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The Yarsan or Ahl-e Haqq (Kurdish: یارسان‎, Yarsan,[1][2] Persian: اهل حق‎‎ Ahl-e Haqq "People of Truth") is a syncretic religion founded by Sultan Sahak in the late 14th century in western Iran.[3] The total number of Yarsanis is about 5,000,000 and in Iran is estimated at around 2,000,000 or 3,000,000,.[4] primarily found in western Iran and eastern Iraq, mostly ethnic Goran Kurds,[5][6][7] though there are also smaller groups of Turk, Persian, Lori, Azeri and Arab adherents.[8] Some Yarsanis in Iraq are called Kaka'i. Yarsanis are also found in some rural communities in southeastern Turkey.[9]

Because many Yarsanis hide their religion, due to Iran's Islamic system, there is no exact statistic of their population.[10]

The Yarsanis have a distinct religious literature primarily written in the Gorani language which also is known as Hawrami dialects. However, few modern Yarsani can read or write Gorani (a Northwestern Iranian language belonging to the branch Zaza-Gorani) as their mother tongues are Southern Kurdish and Sorani Kurdish, which belong to the other two branches of the Kurdish language family.

The speakers of Sarli, living near Eski Kalak are adherents, as Edmonds (1957: 195) surmised and Moosa (1988: 168) observed. Their central religious book is called the Kalâm-e Saranjâm, written in the 15th century based on the teachings of Sultan Sahak.

The purpose of Sultan Sahak was to teach humans about how to achieve ultimate truth[11] since the Yarsanism reminisce sun and fire as holy things and believe in Equalization, Purity, Righteousness, and Oneness, leads some researchers to find Mithraism roots in this religion.[12]

the Yarsanism is barely mentioned in the old religious books Because according to "ser mago" label (do not tell the secrets) The followers of truth has tried not to reveal their secrets.[13] The followers of Yarsanism did their rituals and ceremonies in secret, however in many cases the yarsanis have been being in harassment and pressure by Muslims or other governments over the centuries, the followers of this religion say after the Islamic Revolution, pressure on the yarsanism community has increased and they have been being in deprivation and discrimination over 30 years[14]

one of their men's apparent signs is to have Intact mustache, in their holy book Kalâm-e Saranjâm says that every man has to have mustache to take part in their religious rites[15] the concourse of Yarsanis is called the " jam khana", they gather there and they use "Tambour" for meditation[16]

Religious beliefs[edit]

The Yarsanism follow the mystical teachings of Sultan Sahak. From the Yarsanis point of view, the universe is composed of two distinct yet interrelated worlds: the internal (Bātinī) and the external (zāhirī), each having its own order and rules. Although humans are only aware of the outer world, their lives are governed according to the rules of the inner world. Among other important pillars of their belief system are that the Divine Essence has successive manifestations in human form (mazhariyyat) and the belief in transmigration of the soul (dunaduni in Kurdish). There is an assumption that some aspects of the Yarsani faith suggest the divinity of Ali, although it can be identified as Kurdish esoterism which emerged under the intense influence of Bātinī-Sufism during the last two centuries. by becoming Iran to Iran Islamic Republic some groups were created to harm Yarsanis. their leader was called Hajj Nematollah Jeyhounabadi which his son was called Nur Ali Elahi also they have written many books which all are opposite to Yarsanis holy book Kalâm-e Saranjâm[17] according to Yarsanis point of view, the cause of creating these groups was to change Yarsan to Islam[18] also some people think the Yarsanis are a part of Islam but they don't do the Islamic necessity and they don't do the things on Islamic way.[19] this decade some yarsan leaders were manipulated and became the spy for the government[20] so they told their people to say that "they are part of Islam and pray the Islamic way" but according to Yarsan holy book[21] every man needs to do what it has been written in Kalâm-e Saranjâm otherwise they are not part of Yarsan. also it says everyone can choose to be yarsan or not.

In Yarsanism philosophy has been told that Yarsanis believe in the Evolution of the universe in different levels[22][better source needed] that these levels are:

1. First level: "Shari'at" which includes the period from Adam and Eve till Muhammad rasulullah known as "The Prophet" period.[23]

2. Second level: "Tariqat" which includes the period from Ali ibn Abi Talib till Shah khoshin known as "doctrine" period.[24]

3. third level: "Marefat" which includes the period from Shah khoshin till Sultan Sahak known as "Mysticism" period.[25]

4. Last level: "Haqiqat" which includes the period from Sultan Sahak untill now, which is knows as the Truth period.[26]

About the Divine Essence in Yarsanism, the Divine manifestation (mazhariyat) has appeared several times in human form. for Example: Jesus Christ in "Shari'at", Ali ibn Abi Talib and Bahlool kufi in "Tariqat" , shah fazlullah veli , Baba Sarhang Dudani, Baba Naous and Shah Khoshin in "Marefat" finally Sultan Sahak and Sayed Heidar Guran (Asayed Berake Guran) in "Haqiqat".

According to Ahl-i Haqq legend[27] after Sultan Sahak, the last great Divine Manifestation, had completed the revelation of his esoteric teachings (haqiqat) to his first disciples among the Guran he took his leave of them. Disappearing from the Guran country without a trace, he reappeared in Anatolia in the form of Haji Bektash Veli. He taught mystical doctrines and techniques (tariqat) in those lands for almost a hundred years, and then returned to the Guran country. In the perception of his disciples there, he had been away for only an hour.[28]

Ahl-e Haqq (Yarsani) faith[edit]

The Yarsani faith's features include millenarism, Innatism, egalitarianism, metempsychosis, angelology, divine manifestation and dualism. Many of these features are found in Yazidism, also they have many things in common with Zoroastrians and Christian. Unlike other indigenous Persianate faiths, the Yarsanism explicitly reject class, caste and rank, which sets them apart from the Yezidis and Zoroastrians.[29]

The Yarsani have a famous saying about death; "Men! Do not fear the punishment of death! The death of man is like the dive which the duck makes."[30] Human beings go through a cycle of 1001 incarnations. During this process, they may become more purified based on their actions.

The Yarsani are emanationists and incarnationists, believing that the Divine Essence has successive incarnations in human form known as mazhariyyats (similar to the Hindu avatars). They believe God manifests one primary and seven secondary manifestations in each of the seven epochs of the world. The mazhariyyats of the First Epoch closely matched by name the archangels of the Semitic religions.

Kurdish Yarsani men in Suleimaniyah, Kurdistan Region. The picture on the wall contains religious symbolism of the sacred Kurdish tanbur.

In the Fourth Epoch, the primary mazhariyyat is held to be Sultan Sahak. It is said that he was given birth by Dayerak Rezbar or Khatun-e Rezbar, a Kurdish virgin, and as in the case of Mary, it was a virginal conception. While sleeping under a pomegranate tree a kernel of fruit fell into her mouth when a bird pecked the fruit directly over her.[31] The "Haft Tan" (The Seven Archangels) are key figures in the Yarsani belief system and their history. The only female among them is Khatun-e Rezbar, the mother of Sultan Sahak.

  1. Pir Benjamin, considered the incarnation of the archangel Gabriel;and he has the preceptor title to all Yarsanis (Monday)
  2. Pir Musi, the incarnation of the archangel Michael and known as Recording angel (Tuesday)
  3. Mustafā'Dawan, the incarnation of archangel Azrael (Wednesday)
  4. Sultan Sahak, the incarnation of Divine Essence (Tuesday)
  5. Baba Yadegar, Also known as "Ahmad" and "Reza" (Friday)
  6. Khatun-e Razbar. (Saturday)
  7. Dawud koswar (David) Notice slang called Daoo, He is known as "Dalil" (in Kurdish Language) to all Yarsanis[32]

These seven persons are known as "Haft tan" Which means by word "The Seven Persons"[33]

The traditions of the Yarsani are preserved in poetry known as Kalam-e Saranjam (The Discourse of Conclusion), divinely revealed narratives passed down orally through the generations. These traditions are said to have been written down by Pir Musi, one of the seven companions of Sultan Sahak (also the angel in charge of recording human deeds).[34] The collection consists of the epochs of Khawandagar [God], ‘Alī, Shah Khoshin and Sultan Sahak, the different manifestations of divinity. The epoch of Shah Khoshin takes place in Luristan and the epoch of Sultan Sahak is placed in Hawraman near the Sirwan River, the land of the Goranî. The sayings attributed to Sultan Sahak are written in Gorani Kurdish, the sacred language of the Ahl-e Haqq. Some of their literature is written in the Persian language.[35]

Relationship with similar groups[edit]

A group of native, allegedly Iranian, but archaeologically Mesopotamian, monotheistic religions practiced by Kurds consisting of Yarsani and Êzidî along with Chinarism/Ishikism (Ishik Alevism) are claimed as "Yazdânism" by Mehrdad Izady.[36]

An excerpt from the French Review of the Muslim World[37] describes the difficulty in nomenclature for Yarsanism and related Shi'ite mysticism. The English translation reads:

First of all, we must clear up the confusion resulting from the variety of names given to the sect of "Ahlé-Haqq", which are liable to be misunderstood. Like any religion, the one we are dealing with considers itself to be the only true and orthodox one, and it is natural that its adherents give themselves the name of "People of Truth" (Ahlé-Haqq or Ahlé-Haqîqat). This term lacks precision, as other sects, for example the Horoufis, occasionally apply it to themselves. Still, the name Ahlé-Haqq to refer to the sect of our particular interest has every advantage over appellations such as "Gholat", "Alî-Allâhi", and "Noséïri" that the Muslims and most European travellers use in speaking of them. The first term, which encompasses all of the extremist Shi’ites, is too broad and too vague. The second term, "deifiers of Ali", has the same fault and emphasizes what is only a detail in the religious system under discussion. Finally, the name "Noséïri" belongs to that well-defined Syrian religion, which, despite some resemblances with the doctrines of the Ahlé-Haqq (the worship of Ali, the communion, etc.), appears to present a complex of quite different old beliefs.

Relations with Islam[edit]

Ahl-e Haqq view Islam as a product of a cycle of divine essence, which was made manifest in Ali, and established the stage of shai'at (Islamic law). This was followed by the cycle of tariqat (Sufi teachings), then ma'rifat (Sufi gnosis), and finally the current cycle of haqiqat (Ultimate Truth), which was made manifest in Sultan Sahak. The final stage supersedes the previous ones, which frees Ahl-e Haqq from observing the shari'a rules incumbent on Muslims. Ahl-i Haqq class other Muslims as either Ahl-i Tashayyu (followers of Shi'ism) or Ahl-i Tasannun (followers of Sunnism). The Ahl-i Haqq neither observe Muslim rites, such as daily prayers and fasting during the month of Ramadan, nor share Islamic theology and sacred space, such as belief in the day of resurrection and sanctity of the mosque.[38]

The 12 families of the Ahl-e Haqq[edit]

The original 7 families or Sadat-e Haqiqat established during the time of Sultan were Shah Ebrahim, Baba Yadegar, Ali Qalandar, Khamush, Mir Sur, Seyyed Mosaffa and Hajji Babu Isa. The 5 families established after Sultan Sahak are Atesh Bag, Baba Heydar, Zolnour, Shah Hayas and Sayed Darwishi

Goran Kurds[edit]

There are also large communities of people of Ahl-e Haqq in some regions of Iranian Azerbaijan. The town of Ilkhichi (İlxıçı), which is located 87 km south west of Tabriz is almost entirely populated by Yarsanis.[citation needed] For political reasons, one of which was to create a distinct identity for these communities, they have not been called Goran Kurds since the early 20th century.[citation needed] They are called under the various names, such as Ali-Ilahis and Ahl-e Haqq. Groups with similar beliefs also exist in Iranian Kurdistan. Interestingly, both the Dersim (Zazaki / Zaza) people and the Gorani, who speak a language that is considered to belong to the Hawramani branch of the North West Iranian languages, adhere to a form of Kurdish Alawi faith which resembles the religions of the Yezidi,[39] Ali-Ilahians or Druze.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hamzeh'ee, M. Reza Fariborz (1995). Krisztina Kehl-Bodrogi; et al., eds. Syncretistic Religious Communities in the Near East. Leiden: Brill. pp. 101–117. ISBN 90-04-10861-0. 
  2. ^ P. G. Kreyenbroek (1992). Review of The Yaresan: A Sociological, Historical and Religio-Historical Study of a Kurdish Community, by M. Reza Hamzeh'ee, 1990, ISBN 3-922968-83-X. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol.55, No.3, pp.565-566.
  3. ^ Elahi, Bahram (1987). The path of perfection, the spiritual teachings of Master Nur Ali Elahi. ISBN 0-7126-0200-3.
  4. ^ "Yarsan population". 
  5. ^ Edmonds, Cecil. Kurds, Turks, and Arabs: politics, travel, and research in north-eastern Iraq, 1919-1925. Oxford University Press, 1957.
  6. ^ "Religion: Cult of Angels". Encyclopaedia Kurdistanica. Archived from the original on 2006-08-28. Retrieved 2006-09-01. 
  7. ^ "Yazdanism". Encyclopaedia of the Orient. Archived from the original on 21 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  8. ^ "Ahl-e Haqq - Principle Beliefs and Convictions". Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  9. ^ Tore Kjeilen. "Ahl-e Haqq - LookLex Encyclopaedia". Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  10. ^ "Yarsan population". 
  11. ^ ""haghighat time"". 
  12. ^ "Mithraism roots in Yarsan". 
  13. ^ "why in there no name of Yarsanism in the old religious books?". 
  14. ^ ""discrimination over yarsan"". 
  15. ^ Template:Yarsanism holy book Kalâm-e Saranjâm
  16. ^ ""tambour in yarsan"". 
  17. ^ "nematollah jeyhunabadi". 
  18. ^ "Alī-Elāhī is not part of yarsan". 
  19. ^ "The differences between Yarsan and Islam". 
  20. ^ "the yarsan leader became spy for government". 
  21. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  22. ^ "levels of evolution In Yarsanism philosophy". 
  23. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  24. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  25. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  26. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  27. ^ http://www.hum.uu.nl/medewerkers/m.vanbruinessen/publications/Bruinessen_Haji_Bektash_Soltan_Sahak.pdf
  28. ^ Moosa, Matti. "Sultan Sahak: Founder of the Ahl-i Haqq". 
  29. ^ Hamzeh'ee, M Reza (1990). The Yaresan : a sociological, historical, and religio-historical study of a Kurdish community. Islamkundliche Untersuchungen. 138. Berlin: Schwartz. ISBN 3-922968-83-X. 
  30. ^ Milani, Milad (2013). Sufism in the Secret History of Persia. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-84465-677-6. 
  31. ^ Nebez, Jamal (1997-09-19). "The Kurds: History and Culture" (PDF). Western Kurdistan Association. p. 23. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-05-25. Retrieved 2006-09-01. 
  32. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  33. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  34. ^ Z. Mir-Hosseini (1994). "Inner Truth and Outer History: The Two Worlds of the Ahl-e Haqq of Kurdistan", International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol.26, pp.267-269.
  35. ^ Leezenberg, Michiel. "Gorani Influence on Central Kurdish: Substratum or Prestige Borrowing?" (RTF). 
  36. ^ Izady, Mehrdad R. (1992), The Kurds : a concise handbook, Washington & London: Taylor & Francis, pp. 170 passim, ISBN 0-8448-1727-9 
  37. ^ Minorsky, Vladimir (1920). "Notes sur la sect des Ahlé-Haqq". Revue du Monde Musulman (in French). 40-41: 20. Retrieved 2017-03-25. 
  38. ^ Z. Mir-Hosseini, Inner Truth and Outer History: The Two Worlds of the Ahl-e Haqq of Kurdistan, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol.26, 1994, p.267-268
  39. ^ Meho, Lokman I.; Maglaughlin, Kelly L. (2001). Kurdish Culture and Society, an Annotated Bibliography. p. 8. ISBN 0-313-31543-4. 

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