Peacock Angel

The Four Castes of Yezidi religion:
Mirs, Shexs, Pirs and Murids

The MÓr or Yezidi Prince

The MÓr is the temporal and religious head of the Yezidis. He is recognized by the Yezidi to be the official representative of Tawsi Melek on Earth and represents his people at all national and international conferences. The role of MÓr is hereditary and currently drawn from one of the Sheikh families, known as the «ol family. Legend states that when Sheikh ‘Adi was dying three branches of Sheikhs began quarrelling over who would be his successor. This disturbed Sheikh Adi, who spent many hours in prayer to the Supreme God for assistance in this matter.

Finally, Tawsi Melek was sent to Earth and proceeded to create a man from the spirit world or void, which in Kurdish translates as ‘Áol’. This man and his eventual descendents then assumed the title of MÓr. Initially they were given as their palatial seat the village of Baadra in the Sheikhan region of the Yezidis, but they currently reside in the Sheikhan town of Eyn Sifni.

Baba Sheikh: The Yezidi Pope

Like the MÓr, the Baba Shiekh also hails from the Shiekh caste and currently resides in the town of Eyn Sifni. Technically, the Baba Sheikh, meaning “Father” Sheikh, is the spiritual head of the Yezidis and the MÓr is the temporal head of the tribe, however in practice the Baba Shiekh remains subordinate to the MÓr in both temporal and spiritual matters. The Baba Sheikh is traditionally present at all important religious meetings and ceremonies of the Yezidis, especially those conducted at Lalish. Once a year the Baba Sheikh visits all the Yezidi villages to give his blessings and conduct ceremonies. During these visits he also resolves disputes among the villagers.

The Shex (or Sheikh) Caste

The Shiekh caste is the highest and most honored of the three castes; as mentioned, the highest offices within the Yezidis are drawn from it. Sheikh is an Arabic word that denotes a ruler, elder of a tribe, or a revered holy man. The Sheikh caste was founded by Sheikh Adi and originally drew its membership from the families descended from six of the Seven Great Angels (excluding Tawsi Melek) who had taken physical incarnation with Sheikh Adi.

Membership in both the Sheikh Caste and the Pir Caste that follows has become hereditary and often comes with special abilities. Each Sheikh and Pir family, for example, possesses some healing ability. Some families can cure snake bite, others madness, others fever, headache, arthritis, etc. A family’s spiritual power can be transferred to a sick person through the saliva of one of its members, or via soil from the family shrine.

The Pir Caste

The members of the Pir Caste are descended from Peer Alae, a holy man who had lived during the time of Sheikh Adi and was blessed with miraculous powers. Pirs are also said to be descended from the 40 or 42 disciples of Sheikh Adi. A Pir, which is a Kurdish word meaning “elder,” is an important mentor and official at all important Yezidi functions and meetings, both temporal and religious. Both Pirs and Sheikhs assist with marriages, circumcisions, funerals, and they take on the role of family advisor. Yezidi families of all three castes are required to adopt one Sheikh and one Pir as their guides for life.

The Murid Caste The Murid Caste consists of the majority of Yezidis. The Murid Caste is the caste of “commoners” who generally do not serve the function of priest.