Shabakism is the name given to the beliefs and practices of the Shabaks in the disputed territories of Northern Iraq. Most Shabaks regard themselves as Shia, but some identify as Sunnis. Despite this, their actual faith and rituals differ from Islam, and have characteristics that make them distinct from neighboring Muslim populations. Nevertheless, the Shabak people also go on pilgrimages to Shia holy cities such as Najaf and Karbala, and follow many Shiite teachings.
Beliefs and Practices
See also: What is Sufism?
Shabakism appears more like the Sufi order, with a unique interpretation of the “divine reality,” as the divine reality is placed above the literal interpretation of the Quran. The divine reality is understood through mediation led by a spiritual guide known as “Pir,” who also takes charge of other spiritual rituals. The mediation closely resembles that of the Yarsan. Pirs answer to the Supreme Head, also known as Baba. Shabakism also includes certain Christian rituals, such as confession and wine consumption, while the latter is outlawed in Shia. Like Shia Muslims, Shabaks also pilgrimage to places sacred to Yazidi, as well as locations sacred locations to the Shia, including Karbala. The poetry of Ismail I is also considered to be revealed by God to the Shabaks, and they recite this poetry during religious gatherings.
The primary Shabak religious text is the Buyruk or Kitab al-Managib (Book of Exemplary Acts) and is written in Turkoman. Shabaks also consider the poetry of Ismail I to be revealed by God, and they recite Ismail’s poetry during religious meetings.
The Shabaks have been victims of repeated attacks and harassment by Kurdish militants. Those living in the disputed area of Ninewa, and especially Mosul, have been specifically targeted. The killing of more than 1,300 Shabaks since 2003 has significantly reduced the followers of Shabakism. In April 2013, gunmen attacked a Shabak Mosque in the village of Kokjali, killing eight Shabak police. In December 2013, a terrorist attacked Shabaks who were worshiping in the village of Ali Rasho. For their safety, more than 3,000 Shabaks have left their homes and fled to regions dominated by Shia Islam, where Shabakism has been easily neutralized. Apart from constant attacks by Kurdish militias, the growth of Islam, especially in Mosul, in recent years has led to many Shabaks abandoning their religions and converting to Islam. Shabakism is also an unpopular religion in other parts of Iraq and the rest of the world, ultimately hindering its influence and spread.
- Shabak people
- al-Lami, Mina (21 July 2014). “Iraq: The minorities of Nineveh” – via www.bbc.com.
- Imranali Panjwani (2012). The Shi’a of Samarra: The Heritage and Politics of a Community in Iraq. p. 167. ISBN 9781848857797. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- A. Vinogradov, Ethnicity, Cultural Discontinuity and Power Brokers in Northern Iraq: The Case of the Shabak, American Ethnologist, pp. 214-215, American Anthropological Association, 1974
- Dr. Michiel Leezenberg. “The Shabak and the Kakais”. Archived from the original on 12 April 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2014
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia