The health benefits of lettuce leaves include cancer prevention, neuroprotection, anxiety and stress relief, and improved sleep. In addition to these benefits, lettuce provides a steady supply of antioxidants and aids in inflammation suppression. But did you know that there is a religion that does not allow its followers to consume lettuce?
Yazidis are prohibited from eating lettuce because it is believed that when a 13th-century Yazidi saint was executed, the crowd pelted him with heads of lettuce.
What is the Yazidi Religion?
The Yazidi religion combines ancient Iranian religions with Judaism, Nestorian Christianity, and Islam elements. Although the Yazidis are dispersed and likely number between 200,000 and 1,000,000 people, they have a well-organized society, with a chief sheik as the supreme religious head and an emir, or prince, as the secular head.
The Yazidi faith can be traced back to areas of northern Iraq’s Kurdish mountains, where pockets of devotion to the fallen Umayyad dynasty persisted long after the death of the last Umayyad caliph, the half-Kurdish Marwan II, in 750. Some dynasty descendants settled in the area, which aided in the development of mystical traditions in which the Umayyad lineage played an important role.
According to Yazidi mythology, they were created separately from the rest of humanity, descended from Adam but not from Eve. As such, they seek to separate themselves from the people they live with. Marriage outside of the community is also prohibited.
The violation of divine laws is atoned for through metempsychosis, or soul transmigration, allowing for the spirit’s progressive purification. The chief Yazidi saint, Sheikh Ad, is said to have attained divinity through metempsychosis. Yazidi mythology also includes heaven and hell.
(Source: Norwegian Refugee Council)
Why are Yazidis Perceived as Devil Worshippers?
The central teaching of Yazidi is about a fallen angel who is forgiven by God and appointed to rule the Earth in God’s place.
This story of a fallen angel as a figure of worship is what has led to the Yazidis’ century-long persecution. Both Christianity and Islam portray the devil as a fallen angel, which has led to them being perceived as devil-worshippers. The ISIS group used this perception to justify their atrocities against this minority group. (Source: Norwegian Refugee Council)
Why are Yazidis Said to be Trapped on Mount Sinjar?
The Islamic State group attacked the Yazidi community in Sinjar, northern Iraq, on August 3, 2014. Thousands of people were imprisoned or killed, and nearly 100,000 fled to Mount Sinjar. The United Nations has labeled the attack a genocide.
According to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, at least 1,293 Yezidis were killed in an ISIS attack four years ago. 2,745 children have become orphans in displacement camps and face an uncertain future.
Some children’s entire families were killed in the fight against the Islamic State group, and many of their relatives are buried in the 63 mass graves discovered in the area. There are still 1,665 men and boys missing.
Even though over 3,000 Yazidi women and children have been rescued from the IS group’s captivity, it is estimated that up to as many remain enslaved. Following the defeat of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, the Yazidis believe they have been forgotten and that efforts to find and rescue the missing girls, who have been missing since 2014. (Source: Norwegian Refugee Council)