|Regions with significant populations|
|Shia Islam, Alevism, Ahl-e Haqq|
Shabak people are a people who live mainly in the villages of Ali Rash, Khazna, Yangidja, and Tallara in Sinjar district in the province of Ninawa in northern Iraq. They speak Shabaki, a Northwestern Iranian language. Their population was estimated at around 15,000 in the 1970s but it is believed to be more like 60,000 today. Shabaks consist of three different ta'ifs or sects: the Bajalan, Dawoody and Zengana and the Shabak proper. Shabaks follow an independent religion, related to but distinct from orthodox Islam and Christianity. It is also claimed that they are descendants of Qizilbash from the army of Shah Ismail.
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 of Shabekan is available among the tribes in Tunceli, Turkey and as Shabakanlu in Khorasan northern east of Iran.
Arabization and Anfal Campaign
The geographical spread of Shabak people has been largely changed due to the massive deportations in the notorious Al-Anfal Campaign in 1988 and the refugee crisis in 1991. Many Shabaks along with Zengana and Hawrami were relocated and deported to concentration camps (mujamma'at in Arabic) far away from their original homeland. Despite all these actions, Iraqi government efforts at forced assimilation and Arabization, as well as religious persecution of Shabaks has put them under increasing pressure. As one Shabak informant to a researcher put it:
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.
Shabaks after the Iraq War
On October 27, 2012, several Shabak were killed in Mosul when gunmen invaded 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 in a bombing at a Shabak funeral near Mosul.
- 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.
- 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
- 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 Insititute 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