Hamu Shiru

Hamu Shiru, Hamu Sharu, (?-1933), Yezidi Tribal Shaikh, Jabal Sinjar, Iraq (formerly Ottoman Empire). Hamu Shiru was instrumental in transforming one of the Yezidi social classes, the Fakirs, into a tribal entity with himself as shaikh.

Rise of the Faquara Tribe

Prior to the 1890s, Hamu Shiru was the head of an order of Yezidi ascetics known as fakirs. Traditionally third and lowest among the Yezidi religious classes (the other two being shaykhs and qawwals), the fakirs benefited from being relatively open to membership by any Yezidi believer. The order, as the Arabic name implies, came to be organized along lines similar to Muslim Sufi mendicants. However, in the aftermath of the Vebi Pasha anti-Yezidi campaign of 1892, the numbers of Yezidi fakirs swelled. Placing himself as mir, Hamu Shiru reconstituted the fakirs as a legitimate Yezidi tribe called Faquara. The reformed tribe came to dominate the northern slope of Jabal Sinjar by the close of the nineteenth-century.

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Right: Yezidi kinship group, Mt. Sinjar, circa 1920. Source: Post-Card by Sarrafian brothers of Beirut.

The Izlamization Policies of Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II

Before the 1892 offense against the Yezidi, the two most powerful Kurdish tribes in the province of Mosul were the Musqura and Mihirkan. While these tribes were ethnically cohesive, religiously they were not. Both the Musqura and Mihirkan tribes were comprised of Yezidi and Sunni adherents. For this reason, the Ottoman government supported the power of the Musqura chiefs by appointing them to the so-called Paramountcy of Sinjar; however, the Pan-Islamization policies of Abdulhamid weakened the multi-sect Kurdish tribes as they fell victim to sectarian strife.

The Ottoman Campaign of 1892 and Hamu Shiru's Seizure of the Paramountcy of Sinjar

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As the Musquara chiefs weakened, Hamu Shiru, who had by the 1890s established himself as chief adviser to the Paramountcy of Sinjar, seized the office for himself upon the death of the last ''Musquara'' Paramount Chief. Hamu Shiru’s prestige was enhanced by his successful defense of Jabal Sinjar against an incursion by Omer Vebi Pasha in 1892. In the process the ''Faquara'' tribe captured a significant train of Ottoman arms, enough to render Jabal Sinjar a considerable redoubt in military terms during the generation leading up to the outbreak of the First World War.

Consolidation of Power and Relations with Other Religious Sects, 1892 to 1918

As the Faquara Shaykh, Hamu Shiru further consolidated control over Jabal Sinjar by accepting Yezidi refugees from the Ottoman Islamization policies regardless of clan or lineage affiliation. As other religious minorities became subject to Ottoman persecution, Hamu Shiru continued to accept new refugees: i.e., Christians from the Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean, and Jacobite faiths, under Faquara protection.

Ottoman Turkish Music from 17th century

References:

  • Nelida Fuccaro, The Other Kurds: Yazidis in Colonial Iraq, (New York: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 1999)
  • Edip Gölbasi, The Yezidis and the Ottoman State: Modern power, military conscription, and conversion policies, 1830-1909 (Master’s Thesis: Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History, 2008)
  • Nelida Fuccaro, ‘A 17th-century Travel Account on the Yezidis: Implications for Socio-Religious History,’ Annali dell’Instituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli 53, no. 3 (1993)
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