History of Sinjar, the heart of the Yezidi world

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Originally a Roman settlement, Sinjar has become, over the centuries, one of the hearts of the Yezidi and Kurdish world in Iraq.

The words of Ibn Battuta

“Resuming the journey we arrived in Sinjar, a large city located at the foot of a mountain, rich in trees, fruit, streams and perennial springs, which for such a profusion of water and gardens looks a bit like Damascus.”

From Singara to Sinjar

The exact year and methods of foundation of the first nucleus of Sinjar are not known, but we have some more information about Singara, a Roman settlement that will rise above it and from which today’s city has inherited its name. The latter was captured by the Latins in 115 and soon became one of the easternmost settlements of the Empire, a place of extreme strategic importance during all conflicts with Parthians and Sassanids. It will be precisely the latter to definitively impose themselves on the destiny of Singara, conquering it definitively in 360. At the end of the 5th century these territories will pass under the influence of the Banu Taghlib, mostly Christian Arab tribe of oriental rite which later gave rise to the Hamdanids, among the greatest and most famous rulers of Aleppo. Between 630 and 640 it will be conquered by the Arabs, becoming part of the Diyar Rabi’a; despite having different religious visions, with the new conquerors there were no problems, so much so that the vast majority of the inhabitants kept their beliefs, even going so far as to change the name of the tax from jizya (tax required to non-Muslims) to sadaqa (tax required to Muslims). Attracted by this climate of harmony, as well as by political interest, a large part of the population will spontaneously convert to Islam starting from the 9th century with the arrival of the Abbasids.


With the collapse of the latter, Sinjar passed first to the Hamdanids, then to the Zengids and finally to the Ayyubids, being destroyed by the Ilkhanids in 1262. After them will come the Timurids, the Ak and the Kara Koyunlu, the Safavids and finally, finally, the Ottomans. The Sublime Porta will take over Sinjar in 1534, finally giving the city a stability destined to remain for centuries. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Sinjar will become part of modern Iraq, becoming one of the most problematic places in the country and always ending up in the center of every conflict. Indeed, despite being in a majority state Arab, most of the inhabitants are Kurds (both Sunni Muslims and Yezidi), Turkmen and other minority groups such as Assyrians; this has meant that over time it transformed into one of the most tormented centers, especially by ISIS, which here took it out above all against the Yezidis and Christians.

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