|100,000 to 500,000|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Shia Islam, Alevism, Ahl-e Haqq|
The Shabak people are an ethnoreligious group who live mainly in the villages of Ali Rash, Khazna, Yangidja, and Tallara in Sinjar district in Nineveh Province in northern Iraq. They speak Shabaki, a Northwestern Iranian language. Their population was estimated at around 15,000 in the 1970s. Shabaks consist of three different ta'ifs or sects: the Bajalan, Dawoody and Zengana and the Shabak proper. About 70 percent of Shabaks are Shi'a and the rest are Sunni.[contradiction] It is also claimed that they are descendants of Qizilbash from the army of Shah Ismail. The religion started in the 16th century, because they were considered as the lowest and poorest people of the village. The Shabak people did not like this claim, so they started their own religion to defend their culture.
The origin of the word Shabak is not clear. One view maintains that Shabak is an Arabic word شبك meaning intertwine, reflecting their diverse society. The name "Shabekan" occurs among tribes in Tunceli, Turkey and as Shabakanlu in Khorasan northern east of Iran.
Arabization and Anfal Campaign
The geographical range of the Shabak people was drastically changed by the massive deportations of the Al-Anfal Campaign in 1988 and the refugee crisis of 1991. Many Shabaks along with Zengana and Hawrami were relocated and deported to concentration camps (mujamma'at in Arabic) far from their homeland. In addition, Iraqi government efforts at forced assimilation and Arabization, as well as religious persecution of Shabaks put them under increasing pressure. As one Shabak told a researcher:
The government said we are Arabs, not Kurds; but if we are, why did they deport us from our homes?
Shabaks combine elements of Sufism with their own interpretation of divine reality, which according to them, is more advanced than the literal interpretation of Qur'an known as Sharia. Shabak spiritual guides are known as pir, who are individuals well versed in the prayers and rituals of the sect. Pirs themselves are under the leadership of the Supreme Head or Baba. Pirs act as mediators between Divine power and ordinary Shabaks. Their beliefs form a syncretic system with such features as private and public confession and allowing consumption of alcoholic beverages. This last feature makes them distinct from the neighboring Muslim populations. The beliefs of the Yarsan closely resemble those of the Shabak people.
The Shabaks have many special traditions. Once a year they commemorate the people who died that year. The whole city fasts that day. Shabaks bury their dead. Burial is called Jinanguan.
Shabaks during and after the Iraq War and ISIL Offensive
On October 27, 2012, several Shabak were killed in Mosul by gunmen who burst into their homes as part of a series of attacks during the Eid al-Adha holiday. On September 13, 2013, a female suicide bomber killed 21 people at a Shabak funeral near Mosul. In July 2007 a Shabak MP claimed that since 2003 Sunni militants had killed about 1,000 Shabak and a further 4,000 Shabak had fled the Mosul area for fear of Sunni militants.
Since Nineveh Province is bitterly contested by ISIS and Iraqi Kurdistan, the Shabak are now caught in a desperate plight in the course of the 2014 Iraq Offensive. Quite a number of them have fled into Iraqi Kurdistan.
- Kehl-Bodrogi, Krisztina; Kellner-Heinkele, Barbara; Otter-Beaujean, Anke (1997). Syncretistic Religious Communities in the Near East: Collected Papers of the International Symposium "Alevism in Turkey and Comparable Sycretistic Religious Communities in the Near East in the Past and Present" Berlin, 14-17 April 1995. BRILL. p. 159. ISBN 978-90-04-10861-5. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- Martin, Bruinessen, van (2000). Mullas, sufis and heretics: the role of religion in Kurdish society : collected articles. Isis Press. pp. 259–. ISBN 978-975-428-162-0. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- Iraq: The Minorities of the Nineveh Plain
- Shabak, Encyclopaedia of The Orient.
- A. Vinogradov, Ethnicity, Cultural Discontinuity and Power Brokers in Northern Iraq: The Case of the Shabak, American Ethnologist, pp.207-218, American Anthropological Association, 1974, p.208
- This is according to one "informant" to a researcher (Michiel Leezenberg, a professor of philosophy at the University of Amsterdam), as reported at the following address: Leezenberg article
- , additional text.
- The Turkmen of Iraq: Underestimated, Marginalized and exposed to assimilation terminology, UNPO website
- Michiel Leezenberg, The Shabak and the Kakais: Dynamics of Ethnicity in Iraqi Kurdistan, Publications of Institute for Logic, Language & Computation (ILLC), University of Amsterdam, July 1994, p .6.
- A. Vinogradov, Ethnicity, Cultural Discontinuity and Power Brokers in Northern Iraq: The Case of the Shabak, American Ethnologist, pp.207-218, American Anthropological Association, 1974, pp.214,215
- "Iraq hit by deadly attacks on Eid al-Adha holiday". BBC News. 27 October 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- New York Times: "Suicide Bomber Stages Deadly Attack at Funeral in Iraq’s North" September 14, 2013
- Ali, Salah Salim. ‘Shabak: A Curious sect in Islam’. Revue des études islamiques 60.2 (1992): 521-528. (ISSN 0336-156X)
- Ali, Salah Salim. ‘Shabak: A Curious sect in Islam’. Hamdard Islamicus 23.2 (April–June 2000): 73-78. (ISSN 0250-7196)
- Encyclopedia of The Orient
- Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq’s minority communities since 2003 London, Minority Rights Group, 2007