Map of Iraq’s communities
Iraq consists of different socio-ethnic and religious components which constitutes a large part of the social fabric all brought together by patriotism. Even though Islam is the official state religion in accordance with Article (2) of the Iraqi Constitution, Article (14) says: (Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination of sex, race, nationality, origin, color, religion, sect, belief or opinion, economic or social status.) Article (43) says: (Followers of each doctrine are free to worship, including Husseinis. The state shall guarantee freedom of worship and the protection of places.)
Iraq went on despite sectarianism, which is found at the census and mapping, far removed from obnoxious sectarian behavior, which began to appear on the horizon fueled by (terrorism) that no one can consider any religion, doctrine or sect responsible for.
It is the largest religion in Iraq in terms of the number of followers, as adopted by 97% of the population, and divided into 65% Shiites and 35% Sunni.
Shiites: They represent more than half the population in Iraq, mostly Arabs, some of them Kurds, Persians. And, the presence of tombs of imams and leaders of Shiites in Iraq indicates the depth of Shiite influence.
Sunni: Iraqi Sunnis proportion just under half (47%), and distributed between Arabs, Kurds and some Turkmen. They are distributed between three main Juristic schools: Hanafi, Shafi’i and Hanbali.
It is the second religion in Iraq in terms of the number of followers after Islam. The religion is recognized by the Iraqi Constitution, in that it recognizes fourteen Christian denominations in Iraq allowed to be adopted. Their followers are distributed into several communities, and most of them speak Arabic as their mother tongue, while a proportion of them speak numerous different dialects of Syriac and Aramaic languages.
Christianity emerged in Iraq since the beginnings of Christianity, specifically, thirty years after the death of Christ (or after he was raised to heaven according to the Islamic belief) by a calm missionary movement. The doctrines of the Christian Church, such as the Nestorian and the Jacobins that ware oppressed by the Roman Church, spread in Iraq. There are some ethnic-related doctrines such as Syriacs, Chaldeans, and Assyrians. An Arab Christian Kingdom arose in southern Iraq, which is the State of Muntherids that made al-Hirah its capital. It lasted until the advent of Islamic Arab Conquest in the first half of the 7th century A.D.
Christians in Iraq are present in almost all provinces but they are concentrated in the capital Baghdad, where their greatest concentration in the region of Nineveh, near Mosul, Northern Iraq. While they are in Dohuk and Erbil, Mosul, Basra, Amarah, Hilla, Kirkuk, Baquba, Garma and some other places where their churches reside.
The bulk of Christian migration from Iraq was recorded after the American invasion in 2003, according to State Department reports. The Ministry reports say that there were some 1.2 million Christians in Iraq in 2003. Christian migration began after the first Gulf war in 1991 during the period of economic sanctions and repression under the regime of former President Saddam Hussein. But the Christian migration shifted from a just a few to many after Saddam in 2003 and the escalation of violence.
It is one of the oldest monotheistic religions in Iraq. Mandaeans migrated from Palestine to Iraq 70 years after the death of the Prophet Yahya; the year 30 A.D, and settled in Southern Iraq in Maysan governorate, specifically after the construction of the temples which became the sacred capital to them.
The number of followers of this sect in Iraq currently approximates 10,000 people, after most of them having left Iraq. The instability after the 2003 war has prompted the largest exodus of this sect from Iraq.
Sabians believe in a number of Prophets: Adam, Shit Ben Adam , Sam Ben Noah, Zechariah, Yahiya Bin Zechariah, and their religious holy book called (Ginza Rba) or (Ginza Rabba) i.e.; great treasure.
(Baptisms) is one of the rituals of religion which means leaving the sins in the water and coming out as a pure being.
Mandeans have four observances annually, The Greater Feast (Dehwa Raba) or so-called in Aramaic (Panja), i.e.; day of creation, the second (Dihwa Raba), the third is (Dihwa Hnina),and the last is the Feast of Golden Baptism (Dehwa id Daimana).
The Yazidis live in the Mountain Sinjar in northern Iraq. They belong to ancient religions. Their ascription to Yazid Bin Muawiyah, came later and with national impact. The right fact is that ascription is to Yazdan, which is one of the names of God that they used to worship. Some ascribed them to a sacred place in northern Iraq called Yazdem, and some historians ascribe them to Samaria “Azida”, which in Samaria means the good and pure spirit. Some called them Satanists because they believe that the devil is one of the Angels, even their leader.
The Yazidis faced persecution at the hands of Ottomans during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. They are Kurds, and Uday bin Musafer who lived in the 12th century the most important reference they have, and bestow upon him a great sacred although he is a Muslim ascetic Shafi’i, and what was intended may be Aday, not Uday, although the Yazidi was greatly affected by Sufism.
In 1977, the Yezidis censes was more than 100,000, and they have a social cultural centre in Dahuk in northern Iraq.
The Jewish presence in Iraq was due to Babylonian and Assyrian captivity, when they were subjected to mass displacements to Iraq, and still a few of them live in Baghdad after the great exodus started in 1948. A number of Jews have participated in the foundation and leadership of the Iraqi Communist Party.
Jews, after World War I until 1950, were distributed in Baghdad, Basra and the Jews of Kurdistan. Baghdad holds the remains of the prophet Ezekiel, mentioned in Qur’an under the name of Zulkifl, and who was of those captured to Babylon, Ezra is Uzair as mentioned in the Qur’an. Of their patrons that shrines were erected for them in Baghdad and its environs, Joshua Ben Cohen kadol, Yitzhak alghao’oni. Until 1950, Jews had nineteen public schools, and their schools were of the oldest and most important schools in modern Iraq. One of the oldest of their schools was Swara school, built in 219. It is the school where The Jewish Talmud was wrote down. Their population in 1947 was about 120,000, now only about 400 people are left.
During the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the total number of Jews remaining in Iraq was less than 100 people, most, if not all of them, in Baghdad and the vast majority of them are the elderly and disabled.
The area extended around Mosul and Kirkuk, is featured with ethnic and doctrinal diversity, where Arabs, Kurds, Chaldeans and Assyrians and Syriac and the Yazidis, Jewish and Islamic doctrines and Sufism and hospices and small cupolaed mosques, and the remnants of the Zoroastrian and sun religion, the neighboring and mixing resulted in the emergence of groups and doctrines mixed with all the effects of religious and ethnic lines.
There is a group has a mixture of several Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen nationalities, which lived on the eastern side of Mosul called (Shabak), their number in 1977 reached about 80 thousand people.
Doctrine of Shabaks is Bektashet- Qzelbasheih and the Bektashet is a religious Sufi sect founded by Haji bektash Wali Al-Khurasani original, Nishabouri birth, was one of the Musawi masters i.e. of the descendants of Imam Musa Al-Kazim, peace be upon him, the seventh of the twelve Imams of the Imamate Shia.
But, the Alkezlbashih in the start of its inception called (Sufism) in relation to its founder, the most great imam Safi-ad-din Is’haq Ardabili, who passed away in 730 A.H, and is the sixth grandfather of Shah Ismail Safawi.
In the worship section, Shabaks, whether Shiites or Sunni, are Muslims adhere to pillars of the True Islamic religion and perform prayer like other Muslims pray and fast Ramadan. Also, the Shiite Shabaks, in addition to fasting Ramadan, they fast nine days of the month of sacred Muharram and pay Zakah of their money. The Shiite Shabaks pay to their masters Shiites one fifth of the profits of their money. And Shabaks perform the pilgrimage to the Holy Lands while Shiite Shabaks visit holy sites in Najaf and Karbala, Samarra and Baghdad and all tombs of imams all over Iraq. Mosques and Husseiniyas are spread in most Shabak and Bajalan villages where the five daily prayers and Friday khutbah are performed.
The most sacred religious books of Shabaks is a book in manuscript called (boiork-command) i.e.; what is willingly given. This manuscript contains a dialogue between Sheikh Sadruddin, Sheikh Safi-ad-din in manners of alkslbashet doctrine. In addition to the book of (alklbenk) and the word consists of two sections (kal) means blossom, and (bank) means sound from Persian. This word sometimes is misspelled in Arab books to read (klbend). It contains poems written by poets and sheikhs of Shabak in praise of Ahlul-Bayt, in gvkaeh Turkmen language.
A minority spread in the North of Iraq, started a spontaneous social organization based on youth and chivalry, and then a mix of ideas and beliefs derived from mysticism and radical Shiism and Christianaity and Persian, which is not a religion or a particular doctrine, but a mixture of religions and sects.
The main home of Kakaúaan is Kirkuk and on the banks of the Great river Zab on the Iraq-Iran border region and they are known there by Balsarleh. They have a notable presence in Tal Afar, and they have shrines shared by Alawites or Ali Elhun such as Mazar (i..e. shrine) Sultan Isaac, and Mazar Sayed Ibrahim, and Mazar Zein-Abdin.
They declare that their beliefs are suppressed, and do not divulge it nor reveal their secrets. They believe in the divinity of Imam (Ali Ibn Abi Talib) may Allah be pleased with him. They also consider that their method is based on four pillars: purity, honesty, passing away, and forgiveness. One of their most important books “Kutbat al-Bayan” and ” Jaodan ‘Irqi”, is widespread in the Persian and Turkish languages, as well as the words of ‘khazana’ or “sranjam.”
– Council of Representatives of Iraq.
– Book Review (al-Adyan wal Mathahib fil Iraq), by Rachid Khyoun – presented by Ibrahim Gharaibeh (al-Jazeerah.net, 3/10/2004).
– Sabian Mandaean – rituals and rites of the oldest monotheistic religion in Iraq (written by: Munaf As-Saadi – reviewed by: Abdu Mikhlafi – Deutsche Welle 23/3/2011)
– As-Sharq Al-Awsat Newspaper, (May 15, 2009).
– Shabaks, a doctrine embraces brotherly nationalities in Iraq (Nusrat Mardan – Encyclopedia of Iraqi Turkmen).
– Alcakaúah- (Raafat Salah al-Din – Hawarith).
– Alcakaúah- Origin and geographical distribution in Iraq (Isra Asad – Iraqi newspaper Al-Motamar.