Kurdistan is a place where different religions meet each other and live together with a total peace. There is no other place in the world, where such a mix created a very well built social tolerance.
Through the latest news, the world has learnt a lot about a very old religion – Yezidism, which is considered as the native religion of the Kurds.
How did it become, that today, the Kurds are also Christians, Jews and even most of the became Muslims? I will try to acquaint you, as short as I can, with the story of Kurdish Christians and Jews, and maybe in the next post with Kurdish Muslims.
Judaism came to this land together with around 27 000 exiled Jews. They have been sent to the area of biblical Gozan in 721 BC.
Later, in 597 BC, the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah and exiled even more Jews to Babylon. Do you remember the story of Daniel in the lions’ den and his master Darius the Mede? It is dated for the same period. This probably was the major event that made Kurds convert to Judaism. In this way almost all of the central Kurdistan became Jewish.
Even more, the royal family of Adiabene converted to Judaism. It was a small kingdom with a capital in present Hawler. In the 1st century, queen Helena of Adiabene with her husband Izates II converted to Judaism. They have sent their sons to study Hebrew and Jewish customs to Jerusalem.
The Kurds converted also to Christianity. As you know they come, inter alia, from Medes, and the Median language was one of the languages that Holy Spirit made Jesus’ disciples speak, after 50 days of Jesus’ Crucifixion. These Christians started to come back to their homeland which was the area of the Zakho city.
Most of us know the story of Noah and the Ark. After he could again live on the ground, and his sons get married, he got 16 grandsons. One of them was Madai, the grandfather of the Kurds.
In the 5th century, the royal family of Adiabene converted this time to Christianity.
Kurdish, Armenian and Assyrian Christians get merged. Till the 1st World War, they have lived in the mountains of northern Kurdistan. When the Ottoman Empire fell, most of them left this area and went to the French Mandate of Syria. They were forced “to become Armenians” and assimilate with them.
Then Arabs came.
In 637 they conquered and converted to Islam the whole Mesopotamia. During a long period of time, Kurds tried to fend off Arabic attacks but they did not manage to overcome the Arabs.
Even though the Islamization was a huge process, many of the Kurds have never accepted Islam and they have remained Yezidis mostly.
In 1193, Crusaders tried to re-convert Muslim Kurds to Christianity but a very well known – Saladin – defended Islam against them.
Later on, in 10th century, a huge Turkish migration from Central Asia began. Kurdish regions have been invaded and in 1299 the Ottoman Empire has been established.
Actually, even nowadays, some of Muslim Kurds convert to Christianity. One of the most famous is Mr Fouad who established the foundation Home for Kurds. As international organisation it reaches Kurds in the whole world offering help of any kind.