Ezidis to appoint new Baba Shékh

Shékhan, October 2020 – the funeral of Baba Shékh – photo: KirkukNow

Amar Aziz - Duhok

The Ezidi Spiritual Council, in collaboration with the Mir, tribal chiefs and a number of notables, will be appointing a new Baba Shékh.

The Baba Shékh title is the highest religious position for Ezidis. A new Baba Shékh is traditionally appointed 40 days after the incumbent dies.

Khurto haji-Ismael, the previous Baba Shékh, died on the evening of 1 October 2020 in Erbil, due to health complications at the age of 87.

Khawaja Khudéda, an Ezidi religious figure, told KirkukNow: “40 days after the passing of the Baba Shékh, the Ezidi Mir, together with the High Spiritual Council and with consultation of a number of tribal chiefs and religious and intellectual figures, will choose a new Baba Shékh.”

Shékhan 2020 – Ali Elias announced his candidacy for Bana Shékh title - photo: KirkukNow

KirkukNow has learned that a number of individuals have the ambition to fill the position, but only one of them has so far declared his candidacy.

Ali Elias, who is a relative of the previous Baba Shékh, declared his candidacy a few days ago.

The spokesman for the Baba Shékh office told KirkukNow: “The appointment doesn’t necessarily have to be 40 days after the death of the Baba Shékh. That is up to the family of Baba Shékh, the Ezidi Mir and the Spiritual Council. Whenever they reach consensus, they will appoint someone.”

He hoped that political parties would not meddle in the process.

The position of Baba Shékh is a religious one, and there will be no conflict in filling it

During the appointment of the new Ezidi Mir, there were disagreements as a number of political parties meddled in the process.

Harman Mirza, a deputy of the Ezidi Mir, told KirkukNow: “We don’t want to rush, because the one who will fill the position will keep it until they die. This is a religious post, and we reassure everyone that there will be no conflict in appointing the person [who will fill the position].”

The candidates must have knowledge on Ezidism and Ezidi social dynamics, and must come from the shékh Fakhri Adia family.

Fakhri Adia was an Ezidi religious figure and philosopher. He lived centuries ago and his family has been dominant.

Khurto haji-Ismael, Ezidi Baba Shékh, died at the age of 87

“We want someone like [the previous] Baba Shékh to be appointed, because for this period we need a knowledgeable and sociable person,” Khudéda said.

The previous Baba Shékh, Khurto haji-Ismael, was in holding the position since 1995. He has been often praised for his decrees, especially facilitating the reintegration of Ezidi women and girls who were enslaved by ISIS militants.

“Candidates for the position of Baba Shékh must have complete knowledge on the religious, intellectual and social aspect of Ezidism. He must not remove facial hair. He must not drink or have ever drunk alcohol. And must never eat some types of food,” the spokesman said.

Among other conditions, he must be above 25, be honest and righteous.

Most of Ezidis in Iraq live in Shingal district, west of Mosul in Nineveh province, and Shékhan district in Nineveh.

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