MALAK-TĀWŪS: THE PEACOCK ANGEL OF THE YEZIDIS Part 1
Although the relevant literature will often classify the Yezidis as followers of polytheism, worshipping an array of gods having differing degrees of significance, a closer scrutiny will show this view to be in need of a radical review.
Using this type of approach, elements of polytheism can be identified in the unambiguously monotheistic religions as well. Thus, Muslims, for instance, see the concept of the Christian Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—as a manifestation of polytheism in Christianity. Meanwhile, in Islam itself, where monotheism is an indisputable basis, the alpha and omega of the entire theology, some heterodox sects (the extreme Shi‘as, for example) deifying the fourth caliph, ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib, and other characters, like Fatima, also come in for criticism by orthodox Islamic theologians for their departure from the monolithic God,
from the very idea of tauÈīd, monotheism. The poly-variation, or rather, the dismembered representation of the Divine Entity, of God, is none other than the personification of the functional division of the Divine, which has nothing to do
with polytheism in its pure form, whose essential nature does not change even in the presence of a manifestly principal divinity in the system of gods. This principal divinity, while endowed with a greater power (greater attributes, functions, and so on) compared to others, is, however, not the Absolute, which is the main
characteristic of the One God. Therefore, it is necessary to clearly
differentiate between the dismembered representations of the Divine
(by different spheres of manifestation and even under differing names) reduced to the single initiation, and polytheism characterised by a dispersed representation of the Divine. In monotheism the Divine Essence in its manifestations does not
in any way lose even partially the role, functions or power of God, the sole source of divine emanation and of the Divine in its entirety, but rather manifests its qualities within different hypostases. From this viewpoint, even Zoroastrianism, often characterised as a dualistic religion, can be regarded as such, albeit with great
reservations. Indeed, despite quite an impressive pantheon of gods
as a whole, Ahura Mazdā is featured generally as the supreme god,
with the functions of the demiurge.1 In the Old Iranian religion god is designated by the term *bága- (cf. Old Pers. baga “god”, Avestan baga- “lot, good fortune”,
Sogd. baγ)—One (Single) God (rather, supreme god), unlike the Yazats (Avestan yazata, Middle Pers. yazat, New Pers. īzad, literally meaning “one worthy of worship or of sacrifice”). As for *bága-, this concept means “dispenser (of good fortune)”, cf. Skt. bhága-. Another denotation of the supreme god in Old Iran was
*dātār-, that is, “creator” (New Persian dādār). At the present time the general designation of god in New Persian and in most New Iranian dialects is xudāy, from Old Iran. *xwa-tāwan-, lit. autokrathv", “autocrat”; the same term, Xwadē, also designates
One God among the Yezidis.
As for Angra Mainyu or Ahriman in the Zoroastrian religion he is only a manifestation of evil, a force of destruction, and to some degree is a parallel of Satan, although possessing more significant attributes than the devil in Christianity (for example, he is the author of part of creation and is hostile to Ahura Mazdā and his creation). Thus, the Old Iranian religion, while never having been unambiguously monotheistic, tends in its various manifestations towards monotheism, with one god, Ahura Mazdā, dominating over a whole array of divinities. The situation does not change radically when the priority of Ahura Mazdā is challenged by Zurvān or Mithra. In consequence, a true dualism, with equally significant god and demon locked in unending combat with an unpredictable outcome, has never been known in Iran In the meantime, even the Old Greek religion, whose designation as “polytheism” is unambiguously substantiated, had monotheistic tendencies with ancient roots: “Der monotheistische Gedanke war alt in Griechenland”, as noted by one well-known expert of the Old Greek religion.3 That, however, leaves no doubt as to its polytheistic nature as a whole, since we are here dealing with the dominance of religious mentality, rather than at the various ideas allowed to co-exist within a common system. Anyway, when characterising a specific religion, particularly asyncretic one, which is Yezidism, it is necessary to consider the entire complex of its structure without leaning mainly upon the external manifestation of the transcendental in the system of thereligious dogmas. Analysis of the Yezidi Holy Triad also shows its component deities to be unambiguous manifestations of one god worshipped by the Yezidis. The absence of canonised dogmatic literature leaves us no choice but to lean upon the oral religious code of the Yezidis. However, the folkloric religious texts, particularly within the context of a wider analysis, present a material quite sufficient for research. The monotheism of the Yezidis is seen, for example, in the following prayer adopted as the Symbol of Faith (Šahdā dīnī):
Šahdā dīnē min ēk Allāh,...
Silt’ān Šēxadī pādšē mina,...
Silt’ān Ēzdī pādšē mina,...
Tāwūsī malak šahdā ū īmānēd mina...
Haqa, xwadē kir, [am] ēzdīna,
Sar nāvē Silt’ān Ēzdīna.
Al-h’amd lillāh, am ži ōl ū tarīqēd xō di-řāzīnā.
“The Testimony of my faith is One God,
Sultan Sheikh ‘Adi is my king,
Sultan Yezid is my king,
Malak-Tawus is the Symbol [of Faith] and my faith.
Indeed, by God’s will [we] are Yezidis,
We are called by the name of Sultan Yezid.
God be praised, we are content with our religion and our
GARNIK ASATRIAN, VICTORIA ARAKELOVA