the living. Thus, a believer in the Cult has little difficulty being associated with Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, or any other religion, as to him these are all just other versions of the old idea. He also has little difficulty in passing as a follower of any one of these religions if need be. Other religions that view themselves as unique systerns of approach to the divinity, with an exclusive monopoly on truth, are viewed as unique as the images in a kaleidoscopc: they are unique only in the configuration of their elements, but are all identical in that the elements that are involved in forming each image were supplied by the Creator at the moment of the universal Genesis of the material world. Hinduism and its similar cosmopolitan approach to other religions come readily to mind.

Meanwhile, the Cult has always been apt to absorb other religions, whole or in part, that have come into contact with it. To do so, new branches of the Cult have formed by incorporating into their dynamic cosmogonies system of continuing avatars the highest personages of these externat religions. Alevism, for instance, was formed in the process of the Cult's movement to swallow Shi'ite Islam beginning in the 15th century. Such movements, which recur throughout the history of the Cult, should not be interpreted as organized and sinister efforts directed by a central, priestly body in the Cult. Far from it, the Cult as a whole could not have been any more indifferent to such events. These movements were all spontaneous creations of various segments of the followers of the Cult who through intensive exposure to an outside religion would in time adopt and adapt enough of it to be able to pass as insiders, raise a messianic scepter, and try to overtake that neighboring religion.

Several old, and now extinct, movements and religions also appear to have begun their existence as branches of the Cult of Angels, under circumstances similar to those that gave rise to Alevism. Among these, with due caution and reservation, one may place the Gnostic religions of Mithraism and Zorvânism, and the socioeconomically motivated messianic movements of the Mazdakites, Khurramiyya, and the Qarmatites. The Cult also has fundamentally influenced another Gnostic religion, Manichacism, as well as Ismâ'ili (Sevener) Shi'ism, Druzism, and Bâbism, and to a lesser extent, Zoroastrianism, Imâmi Shi'ism, and Bahâ'ism. The Mithraist religious movement seems now to have been a guise under which Cult followers attempted to take over the old Greco-Roman pantheistic religion, with which the Cult had been in contact since the start of the Heffenistic period in the 4th century BC. Mithraism succeeded impressively. By the time of Constantine and the prevalencc of Christianity, Mithraism had become so influential in the Roman Empire that it may be that the Roman state observance of the birth of the god Mithras on December 25 inspired the traditional dating of the birth of Christ. This date was the one on which the Universal Spirit first manifested itself in its prime avatar, Lord Creator, whom Mithraism presumed to be Mithras.

The Yezidi branch of the Cult of Angels, and the Nusayri movement within Alevism, still retain vestiges of this primary position of Mithras, particularly in their festivals and annual communal religious observations.

Despite the shrinking of its earlier domain and loss of ground to Islam, the Cult still influences all the Kurds at the levels of popular culture and quasi-religious rituals. The reverence for Khidir or Nabi Khizir "the living green man of the ponds," is a well-accepted practice among the Muslim Kurds. Khidir's shrines are found all over Kurdistan beside natural springs (see Folklore &Folk Tales). The Muslims have connected the lore of Khidir to that of the Prophet Elijah, who like Khidir, having drank from the Fountain of Life, is also ever-living. An earth and water spirit, the immortal Khidir (whose name might mean "green" or a "crawler") lives within the deep waters of the lakes and ponds. Assuming various guises, Khidir appears among the people who call upon him to grant them their wishes.

Many communal and religious ceremonies belonging to various faiths of the Kurds take place at Khidir's shrines, which are a transreligious institution (see Popular Culture and Festivals, Ceremonies, & Calendar). Khidir's longevity is symbolized in the longevous pond turtles found at the ponds and springs where his shrines are located. As such, realistic, but more often stylized, turtles are common motifs in Kurdish decorative and religious arts (see Decorative Designs & Motifs). The feast of Khidir falls in the spring, when nature renews itself. The exact observation date, however, varies from religion to religion, and even community to community. All branches of the Cult observe the feast, as do many Muslim commoners.

In ancient times the Cult came to be regarded as a contender to the ascendancy of early Zoroastrianism. This must have been before the end of the Median period, and the movement to overtake Zoroastrianism was perhaps sponsored by the last Median ruler, Rshti-vegâ Äzhi Dahâk (r. 584-549 BC). There is now compelling evidence that the slaying of Zoroaster himself and the overthrowing of his patron king Vishtaspa were at the hands of the troops of King Rshti-vegâ Âzhi Dahâk, as he advanced eastward into Harirud-Murghâb river basins in northwest Afghanistan in 552 BC. This did not help Äzhi Dahâk's reputation among the early Zoroastrians.The Median king Äzhi Dahâk has since been assigned a demonic character and is seen as the arch villain in both Zoroastrianism and the Iranian national mythology and epic literature, like the Shâhnâma. In fact, Azhdahâ has become the only word in the Persian language for "dragon." The controversial title Âzhi Dahâk for the last Median king was already known to Herodotus, albeit in a corrupted form, as Astyages.

A lasting legacy of this encounter between the two religions was the Cult's introduction of a hereditary priestly class, the Magi, into the simpler, priestless religion that Zoroaster had founded.

Zoroastrianism and the Cult of Angels share many features, among which are the belief in seven good angels and seven "bad" ones in charge of the world, and a hereditary priestly class. These common features are natural results of the long and eventful contact between the two religions. Other common features may be the result of the religious imprint of the Aryan settlers of Kurdistan, whose original religion must have been the same as that which the Prophet Zoroaster later reformed and reconstituted into the religion of Zoroastrianism. In its present form, however, the Cult shows the greatest mutuality with Islam, which has been its neighbor for the past 14 centuries. Nearly a thousand years after the first attempt on Zoroastrianism, followers of the Cult made another, less successful, bid to take over, or eliminate, Zoroastrianism. This was in the form of the Mazdakite movement.

The cult or movement of Mazdak rose in the Sth century AD in response to the rigid social and economic class system instituted by the Zoroastrian state religion of Sasanian Persia. The movement spread out from the Zagros region led by a native son, Mazdak, who eventually even succeeded in converting the Sasanian king Kavât or Qubâd (r. AD 488-53 1).

The Mazdakites' fundamental belief in the social equality of people, still largely present in the Cult of Angels, gave this religion special attraction to the poor and the objects of discrimination. Mazdak (whose name may mean "lesser Mazdâ," with Mazdâ being the shortened form for the name of the Zoroastrian supreme god Ahurâ Mazdâ), preached communal ownership of many worldly possessions, and was accused of having included women in this same category-an accusation of sexual promiscuity still levied on the Cult of Angels.

The practice of communal ownership has prompted many modern writers to flamboyantly brand the cult of Mazdak as the first world communist system (see Classical History). In this religion was also embedded a militancy that continued to manifest itself in several socioreligious movements in the Islamic era, and indirectly through the militant Shi'ism of modern times.

Despite, or perhaps because of, their earlier successes, the Mazdakites were soon subjected to widespread massacres towards the end of Kavât's rule ca. AD 528 (as he had by then reverted to Zoroastrianism). Under the rule of Kavât's son and successor, Chosroes I Anoshervân, pogroms were extended to all corners of the country, prompting the king soon to declare them all destroyed. Far from being destroyed, the movement resurfaced, albeit fragmented, after the destruction of the staunchly Zoroastrian Sasanian Persian Empire. Mazdak remains one of the two patron saints of the populous Khushnow Kurdish tribe in central Kurdistan (Sykes 1908, 457).

Muslim rulers in their turn had to face and put down successiva waves of economically driven messianic religious movements originating in this same area of Jibâl (Arabic for "[Zagrosl mountains," i.e., old Media). The most important movement, that of the Khurramiyya, was led by religious and military leader Bâbak. The Khurramiyya believed in transmigration of souls, especially those of their leaders and religious figures. Bâbak and his followers, like Mazdak and the Mazdakites earlier, were known for their practice of communal ownership of all properties and means of economic production, and lack of social distinctions.

Simultaneously with Bâbak, whose headquarters were among the migrant Kurdish tribes in Azerbaijan, a Kurd named Nârseh (known to the medieval Muslim historien Mas'udi as "Nasir the Kurd"), led a Khurrami uprising in southern Kurdistan (the heartland of the Cult of Angels), which was finally put down under the 'Abbâsid caliph Mu'tasim. Muslim historien Tabari reports that about 60,000 of Nârseh's followers were killed by the Muslims, forcing the rest, along with Nârseh, to flee into the Byzantine Empire in AD 833 (see Medieval History).

The hallmark of the Mazdakites and the Khurramis was their use of the color red for their banners and clothing. They were thus called the Surkhalamân, "the people of red banners," or Surkhjâmagân, "the people of red cloths." This signature reappeared in the 14th and 15th centuries in another movement from among the followers of the Cult, when the Alevis came to be called the Qizilbâsh, or "the red heads," from their red headgear (see Alevism and Medieval History).

After its suppression under the early 'Abbâsid caliphs, an offshoot of Khurramiyya appeared in southern Iraq and later in Lahsâ or Ahsâ (modern Al-Ahsâ in eastern Saudi Arabia). These were called the Qarmatites, and shared with the parent movement the ideals of socioeconomic equality, as well as its cosmogony and theology. The medieval Ismâ'ili traveller Nâsir Khusraw records such practices of the inhabitants of Lahsâ as communal owi-iersffip of property and pointing to the connection between the old Mazdakite movement and Qarmatism. A hotbed of "schism," Lahsâ remains a predominantly non-Sunni region in the otherwise fanatically Sunni Saudi Arabia. The population is now reported to be mainstream Imâmi Sffi'ite, which may well turn out to be the same kind of inaccurate generalisation as that which classified the Cult of Angels itself as a Shi'ite Muslim sect.

In the 15th century, Muhammad Nurbakhsh, whose Sufi movement turned out to closely parallel the tenets of the Cult of Angels (see Sufi Mystic Orders), came from Lahsâ. In the early 19th century, another mystic from Lahsâ, Shaykh Ahmad Lahsâ'i, moved to Persia to lay the foundations for the Bâbi movement of the middle of the 19th century. A socioeconomic, messianic movement with striking similarities to the old Mazdakite movement, the ideas of Shaykh Ahmad (which were popularized by AliMuhammad Bâb), on which it was based, share at 12ast as much with the Cult of Angels as did the Nurbakhshi movement (see Bâbism & Bahâism).

All branches of the Cult, from the Mazdakites to the modern-day Alevis, have been commonly accused of sexual promiscuity. The Muslims believe they share their women at their communal religious gatherings. Even today the fiction of this notorious ceremony (called mum söndii, "candie blown out" in Anatolia, or chirâgh kushân, "killing of the lights" in Iran) is used by the Cult's Muslim neighbors to demean its followers. The accusation is levied against many other religious minorities connected in various ways to the Cult of Angels, such as the Ismâ'ilis in Afghanistan (Canfield 1978), the Alevis of Turkey (Yalman 1969) and Syria, and the Druze of the Levant (Eickelman 1981). Oddly, even scholars of the stature of Henry Rawlinson, Macdonald Kinnier, and G.R. Driver chose to believe rumors of this ceremony. Driver compares it with the oriental Bona Dea at Rome, and declares it even more shatneless (Driver 1921-23). Rawlinson states that, although he did not believe it was still practiced in his time (1836), he thought it had been until half a century earlier. He further adds that it must have been the remnant of the ancient worship of fertihty deities found in the cults of Mithra and Anahita, and also in the cult of Sesostris, which practiced the worship of genitalia. Kinnier claimed to have witnessed, if not actually participated in, one in 1818.

The followers of all branches of the Cult of Angels have ritual gatherings called lam, Âyini lam, or Jamkhâna (spelled (7emhane in Turkey), in a designated enclosure where holy scripture is recited, religious masters speak, and community bonds are renewed by the shaking of hands of all those present. Social equality is demonstrated by the forbidding of any hierarchical scating arrangements. The gatherings are closed to nonbelievers for fear of persecution, and the secrecy enshrouding the ceremony may have been the cause of the myth of communal sexual improprieties. The fact that women now are forbidden even to enter the Jamkhâna by some 6ranches of the Yârsân is a reaction to these accusations, even though it runs against the grain of Kurdish society and its traditionauy high status of women (see Status of Women & Family Ufe).

The minor Jam ceremonies occur once every seven days. The all-important major Jam occurs once a year, at different times for different branches of the cult, as discussed under their entries below.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:18

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 5B

Religions in Kurdistan - Yazdânism

In the Islamic era the religion has influenced and been influenced by many branches of Islam, particularly by the Shi'ism of the lmâmi (Twelver) and the Isma'ili (Sevener) sects. The most important and lasting contribution of the Cult of Angels to Islam, however, came at the time of the Qara Qoyunlu dynasty of eastern Anatolia and western Iran (1380-1468), as well as during the formative carly decades of the Safavid dynasty, beginning in AD 1501. The dynasty's founder, Ismâ'il 1, had strong Alevi sentiments, and in fact claimed to be an avatar of the Divinity. He is still revered by the Alevis as such, and as a Sâhabi Zamân, a living "Time Lord." It took many generations of Safavid endeavor to adjust to, and largely expunge, the elements of the Cult of Angels from their original religion. They did succeed, however, and the traditional, standard Imâmi Shi'ite Islam has since dominated Persia/lran. Nonetheless, every impartial report concerning the faith and practices of the carly Safavids points toward the Cult of Angels (Alevism in particular), and not Shi'ite Islam, as their religion.

To distinguish themselves from these non-Muslim "infidels," the mainstream lmâmi Shi'ites began from the start of the 16th century to refer to themselves as Ja'fari (after the 6th Shi'ite imam, Ja'far al-Sâdiq), instead of by their earlier, and cherished, title: the Shi'a. Shi'ites short for shiat al-'Ali, is Arabic for "the party of Ali," Muhammad's son-in-law. Convinced that the names Alevi and Aliullâhi, Gy which these non-Muslim Kurds, and later Turkmens and Arabs, called themselves, are derived from the name of imam Ali (a notion fortified by the semi-deification of Ali, as one of the most important carthly avatars of the Universal Spirit, by two out of three branches of the Cult of Angels), the lmârni Shi'ites opted for the less-than-desirable, but safer title of lafari. By the time of the fall of the Safavids III 1720, this had become the almost exclusive title observed by mainstream Shi'ites, so real was their fear of association and confusion with the manifestly non-Muslim Alevis and Aliullâhis. To their chagrin, some Alevis in Anatolia began to embrace the name lafari in the 2Oth century, and have reported themselves as such to the Turkish census takers (see Table 5, Remarks).

The ability of the Cult to adapt and absorb alien religions through its belief in the transmigration and reincarnation of souls again reminds one of Hinduism. Indian Buddhism was absorbed by Hinduism when the latter declared Buddha to be yet another, albeit important, avatar of the Spirit, just as Vishnu, Shiva, and Rama are. Some Hindus did unsuccessfully claim such status for the Prophet Muhammad as well.

The "high-jacking" of Ali and Muhammad for a while seemed to have given the Cult the means it needed to absorb Shi'ite Islam from the beginning of the 15th century to the time of the Ascension of Abbâs the Great on the Safavid throne in AD 1588. His enthusiastic sponsorship of the mainstream lmâmi Shi'ite theologians, attracted from as far away as Medina, Lebanon, Mesopotamia, and Khurâsân, finally blew away the smoke screen of Ali-worship by the Cult of Angels. Abbâs' Islamic scholars codified and strictly delineated lmâmi Shi'ism within its traditional boundarics prior to the Cult's offensiva. The most important of these Shi'ite theologians, Allâma Majlisi, goes to great lengths to danin the followers of the Cult of Angels in his seminal treatise upholding traditional Shi'ism, Bihâr al-Anwâr. Despite all this, Shi'ism in its modern form bears the influence of the Cult in its rituals, specifically those that are considered the most offensive and unorthodox by the Sunnis. After all, it was under the sharp and punishing pressure of the Qara Qoyunlu and the carly Safavids (i.e., in their "Alevi period") that most Muslims of Iran and the Caucasus were converted from Sunnism. The later reforms and introduction of traditional Shi'ism after the 17th century never succeeded in doing away with the imprint of the Cult of Angels on the common practice of the religion. The Cult survives today in the radicalism, economic and social egalitarianism, and martyr syndrome of Iranian and Caucasian Shi'ism, but not so much of Iraqi Shi'ism. The inhabitants of what is now Iraq were mostly Shi'ite before the arrival of the revolutionary Alevis out of Anatolia and never converted to Alevism. Iraq was not, however, left unaffected by the Cult. It was another branch of the Cult, Yârsânism that had more peacefully been influencing Mesopotamia since the early days of Islam.

In words once interpreted as slander, but that now appear to have been true, the famous 15th century Sunni theologian, Sufi master, and poet, Abdul-Rahmân Muhammad Jâmi (in the Rashahât~i Jâmi) refers clearly to the "Shi'ites" he encounters in Baghdad as the 11 people of Dun ba Dun" (a fundamental relioous tenet of the Cult, denoting continuous reincarnation of the soul; see Yârsânism). Jâmi habitually respects the traditionalshi'ite Mushms of central Asia and his home province of Khurâsân. His great antagonism toward the "Shi'ites" of the western Middle East, including Baghdad, is demonstrated by his adamant refusal to call them Shi'ites, but instead Râfidi, i.e., "the apostates." This and the similarly hostile reception of western Shi'ism by the Sunni theologians of eastern Islamdom (who well tolerated traditional lmâmi Shi'ism), occurred at a time when the Cult of Angels was busily absorbing traditional Islamic Shi'ism.

The Shi'ite beliefs in many saints, the messiah, a living Sâhib al-Zamâm, "Time Lord," and the like, all naturally appeal to the followers of the Cult of Angels. The Cult embraces all such notions, except that of a messiah to come at the end of the world. It has not, therefore, been difficult for them to pass themselves off as Shi'ites if need be. Even today, some branches of the Cult of Angels comfortably declare themselves bona fide Shi'ite Muslims, despite the fact that their fundamental beliefs clash with the principles of Islam as set forth in the Koran.

The Cult contains an impressive body of cosmogonical and eschatological literature, which is best preserved in the Yârsân branch, and is discussed under Yârsânism. The number 7 is sacred in this religion, and is the number of heavens, the number of luminous angels (as well as of their opposing dark forces of matter), the number of major avatars of the Universal Spirit, the number of epochs in the life of the material world, and the number of venerable families that maintain a hereditary priestly office in the religion. At the heart of number 7 also lies another, more sacred but less often employed, number: 3, which denotes things pertaining to the almighty himself. These numbers of course are sacred, more or less, in many other religions and disciplines of Middle Eastern origin as well. We need only remember the Trinity in Christianity, and the veneration of the number 7 in traditional astrology. What is missing from the Cult of Angels is the veneration of the number 12, which is sacred to Judaism> Christianity, and Islam (e.g., 12 tribes of Israel, apostles of Christ, Shi'ite imams).

Fasting requirements in this religion are limited to three days' while prayers are required only on the occasion of the communal gathering of Jamkhâna. Dietary laws vary from denomination to denomination, but are lax, or rather vague, at best. Alcohol and ham, for example, are often permitted because they are not directly prohibited in the scripture.

The Cult is fundamentally a non-Semitic religion, with an Aryan superstructure overlaying a religious foundation indigenous to the Zagros. To identify the Cult or any of its denominations, as Islamic is a simple mistake, born of a lack of knowledge of the religion, which pre-dates Islam by millennia. Even though there has been strong mutual impact of the Alevi and Yârsân branches of the Cult and Shi'ite Islam, it is equally a mistake to consider these branches as Shi'ite Muslim sects, or vice versa.

The causes of this common mistake are several, but most important is the high station of Ali, the first Muslim Shi'ite imam, in both Yârsânism and Alevism. Through the elevation of Ali to status of primary avatar of the Spirit, Alevism and Yârsânsim have earned the title Aliullâhi (those who deify Ali) from their Muslim neighbors. The ongoing practice of religious dissimulation-like the Muslim taquiyah-has been also an important factor in confusing outsiders. The Cult's past attempts to absorb Shi'ism thro'ugh pretensions of a shared identity have also confused many a hapless historian. As extremist Shi'ites, or ghulât, was how the embarrassed Muslim neighbors of the followers of the Cult used to identify them. Today, if asked, most Muslims would readily call Cult followers (with the exception of the Yezidis) Shi'ite Muslims of a "peculiar" kind.

The dwindling number of followers of the Cult over the past 4 centuries, coupled with the religious dissimulation of their leaders, who have openly and persistently called the Cult a Shi'ite Muslim sect, have relegated the question to the realm of unimportance for Muslims. The exception is, perhaps, the Kurdish Muslims themselves, whose persecution of Cult followers in the 19th and early 2Oth centuries Was instigated by the fame- and follower-seeking, demagogue Muslim mullahs. These Muslims alone have kept up the pressure on Cult members (see Early Modern history)

Unlike many major religions, the Cult facks a divinely inspired, sin le holy book. In fact the avatars of the fact such a book would have been out of place, given the multiplicity of the avatars of the Spirit, and the fact that revelation and reincarnation are an on-going affair in this regenerative religion. Instead there are many venerated scriptures, produced at various dates, in various languages, and covering various themes by holy figures in the Cult. In fact Nurali llâhi, himself a minor avatar and the author of the most recent "holy scripture," the Burhân (see Yârsânism), passed on in 1975. Lack of a single holy book has not by any means hindered the Cult from developing a most impressive cosmogony, catechizes, eschatology, and liturgy, which are shared with minor variations in all denominations of the Cult to this day.

Good and evil are believed by the Cult to be equally important and fundamental to the creation and continuation of the material world. The good Angels, are therefore, as venerable as the bad ones, if one may call them so. In fact, without this binary opposition the world would not exist. Cold exists on] y because there is also its opposite, warm; up is what it is only because there is also down. Good would cease to exist if evil ceased to balance its existence. "Knowledge" and "awareness" in man exist only because good and evil exist in equal force, to be used as points of reference by man to comprehend and balance his being. Good, traditionally represented by the symbol of a dog and evil by the symbol of a serpent, join each other in a dog-headed serpent to represent the embodiment of the act of world creation: the mixture of ether and matter, good and evil, and all other opposites that make up this world. Some reports by European travellers of the late 19th and early 2Oth centuries regarding the veneration of dogs by the Alevis, if true, may point to worship of the symbol of good, since there is plenty of evidence of veneration of the symbol of the serpent (and hence evil) in the Yezidi arts, particularly at their shrines in Lâlish (see Yezidism).

The symbol of a dog-headed serpent finds its precedent in the Kurdish art of the Mannaean period of the 9th century BC. Side-by-side representation of the dog and serpent symbols is already well-known through the ancient Mithraic temple art from England to Iran.

The Cult does not believe in a physical hell or heaven, filled with devils or angels to come at the end of time. The horrors of hell and pleasures of paradise take place in this world as people reincarnate after death into a life of bounty and health or conversely into one of misery and destitution, depending on the nature of the life they lived within their previous body. At the end of time, however, only the righteous and complete "humans" who succeed in crossing the tricky bridge of final judgment (Perdivari) will join the eternity of the Universal Spirit. The failed souls will be annihilated along with the material world forever.

The Cult's belief in the figurative nature of hell and heaven is shared prominently by many Sufi orders, but particularly those that have come under the influence of the Cult (see Sufi Mystic Orders).

In addition to their attempt to absorb Shi'ite Islam, in the past thousand years, the followers of the Cult of Angels went through a period of successful proselytization of the Turkmens of Anatolia and the Arabs of the Levantine coasts of the eastern Mediterranean. There are also notable groups of Azeris, Gilânis, and Mâzandarânis who follow the Cult (Table 5).

It must be noted, however, that not all non-Kurdish followers of the various branches of this religion are just foreign converts. While most non-Kurdish followers of the Alevi branch of the Cult in Anatolia are actually Turkmen converts, the Arabs of the southern Amanus mountains and the Syrian coastal regions are in large part assimilated Kurds who inhabited the region in the medieval period. The same is true of the followers of the Cult in Azerbaijan, and in Gilân and Mâzandarân on the Caspian Sea, most of whom are the descendants of assimilated Kurds who have lost all traces of their former ethnic identity short of this religion (see Historical Migrations and Integration & Assimilation). The multilingualism of the sacred works of this religion may be the result of a desire to communicate with these ethnically metamorphosed followers of the Cult, and to convey the Word to all interested people in the tongue most native to them. This practice is also found in the Manichaean (now extinct), Druze, and Ismâ'ili religions, all of which have had strong past contact with the Cult of Angels.

In the past the religion has also lost major communities of adherents: almost all the Lurs have gone over to mainstream Shi'ite Islam, while the population in Kurdistan itself has become primarily Sunni Muslim. The Laks are fast following the suit of the Lurs. This religious change seems almost always to parallel a change in language and lifestyle among the affected Kurds. The Lurs went from various dialects of Gurâni Kurdish to Persian, an evolved form of which they still speak today. Most of the agriculturalist Kurdish followers of the Cult of Angels switched from Pahlawâni to Kurmânji and its dialects when converting to Islam. Except for the Mukri regions around the town of Mahâbâd, the area now dominated by the South Kurmânji dialect of Sorâni (see Language) was a domain of Yârsânism and the Gurâni dialect until about three centuries ago (see Historical Migrations), while the domain of North Kurmânji was primarily that of the Dimilj language and Alevi faith until the 16th century.

At the turn of the century, 33-40% of all Kurds followed this old religion. The proportion of the followers of the Cult converting to Islam has slowed down in this century, and now about 30-35% of all Kurds follow various branches of the Cult. More statistics are provided below under relevant denominations of the Cult.

The followers of the Cult have been the primary targets of missionary work, particularly Christian. Christian missionaries 'began work in Kurdistan on various denominations of the Cult as early as the 18th century. These produced the earliest Kurdish dictionaries, along with some of the earliest surviving pieces of written Kurdish, in the form of translated Bibles (see Literature). The missionaries have traditionally found these Kurds (who were mostly agriculturalists) more receptive to their works than the Muslim Kurds (who were mostly pastoralist nomads). Even today, the Primary focus of the Christian and Bâhâ'i missionarics remains the Kurds following the Cult.

Further Readings and Bibliography: A.Christensen, Le règne du roi Kawadh I et le communisme mazdakite (Copenhagen, 1925); O. Klima, Mazdak (Prague, 1957); F. Altheim, Ein asiatischer Staat (Wiesbaden, 1954); M. Rekaya, "Mise au point sur Théophobe et I'alliance de Bâbek avec Thèophile (839/840)," Byzantia 44 (1974); J.B. Bury, A History of the Eastern Roman Emipire from the Fall of Irene to the Accession of Basil I.- AD 802-867 (Brussels, 1935); H. Grégoire, "Manuel et Théophobe et I'ambassade de jea'n le Grammairien chez les Arabes," in A. Vasdi-ev, Byzance et les Arabes, vol. I (Brussels, 1935); J. Rosser, "Theophfl us' Kb urramite Policy an d Its Fin ale: Ile Revolt of Theophobus' Persian Troo,ps in 838," Byzantia 6 (1974); W.A. Wright, "Bâbak of Badhdh and alAfshin during the Years 816-41 AD: Symbols of Iranian Persistencc ägainst Islamic Penetration in North Iran," Muslim World 38 (1948).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sources: The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilazation Harvard University, USA, 1992

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:21

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 6

Religions in Kurdistan - Yârsânism
Yârsânism

The followers of Yârsânism, also known as the Yârisân, Aliullâhi, Ali-llâhi (i.e., "those who deify Ali"), Alihaq, Ahl-i Haqq ("the People of Truth") or Ahl-i Haq ("the People of the Spirit" [Hâk or Haqj), ShaYtânparass (devil-worshippers), Nusayri ("the Nazarenes," i.e., Christians), etc-, are concentrated in southern Kurdistan in both Iran and Iraq. Their domain roughly coincides with that of the Gurâni (including the Laki) Kurdish dialect, with some major exceptions. The faith is loosely divided at present into two or three, very unequal sects.

1) The Ahl-i Haq have been increasingly identified with mainstream Shi'ite Islam, yet follow for their religious instruction the MYstic order led by Nurafi Ilâhi (himself a minor avatar, d. 1974) and his father Ni'matullah Jayhunâbâdi. Nurali llâhi is the author of the venerated book Burhân, which serves as the religious manual for the Ahl-i Haq. Despite Ahl-i Haq's apparent enthusiasm to at least appear to have merged with mainstream lmâmi Shi'ism (or claim that the religion is an independent Shi'ite sect), a short review of the Burhân and study of the discourses of Nurali llâhi and his father leave not a shred of doubt that this is only a pretense intended to protect the Ahl-i Haq from the wrath of their Muslim neighbors. As late as the 1920s, as Nurali relates, the Muslims were lynching and crucifying Yârsân followers.

2) The Tâyifasân have only recently begun to associate with the pragmatic approach and teachings of Nurali vis-a-vis Islam. However, they are not as enthusiastic about an open association with Shi'ism as Ahl-i Haq. Nurali claims the Tâyifasân to be his foflowers, not very different from the Ahl-i Haq. These two groups are the most urban and urbane of the Yârsân sects, and show the most influence from modern Iranian society. Their small branch in Irag follows their lead.

3) The traditionalists consist of the commoners and village folk, who constitute the overwhelming majority, and call themselves the Yârsân, but also on occasion the Nusayri or Aliullâhi. They are the most readily targeted for abuse by their Muslim neighbors, but they are also the ones who are the most faithful to the tenets of the ancient religion. They make no pretense to be Muslims. Since they constitute by far the largest group, the appellation Yârsân here is considered to represent this entire branch of the Cult of Angels. The name is believed by the Yârsâns to have evolved from yâr-i sân, "the companion, or people of the Sultan," i.e., Sultan Sahâk. This seems to be a folk etymology, and the true meaning waits to be discovered.

Yârsânism possesses an impressive body of religious cosmogony. It holds that the world was created when the Universal Spirit (Haq) who resided in Aza4 "Pre-Eternity," in (or as) a pearl, manifested itself in a primary avatar (Zâti Bashar) the Lord God (Khâwandagâr), and signaled the First of the Seven Epochs (Biyâbas) of universal life. The Lord God then proceeded to create the world. The Spirit further manifested itself in five secondary avatars (Zâti Mihtnân), to form the Holy Seven with the Spirit itself. And this was the original Epoch of Creation, the Sâjnâri, or "Genesis" (See Table 6).

The First Epoch was followed by another six (one Zâti Bashar and five Zâti Mihmân). In each one the Spirit manifested itself in six new avatars, to form the seven for that epoch of the universal life.While the avatars of the First Epoch can be closely matched by name to the archangels of the Semitic religions, the avatars of the Second Epoch, which begins with Ali as the primary avatar, are all Muslim figures, except for Nusayr. Nusayr may be interpreted as referring to the "Nazarene," i.e., Jesus Christ, or as Nârsch, the minor avatar who later came to be known as Theophobus. The Third Epoch belongs to Shâh Khushin or Khurshid, "the Sun," that is, the God Mithras or Mihr and his cycle.

The Fourth Epoch begins with Sultan Sahâk, whose accompanying avatars are primarily jewish figures, like Moses, David, and Benjamin. The avatars of the Seventh Epoch bear names followed by the Truck honorific title beg, "master." These changes in the character and origin of the names of the avatars of each epoch may reflect the social and historical events that were occurring in the national life of the Kurds at the time. Possible influential events include the outbreak of the Mithraist movement (2nd century BC to 3rd century AD) in northern and western Kurdistan; the introduction of the Judeo-Christian tradition into central Kurdistan in the 1st century BC and in the rest of Kurdistan up to the 7th century AD; the coming of Islam in the 7th century; the Turkic invasions of the 12th-15th centuries; and the nomadization of Kurdish society in the 17th- 19th centuries (see History).

The names of the avatars of the Fifth Epoch may also signify early medieval revolutionary movements within the Cult. The name of the primary avatar of the epoch, Qirmizi, meaning "the Red One," may be either Bâbak or Nârseh. The red clothing and banner of these revolutionarics have already been mentioned above. The element yâr, "companion, disciple," found in the names of the two secondary avatars of this epoch was commonly found in the given names of individuals in the early medieval period. A relevant example is Mâzyâr (Mâh Yazd Yâr, meaning "the companion of the Angel of Media"), the name of a Cult revolutionary who rose up simultaneously with Bâbak and Nârseh in the Caspian Sea regions (Rekaya 1973). There was, meanwhile, a secret society or brotherhood of plebeians and their revolutionary reformers operating in nearby Baghdad under the title the Ayyârs, "the companions."

The avatars of the Fourth Epoch and Sahâk himself are now held by the Yârsâns to have been the most important of the Spirit's manifestations after the First, and ethereal one, headed by the Lord God. The Alevis consider the Second Epoch and Ali to occupy this primary station, while the much-corrupted Yezidi cosmogonical tradition entitles Shaykh Adi and his avatars to that place of importance, even though it is not clear to which Epoch they are assigned.

Khâwandagâr, Ali, and Sahâk form a Supreme Three within the Seven for the Yârsâns; the Alevis have Khâwandagâr, Ali, and Bektâsh (see Sufi Mystic Orders); while Lucifer, Adi, and Yezid serve the purpose for the Yezidis. The Yezidis place Lucifer or Malak Tâwus among the avatars of the primary or First Epoch. On Table 6 this translates into Lucifer replacing Khâwandagâr himself, as otherwise Lucifer would not both fit in the First Epoch and have Adi as one of his primary avatars in the following Epochs. Each manifestation reincarnates into his or her successor in station in the next Epoch. Thus Khâwandagâr reincarnates into Ali in the Second Epoch, into Shâh Khushin in the Third, into Sultân Sahâk in the Fourth, and so on.

In each epoch there is a female avatar of the Universal Spirit, a reflection of the higher status of women in the Kurdish culture and tradition.

The greatest personage in Yârsânism, Sultan Sahâk, is with increasing frequency referred to as Sultan Is'hâq, i.e., an Islamicized form of Isaac, by some apologetic Ahl-i Haq and Tâyifasây. This title would obviously fit rather nicely with the other judaic names of the avatars of the Fourth Epoch. In his new garb, Sahâk, or "Is'hâq," is contended to have been born sometime between the 11th and 13th centurics in the venerated city of Barzanja, southeast of Sulaymânia (now the center of the Qâdiri Sufi order; see Sufi Mystic Orders. In fact Shaykh Mahmud, the Qâdiri Sufi master who following World War I led a 12-year-long revolt against the British administration in Iraq and subsequently proclaimed himself the "King of Kurdistan" (see Modern History) claimed to be descended from a brother of Sultan Sahâk in the twelfth generation. The traditionalist Yârsâns, on the other hand, believe Sahâk to have been superhuman, a supreme avatar of the Universal Spirit, who lived many centuries, possessed mysterious powers, and lives on as a protective mountain spirit in caves on the high peaks.



Sahâk is the much corrupted form of Dhahâk or Dahâk, which also served as the royal title of the last Median ruler, Rshti-vegâ Äzhi Dahâk (see Ancient History). The name is encountered in various versions throughout the classical and medieval periods in the Zagros region, and everywhere else that the Kurds happened to settle, including Armenia. There is a St. Sâhâk Bartev, an Armenian Catholicos who lived in the late 4th and early 5th centuries AD; there are many other luminaries in early medieval Armenia with this name. At the time Armenia was receiving a large number of Kurdish immigrants from the southeast (see Classical History and Historical Migrations).

According to Yârsânism, humans are the end product of the worldly evolutionary journey of the soul. The soul begins its journey by entering inanimate objects. Upon completion of that experience, the soul lives within plants, then animals. Eventually, the soul enters the body of a man or a woman. Thus he or she contains four natures: those of objects, plants, animals, and mankind. At the moment of entry into the human body, the soul begins a new transmigratory journey, which can last for 1001 reincarnations, equivalent in time to the 50,000 years allotted to the universe. This is called the Dun ba Dun stage (variously interpreted to mean "oblivion to oblivion," i.e., indicating movement from one mortal body to another, or "garb to garb," implying the same thing). At the end of this evolutionary journey, a man/woman reaches salvation and becomes a human, a holy, perfect being worthy of his/her new station in the high heavens and his/her total union with the Universal Spirit.

Salvation in Yârsânism is the responsibility of the individual. The community has no responsibility to help one reach humanity. Even the assistance provided by religious teachers and masters is voluntary guidance and not a duty. The presence or absence of this guidance at any rate has no bearing on the status of the soul of the pupil. Theoretically it is possible for man to reach the high station of humanity through a single life period of high endeavor. Conversely, it may require the entire cycle of 1000 reincarnated lives (the last life after the one-thousandth is the life of salvation and does not count in the Dun ba Dun). Sinning individuals may be reincarnated in the regressed form of an animal, the life of which is not then counted among the 1000 lives. Nor is


TABLE 6:COSMOGONICAL EPOCHS AND THE AVATARS OF THE UNIVERSAL SPIRIT IN YARSANISM.

Legend:
* Conceived without a father
** Conceived without a mother
? Too many or no candidates


Sources: Khazâna, Shâhnâtna-i Haqiqat, and Burhân.

reincarnation into the body of a newborn who dies before reaching 40 days of age counted. If after the 1000 lives of Dun ba Dun or at the end of universe's 50,000 years (which ever comes first) a soul has not yet succeeded in elevating itself to the station of a human, then it will be judged, along with other failed souls, at the Final Judgment or Pardivari, "the bridge crossing."

Because of this strong belief in reincarnation, the dead are scarcely mourned by the Yârsâns, as they are expected to return soon, if not immediately, in the body of a newborn. Indeed, it was not uncommon until relatively recently for priests to try to identify the exact newborn to whom the soul of a deceased person had transmigrated.

Like other branches of the Cult of Angels, Yarsânism does not have a divine holy book as such. They possess instead a body of sayings, or kalâm, and traditions, or deftar, which they treat as their holy scriptures. These have been composed at various times and languages, each at an epoch-making turn in the long history of the religion. The most important kalâm is that of Saranjâm ("Conclusion") also known as the kalâm of Khazâna (perhaps meaning "Repositor)e'), and contains the sayings of Sultan Sahâk, his contemporary saints, and other Yârsân religious figures who preceded him. This is considered to be the paramount work and supersedes all others in authority. The work is in verse and written in the Awrâmani dialect of Gurâni (see Language). Other kalârns and deftars are in Gurâni, but also in Luri, Persian, and various Turkic dialects. Other major works are the Dawrai Bahiul, ascribed to the mysterious Bahlul Mâhi (Bahlul the Median) of the Sth century AD, written in verse in an archaic form of Gurâni. Shâhnâma-i Haqiqat, by Ni'matullah Jayhunâbâdi Mukri and the Burhân by Nurali Ilâl-ii, both are, on the other hand, written recently in Persian with a smattering of Gurâni and Koranic quotations in Arabic.

The center of Yârsânism is deep inside the Gurân region at the town of Gahwâra (or Gawâra), 40 miles west of Kjrmânshâh. The shrine of Bâbâ Yâdigâr, in an eponymous village 50 miles northwest of Gahwâra, now serves as one of Yârsânism's holiest sites. Two days before the festival of the New Year, or New Ruz (see Festivals, Ceremonies, & CaIendar), believers visit the shrine and participate in chants that assume the form of a dialectic on the principles of Yârsânism. The religious teacher and master, or pir, recites a formula posing a question, which is answered by the believers by another formula. The tradition of dialectics in religious discourse and ceremoniel chants has deep roots in the Zagros region. It is also found in the Zoroastrian religious commentaries of the Zand-i Avestâ and the poetic style of all peoples inhabiting the Zagros chain. A ritual also practiced by the Yârsâns on this occasion is the sacrifice of a rooster. (To the Yezidis, the rooster serves as the venerated announcer of the Sun, so to them this Yârsân practice would be a sacrilege beyond all bounds.)

Despite the impressiveness of what remains of the religious beliefs and tradition, much more has been forgotten, garbled, and fabricated in all branches of the Cult of Angels. The most important religious terminologies, cycles of events, and pivotal points of the religion are derived from popular etymologies, common superstitions, pseudo-histories, and plain fabrications by the imaginative minds of the Yârsân religious masters, the pirs. The important cosmogonical events of Sâjnâri and Perdivari are celebrated and venerated with very little knowledge of even their literal meaning beyond a flimsy popular etymology.

The striking physical attribute of the followers of Yârsânism is the tradition among men of not cutting or trimming their mustaches. In fact, they are allowed to grow to extreme sizes. The beard, on the other hand, is always shaved. The habit is prohibited by Islam (according to which the mustache must always be kept very short) but became the outward hallmark of the extremist Shi'ites, who adopted it from the Alevis. The faces of the Safavid kings, clean-shaven other than their great bushy mustaches as they are recorded in the paintings of the period, could be those of any of the followers of the Cult of Angels as seen today. The habit is no longer practiced by the mainstream Shi'ites because it is disallowed under Islam. The practice has thus once again become the exclusive habit of the followers of the Cult of Angels, particularly the Yârsâns and the Yezidis.

The followers of Yârsânism are now found in one large concentration in southern Kurdistan and many secondary concentrations outside Kurdistan proper, in the Alburz Mountains, Azerbaijan, and Iraq (see Table 5). The famous medieval poet Bâbâ Tâhir and the 19th-century poet Adib al-Mamâlik were adherents of this faith. (In fact, Bâbâ Tâhir is among the secondary avatars of the Third Epoch.) The Sârili, the Kâka'i, and the Bazhalân (also known as the Bajalân and the Bajarwân) Kurds, occupying in separate pockets the area between Qasri Shirin, Kirkuk, and Mosul, practice some variations of Yârsânism as weil. Presently the followers of Yârsânism constitute roughly 1 O- 1 5% of the Kurds.

Furtber Readings and Bibliography: V, Minorsky, "Ahl-i Haqq," in The Encyclopaedia of Islam; Mohammed Mokri, Le Chasseur de Dieu et le mythe du Roi-Aigle (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1967); Shâh-Nâma-ye Haqiqat, French commentary and partial translation by Mohammad Mokri (Paris: Institute Fran@ais d'lranologie, Bibliothéque Iraiiieiine, 1971); Robert Canfield, "What They Do When the Lights Are Out: Myth and Social Order in Afghanistan," paper presented at the ACLS/SSRC Joint Committee on the Near and Middle East Conference on Symbols of Social Differentiation (Baltimore, 1978); Reza M. Hamzeh'i, The Yaresan: A Sociological, Historical and Religio-Hi5torical Study of a Kurdish Community (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1990); W. Ivanow, The Truth-Worshippers of Kurdistan: Ahl-i Haqq Text5 (Leiden: BriH, 1953); V. Minorsky, "Notes sur la secte des Ahlé Haqq," Revue du Monde Musulman 40-41 (1920 and 1921); Mohammed Mokri, Recherclics de kurdologie: Gontribution scientifique aux études iraniennes (Paris: Klincksieck, 1970); Dale Eickelman, The Middle East. An Anthropological Approach (Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall, 1981); Henry Rawlinson, lourneyfrom Zohab to Khuzistan (London, 1836); Henry Rawlinson, "Notes on a march from Zohab," Journal of Royal Geographic Society (London, 1839); John Macdonald Kinnier, A Geographical Memoir of the Persian Empire (London, 18 13); John Macdonald Kinilier, Journey through Asia Minor, Armeiiia and Koordistati, III the years 1813 and 1814 (London, 1818); Edith Porada, "Of Deer, Bells and Pomegranates,>' Iranica Antiqua vii (1967); Mohammed Mokri, LEsotérisme kurde (Paris, 1966); Matti Moosa, Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1988); M. Rekaya, "Meâr: Résistance ou integration d'un province iranienne au monde musulman au mdieu du IXe siécle ap. J.C.," Studia Iranica 2 (1973).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sources: The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilazation Harvard University, USA, 1992

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:22

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 7

Religions in Kurdistan - Alevism
Alevism

A majority of the Dimila Kurds of Anatolia and some of their Kurmânji speaking neighbors are followers of another denomination of the Cult of Angels. These have been called collectively the Alawis ("the Followers of Ah"), the Alevis ("the People of Fire," implying fire-worship or Zoroastrianism, from alev, "fire"), the Qizilbâsh ("the red heads," from their red head gear, and the Nusayri (which can be interpreted as the "Nazarenes," implying Christianity, or as the "followers of Nârsch," the early medieval Kurdish revolutionary of the Khurrami movement who settled with his followers in Anatolia). See Medieval History). The Alevis believe in Ali as the most important primary avatar of the Universal Spirit in the Second Epoch of the universal life (see Yârsânism), hence their exaggerated feelings for this first Shi'ite Muslim imam. This may be the root of their communal appellation, just as the title Aliullâhi ("the deifiers of Ali") serves as one of the titles the outsiders call the Yârsâns. A point to note is that unlike in Yârsânism, Ali is a double figure in Alevism. Alevis join the lmâm Ali and the Prophet Muhammad together to form Alimuhammad, who is then considered a single avatar, albeit with double manifestations. The founder of the Safavid dynasty, Shâh Ismâ'il I, often referred to himself in his writings with the formula "Alimuhammad," when he was not calling himself Haq, the Spirit.

Despite the importance of Ali in the religion and its modern communal appellation, Alevism remains a thoroughly non-lslamic religion, and a part of the Cult of Angels. Like other branches of the Cult, the fundamental theology of Alevism sharply contradicts the letter and spirit of the Koran in every important manner, as any independent, nonSemitic religion might.

Alevism is now also practiced by many Syrian Arabs, where Alevis constitute over 13% of the total population of the state. In Syria they are more often known as the Nusayris and are the predominant religious group in coastal Syria, centered on the ports of Latakia and Tartus. Ethnic Kurds were once numerous here and are still found not just to the north, but also to the east, toward the city of Hama. The Alevi Arabs are thus a mixture of Arab converts and assimilated Kurds. The current president of Syria, Hafez al-Assad is an Alevi (more precisely, a Nusayri; see below). Under the French Mandate, this section of Syria was made autonomous for this religious reason.

Many Turkmens of Turkey, who neighbor the Kurds in the Taurus and Pontus mountains near the cities of Adana, Sivas, Tokat, and Amasya are also adherents of Alevism. Contrary to the Syrian case, the non-Kurdish Alevis of Anatolia are primarily Turkic converts and not assimilated Kurds. Along with the Kurdish Alevis, these Turkmens were the backbone of the armed forces that powered the rise of the Safavids of Persia. There may now be as many Turkmen Alevis as Kurds, if not actually more. The Shabaks, who live to the immediate south-southeast of Mosul in central Kurdistan, neighboring the Yârsân Bajalâns, also practice a form of this Dimili Alevism.

Dimili Alevism bears closer Unks to ancient Aryan cults than does Yârsânism. Its rites include daily bowing to the rising sun and moon and the incantation of hynms for the occasion. The communal ritual gathering of Jamkhâna is observed by these Dimili Alevis as the Äyini Jam, "the Tradition of Jam." The major Jam, or the grand annual communal gathering, coincides with the great Muslim Feast of Abraham that concludes the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and includes the sacrifice of a lamb. Jam (known as lamshid in Zoroastrianism and Yamâ in the Veda) was the great Aryan hero in the tradition of the Zoroastrians to whom is ascribed the creation of the feast of New Ruz-the Kurdish and Iranic new year. The myth holds that Jam was sacrificed at the end of his own days to the rising sun by none else than Äzhi Dahâk. In fact, in the renowned Iranic national epic, the Shâhnâma of Firdawsi, lamshid is depicted as "the worshipper of the Sun and Moon" (chapter on the Advent of Zoroaster, line 71), as are the Alevis.

The Âyini lam constitutes basically the same religious occasion as that of Jamkhâna of the Yârsâns and Jam of the Yezidis. The Alevis, despite the verbal torfflents of outsiders, still allow full participation of women in their rituals and religious gatherings, articulately the occasion of the major Äyini Jam. This is therefore the specific occasion tpo which outsiders point for their accusation of the communal sex ritual of the 11 candle blown out" mentioned earlier.

Some Dimili Alevis, as well as the Yezidi clans, still maintain the ancient Iranic rite of worshipping the deity represented as a sword stuck into the ground. Mark Sykes in 1908 mentions this practice among a few Dimili tribes: the Bosikân, Kuriân, and apparently also the Zekiri, Musi, and Sarmi, but he adds that at the time the last three no longer practiced it. This rite is mentioned by Herodotus for the Iranic Scythians and Sarmatians (kinsmen of the Kurds and other Iranic peoples) in Ukraine of 2300 years ago. (The resemblancc between the Dimili tribal name Sarmi and the that of Sarmatians is also worthy of note.) The image of the sword stuck in the ground or a rock is of course similar to that of the British Excalibur and King Arthur. There is a strong possibility that the two are related. In AD 175, Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius assigned a legion of Sarmatians from Pannonia (modern Hungary) to serve in England and Scotland (the Sarmatians' comrnander's name was Lucius Artorius Castus!). According to Nickel, the basic elements of the legend may have been introduced into Britain by these Sarmatian settlers, and the familiar story of Excalibur may thus be akin to this Dimili Alevi religious practice. The Dimila are the last Iranic people still practicing the ancient rite.

Some modern European travelers have reported, as hearsay, that some Qizilbâsh worship a large (black) dog as the embodiment of the deity (Driver 1921-23). Even though Driver's account is rather derogatory toward the Alevis and to the practice' of which he clearly does not approve, veneration of the dog as a symbol of good (the serpent standing for evil) is a very ancient rite. The binary opposition in which the dog and serpent symbols represent the basic poles is found in almost all-Gnostic religions of the old, particularly Mithraism (Jonas 1963).

The divine reverence for Ali practiced by the Alevis became the most conspicuous religious sign of the Qara Qoyunlu and the carly Safavid dynasties. Added to their other non-lslamic rites and beliefs, this alienated them from the Muslim surroundings, to which they sought to extend their political domination and their Alevi religion under the pretense of Shi'ism. They were commonly referred to as the Qizilbâsh, a name still carried by the modern Alevi Dimila Kurds of east-central Anatolia-the area where the movement began in the 15th century.

To form the critical human force necessary for the outburst of the Alevis in the 15th and 16th centuries, two factors proved crucial: 1) the unprecedented demographic gains by the Kurds in the period between 1400 and the 1520's, and 2) the earlier successful conversion to the Cult of Angels of vast numbers of the neighboring Turkmen tribes of Anatolia and the Caucasus. The carly patrons of this Alevism, better known to historiens as extremist Shi'ites, were the Turkmen royal house of Qara Qoyunlu, which ruled basically the entire area of contemporary Iran, as well as the Caucasus and eastern Anatolia. The inclinations of the Qara Qoyunlu toward the Cult of Angels and away from Islam were too clear at their own time. Even today, the last remnant of the royal Turkmen Qara Qoyunlu tribe living in exSoviet and !ranian Azerbaijan are followers of the Cult of Angels according to Minorsky. The list of the primary Kurdish tribes that participated in the Safavid Alevi revolution included the Shâmlu, Shaykhâwand, Shâdlu, Khâjawand, Zafrânlu (Za'farânlu), Stâjlu (lstâjlu), and Quvânlu (Qovâ). All these tribes are still extant and Kurdish (see Table 1).

The red headgear that gave the name Qizilbâsh, Turkic for "red heads," to these so cioreligious revolutionaries, are still worn among the Alevi Dimila Kurds. Among the non-Alevi Kurds, it finds its last remnants in the tradition of the Bârzânis. The chiefs of the Bârzâni Confederacy, who have traditionally commanded high religious leadership as well, carry the exclusive privilege of wearing red turbans to their family as a sacred tradition. This red color was also the hallmark of the Mazdakite and the Khurramite movements, which are the direct predecessors of Alevism.

As in Yârsânism, some branches of Alevism have for various reasons grown ever closer to the mainstream Shi'ite Islam they helped form in its current state in the course of the 15th-17th centuries. The most transformed branches of Alevism are similar in their association with Shi'ism to the Ahl-i Haq followers of Nurali Ilâhi (see Yârsânism). Even at their most advanced stage of convergence, neither the Ahl-i Haq nor the Alevis qualify as Shi'ites or Muslims by any Koranic standards.

Alevism was a disfavored religion in the Ottoman Empire, whose ruling sultans wore the mantle of the Prophet Muhammad and championed the cause of orthodox Sunni Islam. The Alevis were exposed to many massacres and state-sponsored pogroms immediately after the annexation of eastern Anatolia from Persia under the Ottoman sultan Selim in 1514.

Despite this, the Alevis have seen far less oppression than the Yezidis. This has been due to their larger numbers. Even today followers of this religion constitute roughly 20% of all Kurds.

The centuries-long underprivileged status of the Alevi community under the Ottomans and the suspicion of their Persian sympathics was inadvertently carried over into the Turkish Republican period after 1922, even though the Republic confessed total secularism, and Persia/Iran had ceased to be a threat. Only recently has it occurred to Ankara that there is no logic in disfavoring the Alevis, and the Bektâshi Sufi order which is strongly associated with it. On the contrary, there is much to be lost by continuing the old anti-Alevi policies. These policies have turned the Alevi Kurds (who saw themselves discriminated against on two counts, being Kurds and being Alevis) into some of the most radical insurgents and most extremist of all political groups. The rebellious attitude of these contemporary Alevis towards an oppressive state reminds one of the earlier movements by the followers of the Cult of Angels (e.g., the Mazdakites and the Khurramis), and the radicalism it has imparted to Shi'ism.

Alevism is now recognized in Turkey as an "indigenous" Anatolian religion worthy of respect. Cloaked in nationalist garb, and a useful counterweight to the rising militancy among the Sunni Muslims, Ankara even officially sponsors some Alevi festivals.

Attention must be also given to Nusayrism, the branch of Alevism that was formed by the introduction of Arabian values into the practice of the Cult of Angels when it was introduced into the Syrian coastal regions by immigrating Kurds. Since Nusayrism is now followed by peoples who do not consider themselves to be ethnic Kurds, a brief observation of its tenets is all that is given here. Instead of Ali, Nusayrism takes Salmân to be the most important avatar of the Spirit after the Lord God. Salmân was a Persian companion of the Prophet Muhammad. Other Islamic figures fill in the Second Epoch (the most important earthly one) of the universal life, as they do in Alevism. The dates of the major annual celebrations of the Nusayris closely parallel those of the Yezidis, with New Ruz (March 21), Mithrâkân (called Mihrajân by the Nusayris, October 6-13), the Feast of Yezid (December 25) all being celebrated. The fourth celebration, observed on the occasion of the Tiragân by the Yezidis in late July, is replaced by Sada among the Nusayris, and is held in January about the time of the Christian feast of Epiphany.

The marked difference between Nusayrism and Alevism, and iii fact the rest of the Cult of Angels, is not in their theology but in their sociology, particularly their treatment of women. In a very un-Kurdish fashion, but on par with other Semitic religions, women are held in a very low station by the Nusayris. They actually believe women, like objects and animals, lack souls, and that the soul of a sinful man may reincarnate into a woman after his death, so that he may spend one life span in the purgatory of a woman's soulless body. In fact, while retaining Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, on the list of the major avatars of the Spirit, Nusayris turn the name into Fâtim, a masculine form of Fatima's name. They believe her to have been a man, manifesting himself as a woman only to give birth to Ali's sons and imams, Hasan and Husayn. This is a clear challenge to the high status that women enjoy in virtually all other branches of the Cult of Angels, belief in which requires the presence of one female Major Avatar in every stage of reincarnations of the Spirit, as set forth in Table 6.

Further Readings and Bibliography: P.j. Buinke, "Kizilbas Kurden in Dersim (Tunçeli, Ttirkei):Marginalität und Häresie," Anthropos 74 (1979); "The Kurdish Alevis: Boundaries and Perceptions," in Peter Andrews> ed., Ethtiic Groups in the Republic of Turkey (Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1989); N. Yalman, "Islamic Reform and the Mystic Tradition in Eastern Turkey," European Journal of Sociology 10 (1969); F.W. Hasluck, "Heterodox Tribes of Asia Minor," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 51 (1921); Matti Moosa, Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1988); James Reid, Tribalism and Society in Islamic Iran, 1500- 1629 (Malibu: Undena, 1983); Klaus MWler, Kulturhistorische Studien zur Genese pseudo-islamischer Sektekigebilde in Vorderasien (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1967); P. Butyka, "Das ehemalige Vdayet Dersim," Mitteilungen der kaielich-königlichen Geographischen Gesellschaft 35 (Berlin, 1892); Peter J. Bumke, "Kizflbase-Kurden in Dersim (Tunceli, T(irkei): Marginalität und Häresie," Anthropos 74 (1979); Krisztina Kehl-Bodrogi, Die KizilbasflAlei4tcn: Untersuchungen iiber eine esoterische Glaubensgemeinschaft in Anatolien (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1988); Rev. Henry H. Riggs, "Ile Religion of the Dersim Kurds," Missionary Review of the World 24 (191 1); Hanna Sohrweide, "Der Sieg der Safaviden in Persien und seine Riickwirkungen auf die Shiiten Anatoliens im 16. Jahrhundert,' Der Islam 41 (1965); Melville Charter, "Tbe Kizdbash Clans of Kurdistan," National Geograpliic Magazine 54 (1928); Trowbridge, "The Alevis," Harvard Theological Review (1909); Helmut Nickel, "The Dawn of Chivalry," in Ann Farkas et al., eds., From the Land of the Scythians (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Arts, n.d.); Richard Antoun and Donald Quataert, eds., Syria, Society, Gulture, and Polity (Albany: SUNY Press, 1991); Albert Hourani, Minoritics in the Arab World (London: Oxford University Press, 1947); L. MolyneuxSteell "journey into Dersim," Geographical Journal 44-1 (London: 1914); M. Rekaya, <'Mise au point sur Théophobe et I'alliancc de Bâbek avec Théophde (839/840)," Byzantion 44 (1974); j. Rosser, "Theophdus' Khurramite Policy and Its Finale:ne Revolt of Theophobus' Persian Troops in 838," Byzantia 6 (1974); Hans Jonas, T7ie Gnostic Religion (Boston: Beacon, 1963).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sources: The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilazation Harvard University, USA, 1992

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:25

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 8

Religions in Kurdistan - Yezidism
Yezidism

The followers of the Yezidi religion, who have variously referred to themselves also as the Yazidi, Yazdâni, Izadi, and Dasna'i, have often been pejoratively referred to by outsiders as "devil worshippers." They constitute less than 5% of the Kurdish population. At present they live in fragmented pockets, primarily in northwest and northeast Syria, the Caucasus, southeast Turkey, in the Jabal Sanjâr highlands on the Iraqi-Syrian border, and regions north of the Iraqi city of Mosul.

As a branch of the Cult of Angels, Yezidism places a special emphasis on the angels. The name Yezidi is derived from the Old and Middle Iranic term yazata or yezad, for ,1 angel," rendering it to mean "angelicans." Among these angels, the Yezidis include also Lucifer, who is referred to as Malak Tâwus ("Peacock Angel"). Far from being the prince of darkness and evil, Lucifer is of the same nature as other archangels, albeit with far more authority and power over worldly affairs. In fact, it is Malak Tâwus who creates the material world using the dismembered pieces of the original cosmic egg, or pearl, in which the Spirit once resided.

Despite the publication of (reportedly) all major Yezidi religious scriptures, and the availability of their translations, the most basic questions regarding the Yezidi cosmogony are left to speculation. For example, it is left to deductive reasoning to figure out in which epoch of the universal life Lucifer belongs, or what his exact station is. He naturally cannot be the same as the Universal Spirit, as the Spirit does not enter into the act of creation. In Yârsânism and Alevism it is Khâwandagâr, the "Lord God," who as the first avatar of the Spirit undertakes the task of Sâjnâri-world genesis. It is tempting to concluded that Lucifer replaces Khâwandagâr himself in the Yezidi cosmogony. Two Yezidi holy scriptures, Jilwa and Mes'haf, both discussed later, substantiate this conclusion. The following translations of these texts are adopted almost entirely from Guest (1987). Jilwa reads, "Malak Tâwus existed before all creatures," and "1 (Malak Tâwus) was, and am now, and will continue unto eternity, ruling over all creatures .... Neither is there any place void of me where i am not present. Every Epoch has an Avatar, and this by my counsel. Every generation changes with the Chief of this world, so that each one of the chiefs in his turn and cycle fulfills his charge. The other angels may not interfere in my deeds and work: Whatsoever I determine, that is." The implied attributes are all those of Khâwandagâr in Yârsânism and Alevism. Mes'haf asserts> "In the beginning God [which must mean the Universal Spirit] created the White Pearl out of his most precious Essence; and He created a bird named Anfar. And he placed the pearl upon its back, and dwelt thereon forty thousand years. On the first day [of Creation], Sunday, He created an angel named 'Azâzil, which is Malak Tâwus, the chief of all...." Mes'haf goes on to name six other angels, each created in the following days of this first week of creation in the First Epoch. The names of these angels closely match those of Yârsânism and Alevism, as given in Table 6. The problem is that there are seven rather than six avatars, leaving out, therefore, the Spirit himself from the world affairs. This is, however, the result of the later corruption of the original cosmogony, perhaps under Judeo-Christian influence. The rest of the opening chapter of the Mes'haf provides a version of human origin close to the Judeo-Christian story of Adam and Eve, and their interaction with Satan, even though Satan, here Lucifer, serves them only as an honest councillor and educator. Thereafter, he is left in charge of all creatures of the world.

The real story of the First Epoch however surfaces rather inconspicuously, in a single sentence at the end of the Mes'hafs first chapter. As it turns out, the sentence is very much in agreement with the basic tenets of the Cult of Angels. It reads, "From his essence and light He created six Avatars, whose creation was as one lighteth a lamp from another lamp." It is then safe to assume that the original Yezidi belief was that Lucifer was the primary avatar of the Universal Spirit in the First Epoch, and the rest of the cosmogony of the Cult of Angels remains more or less intact. Lucifer himself, in the form of Malak Tawus, "Peacock Angel," is represented by a sculptured bronze bird. This icon, called Anza4 "the Ancient One," is presented to worshippers annually at the major jam at Lâlish.

Lâlish and its environs are also the burial site of Shaykh Adi, the most important personage of the Yezidi religion. Adi's role in Yezidism is similar to those played by Sahâk in Yârsânism and Ali in Alevism. To the Yezidis, Shaykh Adi is the most important avatar of the Universal Spirit of the epochs following the First Epoch. Adi being a primary avatar, he is therefore a reincarnation of Malak Tawus himself. In its modern, garbled form, Adi is assigned a founding role in Yezidism, and interestingly is believed to have lived at about the same time in history, as Sultan Sahâk is believed by the modern Yârsâns, i.e., sometime in the 12-13th centuries. (This is about the same time that Bektâsh of Alevism is believed to have lived and founded that branch of the Cult.) Both Adi and Sahâk are believed to have lived well in excess of a century.

In addition to the main sculptured bird icon Anzal, there are six other similar relics of the Peacock Angel. These are called the sanj'aqs, meaning "dioceses" (of the Yezidi community), and each is assigned to a different diocese of Yezidi concentration. Each year these are brought forth for worship to the dioceses of Syria, Zozan (i.e., Sasoon/Sasun or western and northern Kurdistan in Anatolia), Sanjâr, Shaykhân (of the Greater Zâb basin), Tabriz (Azerbaijan), and Musquf (Moscow, i.e., ex-Soviet Caucasus). The sanjaqs of Tabriz and Musquf no longer circulate, since there are not many Yezidis left in Azerbaijan, and the anti-refigious Soviet government did not permit the icon to enter the bustling Yezidi community of the Caucasus.

Like other branches of the Cult of Angels', Yezidism lacks a holy book of divine origin. There are however many sacred works that contain the body of their beliefs. There is a very short volume (about 500 words) of Arabic-language hymns, ascribed to Shaykh Adi himself and named lilwa, or "Revelation." Another, more detailed book is the Mes'haf i Resh, "the Black Book" in Kurdish, which has been credited to Adi's son, Shaykh Hasan ibn Adi (b. ca. AD II 95), a great-grandnephew of Adi.

Mes'haf is the most informative of the Yezidi scriptures, as it contains the body of the religion's cosmogony, catechesis, eschatology, and liturgy, despite many contradictions and vagaries (far more than in the works of the Yârsâns). The Mes'haf may in fact date back to the 13th century. Mes'haf was written in an old form of Kurmânji Kurdish. Kurmânji in the 13th century was primarily restricted to its stronghold in the ultrarugged Hakkâri highlands (see Kurmânji) . But Hakkâri is in fact exactly were the most ardent followers of Adi and Hasan arose. Adi himself, despite the Yezidi's bebef that he was born in Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, came to be called Adi al-Hakkâri ("Adi of Hakkâri").

Of the Yezidis' four major annual celebrations, two are of special interest here, the Jam and the feast of Yezid.

The most important Yezidi feast is the seven-day-long feast of lam, when the bird icon of Anzal is presented to the worshippers. It occurs between the 6th and 13th of October, which is obligatory to all believers to attend, and is held at Lâlish, north of Mosul, the burial site of Adi and other important Yezidi holy figures, including Hasan. It coincides with the great ancient Aryan feast of Mithrâkân (Zoroastrian Mihragân, Nusayri Mihrajân; see Alevism), held customarily around the middle of October. Ancient Mithrâkân celebrated the act of world creation by the sun god Mithras, who killing the bull of heaven, used its dismembered body to create the material world. On the occasion of the feast at Lâlish, riding men pretend to capture a bull, with which they then circumambulate the Lâlish shrine of Shams al-Din (the "Sun of the Faith"), before sacrificing the bull and distributing its flesh to the pilgrims.



Yezid, a puzzling personage, is venerated by the Yezidis in a somewhat confused fashion. Yezid is credited with founding Yezidism (the religion, obviously, shares his name), or to have been the most important avatar of the Spirit after Malak Tâwus (some even claiming he is the same as Malak Tâwus). He is occasionally identified by the Yezidis as the Umayyad caliph, Yazid ibn Mu'awiyya (r. AD 680-683), the archvillain to Shi'ite Muslims. This faulty identification is encouraged by the Syrian and Iraqi governments (who hopc thus to detach the Yezidis from other Kurds, and to connect them instead with the Umayyads, hencc the Arabs). It has also prompted the leading Yezidi family, the chols, to adopt Arabic costumes and Umayyad caliphal names. Yet, far from being the 'Umayyad caliph, the name is certainly derived from yezad, "angel," and judging by its importance, he must be the angel of the Yezidis. This comical confusion, which permeates the Yezidi leadership to the extent that they doubt their own ethnic identity, is not unexpected, given the intensity of their persecution in the past, and the destruction of whatever religious and historical literature Yezidism may have had in the past, in addition to the little that remains today.

Is it possible that Malak Tâwus, who created the material world in Yezidi cosmogony by utilizing a piece of the original cosmic egg or pearl that he had dismembered carlier, originally represented Mithras in early Yezidism, and only later Lucifer? The second most important Yezidi celebration points toward this possibility. It is held between middle and late December and commemorates the birth of Yezid. His birthday at or near the winter solstice, links him to Mithras. (Mithraism did after all expand into the Roman Empire from this general geographical area in the course of the first century BC, and Mithras' mythical birth was celebrated on December 25 as already has . been discussed.)

The celebration parallels in importance the major jam ceremony in October. It is commemorated with three days of fasting before the jubilees.

In the Yezidi version of world creation, birds play a central role in all major events too numerous in fact to permit summary here. The reverence of the Yezidis for divine manifestations in the form of a bird, the Peacock Angel, and the sacredness of roosters are just two better-known examples. What is fascinating, but less known, is that within 30 miles of the shrines of Lâlish are the Shanidar-Zawi Chami archaeological sites of central Kurdistan, where the archaeologist Solecki has unearthed the remains of shrines and large bird wings, particularly those of the great bustards, dated to 10,800±300 years ago. The remains are indicative of a religious ritual that involved birds and employed their wings, possibly as part of the priestly costume (Solecki 1977).

The representation of bird wings on gods was later to become common in Mesopotamian art, and particularly in the royal rock carvings of the Assyrians, whose capital Nineveh can literally be seen on the horizon from Lalish. The artistic combination of wings and non-flying beings like humans (to form gods), lions (to form sphinxes), bulls (to form royal symbols), and horses (to form the Pegasus), as well as wing-like adornments to priestly costumes, are common in many cultures, but the representation of the supreme deity as a full-fledged bird is peculiarly Yezidi. The evidence of sacrificial rites practiced at ancient Zawi Chami may substantiate an indigenous precursor to modern Yezidi practice.

The bird icon of Lâlish has always been readily identified, as the name implies, as a peacock. However, there are no peacocks native to Kurdistan or this part of Asia. In light of the discoveries at Zawi Chami, the great bustard is a much more likely the bird of the Yezidi icon. The great bustard (Kurdish shawtlt) is native to Kurdistan. It too possesses a colorful tail, similar to that of a turkey (similar to, though much smaller than, that of a peacock, which is seen on the icon). The great bustard far more logically suits the archaic tradition of the Yezidis than does the peacock, a native bird of India.

The practice of bowing three times before the rising sun and chanting hymns for the occasion is practiced by the Yezidis, as among the traditional Alevis (Nikitine 1956). The Yezidis also practice the rite of embracing the "very body of the sun," by kissing its beams as they first fall on the trunks of the trees at the dawn (Kamurân Ali Badir-Khân 1934).

Another Alevi hallmark, the representation of the deity in the shape of a sword or dagger stuck into the ground, is also found among the Yezidis, albeit not for worship but to take oaths upon it (Alexander 1928, Bellino 1816).

In addition to an entrenched aristocracy, the social class system of the Yezidis shows interesting similarities to the rigid social stratification of the Zoroastrian Sasanian Empire. Zoroastrian priests forbade anyone who did not belong to the priestly or princely class to gain literacy, and traditionally Yezidism barred such luxury altogether. (Some Yarsans also believe that this should be so, and also practice it.) In fact, it has been asserted that until the beginning of this century only one man among the Yezidis, the custodian of the Jilwa, knew how to read (Guest 1987, 33). This ban is largely gone now, although through force of habit the Yezidi commoners are still not keen on literacy.

Interestingly, the wealthier Yezidi shaykhs and mullahs wear Arab bedouin clothes and headdress, speak both Arabic and Kurdish, and usually have Arabic names. The poorer Yezidi social and religious leaders, on the other hand, have Kurdish names, speak only Kurdish, and wear Kurdish traditional clothes and headgear (Lescot 1938).

Leadership of the Yezidi conununity has traditionally rested with one of the old Kurdish princely houses, the Chols, who took over in the 17th century. They replaced the line of rulers who claimed descent from Shaykh Hasan, the author of Mes'haf. They are supported financially and otherwise by every Yezidi. The priestly duties reside, as in Yârsânism, with the members of the seven hereditary priestly houses, which include the Chols.

The relative smallness of the current Yezidi community can be misleading. At the time of Saladin's conquest of Antioch, the Yezidis were dominant in the neighboring valleys in the Amanus coastal mountains, and by the 13th and 14th centuries Yezidis had expanded their domains by converting many Muslims and Christians to their faith, from Antioch to Urmiâ, and from Sivâs to Kirkuk. They also mustered a good deal of political and military power. In this period, the emirs of the Jazira region (upper Mesopotamia) were Yezidis, as was one of the emirs of Damascus. A Yezidi preacher, Zayn al-Din Yusuf, established Yezidi communities of converts in Damascus and Cairo, where he died in 1297. His imposing tomb in Cairo remains to this day. Of 30 major tribal confederacies enumerated by the Kurdish historian Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi in Sharafntlma (1596), he contends seven were fully Yezidi in times past. Among these tribes was the historic and populous Buhtans (the Bokhtanoi of Herodotus).

An early Muslim encyclopedist, Shahâb al-Din Fadlullâh al-'Umari, declares as Yezidi in AD 1338 also the Dunbuli/Dumbuli. This reference carries a very important piece of information, which can be the only known reference to the Cult of Angels before its fragmentation into its present state and the loss of its common name. Since the Dunbuli were a well-known branch of the Alevi Daylamites, and since the reporting by al-'Umari is normally astute, the declaration of this tribe as Yezidi may indicate that at the time the appellation Yazidi ("angelicans') was that of the Cult of Angels in general. (The historical designation Yazdtlni here for the Cult of Angels has been used to avoid confusion with the modern Yezidism.)

There have been persistent attempts by their Muslim and Christian neighbors to convert the Yezidis, peacefully or otherwise. The Ottoman government and military schools recruited many Yezidis, who were then converted to Sunni Islam, while in the mountains the Yezidis maintained their faith. A petition submitted in 1872 to the Ottoman authorities to exempt the Yezidis from military service has become the locus classicus on the subject of Yezidi religious codes and beliefs (for the English translation of the text, see Driver 1921-23).

Failing peaceful conversion, the Ottomans carried out massacres against the Yezidis in the course of the 17th and 18th centuries. The massacres recurred in Ottoman domains in the middle of the 19th century, resulting in a great migration of Ottoman Yezidis into the Russian territories in the Caucasus. Twenty major massacres between 1640 and 19 1 0 were counted by Lescot (see Deportations & Forced Resettlements).

Many Yezidis escaped into the forbidding mountain areas, but others converted, at least nominally, to Sunni Islam. The Ottoman Land Registration Law of 1859 particularly pressed for conversion by refusing to honor ownership claims of Yezidis. Many Yezidi shaykhs, who were the primary property owners, maintained their lands and property by converting. The Yezidi leaders whose holdings were in the inaccessible higher mountains were spared the need for conversion, and so were the landless sharecroppers or herders. Before 1858, the Yezidis in the Antioch-Amanus region on the Mediterranean littoral numbered 200,000, constituting the majority of the inhabitants. In 1938, Lescot counted only 60,000-a small minority.

Even today the Yezidis are still subject to great pressure for conversion. There is now also a movement to strip the Yezidis of their Kurdish identity by either declaring them an independent ethnic group apart from the Kurds or by attaching them to the Arabs. Hence, the Yezidis are now called "Umayyad Arabs" by the governments of Iraq and Syria, capitalizing on the aforementioned confusion that exists among the Yezidis with respect to the irrelevant Umayyad caliph Yazid ibn Mu'awiyya.

Most Yezidis are now in Syria, in the Jazira region and the Jabal Sanjar heights, and in the Afrin region northwest of Aleppo. The next largest population of Yezidis is found in the Caucasus, where up to half the Kurds are followers of Yezidism. In Iraq, where the holiest Yezidi shrines of Lâlish are located, they are found in a band from eastern Jabal Sanjâr toward Dohuk and to Lâlish, northeast of Mosul. There used to be a large number of Yezidis in Anatolia, prior to the massacres of the last century. Those who now live within the borders of Turkey are thinly spread from Mardin to Siirt, and from Antioch and Antep to Urfâ. There are also a relatively small number of Yezidis in Iran, particularly between the towns of Quchdn and Dughâ'i in the Khurâsâni enclave, and in Azerbaijan province.



Further Readings and Bibliography: R.H.W. Empson, The Cult of the Peacock Angel (London, 1928); E.S. Drower, Peacock Angel (London, 1941); G.R. Driver, "The Religion of the Kurds," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and Studies 11 (1921-23); John S. Guest, The Yezidis (New York: KPI, 1987); Isya Joseph, Devil Worship (Boston, 1919); Alphonse Mingana, "Devil-worshippers: Their Beliefs and their Sacred Books," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1916); R.C. Zaehner, Zurv4n: A Zoroastrian Dilemma (New York: Oxford University Press, 1955); R. Lescot, Enquete 5ur les Yezidis de Syrie et du Djebel Sindjar, M6tnoires de I'Institut Fran@ais de Damas, vol. 5 (Beirut, 1938); Hugo Makas, Kurdische Studien, vol. 3, Jezidengebete (Heidelberg, 1900); Ralph Solecki, "Predatory Bird Rituals at Zawi Chemi Shanidar," Sumer XXXIII.L (1977); Rose Solecki, "Zawi Chemi Shanidar, a Post-Pleistocene Village Site in Northern Iraq," Report of the VI International Congress on Quaternary (1964); Sami Said Ahmed, The Yazidis: Their Life and Beliefs, cd. Henry Field (Nfiami: Field Research Projects, 1975); E.S. Drower, Peacock Angel: Being Some Account of Votaries of a Secret Cult and Their Sanctuaries. (London, 1941); Cecil 1. Edmonds, A Pikdmage to Lalish (London: The Royal Asiatic Society, 1967); Thcodor Menzel, "Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der jeziden," in Hugo Grother, cd., Meine Vorderasienexpedition 1906 und 1907. Vol. 1. (Leipzig, 191 1); Basile Nikitine, Le5 Kurde5, etude 5ociologique et hi5torique (Paris, 1956); KamurAn Ali Badir Khdn, "Les soleil chez les Kurdes," Atlantis 54, vii-viii (Paris, 1934); Constance Alexander, Baghdad in Bygone Days, from the Journals of the Correspondence of Claudius Rich... 1808-1821 (London, 1928); Charles Bellino letter, 16 May 1816, to Hammer, included in Fundgruben des Orients 5 (1816).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sources: The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilazation Harvard University, USA, 1992

RamaY
BRF Oldie
Posts: 17249
Joined: 10 Aug 2006 21:11
Location: http://bharata-bhuti.blogspot.com/

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RamaY » 10 Aug 2011 21:27

So we can understand what RajeshAji is talking about

Image

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:28

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 9

Religions in Kurdistan - Sufism

SUFI MYSTIC ORDERS

An overwhelming majority of Muslim and non-Muslim Kurds are followers of one of many mystic Sufi orders (or tariqa). The bonds of the Muslim Kurds, for example, to different Sufi orders have traditionally been stronger than to orthodox Muslim practices. Sufi rituals in Kurdistan, led by Sufi masters, or shaykhs, contain so many clearly non-Islamic rites and practices that an objective observer would not consider them Islamic in the orthodox sense.

The Sufi shaykhs train deputies (khalifa), who represent and supervise the followers of various districts in the name of the shaykh, collecting allegiance, and dues, for the shaykh. Anyone may follow a shaykh, but to actually join the order of a specific shaykh, helshe must go through a process of initiation. These members (murids) then participate in many rituals, including the Sufi dances, chants, and prayers. When necessary they will go into combat for their shaykhs. Shaykh Ubaydulldh, Shaykh Sa'id, Shaykh Ahmad BArzAni, and Shaykh Mahmud Barzanji, among others, were Sufi masters who asked for and received armed support from their murids in their political adventures (see Early Modern and Modern History).

The close shaykh-murid relationship is also an excellent vote-gathering mechanism for modern democratic elections. As such, in Turkey at least, the shaykhs curry favor with various political parties by delivering their followers' votes (van Bruinessen 199 1).

Three of the stormiest and most controversial early movements within Sufism were led by Husayn ibn Mansur Haflaj (crucified AD 922),'Ain al-QudAt Hamaddni (crucified AD 1131), and Shahâb al-Din Suhrawardi (crucified AD 1191). They all preached ideas antithetical to the basic tenets of established Islam, and in astonishing conformity with the Cult of Angels. Hallâj, for example, claimed himself to be an avatar of the divinity, by which he proclaimed in his famous formula, an4'1 haqq, Arabic for "I am the Haq [the Spirit]," out of the belief in the unity of creation, and that all creatures are ultimately the manifestations of the same original Universal Spirit. He thus also declared Lucifer to have been redeemed and elevated to the highest universal station, as in Yezidism. He was subjected to exquisite tortures before being crucified in Baghdad. At present there is a shrine dedicated to Hallâj in the sacred Yezidi religious center and shrine complex at Lâlish, next to the tomb of Shaykh Adi.

Hamaddni's ideas revolved around the "unity of existence"; that is, like Hallaj, he believed that all creations are manifestations of the original, Universal Spirit. The Spirit is also aloof from events in this world, as the Cult of Angels believes the Spirit to have remained aloof after his original-and final-reincarnation into Lord God, the creator of the material world. His idea of successive reincarnation, and the redemption of Lucifer, added to his other non-Islamic preachings, qualified him for burning on a cross by the Muslim authorities when he was 33.

The same general ideas of Hallâj and Hamadfini are echoed in the work of Suhrawardi. Suhrawardi's Gnostic teachings under the rubric of the School of Ishrclq, "illumination," bear so much influence from the Cult of Angels that it is rather an extension of that religion (albeit with strong Hellenistic and Mesopotamian influences) than an Islamic Sufi movement. There exists a hymn by Suhrawardi, entitled A]-Hurakhsh al-Kabir, "The Great Sun [Deity]," which is to be made daily to the rising sun, asking for a personal book at the end. Echoes of the daily Cult prayer to the rising sun can unmistakably be heard in this hymn. "Thou art the strong and victorious Hurakhsh," writes Suhrawardi, ',the vanquisher of the dark ... the king of Angels ... the proprictor of the incarnate lights of existence by the power of the obeyed God, the luminous matter ... the learned scholarly philosopher, the greatest sacred son of the corporeal lights, the successor of the light of lights in the material world ... I beg [him] ... so that he might beg his God and God of gods ... [to give me a boon]" (Mo'in 1962). His idea of the evolution of the worshipper's soul into that of the Divinity, although not as pronounced as that in the Cult of Angels, finally cost him his life at the age of 38, at the instigation of the Muslim ulema and at the hands of another Kurd, the Ayyubid prince of Aleppo, in AD 1191. Like Hall'a)', Hamadâni and Suhrawardi have been elevated to the station of minor avatars of the Universal Spirit in the Cult.

Hallâj was born in Baghdad from parents who had migrated from the FArs region in the southern Zagros, where tens of Kurdish tribes were present at the time (see Historical Migrations). The influence of the Cult of Angels on Hallâj's beliefs is, however, much easier to establish than his ethnic affiliation. This is not so, however, with Hâmadâni or Suhrawardi. Hamadâni was born and lived in Hamadân in southern Kurdistan. Suhrawardi was from the town of Shahraward (often misread as Suhraward), between Shahrazur (modern Sulayni Ania) and Zanjân, 15 miles east of Bijdr. Suhraward's population, according to the medieval Islamic geographer Ibn Hawqal, was, like today, predominantly Kurdish.

About 300 years later another follower of the Cult of Angels popularized another controversial and stormy Sufi movement. Muhammad Nurbakhsh (the "bestower of light") began his preaching in the middle of the 15th century. He was from Lahsa (modern AhsA in oil-bearing eastern Saudi Arabia). Lahsh had been a hotbed of extremist movements, like those of the Qarmatites in early Islamic times, whose socioeconomic ideologies, as well as their belief in the transmigration of the soul, connected them with the earlier Khurramiyya and Mazdakite movements of the Zagros region (see Yazdanism). His connection with the Cult of Angels was revealed when he was given the mantle of Hamadâni. Like Hallâj and Suhrawardi, Nurbakhsh also claimed to be a minor avatar of the Universal Spirit, of the line that included the Prophet Muhammad in the Second Epoch of the universal life (see Table 6). He proclaimed himself a Mahdi, "deliverer, messiah," and further claimed his father's name to have been Abdulldh (like that of the Prophet Muhammad). He named his son Qasim, so his own title would be Abul-Qasim (again, like that of the Prophet). He also claimed supernatural powers consistent with those expected of an avatar in the Cult of Angels, and blasphemy in Islam. For this and other unorthodox utterances, he was attacked by the mainstream Sunni and Shi'ite ulema, among them, his contemporary Abdul Rahmân Jami. He did not, however, meet the dire end of his three predecessors, Hallâj, Hamadân, and Suhrawardi.

Arriving in Kurdistan, Nurbakhsh announced himself also to be the new caliph of all Muslims. The Kurds minted coins in his name (AD 1443). He was arrested by the Timurid king Shâhrukh and imprisoned in Herât, but was released in AD 1444. Nurbakhsh died of natural causes, perhaps only because his movement occurred at the height of the Cult of Angels' offensive on Shi'ite Islam in the 15th century, and existence of powerful Alevi dynasties in the area.

Nurbakhsh's son and successor, Qasim, was favored by the founder of the Safavid dynasty, Isma'il I, and he and the Nurbakhshi movement increasingly came to reflect the religious evolution through which the Safavids were going in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries (see Early Modern History). The Nurbakhshi Sufi order has evolved from there into a bona fide Shi'ite order, with its membership from among the Kurds being primarily Shi'ite, but with most members being non-Kurds. There are also many Yarsân followers in this order.

The oldest Sunni Sufi order still followed by the Kurds is the Qâdiri, named after its founder, Abdul-Qâdir Cilâni (also Gaylâni, Kaylâni, or Khaylani) (AD 1077-1166). Many important Kurdish religious families are presently, or are known in the past to have been, members of this order. The Qâdiri order has been in steady retreat since the start of the 19th century, under pressure from another Sufi order, the Naqshbandis.

The Tâlabâni tribe, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, its leadership, and most people in the southern sectors of Iraqi Kurdistan and in eastern Kurdistan (in Iran) are Qâdiris. The order's headquarters are in the sacred ancient town of Barzanja near Sulaymania. Shaykh Mahmud, leader of many Kurdish uprisings against the British Mandate of Iraq, was also the leader of the Qâdiri Sufi house of Barzanji.

A more recent arrival into Kurdistan is the Sunni Naqshbandi order, founded by Baha al-Din Naqshband of Bukhârâ (AD 1317-1389) and introduced from central Asia, perhaps by the Turkic tribes and/or Turkic Bakshis, whence they were arriving in these parts of the Middle East since the 12th century.

Today, the people in northern, and to some extent western, Kurdistan follow the Naqshbandi order, while central and eastern Kurdistan are still Qâdiri. The Barzani tribe is led by Naqshbandi Sufi masters, who exercise temporal, as much as spiritual, influence in their area. Until late in the last century, however, the Barzftnis and all other tribes and clans in these areas of Kurdistan were followers of the Qâdiri order. This and many other conversions to the Naqshbandi order were the direct result of the energy and fervor of one MawlanA KhAlid.

In 1811 Mawlana KhAlid (b. 1779), a Kurdish Naqshbandi shaykh (of the Jaf tribe) from Shahrazur (modern SulaymAnia) set out on a furious bout of proselytization by appointing a myriad of deputies across Kurdistan and beyond. These deputies then proceeded, after Khalid's death in 1827, to appoint their own deputies. In a short span of time, north central Kurdistan, along with its influential religious center of Nahri/Nehri, near RawAnduz, was lost by the Qâdiri order for good. The change has been so recent and abrupt that the most important Sufi religious family there still bears the name of Gaylani or Khaylani (after Abudl-Qâdir Gilâni). The Iraqi Kurdish Democratic Party and its Bârzâni leadership are thus of Naqshbandi Sufi affiliation.

Under President Ozal's government (himself of a Naqshbandi family), the Naqshbandis have staged a comeback in Turkey after many decades of official banning and persecution, following Shaykh Sa'id's uprising of 1925.

Sufi lodges (khtinaqds) pepper Kurdistan, and are much moire common in fact than mosques or any other places of religious ritual (except, perhaps, for the sacred trees and ponds dedicated to Khidir) (see Popular Culture).

Non-Muslim Kurds also follow Sufi orders of their own, or any one of the Cult orders, which are at least nominally known to be Shi'ite Sufi orders (as, for example, are the Nurbakhshi and Ni'matulâhi orders). The Alevis in western and northern Kurdistan are predominantly of the Bektâshi/Baktâshi order. The order traditionally claimed to be a Sunni Muslim order, since none else was permitted under the Ottomans. But the followers of this order remained almost exclusively Alevi, with adherents among Kurds and non-Kurds all the way to Bulgaria, Albania, and Bosnia. The influence of this order on the life of the Alevi Kurds is profound. One of the most important festivals observed by the Alevi Kurds is that of H5ji Bektâsh, the founder of the Bektâshi Sufi order and one of the most important of the primary avatars of the Spirit in Alevism. While long suppressed, the Turkish government, within whose domain the bulk of the Bekthshis live, now allows, and sometimes officially sponsors, these Alevi feasts. A reason may be the influence of Turkish President Ozal. Even though Ozal's own family is of Naqshbandi background, they are natives of the largely Kurdish city of MalAtya, where both Naqshbandi and Bektâshi orders are present.

The Bektâshis are more commonly, and indirectly, known in the West through their "Whirling Dervishes," whose white costumes and conical white hats are familiar to most Westerners interested in the Asian religions and practices. The most important center of the Bektâshis is the site of the shrine of the great Sufi master and poet, Mevlana (more accurately, Mawlând Jâlâl al-Din Balkhi, also known as AI-Rumi), in the city of Konya, near the southern fringes of the central Anatolian Kurdish enclave.

The Qâdiri order also practices elaborate dances and plays musical instruments alongside chants, not dissimilarly from the Bektdshi Whirling Dervishes. The Naqshbandis, on the other hand, have traditionally been far more given to meditations and chants to reach the state of ecstasy that is the hallmark of all Sufi orders. The Bektâshis are famous for their dance and music, and use the chants as the supplements to these.

A rather peculiar order, the Rafd'is, should also be mentioned, as they are in a sense a mystic order. Their strong belief in the ability of the soul to transcend the physical body at the will of any well-trained mind provides for ceremonies that include walking barefoot on hot coal, swallowing swords, and driving sharp objects through one's own flesh, and in all cases, seemingly coming out unharmed.

Further Readings and Bibliography: N. Yalman, "Islamic Reform and the Mystic Tradition in Eastern Turkey," European Journal of Sociology 10 (1969); S.H. Nasr, Shihdbaddin Yahytl Sohrawardi (Paris: Institut Francais d'lranologie, Bibliothaque Iranienne, 1970); John Kingsley Birge, The Bektashi Order of Dervishes (London: Luzac, 1937); Martin van Bruinessen, "Religious Life in Diyarbekir: Religious Learning and the Role of the Tariqats," in Martin van Bruinessen and H. E. Boeschoten, eds., Evliya Çelebi in Diyarbekir (Leiden: Brill, 1988); Hamid Algar, "The Naqshbandi Order: A Preliminary Survey of Its History and Significance," Studia Islamica 44 (1976); Hamid Algar, "Said Nursi and the Risala-i Nur," Islamic Per5pectives: Studies in Honour of Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi. (London, 1978); Halkawt Hakim, "Mawlana Khalid et les pouvoirs," in Marc Gaboricau, A. Popovic, and T. Zarcone, eds., Naqshbandis: Historical Development and Pre5etzt Situation of a Muslim Mystical Order (Istanbul-Paris: Isis, 1990); Albert Hourani, "Shaikh Khalid and the Naqshbandi Order," in S. M. Stern, A. Hourani, and V. Brown, eds., Islamic Philosophy and the Cla5sical Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972); Sherif Mardin, Religion and Social Change in Modern Turkey: The Case of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989); Wheeler Thackston, The Mystical & Visionary Treatises of Suhrawardi (London: Octagon, 1982); J.S. Triidngham, 7he Sufi Orders in Islam (New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1971); Martin van Bruinessen, "Religion in Kurdistan," Kurdish Times IV:1-2 (1991); 'Ain al-QudAt al HamadAni, The Apologia, A. J. Arberry, cd. and trans., as A Sufi Marty (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1969); Muhammad Mo'in, " Huraxs"l in W.B. Henning and E. Yarshater, eds., A Locust5 Leg. Studie5 in the Honour of S.H. Taqizadeh (London: Percy Lund, 1962).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sources: The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilazation Harvard University, USA, 1992

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:29

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 10

Religions in Kurdistan - Judaism
JUDAISM

The history of Judaism in Kurdistan is ancient. The Talmud holds that Jewish deportees were settled in Kurdistan 2800 years ago by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser Ill (r. 858-824 BC). As indicated in the Talmud, the Jews eventually were given permission by the rabbinic authorities to convert local Kurds. They were exceptionally successful in their endeavor. The illustrious Kurdish royal house of Adiabene, with Arbil as its capital, was converted to Judaism in the course of the 1st century BC, along with, it appears, a large number of Kurdish citizens in the kingdom (see Irbil/Arbil in Encyclopaedia Judaica). The name of the Kurdish king Monobazes (related etymologically to the name of the ancient Mannaeans), his queen Helena, and his son and successor Izates (derived from yazata, "angel"), are preserved as the first proselytes of this royal house (Ginzberg 1968, VI.412). But this is chronologically untenable as Monobazes' effective rule began only in AD 18. In fact during the Roman conquest of Judea and Samaria (68-67 BC), it was only Kurdish Adiabene that sent provisions and troops to the rescue of the beseiged Galilee (Grayzel 1968, 163)-an inexplicable act if Adiabene was not already Jewish (see Classical History). Many modern Jewish historians like Kahle (1959), who believes Adiabene was Jewish by the middle of the 1st century BC, and Neusner (1986), who goes for the middle of the lst century AD, have tried unsuccessfully to reconcile this chronolgical discrepancy. All agree that by the beginning of the 2nd century AD, at any rate, Judaism was firmly established in central Kurdistan.

Like many other Jewish communities, Christianity found Adiabene a fertile ground for conversion in the course of 4th and 5th centuries. Despite this, Jews remained a populous group in Kurdistan until the middle of the present century and the creation of the state of Israel. At home and in the synagogues, Kurdish Jews speak a form of ancient Aramaic called Suriy,4ni (i.e., "Assyrian"), and in commerce and the larger society they speak Kurdish. Many aspects of Kurdish and Jewish life and culture have become so intertwined that some of the most popular folk stories accounting for Kurdish ethnic origins connect them with the Jews. Some maintain that the Kurds sprang from one of the lost tribes of Israel, while others assert that the Kurds emerged through an episode involving King Solomon and the genies under his command (see Folklore & Folk Tales).

The relative freedom of Kurdish women among the Kurdish Jews led in the 17th century to the ordination of the first woman rabbi, Rabbi Asenath B5rzani, the daughter of the illustrious Rabbi Samuel Bârzâni (d. ca. 1630), who founded many Judaic schools and seminaries in Kurdistan. For her was coined the term tanna'ith, the feminine form for a Talmudic scholar. Eventually, MAMA ("Lady") Asenath became the head of the prestigious Judaic academy at Mosul (Mann 1932).

The tombs of Biblical prophets like Nahum in Alikush, Jonah in Nabi Yunis (ancient Nineveh), Daniel in Kirkuk, Habakkuk in Tuisirkan, and Queen Esther and Mordechai in Hamadân, and several caves reportedly visited by Elijah are among the most important Jewish shrines in Kurdistan and are venerated by all Jews today.

The Alliance Isra6lite Universelle opened schools and many other facilities in Kurdistan for education and fostered progress among the Jewish Kurds as early as 1906 (Cuenca 1960). Non-Jewish Kurds also benefitted vastly, since children were accepted into these schools regardless of their religious affiliation. A new class of educated and well-trained citizens was being founded in Kurdistan. Operations of the Alliance continued until soon after the creation of Israel.

Many Kurdish Jews have recently emigrated to Israel. However, they live in their own neighborhoods in Israel and still celebrate Kurdish life and culture, including Kurdish festivals, costumes, and music in some of its most original forms.

Further Readings and Bibliography: Encyclopaedia ludaica, entries on Kurds and Irbil/Arbil; Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, 5th cd. (Phdadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1968); Jacob Mann, Texts and Studies in Jeu45/i History and Literature, vol. I (London, 1932); Yona Sabar, The Folk Literature of the Kurdi5tani Jews (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982); Paul MagnareHa, "A Note on Aspects of Social Life among the Jewish Kurds of Sanandaj, Iran," Jwish Journal of SociologyXl.l (1969); Walter Fischel, "The Jews of Kurdistan," Commentary VIII.6 (1949); Andr6 Cuenca, "L'oeuvre de I'Aflance Isra6lite Universelle en Iran," in Les droits de I'dducation (Paris: UNESCO, 1960); Dina Feitelson, "Aspects of the Social Life of Kurdish Jews," jeiwsh Journal of Sociology 1.2 (1910); Walter Fischel, "The Jews of Kurdistan, a Hundred Years Ago," Jewish Social Studie5 (1944); Solomon Grayzel, A History of the Jews (New York: Mentor, 1968); Paul Kahle, The Cairo Geniza (Oxford, 1959); Jacob Neusner, ludaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism in Talmudic Babylonia (New York; University Press of America, 1986).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sources: The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilazation Harvard University, USA, 1992

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:32

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 11

Religions in Kurdistan - Babism & Bara'ism

BABISM & BARA'ISM

Bâbism was formed in Persia in 1844 by Mirzâ Ali Muhammad (1819-1850), the Bdb, or "the portal" (to the Deity). Bdb, or Bdbtl, standing for "avatar," is of course the title by which the Cult of Angels refers to the major reincarnations of the Haq, or the Universal Spirit. A native of Shirâz in Persia, Bdb became a follower of Shaykh Ahmad Ahsâ'i, who had settled in Kirmân in southeast Persia from Ahsd. Ahsd (the medieval Lahsâ, the eastern coastal regions of modern Saudi Arabia) was a bastion of the socioreligious movement of Qarmatites, which was strongly influenced by the Cult of Angels, particularly the Mazdakite movement. (From Ahsd also came in the 15th celftury the mystic Muhammad Nurbakhsh, whose connection with the Cult of Angels has already been set forth in the section on Sufi Mystic Orders.)

Shaykh Ahmad, and hence the Cult of Angels, had a profound influence on Mirzâ Ali Muhammad Bâb. In fact, Shaykh Ahmad Ahsâ'i was in Kirmdnshâh in southern Kurdistan, the ancient heartland of the Cult, when he announced the reincarnation of the Spirit in Bâb as his new avatar. This was on the occasion of the death of his own son Ali, when Shâykh Ahmad told his disciples: "Grieve not, 0 my friends, for I have offered up my son, my own Ali, as a sacrifice for the Ali whose advent we all await. To this end have I reared and prepared him" (Nabil-i A'zam 1932). Bâb was born in the same year, supposedly carrying the soul of the Shaykh's son as well as his name. Bâb was the bearer of the name and soul of the Shi'ite imam and the primary avatar of the Second Epoch, Ali. The later inclusion of Muhammad in his first name also brought Bâb to the exact station of the primary avatar in Alevism, Alimuhammad (see Alevism).

The Bâbis, particularly the Kurdish B5bis, believed in the transmigration of the soul, as do followers of the Cult of Angels. They did not mourn the dead, as they believed the soul of a dead Bfibi, after spending a few days in a transitional stage, enters the body of another B4bi, usually a newborn. The transmigrations were believed to have started long ago, particularly the souls of the religious leaders, which were supposed to have resided in the bodies of the Shi'ite saints and martyrs of earlier times. The Bâbis too were accused of engaging in communal sex, in the "candle blown out" ceremony (see Yazdanism) and were persecuted in Persia with such severity that by comparison the savage repressions of the Yezidis by the Ottoman Empire seem relatively benign.

The involvement of the ethnic Kurds in Babism was relatively strong. One of the earliest major Bâbi communities was Kurdish, numbering about 5000 and inhabiting the area between Bâsh Qala and Qotur in Hakkâri in north-central Kurdistan on the PersoOttoman border. However, in July 1850, when the Persian Qajar king Nâsir al-Din ordered the execution of the Bâb in Tabriz, it was the Shiqhqi Kurdish and Armenian troops who carried out the order.

Bâbism soon evolved into the universalist Bahâ'ism under the direction of Mirzâ Husayn Ali, Bahâ'u'llâh ("the Glory of God"). For two years before his proclamation of the new religion and his mission in April 1863, Bahâ'u'llâh lived in the Kurdish city of Sulaymânia (less than 30 miles from Barzanja, the legendary birthplace of the Cult of Angels), earning his livelihood by providing Muslim religious services to the local people under the pseudonym Dervish Muhaminad. Many of the coins he gave to people as festival presents are still cherished for their healing power. In one of his books, Iqân, Bahâ'u'lâh paints a vivid and interesting picture of his retreat in the "wilderness" of Kurdistan.

A Kurdish Bahâ'i, Muhammad Zaki al-Kurdi, established the first Kurdish publishing house in 1920 in Cairo. He took over the publication of the first Kurdish newspaperljournal, Kurdistan (published first in Istanbul in 1898 without his involvement) after it moved to Cairo after the start of World War 1. Some of the most important works of Bahâ'i literature, such as J.E. Esslemont's Bahâ'ullih and the New Era have been translated into the dialects of Sorâni (by Husein Jawdat) and Gurani (anonymous).

Bahâ'ism has done much to distance itself from the militancy of Babism. In the form of a new world religion, it has also tried to shed itself of the Shi'ite Islamic and Cult of Angels (particularly, Yarsanist) influence so apparent in Babism. Minorsky preserved and translated in 1920 just one Baha'i polemical tract directed against the Yarsans. Several paramount aspects of the Cult, however, remain apparent in modern Bahâ'ism: 1) universalism, that is the belief that other religions are an extension of a same original idea of faith, and that all are equally respectable; 2) the belief that all prophets and holy figures of other religions are manifestations of the same supreme Deity or Spirit, from Buddha and Zoroaster, to Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad; 3) the belief that the Word and, supposedly the soul, is conveyed to these prophets through an intermediary archangel(s); 4) the practice of a mandatory ritual communal gathering at Mahfels, similar to the ceremony of jam in the Cult, but every 19th day; 5) social and class liberalism, and a high status of women, including their right to serve on high religious councils. The de facto female avatar of the Bâbi cycle of primary incarnations, Tâhira Qurratu'l Ayn, removed her veil in public in 1849 to "signal the equality of women with men as a basic principle of the new Bâbi religion".

With its attention directed to the world level, little Bahâ'i proselytization has been conducted in Kurdistan-a naturally fertile ground for this new religion that carries such fundamental affinities with Kurdish religious and social values and tradition. There are only a few thousand Kurdish Baha'is, spread over southern and central Kurdistan today. Of the number of Babis, if there are any left, even an educated guess is hazardous.

Further Readings and Bibliography: Muhammad Zarandi Nabd-i A'zam, The Dawn-Breaker5, Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the Baha'i Revelation, trans. and ed. Shoghi Effendi, (New York, 1932); J.E. Esslemont, Baha'u'llilh and the New Era (Wilmette, Illinois: Bahâ'i Publishing Trust, 1980, reprint of the 1923 original); E.G. Browne, A Traveller's Narrative switten to illustrate the Episode of the Bab, 2 vols. (London, 189 1); E.G. Browne, Materials for the study of the Babi Religion (London, 1918); E.G. Browne, "BAbis of Persia," Journal of Royal Asiatic Society xxi (1898); Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal: The Makitig of the Babi Movement in Iran, 1844-1850 (Ithaca: Cornefl University Press, 1989); V. Minorsky, "Notes sur la secte des Ahl-i Haqq," Revue du Monde Musulman 40-41 (1920 and 192 1).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sources: The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilazation Harvard University, USA, 1992

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:32

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 12

Religions in Kurdistan - Christianity

CHRISTIANITY

The early history of Christianity in Kurdistan closely parallels that of the rest of Anatolia and Mesopotamia. By the early 5th century the Kurdish royal house of Adiabene had converted from Judaism to Christianity. The extensive ecclesiastical archives kept at their capital of Arbela (modern Arbil), are valuable primary sources for the history of central Kurdistan, from the middle of the Parthian era (ca. 1st century AD). Kurdish Christians, like their Jewish predecessors, used Aramaic for their records and archives and as the ecclesiastical language.

The persecution of the Christians in the Persian Sasanian Empire extended to Kurdistan as well. It was only after the conversion of the Empire's Christians to the eastern Nestorian church (from St. Nestorius, d. AD 440) and their break with Rome and Constantinople in the 6th century that they were given a measure of safety. At the time of the advent of Islam in the 7th century, central Kurdistan was predominantly Christian.

Anatolian Kurds, on the other hand, responded in two distinct manners to this new religion. The westernmost Kurds, i.e., those of Pontus and the western regions of Cappadocia and Cilicia in central and northern Anatolia, converted to Christianity before the 7th century. Their conversion, it turned out, was to cost them in the long run their ethnic identity. They were wholly Hellenized before the arrival of the Turkic nomads in Anatolia in the 12th century. The Kurds of eastern Anatolia, including eastern Cilicia and Cappadocia, and all those east of the Euphrates resisted conversion, and were punished for it by the Byzantines.

When in the 8th and 9th centuries the Byzantines deported and exiled the non-Christian populations from their Anatolian domain, Kurds suffered the most. The Cappadocian and Cilician Kurds were deported in toto (see Deportations & Forced Resettlements).

Christianity's effect on southern Kurdistan appears to have been marginal, but clear. The influence of Christian tenets on Yârsânism, which goes beyond the influences that would have been exerted via Islam, point to a direct exchange between the two religions.

With the waning and isolation of Christianity in Kurdistan and the Middle East following the expansion of Islam, the dwindling Christian Kurdish community began to renounce its Kurdish ethnic identity and forged a new one with its neighboring Semitic Christians. The Suriyâni (Nestorian) Christians of Mesopotamia and Kurdistan, who have recently adopted the ethnic name Assyrian, are a Neo-Aramaic-speaking amalgam of Kurds and Semitic peoples who have retained the old religion and language of the Nestorian Church, and the court language of the old Kingdom of Adiabene. A large number of these Suriyâni Christians lived, until the onslaught of World War 1, deep in mountainous northern Kurdistan, away from any ethnic or genetic influence of the Semitic Christians of lowland Mesopotamia. Their fair complexion, in marked contrast to that of their Semitic "brethren" in the Mosul region, also bears witness to their Kurdish origin.

Yet they speak Neo-Aramaic and insist on a separate ethnic identity. In the matter of language, the Christians in Kurdistan share the use of Neo-Aramaic with the Kurdish Jews.

Not all Christian Kurds found it necessary to exchange their Kurdish identity for their faith. The medieval Muslim historian and commentator Mas'udi reports Kurds who were Christians in the 10th century. In 1272 Marco Polo wrote, "In the mountainous parts [of Mosull there is a race of people named Kurds, some of whom are Christians of the Nestorian and Jacobite sects, and others Muhammadan" (Travels, I.vi). These are in fact Christian Kurds, as Polo earlier in his work distinguishes the non-Kurdish Christian population of the region.

There are records of missionary conversion of the Kurds to Christianity as early as the 15th century, a notable example being Father Subhalemaran (Nikitine 1956, 23 1). Many other missionaries have been sent from Europe and later America into Kurdistan since that time, with some of them producing the earliest studies of Kurdish language and culture, including dictionaries. Religious changes have almost always has entailed language change. Most Kurds who converted to Christianity eventually switched to Armenian and Neo-Aramaic, and were thus counted among these ethnic groups. A good example of this process was observed at the end of the World War 1.

At the time of the fall of the Ottoman Empire a considerable number of Christians who spoke only Kurdish left the area of western and northern Kurdistan for the French Mandate of Syria. There, having been told they "must be Armenian" if they were Christian, they were counted and eventually assimilated into the immigrant Armenian community of Syria and Lebanon.

Some non-Christian Kurds of Anatolia and even central Kurdistan still bless their bread dough by pressing the sign of the cross on it while letting it rise. They also make pilgrimage to the old abandoned or functioning churches of the Armenian and Assyrian Christians. This may well be a cultural tradition left with the Kurds through long association with Christian neighbors, or very possibly it stems from the time that many Kurds themselves were Christians.

Today there remain an uncertain number of Kurdish Christians, particularly in the districts of Hakkâri in north-central Kurdistan, Tur Abdin in western Kurdistan, and among the Milân and Barâz tribal confederacies in western Kurdistan in Turkey and Syria. In 1908 Sykes reports at least 500 Kurdish Christian families of the Pinianishli tribe in the Hakkâri district, whose leaders insisted they were an ancient community converted before the advent of Islam. Of the Hawerka tribe of Tur Abdin 900 families are listed as Christian, along with 700 more families from various other tribes in this region. Sykes is, however, silent on the number of MilAn Christians. Despite this, the question remains whether these and others are the modern descendants of the larger and more ancient Kurdish Christian community, or whether they are relatively recent converts by Christian Armenians, Assyrians, and Western Christian missionaries. Many centers for these recent proselytes were set up during the 19th and early 20th centuries in and around Bitlis, Urfa, Mosul, Urmih and Salmâs, to name a few. Likely, the Kurdish Christian population is an even mix of the ancient population and modern converts.

An educated guess for the total number of Christian Kurds (excluding the Assyrians, whose claim to a separate ethnic identity must be honored) would place them in the range of tens of thousands, most of them living in Turkey.

There is a renewed interest among the active Christian organizations in Europe, but par ticularly in the United States, to carry missionary work to Kurdistan. In fact, one of the first languages of the East into which the post-Renaissance Europeans translated the Gospel was Kurdish. New editions and new translations of the New Testament into North Kurmânji (Bshdinâni) are being attempted now. These translations and endeavors are targeted towards the Kurds in Turkey, as has been the case since the time of Father Subhalemaran.

The reason has been the faulty assumption of these missionary organizations that the Kurds of northern and western Kurdistan in Anatolia, having been under Byzantine rule prior to Muslim occupation, were mostly or all Christians, but that the other Kurds were not. The missionaries probably would find more fertile ground in central and part of southern Kurdistan, on the territories of the former Christian Kurdish kingdoms of Adiabene and Karkhu b't Salukh (Kirkuk), but not in northern and western Kurdistan, whose non-Christian inclinations made the Byzantines deport the populace in earlier times.

Further Readings and Bibliography: Asahel Grant, The Nestorians, or the Lost Tribes (London, 1841); Thomas Lauric, Dr. Grant and themountain Ne5torians (Cambridge, 1853); Helga Anschtitz, Die 5yrischen Christen vom Tor 'Abdin (Wiirzburg: Reinhardt, 1984); Michel Chevalier, Les montagnards chretiens du Hakkari et du Kurdistan septentrional (Paris: Department de Geographic de I'Universit6 de Paris-Sorbonne, 1985); John Joseph, The Nestorians and Their Muslim Neighbors (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961); John Joseph, Muslim-Christian Relations and InterChristian Rivalries in the Middle East.. The Ca5e of the lacobites in an Age of Transition (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983); G.P. Badger, The Nestorians and their Ritua15 (London, 1892); Marco Polo, Travels, ed. John Masefield (London: Dent, 1975); Basde Nikitine. "Les Kurdes et le Christianisme," Revue de I'Histoire des Religion (Paris, 1929); William Ainsworth "An Account of a Visit to the Chaldeans Inhabiting Central Kurdistan, and of an Ascent of the Peak of Rowandiz (Tur Sheikhiwa) in the Summer of 1840," Journal of the Royal Geographical Society XI (1941).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sources: The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilazation Harvard University, USA, 1992

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:36

Lecture given at Harvard University, 10 March 1993
By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady
History of the Kurds: Lecture 13

Geography of Kurdistan

"The realm of Kurdistan begins on the coast of the Straits of Hormuz, which borders on the shores of the Indian Ocean. From thence, it extends forth on a straight line, terminating with the the provinces of Malatya and Marash. To the north of this line are the provinces of Fars, Persian Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia Minor and Armenia Major. To its southern side lay the Arab Iraq, Mosul and Diyarbakir.
And thus the branches of this nation have reached from the extremities of the lands of the East to the extremities of the lands of the West."

The Sharafnâma, Prologue, 7-9.
Prince Sharafaddin Bitlisi, AD 1597

Boundaries & Political Geography
By: Prof. Mehrdad R. Izady

The vast Kurdish homeland consists of about 200,000 square miles of territory. Its area is roughly equal to that of France, or of the states of California and New York combined.

Kurdistan straddles the mountainous northern boundaries of the Middle East, separating the region from the former Soviet Union. It resembles an inverted letter V, with the joint pointing in the direction of the Caucasus and the arms toward the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.

In the absence of an independent state, Kurdistan is defined as the areas in which Kurds constitute an ethnic majority today. Kurdish ethnic domains border strategically on the territories of the three other major ethnic groups of the Middle East: the Arabs to the south, the Persians to the east, and the Turks to the west. In addition to these primary ethnic neighbors, there are many smaller ethnic groups whose territories border those of the Kurds, such as the Georgians (including the Lâz) and the Armenians to the north, the Azeris to the northeast, the Lurs to the southeast, and the Turcomans to the southwest.

Historically, the range of lands in which Kurdish populations have predominated has fluctuated. Kurdish ethnic territorial domains have contracted as much as they have expanded, depending on the demographic, historical, and economic circumstances of given regions of Kurdistan. A detailed analysis of migrations, deportations, and integration and assimilation is provided under Human Geography.

In the north of Kurdistan, Kurds now occupy almost half of what was traditionally the Armenian homeland, that is, the areas northeast of Lake Vân in modern Turkey. On the other hand, from the 9th to the 16th centuries, the western Kurdish lands of Pontus, Cappadocia, Commagene, and eastern Cilicia were gradually forfeited to the Byzantine Greeks, Syrian Aramaeans, and later the Turcomans and Turks. This last trend, however, has begun to reverse itself in the present century.

Vast areas of Kurdistan in the southern Zagros, stretching from the Kirmânshâh region to the Straits of Hormuz and beyond, have been gradually and permanently lost to the combination of the heavy northwestward emigration of Kurds and the ethnic metamorphosis of many Kurds into Lurs and others since the beginning of the 9th century AD. The assimilation process continues today and can, for example, be observed among the Laks, who, although they still speak a Kurdish dialect, have been more strongly associated with the neighboring Lurs than with other Kurds. The distinction between the Kurds and their ethnic neighbors remains most blurred in southeastern Kurdistan in the area where they neighbor the Lurs, that is, on the Hamadân-Kirmânshâh-Ilâm axis.

Since the 16th century, contiguous Kurdistan has been augmented by two large, detached exclaves of (mainly deported) Kurds. The central Anatolian exclave includes the area around the towns of Yunak, Haymâna, and Cihanbeyli/Jihânbeyli, south of the Turkish capital of Ankara (the site of ancient Phrygia Magna). It extends into the mountainous districts of north-central Anatolia (the site of ancient Pontus), where it is bounded by the towns of Tokat, Yozgat, Çorum, and Amasya in the Yisilirmâq river basin. The fast-expanding north-central Anatolian segment of the exclave now has more Kurds than the older segment in central Anatolia. It is doubtful that, except for some very small Dimili-speaking pockets, this colony harbors any of the ancient Pontian Kurds who lived here until the Byzantine deportations of the 9th century.

The north Khurâsân exclave in eastern Iran is centered on the towns of Quchân and Bujnurd and came into existence primarily as a result of deportations and resettlements conducted from the 16th to the 18th centuries in Persia.

Following World War I, Kurds found themselves and their homeland divided among five sovereign states, with the largest portions of Kurdish territory in Turkey (43%), followed by Iran (31%), Iraq (18%), Syria (6%), and the former Soviet Union (2%). Since 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, fragments of Kurdish land are now also in the newly independent republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkmenistan. These states have at various stages subdivided Kurdistan into a myriad of administrative units and provinces. Only in western Iran has the Kurdish historical name, even though corrupted, been preserved, in the province of "Kordestan," with its capital at Sanandaj.

A rather peculiar and confusing by-product of the division of Kurdistan among contending states and geopolitical power blocs is its four time zones (five if Kurdish regions of Turkmenistan are also counted). The continental United States, 15 times larger than Kurdistan, also has four time zones, while China in its colossal entirety keeps but a single time zone. Geographically, Kurdistan fits perfectly into one time zone, 3 hours ahead of Greenwich, England. The standard -3-hour time zone is defined as the area between 35 and 50 degrees east of Greenwich. With its western and eastern borders at, respectively, 36 and 49 degrees east, Kurdistan would almost perfectly fall into this single time zone.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 21:37

Carl ji, RamaY ji,

thanks for your interest! :)

shyamd
BRF Oldie
Posts: 6820
Joined: 08 Aug 2006 18:43

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby shyamd » 10 Aug 2011 21:59

RajeshA ji, I commend your efforts.

But I have to ask a serious question. How can Kurdistan be a place for power projection, if there is no beach head or a place where we can set up a reliable supply line to Kurdish territory? Reaching Kurdish territory involves coopting one of the countries with a border.

imo I think KRG can only be a political & economic partner.

Agnimitra
BRF Oldie
Posts: 5150
Joined: 21 Apr 2002 11:31

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby Agnimitra » 10 Aug 2011 22:07

^^^ shyamdji, I think the strengthening of Kurdistan in the heart of the ME region will be an incentive for certain other countries (notably Iran) to consider a change in identification and cultural-political orientation in our favour. For example, one compulsive factor in Iran's over-identification with pan-Islamist causes and culture is its surrounding neighborhood. They themselves call it jabr e joghrafiyaee (geographical compulsions). If Iran could reach out and find a foreign policy handle that did not have to make it ingratiate itself with its Arab or Islamist neighbors (and not directly Western powers either) in order to project power, then we could well see their Indo-Aryan side emerging and developing. That could be to our advantage, provided it is contained and kept dependent on our cultural and economic support. A resurgent Kurdistan that does not totally dent Persian power in the region but instead offers a handle for it against Arab/Turkish power is suitable. Kurdistan in the ME could be like Tajikistan in CA.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 10 Aug 2011 23:07

shyamd wrote:RajeshA ji, I commend your efforts.

But I have to ask a serious question. How can Kurdistan be a place for power projection, if there is no beach head or a place where we can set up a reliable supply line to Kurdish territory? Reaching Kurdish territory involves coopting one of the countries with a border.

imo I think KRG can only be a political & economic partner.

shyamd ji,

Kurdistan would most probably never have a sea-coast. Its most endearing feature is that it is an island of non-ideology, of self-sufficient ethnocentrism, with which any and every side can have a working relationship. It can act as a partner to Turks, to Persians, to Iraqis, to Sunni Syrians, to Alewites, to Israelis, to Americans, to Saudis, and everybody else on the planet. If the others could shut off their craving for Kurdish land and Kurdish Oil, nobody would fear anything from Kurdistan. The Kurds just want their land back.

Kurds are the ones which would allow a weak Shia Creascent to exist in the Middle East. They are the ones who would have the best of relations with the Israel and West. They are the ones who would keep themselves joined to Iraq in one way or another. Besides Kurds would be the only ones who could provide Armenians a modicum of security despite their bloody past, so Armenians would be more than happy to provide Kurds with access to Georgia and beyond to Black Sea. I think Armenians would rather see Kurds as their neighbors than Turks.

I would suggest we build good relations with all the different ways into Kurdistan - Shia Iraq, North-Western Syria, Iran, and even Turkey. At any given time one or two routes into Kurdistan would always be open and we will be having some military arrangement with the country on the route.

We have an understanding with Iraq first. Should that route close for us, we can open one from North-Western Syria, should that close, we can open one through Georgia/Armenia, should that close, may be by then we would have turned Iran around, and we can finally open one through Iran. What we need to do is to have compliant small to medium sized powers on the route to Kurdistan through which we can supply the Kurds, and make them strong.

The Kurds also have Oil using which they can entice others to keep the routes open for them.

It is the level to which we support them in achieving their unification and independence, and then provide them with access to the outside world that would determine their level of friendship and assistance towards India. It is especially because they are landlocked and need the patronage of a big world power, that they would be inclined towards a strong alliance with India.

Besides whenever a new power like India rises, the power has to establish a new system of allies, who owe it their allegiance and loyalty.

Agnimitra
BRF Oldie
Posts: 5150
Joined: 21 Apr 2002 11:31

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby Agnimitra » 10 Aug 2011 23:23

RajeshA wrote:Besides Kurds would be the only ones who could provide Armenians a modicum of security despite their bloody past, so Armenians would be more than happy to provide Kurds with access to Georgia and beyond to Black Sea. I think Armenians would rather see Kurds as their neighbors than Turks.

Good point. If a Kurdish state is formed, it is best that it is formed keeping in mind the delicate Turko-Persian and Arab-Persian equations in the ME. Armenians are much more favorable towards Persians than towards Turks, and also would prefer Kurdish neighbors to Turks. Eastern Turkey, stretching almost up to the Black Sea coast used to be Armenian to a large extent (e.g. Lake Van was an Armenian area). It is possible that a Kurdish state could claim that, or a Kurdish + Armenian effort could carve up Eastern Turkey if ... (a) the screws are really turned from the Eastern Turkey side, and (b) the EU decides to accept the Western Turkish rump state into EU, thus giving the secular Turks a sop and the advantage over the Islamizing Anatolians in internal politics. The potential polarization between secular and Islamist Turks is a space to watch. There are many such possibilities that open up with the creation of a Kurdish state IMHO.

Added later:
For historical precedents of alliance chains involving non-Islamic pockets in the Islamic ME, note that the Iranian Safavis employed Georgian personal guards, and the Safavis and Ottomans made war over Armenian territories using local alliances apart from brute force. So the Black Sea and Caucasus area could play as much or a more important role than the Levant area in the creation of Kurdistan.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 11 Aug 2011 00:09

Carl ji,

I don't think Turkey would really allow the Kurds any independence if they can help it.

I found the solution they found in Iraq to be an excellent solution. There Iraqi Kurdistan has an almost complete autonomy, but still can have representation in the Central Government in Baghdad and the supply lines to Iraqi Kurdistan remain open from the sea!

One would have to try to attain the same kind of situation with other Kurdish parts.

Right now the issue of Syria is hot. We should use the opportunity to create in Syria a sort of federation -
  1. an Alawite + Syrian Christian in North-West Syria,
  2. a Kurdish North-East Syria, and
  3. a Arab Sunni Central and South Syria.
Something on the lines of Iraq.

Then we get Syrian Kurdistan and Iraqi Kurdistan to develop common political structures, and trade links, even as they remain part of different federations - Iraqi Federation and Syrian Federation.

Since Iran is going to dealt with sooner or later by the West, Israel, and GCC, India could again focus our efforts to make Iran a looser federation with an autonomous Iranian Kurdistan again developing cross-border relations with the other two Kurdistans.

That would put pressure on Turkey to go for a similar solution. The Kurds there too would demand an autonomous Kurdish area.

In the meantime, we start arming the Peshmarga to be a strong army. We can arm from all different routes. There can be different Peshmargas.

All these steps would lead to a de-facto united Kurdistan with a great deal of linkage with the other regions.

If we reach that level, we should consider ourselves successful!

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 11 Aug 2011 14:11

Image

Book
Authors: Paramesh Choudhury, Tamal Mukherjee
Year of Publication: 2005
Pages: 510 p

Table of Contents
1. Prehistoric Hindu Migration to the West

2. Modern Discoveries Support Ancient Traditions

3. From India to Iraq

4. Hinduism in Pre-Christian & Pre-Islamic Arabia

5. Kurds--Kurus of India

6. Rigveda From Anatolia

7. Ramayana in Anatolia

8. Rigveda Rooted in Indian Soil

____8.1 Cambay Discovery

____8.2 The Discovery of the Saraswati

____8.3 Geographical & Geological Evidences

____8.4 The Horse

9. Rigvedic Panis were the Phoenicians

10. Anatolia, Hittites & Linguistics

11. Mittannis, Hurrians, Hindus

12. Ankara-Anatolia, Kurds, Hindus

13. Hinduism (Buddhism)

14. The Kurds

____14.1 Who are the Kurds

____14.2 Kurdish Origin

____14.3 Kurds in International Politics

____14.4 The Kurds and Islam

____14.5 Kurds are Closest Relatives of the Jews

15. Appendix

16. References

17. Index

shyamd
BRF Oldie
Posts: 6820
Joined: 08 Aug 2006 18:43

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby shyamd » 11 Aug 2011 14:39

RajeshA ji, indeed. We'll have to coopt one of the routes which has to be economically feasible. You can't go through Iraq today unless you have the permission of the US AND Iran. So, Iran is the best bet, geographically closer etc. But as you know KRG is sunni, Iran is shia and KRG is allied with the West/GCC. So its quite complicated at the moment. Turkey has a good understanding with the KRG.

Iraq is worried about Kurdish independence so wants KRG to remain weak and powerless. Each nation has complicated relations with KRG.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 11 Aug 2011 14:44

Published on Mar 06, 2011
By Michael S. Bernstam
Considering Kurdistan: Another Way to Stop Iran: Harvard International Review
There is a simple way to stop Iran from its nuclear ambitions, a way less costly than war and more effective than sanctions. It is by the creation of Kurdistan. Even a mere non-binding declaration by the US Congress to consider an option to create Kurdistan should stop the Iranian regime in its nuclear tracks, forcing it to refocus its attention on its internal survival. As an added benefit, the Kurdistan option would have a similar disabling effect on Syria. Iran and Syria might then cease to be political entities. The possible downside of this development is that it might destabilize and potentially break up Iraq and Turkey. This is a serious risk, but it could also open up new opportunities. Iraq and Turkey would face an added urgency in reaching mutually beneficial accords with their Kurdish enclaves. Their equitable resolution of the Kurdish problem would actually strengthen rather than weaken their national integrity.

This proposal represents the most equitable scenario that benefits all sides except the Iranian and Syrian regimes. If Iranian and Syrian Kurdish areas separate from their current states, they could join Iraqi Kurdistan in what would then become, in effect, an Arab-Kurdish confederation in Iraq. Iraq could become more stable, as Kurdistan has demonstrated its unifying influence on both the Shi’a and Sunni factions in the last several years and especially in the recent months during a governmental crisis. In general, since the new resulting borders in the region would better align the existing ethnic areas with their national statehood, the probability of inter-ethnic and internal civil conflicts in this volatile region should diminish. As for Turkey, under domestic pressures for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial Kurdish accord, the government would have to re-evaluate and reverse its drift away from its hard-won secular democracy allied with the West. Altogether, these developments would constitute a win-win situation both locally and globally, averting a military conflict with the West and improving human conditions in the region.

Background Facts on Iran
Contrary to the incessant pronouncements of its leaders, Iran is not a firm and stable nation-state, but rather a hodgepodge of disharmonious ethnic groups and religious denominations.
If this confrontation trend continues and the Kurdistan option is invoked, Iran can break down across its ethnic and regional seams and cease to be a political entity, as did the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. For example, there are about 15 million Azeris in Iran and 8 million in Azerbaijan proper. If Iran ceased to be a political entity, their reunification would become feasible. The relations between Iran and Azerbaijan have been tense since Azerbaijan’s independence in 1992, due to the latter’s support of Iranian Azerbaijani autonomy and talk of reunification. Besides the Azeris and the Kurds, the small Arab minority is also restless and is historically connected with Iraq. It is especially worth noting that most oil fields are in the Arab and Kurdish areas, not in Persia proper. A rump state of Iran would not be an oil exporter and would not be able to finance aggressions.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 11 Aug 2011 15:06

shyamd wrote:RajeshA ji, indeed. We'll have to coopt one of the routes which has to be economically feasible. You can't go through Iraq today unless you have the permission of the US AND Iran. So, Iran is the best bet, geographically closer etc. But as you know KRG is sunni, Iran is shia and KRG is allied with the West/GCC. So its quite complicated at the moment. Turkey has a good understanding with the KRG.

Iraq is worried about Kurdish independence so wants KRG to remain weak and powerless. Each nation has complicated relations with KRG.

shyamd ji,

that is why I think now when India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA Group) is trying to look for solutions to the Syrian situation and formulate a policy towards it; India should work on another possible route to Iraqi Kurdistan, through Syria.

It is obvious that USA, Israel and GCC would like to break the Shiite Crescent at Syria. It is also true that if the Sunnis take over Syria, life would become more and more difficult for the various minorities - Alewites, Syrian Orthodox Christians, and others.

So the normal regime change in Syria is also not in the interests of those who care about the minorities. And keeping Assad's regime seems more and more unlikely.

This is the best time to propose a loose federation in Syria - The Alewites and Christians getting the region in the North-West establishing their stronghold around Latakia on the Mediterranean, and their province extending all the way to the Syrian Kurdistan Province in the North-East of Syria.

Using "Latakia" as the name of the Minorities Province for sake of ease, it must be possible for India (and others) to develop this Province as a viable route into Iraqi Kurdistan, thus creating a second viable route, after Iraq.

The routes through Turkey and Iran cannot be used really to strengthen the Iraqi Kurdistan Government militarily. The route through Syria seems to be more plausible, as "Latakia" would be dependent on outsiders for its existence.

By helping set up such a Syrian Federation now, we would in fact be saving Assad and his coterie, by giving them a share in the power in "Latakia", confining the regime change only to Central and Southern Syria. Assad may be grateful for such a solution.

India would get some gratitude from all sides - from the Assad and Alewites for saving their skins, from the Sunnis and Sauds for breaking the Shiite Crescent, from the Syrian Kurds for giving them more autonomy, from the Iraqi Kurds for Indian support in expanding Kurdistan de-facto! And it would be doing something in Indian strategic interest as it would help create the "Aryan Crescent" stretching from India to the Mediterranean in the long term.

Now is the time for India to show diplomacy!

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 11 Aug 2011 16:52

Published on Jun 21, 2011
By Daniel Greenfield
A Two State Solution for Turkey?: Right Side News
The Kurds remain a ticking time bomb inside Turkey. And no responsible European leader can accept Turkish entry into the EU until the Kurdish situation is resolved. Slightly relaxing the oppressive cultural restrictions is not enough. It is time that the Erdogan regime be made to understand that it faces a choice between maintaining the occupation of Northern Kurdistan and joining the community of nations.

After a generation of fighting the PKK, Turkey is no closer to defeating it. The PKK is not going away and neither is the dream of Kurdish independence. If the Erdogan regime wishes to maintain its borders in the face of Kurdish independence in Western Kurdistan, then it will have to negotiate with the same leaders it has been throwing in prison. Only by allowing an autonomous Kurdish state within the borders of occupied Northern Kurdistan, will Turkey gain stability and peace.

Accepting Kurdish autonomy in Northern Kurdistan will allow Turkey to avoid a full fledged civil war and a two state solution which will see portions of its territory annexed to Kurdistan. While the Erdogan regime is confident that Europe and the rest of the world will continue turning a blind eye to its repression of the Kurds, there is no doubt that this will change in the event of a civil war. The world will not stand by and witness another genocide carried out by Turkey. And it will certainly destroy Turkey's prospects for EU membership.

Autonomy or a two state solution is in Turkey's own best interests as well. Kurds have a higher birth rate than ethnic Turks do. Almost double. And that means that if Turkey fails to separate itself from the larger portion of its Kurdish population-- then all of Turkey will eventually be Kurdistan.

Ending Turkish occupation of Northern Kurdistan will also leave the Turkish economy in a better competitive position and reassure international observers concerned about its stability. It will also end the need for cross-border incursions which will sooner or later lead to war.

The Turkish government has a limited time frame in which it can advance a constructive solution. Its tactics of repression have failed, its cultural band aids will only encourage a burgeoning desire for independence and instability in Iraq, Syria and Iran mean that the creation of a Kurdish state on its border is only a matter of time. Now is the time for the Erdogan government to sit down with the political representatives of the Kurdish people and their resistance in pursuit of a negotiated solution.

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 11 Aug 2011 17:00

Image

Book: Demographic Differentials and Demographic Integration of Turkish and Kurdish Populations in Turkey
Authors: Ismet Koc, Attila Hancioglu and Alanur Cavlin
Published on: Feb 07, 2008
The objectives of the study are threefold: (1) to provide estimates of the total populations and spatial distributions of different language groups in Turkey, (2) to test whether the commonly held belief that Turkish-speaking and Kurdish-speaking populations are “actors” of different demographic regimes is true, and (3) to assess whether a process of integration, in the form of intermarriage of Turks and Kurds is under way in Turkey. Data come mainly from the 2003 Turkish Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS-2003). Based on the assumption that the mother tongue composition of women is also representative of that of the whole population, the results of the TDHS-2003 imply that of the population of Turkey, 83% are Turkish-speaking, 14% are Kurdish-speaking, 2% are Arabic-speaking and the remaining 1% belong to other language groups. Results show that despite intensive internal migration movements in the last 50 years, strong demographic differentials exist between Turkish and Kurdish-speaking populations, and that the convergence of the two groups does not appear to be a process under way. Turks and Kurds do indeed appear to be actors of different demographic regimes, at different stages of demographic and health transition processes.


From a blog
According to an article about Turkish/Kurdish demographics based mainly on statistics of the Turkish Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS-2003), the birthrate of Kurds is much higher then that of Turks:
"Fertility levels of Turks and Kurds are significantly different. At current fertility rates, Turkish-speaking women will give birth to an average of 1.88 children during their reproductive years. The corresponding figure is 4.07 children for Kurdish women. Kurdish women will have almost 2 children more than Turkish women."


Well the KRG can start a program of giving a stipend to each child per month, making it a policy for all Kurds, where ever they are living. For Kurds in Turkey, who are generally much poorer, it would be God-send, and instead of 4.07 children per woman, they will be producing over 6!!!

Perhaps one should get the KRG to institute some policy on these lines from the revenue they receive from Kirkuk Oil!

How long would it then take for Turkey to be run over with Kurds? :twisted:

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 11 Aug 2011 17:15

X-Posting from Future Strategic Scenario for the Indian Subcontinent -II Thread

brihaspati wrote:The current GOI or the political forces behind it will not back up independent Kurdistan movement. In fact India will not back any new independence seeking movement anywhere - that seeks to disassociate from some preexisting nation.

It is a measure or indication of two things : first that the ruling regimes have been convinced by their own components as well as other external forces that centrifugal forces within India are at a dangerous level for the continued hold on power of the regime. This could have been done to box in Indian foreign policy.

The second is that it shows the dangers of vacuum ideologies in running a nation like India. The congrez necessity to have a vacuum ideology as the basis of the nation to preserve dynastic supremacy - means that it cannot forcefully denounce events/actions by foreign governments outside India or support based on clear cut principles of natural justice as a so-called drum-beater of "people's choice" and "democracy". This finds congrez led regimes into the bed of strange bed-fellows - dictatorial regimes as in Myanmar, or Muammar Gaddafi in Libya whose thundering on "Kashmiri independence" can be conveniently swallowed, or now saving Assad. It is more ironic since congrez prides itself on its legacy of "indepndent" but "democratic" mode of thinking!

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 30 Aug 2011 19:40

Published on Aug 23, 2011
By M K Bhadrakumar
Kurdish pawns bind Turkish rook: Asia Times
According to the Zaman disclosures, Turkish outposts inside northern Iraq will be fortified to facilitate the extended deployment of troops and special forces who could be pressed into operations at short notice with air cover, while the aerial bombardment will continue to be conducted from Turkish bases. The Turkish government is apparently seeking a mandate from parliament, as provided under law, to allow it to conduct cross-border operations at will in the near term.

The entire strategy seems to be aimed at sustaining pressure on the Kurdish insurgents by Turkish military units stationed permanently inside Iraq. But military analysts feel that at some stage Turkey may have to resort to a full-fledged ground offensive inside Iraq. Clearly, Ankara is "hardening" its line and the old dogmatic thinking, which failed to work in the past few decades, is resurfacing; namely, democratization in the Kurdish regions can be initiated only from a position of strength after "terrorism" has been decisively defeated.

If so, it is a great pity that Erdogan is turning his back on one of his most attractive projects - the so-called "Kurdish opening".

Samudragupta
BRFite
Posts: 625
Joined: 12 Nov 2010 23:49
Location: Some place in the sphere

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby Samudragupta » 04 Sep 2011 10:12

Rajesh ji and other Gurus,

The formation of Kurdistan will in itself a strategic masterstroke of any power if it wants to control the ME because Kurdistan is the Tibet of Middle East, as it is the location of almost all the major water resources of the Mid-East...Its not for anything else the Turks have come up with the Southeastern Anatolia Project(GAP)

Turkish generals speak about the need for more roads, more schools, more medical facilities and the government agrees that the southeast of the country is overdue for economic development. Hence the Southeastern Anatolia Project known as GAP. This vast development plan is to transform South Eastern Turkey into a prosperous market garden and power plant, supplying not only Turkey but its West Asian neighbors with agricultural products and electricity.


Extending over 75,000 square kilometres, an area the size of Belgium , the Netherlands and Luxembourg combined, GAP will contain 22 new dams and 19 hydroelectric power stations on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. GAP will also develop transport, health facilities, education, telecommunications, mining, industry, and tourism. The government intends spending $1.8 billion a year on it through 2010. Sandra Akmansoy, in a report made at the University of Texas at Austin in 1996, foresaw local income levels rising fivefold. The population, currently about 3.5 million, will rise, it is said, tonine million.


GAP is not just about South Eastern Turkey and the Kurds there. It also involves what has been said will be the most important source of conflict in the Middle East in the coming century: who controls whose water. Syria and Iraq are hostile to GAP because it will enable Turkey to regulate the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on which their agriculture depends. Turkey has suggested arrangements for settling the problem, including transferring water from the Tigris to the Euphrates. This would insure that all of Iraq and Syria’s planned irrigation projects would be provided for. Both Saddam Hussein and Hafiz al-Asad have rejected all Turkey’s proposals.


Its is not just the source of fresh water but also renewable energy...
The GAP also consists of 17 hydroelectric power plants. These will supply the energy equivalent of 22% of the anticipated total nationwide energy consumption in 2010. Providing 8,900 gigawatt hours (32 PJ), it is one of the largest series of hydroelectric power plants in the world.

Centerpiece of the project: Atatürk DamSoutheastern Anatolia Project consists of 22 Dams (year of completion):

Euprates Basin
1.Atatürk Dam (1992)
2.Birecik Dam (2000)
3.Büyükçay Dam
4.Çamgazi Dam (1998)
5.Çataltepe Dam
6.Gömikan Dam
7.Hancağız Dam (1988)
8.Kahta Dam
9.Karakaya Dam (1987)
10.Karkamış Dam (1999)
11.Kayacık Dam
12.Kemlin Dam
13.Koçali Dam
14.Sırımtaş Dam

Tigris Basin
1.Batman Dam (1998)
2.Cizre Dam
3.Dicle Dam (1997)
4.Garzan Dam
5.Kayser Dam
6.Kralkızı Dam (1997)
7.Ilısu Dam
8.Silvan Dam


Combine this with the following report.....

Turkey's Kurdistan has fertile land, rich water resources from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, as well as reserves of minerals. Due to 30 years of conflict between the Kurds and the Turkish state, more than 2,000 Kurdish villages were destroyed by Turkish army, which accused the villagers sheltering and feeding the Kurdish rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The villagers moved to cities in the Kurdish areas as well as Turkish cities, creating poor neighborhoods.

"The economic situation of Turkish Kurdistan is bad. Hundreds of thousands of Kurdish young men are jobless," said Muhammad Dara Aqar, the deputy leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city. Aqar told The Kurdish Globe that in Diyarbakir there is an area called Baglar, with a population of 450,000, of which 60 percent are young, and 80 percent of these young people are unemployed. He explained that in the past many young Kurdish people went to western Turkish areas, such as Istanbul and Antalya, to find jobs. However, in the past two years, due to the economic crisis, it is difficult for them to find jobs even in the west. "Due to political tension, there are no factories, industry or tourism in the Kurdish region. And the agriculture situation is not so good," he said. Aqar noted that the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) may help Kurdish areas when 25 percent of the irrigation system is finished and 80 percent of the hydroelectric power is working. GAP is a multisector integrated regional development project based on the concept of sustainable development for the 9 million people living in the Southeastern Anatolia region.

The number of Turkish and foreign investors in the Kurdish region is low because many see the region as unstable and risky. Aqar said AKP tried to attract Turkish and foreign investors to the Kurdish region by offering tax incentives and reduced electricity costs, but it did not work. "I believe the government does not want to take any risk in the Kurdish areas, the government is waiting the Kurdish problem to be solved. The government wants to know what the Kurdish decision will be, whether they will form a separate state or remain with Turkey."

"The Turkish government does not want do large projects in the Kurdish areas because it is not sure about the future of the Kurdish areas," he reaffirmed. The situation in the Middle East is also unstable, he said.

He said AKP is trying to improve the economic situation in the Kurdish areas and it did take some steps, such as building roads and schools for the villages and providing them with electricity. "AKP believes if the Kurdish economy situation is improved, the risk of Kurdish separation from Turkey will decrease; there will be integration between Kurds and Turkey."

Muhammad Ali Atash, head of Kurdish department at Dicle News Agency, believes the Turkish government is not serious about developing the economy in the Kurdish areas. Atash said it is exaggerated by Turkish media and the government when they say Turkish Kurdistan is unstable and it is risky to invest in the Kurdish areas. "When the Turkish or foreign business representatives come here, they see it is not correct. The region is stable and life is normal. Atash mentioned that in Turkish Kurdistan, there are many tourist sites, but few tourists. Not because, he added, Kurdistan is not stable, but because the government does not provide them with basic services, such as roads and signs.

Some are optimistic, and believe the economic situation in Turkish Kurdistan will flourish in the future and political tensions will end. "I believe Turkish Kurdistan will be rich in near future," said Dr. Huseyin Seyhanlioglu, from the faculty of economy and administration at Dicle University in Diyarbakir.
Seyhanlioglu said if read you the history of Turkey, you can see the AKP government is one of the few Turkish governments that wants to solve the Kurdish problem. In the future people from Iraqi Kurdistan will be able to cross the Turkish border without a passport and vice versa. Moreover, he mentioned the Kurdish-Turkish conflict not only harmed Kurdish economy, but also the Turkish economy. To date, the conflict has cost the Turkish state $200 billion and more than 2 million Kurdish people have been displaced and have moved to Turkish cities, which created a burden for these cities.

A large number of Kurdish people live in Istanbul and other Turkish cities. The majority of the migration came as a result of 30 years of conflict and denying the Kurdish rights in Turkey. According to reports, the Kurds in Turkish cities live in the poorer neighborhoods and mostly work as manual labor.

Amin, the jobless man sitting on the grass, warned the Turkish state by saying "As long as the Kurdish situation is not improved, there will be [rebel] Kurds in the mountains."



And you have the script of Avatar in front of you....

Point is the Geopolitics of Kurdistan provides immense opportunities and you need not go to Syria/Iraq/Iran to harness it, breakoff of South Eastern Turkey will create the enough centrigugal force for the other parts to join it....
But the real question is is India up to the challenge?

RajeshA
BRF Oldie
Posts: 15995
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 19:30

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby RajeshA » 04 Sep 2011 10:47

Peshmarga Brigade in the Indian Army

Samudragupta wrote:Point is the Geopolitics of Kurdistan provides immense opportunities and you need not go to Syria/Iraq/Iran to harness it, breakoff of South Eastern Turkey will create the enough centrigugal force for the other parts to join it....
But the real question is is India up to the challenge?

India tends to look at the current scene and that too from the PoV of defense. Neither we look at offense, nor we look at future.

If the projection is that within a couple of decades India would be the 2nd or 3rd biggest economy in the world, wouldn't this economy have any strategic interests at all in the world? Are all our strategic interests just restricted to the Indian Subcontinent and some Indian Ocean Rim?

It is how we play the Great Asian Game, that will decide who rules Geopolitics.

The West Asian politics would to a large extent be fought over water. Those who control water would control the politics of the region.

In the e-book, I once wrote, I proposed that India should have a Kurdish/Peshmarga Brigade in the Indian Army. Just like the British Army has Gurkhas doing service in it, so too can India have Kurds doing service within the Indian Division.

We should build up our relations with the Iraqi federal Govt., which is Shi'a dominated, and who often depend on the Kurdish parties to build a coalition. We should impress on them to allow Iraqis aka Kurds to work within the Indian Army.

Kurds could thus also get training in the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.

Basically we will be training up to 10,000 Peshmargas in modern warfare at any given time. Some who retire from the Indian Army would go ahead and train more Peshmarga in Kurdistan, or lead various militant groups fighting for the Kurdish cause.

We don't need to deal with Turkey or Iran at all on the issue of Kurds. We deal for the moment only with Iraqi and possibly Syrian Kurds.

Through Iraq we could also supply the Kurdish Regional Government with weapons, etc.

Rony
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2419
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby Rony » 05 Sep 2011 01:34

A blog by a Kurdish women Journalist Sazan Mandalawi who loves India and quotes Mahatma Gandhi in her blog.

She wrote a book 'My Nest in Kurdistan' which is marketed by Kurdish ministry of Culture bookshops. Below is her picture on her own book.

Image


http://mandalawi.blogspot.com/

Agnimitra
BRF Oldie
Posts: 5150
Joined: 21 Apr 2002 11:31

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby Agnimitra » 04 Oct 2011 01:03

RajeshA ji and others...not sure if you were still using this thread, but thought I would post this here:

First: PJAK "Surrenders" to Iran

Then, from a pro-Iranian Kurdish cause source:
Arab spring – Kurdish Autumn; Why southeastern Turkey might be next?

Prem
BRF Oldie
Posts: 21064
Joined: 01 Jul 1999 11:31
Location: Weighing and Waiting 8T Yconomy

Re: Kurdistan - An Indian National Interest

Postby Prem » 04 Oct 2011 04:14

Rajesh ,
My Kurdish friend will be returning by end of this week. He has always shown interest in India and its culture as he tells me he is not one of the local Yahhoostani. He belongs to the Barzani clan. Apparently Kurd regional government is looking to map the whole area and soon will require services of remote sensing satelite. Mauka for india to offer its good services.


Return to “Strategic Issues & International Relations Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Karthik S, Rsatchi and 86 guests