Shabak people are a minority ethnoreligious group who live mainly in the villages of Ali Rash, Khazna, Yangidja, and Tallara in Sinjar district in the province of Ninawa in northern Iraq. Their language, Shabaki, is a Northwestern Iranian language.Their population was estimated at around 15,000 in the 1970s but it is believed to be more like 60,000 today. Shabaks consist of three different ta’ifs or sects: the Bajalan, Dawoody andZengana and the Shabak proper.
Shabaks follow an independent religion, related to but distinct from orthodox Islam and Christianity. It is also claimed that they are descendants of Qizilbash from the army of Shah Ismail.
Shabak religious beliefs contain elements from Islam and Christianity. There is a close affinity between the Shabak and the Yazidis; for example, Shabaks perform pilgrimage to Yazidi shrines.
Shabaks combine elements of Sufism with their own interpretation of divine reality, which according to them, is more advanced than the literal interpretation of Qur’an known as Sharia.
Shabak spiritual guides are known as pir, who are individuals well versed in the prayers and rituals of the sect. Pirs themselves are under the leadership of the Supreme Head or Baba. Pirs act as mediators between Divine power and ordinary Shabaks. Their beliefs form a syncretic system with such features as private and public confession and allowing consumption of alcoholic beverages. This last feature makes them distinct from the neighboring Muslim populations. The beliefs of the Yarsan closely resemble those of the Shabak people.