Iranian religions

Iranian religions are religions which originated in Greater Iran.

Background

The beliefs, activities, and cultural events of the ancient Iranians in ancient Iran are complex matters. The ancient Iranians made references to a combination of several Aryans and non-Aryan tribes. Aryans, or ancient Iranians, worshiped natural elements such as the sun, sunlight and thunder, but they eventually shifted their attention mostly to a single god, whilst acknowledging others. The Iranian ancient prophet, Zoroaster, reformed Iranian religious beliefs to a form of Henotheism. The Gathas, hymns of Zoroaster's Avesta, brought monotheistic ideas to Persia, while through the Yashts and Yasna, mentions are made to Polytheism and earlier creeds. The Vedas and the Avesta have both served researchers as important resources in discovering early Aryan beliefs and ideas.[1]

Antiquity

  • proto-Indo-Iranian religion:[2] The various beliefs and practices from which the later indigenous religion of the Iranian peoples evolved. This religion also influenced the development of the Indian religions.
  • ancient Iranian religion: The ancient religion of the Iranian peoples
  • Zoroastrianism: The present-day umbrella term for the indigenous native beliefs and practices of the Iranian peoples. While present-day Zoroastrianism is monolithic, a continuation of the elite form of the Sasanian Empire, in antiquity it had several variants or denominations, differing slightly by location, ethnic affiliation and historical period. It once had large population and high diversity.
  • Zurvanism: By the late Achaemenid Empire, Zoroastrianism was also evident as Zurvanism (Zurvanite Zoroastrianism), a monist dualism that had a following as late as the Sasanian Empire.
  • Mithraism: A mystery religion centred around the proto-Zoroastrian Persian god Mithras that was practised in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to the 4th century CE
  • Manichaeism: A 3rd century ditheistic gnosticism that may have been influenced by Mandaeism. Manichaens believed in a "Father of Greatness" (Aramaic: Abbā dəRabbūṯā, Persian: pīd ī wuzurgīh) and observed Him to be the highest deity (of light).
  • Mazdakism: A late-5th or early-6th century proto-socialist gnosticism that sought to do away with private property.

Medieval period

Some religionists made syncretic teachings of Islam and local Zoroastrianism.[3]

  • The early Islamic period saw the development of Persian mysticism, a traditional interpretation of existence, life and love with Perso-Islamic Sufi monotheism as its practical aspect. This development believed in a direct perception of spiritual truth (God), through mystic practices based on divine love.
  • Khurramites, a 9th-century religious and political movement based on the 8th century teachings of Sunpadh, who preached a syncretism of Shia Islam and Zoroastrianism. Under Babak Khorramdin, the movement sought the redistribution of private wealth and the abolition of Islam.
  • Behafaridians, an 8th-century cult movement around the prophet Behafarid. Although the movement is considered to have its roots in Zoroastrianism, Behafarid and his followers were executed on charges (made by Zoroastrians) of harm to both Zoroastrianism and Islam.
  • Yarsan, a religious order of Yazdanism, which is believed to have been founded in the 16th century. Yazdanism promulgated the belief in a God manifest as one primary and five secondary avatars to form with God the Holy Seven.

Modern

See also

References

  1. ^ Jahangir Oshidri (1997), Mazdisna encyclopedia , Markaz Publishers , 1st publish.ISBN 964-305-307-5.
  2. ^ Relating Religion: Essays in the Study of Religion by Jonathan Z. Smith
  3. ^ The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism by Patricia Crone (review)

Bibliography

  • Alessandro Bausani, Religion in Iran: From Zoroaster to Bahaullah, Bibliotheca Persica, 2000
  • Richard Foltz, Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the Present, London: Oneworld, 2013.

External links

Ali-Illahism

Ali Illahism (Persian: علی‌اللّهی‎) is a syncretic religion which has been practiced in parts of Iranian Luristan which combines elements of Shia Islam with older religions. It centers on the belief that there have been successive incarnations of the Deity throughout history, and Ali Ilahees reserve particular reverence for Ali, the son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, who is considered one such incarnation. Various rites have been attributed as Ali Ilahian, similarly to the Yezidis, Ansaris, and all sects whose doctrine is unknown to the surrounding Muslim and Christian population. Observers have described it as an agglomeration of the customs and rites of several earlier religions, including Zoroastrianism, historically because travelogues were "evident that there is no definite code which can be described as Ali Illahism".Sometimes Ali-Illahism is used as a general term for the several denominations that venerate or deify Ali, like the Kaysanites, the Alawis or the Ahl-e Haqq/Yarsanis, others to mean the Ahl-e Haqq.

Assianism

Assianism (Russian: Ассианство, Assianstvo; meaning the "religion of the ese", in Russian асов, asov) is a Scythian movement of Native Faith practised in Russia, based on the traditional folk religious beliefs of the Ossetians, modern descendants of the Scythians. The religion is known as "Assianism" among its Russian adherents, and as Uatsdin (Уацдин, literally "True Faith") by Ossetians in their own language. It started to be revived in a conscious and organised way in the 1980s, as an ethnic religion among the Ossetians, who have since largely embraced it. Scythian religious groups are also present in Ukraine.

The religion has been incorporated by some organisations, chiefly the Atsætæ Church (Ossetian: Ацæтæ; Russian: Асата, Asata) based in North Ossetia–Alania. Some Russians have embraced Assianism by virtue of the fact that most of the ancient Scythians were assimilated by the East Slavs, and therefore modern Russians may reclaim Scythian culture. Among Russians, Assianism is advocated as a religion for all Slavs, Indo-Europeans, or even as a worldwide spiritual heritage.

Azali

An Azali (Persian: ازلیان‎) or Azali Bábí is a follower of the monotheistic religion of Subh-i-Azal and the Báb. Early followers of the Báb were known as Bábís; however, in the 1860s a split occurred after which the vast majority of Bábís followed Mirza Husayn `Ali, known as Bahá'u'lláh, and became known as Bahá'ís, while the minority who followed Subh-i-Azal came to be called Azalis.Current estimates are that there are no more than a few thousand.

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith (; Persian: بهائی‎ Bahā'i) is a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people. Established by Bahá'u'lláh in 1863, it initially grew in Persia and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception. It is estimated to have between 5 and 8 million adherents, known as Bahá'ís, spread out into most of the world's countries and territories.It grew from the mid-19th-century Bábí religion, whose founder (the Báb) taught that God would soon send a prophet in the same way of Jesus or Muhammad. In 1863, after being banished from his native Iran, Bahá'u'lláh (1817–1892) announced that he was this prophet. He was further exiled, spending over a decade in the prison city of Acre in Ottoman Palestine. Following Bahá'u'lláh's death in 1892, leadership of the religion fell to his son `Abdu'l-Bahá (1844–1921), and later his great-grandson Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957). Bahá'ís around the world annually elect local, regional, and national Spiritual Assemblies that govern the affairs of the religion, and every five years the members of all National Spiritual Assemblies elect the Universal House of Justice, the nine-member supreme governing institution of the worldwide Bahá'í community, which sits in Haifa, Israel, near the Shrine of the Báb.

Bahá'í teachings are in some ways similar to other monotheistic faiths: God is considered single and all-powerful. However, Bahá'u'lláh taught that religion is orderly and progressively revealed by one God through Manifestations of God who are the founders of major world religions throughout history; Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad being the most recent in the period before the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. Bahá'ís regard the major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, though varied in social practices and interpretations. There is a similar emphasis on the unity of all people, openly rejecting notions of racism and nationalism. At the heart of Bahá'í teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes.Letters written by Bahá'u'lláh to various individuals, including some heads of state, have been collected and assembled into a canon of Bahá'í scripture that includes works by his son `Abdu'l-Bahá, and also the Báb, who is regarded as Bahá'u'lláh's forerunner. Prominent among Bahá'í literature are the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Kitáb-i-Íqán, Some Answered Questions, and The Dawn-Breakers.

Bábism

Bábism (Persian: بابیه‎, Babiyye), also known as the Bayání Faith (Persian: بيانى, Bayání), is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion which professes that there is one incorporeal, unknown, and incomprehensible God who manifests his will in an unending series of theophanies, called Manifestations of God (Arabic: ظهور الله). It has no more than a few thousand adherents according to current estimates, most of whom are concentrated in Iran. It was founded by ‘Ali Muhammad Shirazi who first assumed the title of Báb (lit. "Gate") from which the religion gets its name, out of the belief that he was the gate to the Twelfth Imam. However throughout his ministry his titles and claims underwent much evolution as the Báb progressively outlined his teachings.Founded in 1844, Bábism flourished in Persia until 1852, then lingered on in exile in the Ottoman Empire, especially Cyprus, as well as underground. An anomaly amongst Islamic messianic movements, the Bábí movement signaled a break with Islam, beginning a new religious system with its own unique laws, teachings, and practices. While Bábism was violently opposed by both clerical and government establishments, it led to the founding of the Bahá'í Faith, whose followers consider the religion founded by the Báb as a predecessor to their own. Bahá'í sources maintain that the remains of the Bab were clandestinely rescued by a handful of Bábis and then hidden. Over time the remains were secretly transported according to the instructions of Bahá'u'lláh and then `Abdu'l-Bahá through Isfahan, Kirmanshah, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and then by sea to Acre on the plain below Mount Carmel in 1899. On March 21, 1909, the remains were interred in a special tomb, the Shrine of the Báb, erected for this purpose by `Abdu'l-Bahá, on Mount Carmel in present-day Haifa, Israel.

Comparative religion

Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices of the world's religions. In general the comparative study of religion yields a deeper understanding of the fundamental philosophical concerns of religion such as ethics, metaphysics, and the nature and forms of salvation. Studying such material is meant to give one a broadened and more sophisticated understanding of human beliefs and practices regarding the sacred, numinous, spiritual, and divine.In the field of comparative religion, a common geographical classification of the main world religions includes Middle Eastern religions (including Iranian religions), Indian religions, East Asian religions, African religions, American religions, Oceanic religions, and

classical Hellenistic religions.

Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one's self would wish to be treated. It is a maxim that is found in many religions and cultures.The Golden Rule can be considered an ethic of reciprocity in some religions, although other religions treat it differently. The maxim may appear as either a positive or negative injunction governing conduct:

One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (positive or directive form).

One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated (negative or prohibitive form).

What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself (empathic or responsive form).The idea dates at least to the early Confucian times (551–479 BC) according to Rushworth Kidder, who identifies that this concept appears prominently in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and "the rest of the world's major religions". The concept of the Rule is codified in the Code of Hammurabi stele and tablets, 1754-1790 BC. 143 leaders encompassing the world's major faiths endorsed the Golden Rule as part of the 1993 "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic", including the Baha'i Faith, Brahmanism, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Indigenous, Interfaith, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native American, Neo-Pagan, Sikhism, Taoism, Theosophist, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian. According to Greg M. Epstein, " 'do unto others' ... is a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely", but belief in God is not necessary to endorse it. Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be "found in some form in almost every ethical tradition".Yet, as with any historically prominent maxim, the Golden Rule is not without its controversy (as seen in the Criticism section below).

Khurramites

The Khurramites (Persian: خرمدینان‎ Khorram-Dīnân, meaning "those of the Joyful Religion") were an Iranian religious and political movement with its roots in the movement founded by Mazdak. An alternative name for the movement is the Muḥammira (Arabic: محمرة‎, "Red-Wearing Ones"; in Persian: سرخ‌جامگان‎ Sorkh-Jâmagân), a reference to their symbolic red dress.

Mazdak

Mazdak (Persian: مزدک‎, Middle Persian: 𐭬𐭦𐭣𐭪, also Mazdak the Younger; died c. 524 or 528) was a Zoroastrian mobad (priest), Iranian reformer, prophet and religious activist who gained influence during the reign of the Sasanian emperor Kavadh I. He claimed to be a prophet of Ahura Mazda and instituted communal possessions and social welfare programs. He has been seen as a proto-socialist.

Mazdaznan

Mazdaznan is a neo-Zoroastrian religion which held that the Earth should be restored to a garden where humanity can cooperate and converse with God. Founded at the end of the 19th century by Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish, born Otto Hanisch, the religion was a revival of 6th century Mazdakism. Adherents maintained vegetarian diets and practiced breathing exercises. Concerned with the nature of thought, emotion and behavior, Mazdaznan taught that the practical aspects of personal health could be achieved through conscious breathing, "Gah-Llama". The word Mazdaznan is said to derive from the Persian "Mazda" and "Znan", and is supposed to mean "master thought".

Prince of darkness (Manichaeism)

In Manichaean cosmology, the world of darkness, which invaded the world of light in a lustful desire to mingle with the light, is ruled by five evil Archons (demon, dragon, eagle, fish and lion), who together make up the Prince of Darkness. The Father of greatness parries the assault by evoking a number of entities, who sacrifice themselves and are absorbed by the Prince of Darkness, however, tricked by the Father of Greatness, their existence now depends on the light they absorbed. To prevent the light particles from returning into their divine origin, they counter by giving birth to two demonic beings: Sakla and Nebroel. As the strict anti-thesis of the pure light, the Prince of Darkness can not create ex nihilo, but only by copulation.

Religion in Asia

Asia is the largest and most populous continent and the birthplace of many religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism. All major religious traditions are practiced in the region and new forms are constantly emerging. Asia is noted for its diversity of culture.

Religion in pre-Islamic Arabia

Religion in pre-Islamic Arabia included indigenous polytheistic beliefs, as well as Christianity, Judaism, and Iranian religions of Zoroastrianism, Mithraism and Manichaeism. Arabian polytheism, the dominant form of religion in pre-Islamic Arabia, was based on veneration of deities and spirits. Worship was directed to various gods and goddesses, including Hubal and the goddesses al-Lāt, al-‘Uzzā and Manāt, at local shrines and temples such as the Kaaba in Mecca. Deities were venerated and invoked through a variety of rituals, including pilgrimages and divination, as well as ritual sacrifice. Different theories have been proposed regarding the role of Allah in Meccan religion. Many of the physical descriptions of the pre-Islamic gods are traced to idols, especially near the Kaaba, which is said to have contained up to 360 of them.

Other religions were represented to varying, lesser degrees. The influence of the adjacent Roman, Aksumite and Sasanian Empires resulted in Christian communities in the northwest, northeast and south of Arabia. Christianity made a lesser impact, but secured some conversions, in the remainder of the peninsula. With the exception of Nestorianism in the northeast and the Persian Gulf, the dominant form of Christianity was Miaphysitism. The peninsula had been a destination for Jewish migration since Roman times, which had resulted in a diaspora community supplemented by local converts. Additionally, the influence of the Sasanian Empire resulted in Iranian religions being present in the peninsula. Zoroastrianism existed in the east and south, while there is evidence of Manichaeism or possibly Mazdakism being practiced in Mecca.

Scythian religion

Scythian religion refers to the mythology, ritual practices and beliefs of the Scythians, an ancient Iranian people who dominated Central Asia and the Pontic-Caspian steppe in Eastern Europe throughout Classical Antiquity. What little is known of the religion is drawn from the work of the 5th century Greek historian and ethnographer Herodotus. Scythian religion is assumed to have been related to the earlier Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, and to have influenced later Slavic, Hungarian and Turkic mythologies, as well as some contemporary Eastern Iranian and Ossetian traditions.

Uatsdin

Uatsdin (Ossetian: Уацдин), otherwise spelled Watsdin, also known as Assdin (Ассдин, "Ese-Faith"), or by the extended name Ætsæg Din (Æцæг Дин, literally "True Faith"; the same meaning of "Uatsdin", which is a word compound), and among Russians as Assianism (Russian: Ассианство, Assianstvo; alternative rendition of "Assdin"), is the modern neo-Pagan movement and religious organization of the same name founded in North Ossetia. Its followers consist primarily by the Ossetians (an Eastern Iranic, Alan-Samatian ethnic group inhabiting a homeland in the Caucasus that is split nowadays between two states: the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania within Russia, and the neighbouring state of South Ossetia). This religion has experienced an organised revival since the 1980s.In the Ossetian case, certain traditions of folk religion had survived with unbroken continuity, and were revived in rural areas. This contrasts, and interacts, with an urban and more intellectual movement which elaborated a systematic revival religion to overcome the crisis of identity of the Ossetian people, based in ethnic nationalism and opposition to both Russian and Georgian Orthodox Christianity, perceived as foreign, and opposed as well to the Islam professed by the neighboring Turkic and Caucasian ethnic groups and among a small minority of Ossetians. The major organisation among Ossetians is the Atsætæ organization (Ossetian: Ацæтæ; Russian: Асата, Asata) led by Daurbek Makeyev, based in North Ossetia–Alania.

The Uatsdin movement is active both in North and South Ossetia. Whilst there are no figures about religious demographics for South Ossetia, in North Ossetia–Alania about 29% of the population was practicing this ethnic folk-religion in 2012, according to a survey carried out in that year.

Yarsanism

The Yarsan or Ahle Haqq (Kurdish: یارسان‎, Yarsan, Persian: اهل حق‎; "People of Truth"), is a syncretic religion founded by Sultan Sahak in the late 14th century in western Iran. The total number of Yarsanis estimated at around 2,000,000 or 3,000,000. Primarily found in western Iran and eastern Iraq, mostly ethnic Goran Kurds, though there are also smaller groups of Turk, Persian, Lori, Azerbaijani and Arab adherents. Some Yarsanis in Iraq are called Kaka'i. Yarsanis are also found in some rural communities in southeastern Turkey. Yarsanis say that some people call them disparagingly as "Ali-o-allahi" or "worshipers of Ali" which labels Yarsanis deny. Many Yarsanis hide their religion due to pressure of Iran's Islamic system, and there are no exact statistics of their population.The Yarsanis have a distinct religious literature primarily written in the Gorani language which also is known as Hawrami dialects. However, few modern Yarsani can read or write Gorani (a Northwestern Iranian language belonging to the branch Zaza-Gorani) as their mother tongues are Southern Kurdish and Sorani Kurdish, which belong to the other two branches of the Kurdish language family. The speakers of Sarli, living near Eski Kalak are adherents, as Edmonds (1957: 195) and Moosa (1988: 168) observed. Their central religious book is called the Kalâm-e Saranjâm, written in the 15th century based on the teachings of Sultan Sahak.

The goal of Yarsanism is to teach humans to achieve ultimate truth. The Yarsani believe sun and fire are holy things and follow the principles of equalization, purity, righteousness, and oneness, which leads some researchers to find Mithraic roots in this religion.Yarsanism is barely mentioned in historical religious books as its doctrine and rituals are largely secret. The followers of Yarsanism perform their rituals and ceremonies in secret, but this has not relieved the harassment of many of the Yarsani by Islamic or other governments over the centuries. The followers of this religion say that after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, pressure on the Yarsani community has increased and they have been deprived and discriminated against for over 30 years.One of the signs of Yarsanic males is an intact mustache, as the Yarsanic holy book Kalâm-e Saranjâm says that every man must have a mustache to take part in Yarsanic religious rites.

Yazdânism

Yazdânism, or the Cult of Angels, is a proposed pre-Islamic, native religion of the Kurds. The term was introduced by Kurdish scholar Mehrdad Izady to represent what he considers the "original" religion of the Kurds.According to Izady, Yazdânism is now continued in the denominations of Yazidism, Yarsanism, and Ishik Alevism. The three traditions subsumed under the term Yazdânism are primarily practiced in relatively isolated communities; from Khurasan to Anatolia, and parts of western Iran.

The concept of Yazdânism has found a wide perception both within and beyond Kurdish nationalist discourses, but has been disputed by other recognized scholars of Iranian religions. Well established, however, are the "striking" and "unmistakable" similarities between the Yazidis and the Yaresan or Ahl-e Haqq, some of which can be traced back to elements of an ancient faith that was probably dominant among Western Iranians and likened to practices of pre-Zoroastrian Mithraic religion. Mehrdad Izady defines the Yazdanism as an ancient Hurrian religion and states that Mitanni could have introduced some of the Vedic tradition that appears to be manifest in Yazdanism.

Yazidis

The Yazidis (also written as Yezidis) ( (listen) yə-ZEE-deez, Kurmanji: Êzîdî, IPA: [eːzɪˈdiː]) or the Yazidi people (also Yezidi nation) (Kurmanji: Miletê Êzîdî) are a mostly Kurmanji (or Ezdiki) speaking minority ethnoreligious group, indigenous to a region of northern Mesopotamia (northern Iraq, northern Syria and southeastern Turkey) who are strictly endogamous. Some of them identify themselves as ethnic Kurds but most of them identify themselves as a distinct ethno-religious group, and they are recognized as a distinct ethnic group in Iraq and Armenia.Many Yazidis consider Yazidism both an ethnic and a religious identity. Their religion, Yazidism, is also called Sharfadin by Yazidis. It is a monotheistic religion and has elements of ancient mesopotamian religions and also combines aspects of Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Yazidism is not linked to Zoroastrianism. They speak Kurmanji and it is called Ezdiki (meaning: "the Yazidi language") by Yazidis. The Yazidis in Bashiqa and Bahzani speak Arabic as their mother language. Yazidis who marry non-Yazidis are automatically considered to be converted to the religion of their spouse and therefore are not permitted to call themselves Yazidis. The Yazidis in Iraq live primarily in the Nineveh Province, part of the disputed territories of northern Iraq.Additional communities in Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Iran and Syria have been in decline since the 1990s as a result of significant migration to Europe, especially to Germany. According to the UNCHR reports, it is disputed, even within the community, as well as among Kurds, whether Yazidis are ethnically Kurds or form a distinct ethnic group.The Yazidis are monotheists, believing in God as creator of the world, which he has placed under the care of seven holy beings or angels, the chief of whom is Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel. The Peacock Angel, as world-ruler, causes both good and bad to befall individuals. Some Western scholars erroneously linked this ambivalent character to a myth of his temporary fall from God's favour, before his remorseful tears extinguished the fires of his hellish prison and he was reconciled with God. However, it is not Melek Taus, but Azazil, who was banished to hell, who is different from Melek Taus for most Yazidis. Such legends might be introduced by foreign scholars, who misinterpreted the Yazidi faith.This belief has been linked by some people to Sufi mystical reflections on Iblis, who also refused to prostrate to Adam, despite God's express command to do so. Because of this similarity to the Sufi tradition of Iblis, some followers of other monotheistic religions of the region identify the Peacock Angel with their own unredeemed evil spirit Satan, which has incited centuries of persecution of the Yazidis as "devil worshippers". Persecution of Yazidis has continued in their home communities within the borders of modern Iraq.Beginning in August 2014, the Yazidis were violently targeted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in its campaign to rid Iraq and its neighbouring countries of non-Islamic influences.

Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism, or Mazdayasna, is one of the world's oldest religions that remains active. It is a monotheistic faith (i.e. a single creator God), centered in a dualistic cosmology of good and evil and an eschatology predicting the ultimate destruction of evil. Ascribed to the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra), it exalts a deity of wisdom, Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord), as its Supreme Being. Major features of Zoroastrianism, such as messianism, judgment after death, heaven and hell, and free will may have influenced other religious systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.With possible roots dating back to the second millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism enters recorded history in the 5th century BCE. Along with a Mithraic Median prototype and a Zurvanist Sassanid successor, it served as the state religion of the pre-Islamic Iranian empires for more than a millennium, from around 600 BCE to 650 CE. Zoroastrianism was suppressed from the 7th century onwards following the Muslim conquest of Persia of 633–654. Recent estimates place the current number of Zoroastrians at around 190,000, with most living in India and in Iran; their number has been thought to be declining. However, in 2015, there were reports of up to 100,000 converts in Iraqi Kurdistan. Besides the Zoroastrian diaspora, the older Mithraic faith Yazdânism is still practised amongst Kurds.The most important texts of the religion are those of the Avesta, which includes the writings of Zoroaster known as the Gathas, enigmatic poems that define the religion's precepts, and the Yasna, the scripture. The full name by which Zoroaster addressed the deity is: Ahura, The Lord Creator, and Mazda, Supremely Wise. The religious philosophy of Zoroaster divided the early Iranian gods of Proto-Indo-Iranian tradition, but focused on responsibility, and did not create a devil per se. Zoroaster proclaimed that there is only one God, the singularly creative and sustaining force of the Universe, and that human beings are given a right of choice. Because of cause and effect, they are responsible for the consequences of their choices. The contesting force to Ahura Mazda was called Angra Mainyu, or angry spirit. Post-Zoroastrian scripture introduced the concept of Ahriman, the Devil, which was effectively a personification of Angra Mainyu.Zoroastrianism's creator Ahura Mazda, through the Spenta Mainyu (Good Spirit, "Bounteous Immortals") is an all-good "father" of Asha (Truth, "order, justice"), in opposition to Druj ("falsehood, deceit") and no evil originates from "him". "He" and his works are evident to humanity through the six primary Amesha Spentas and the host of other Yazatas, through whom worship of Mazda is ultimately directed. Spenta Mainyu adjoined unto "truth", oppose the Spirit's opposite, Angra Mainyu and its forces born of Akəm Manah ("evil thinking").Zoroastrianism has no major theological divisions, though it is not uniform; modern-era influences having a significant impact on individual and local beliefs, practices, values and vocabulary, sometimes merging with tradition and in other cases displacing it. In Zoroastrianism, the purpose in life is to "be among those who renew the world...to make the world progress towards perfection". Its basic maxims include:

Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta, which mean: Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.

There is only one path and that is the path of Truth.

Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and then all beneficial rewards will come to you also.

Ethnic groups
Ancient peoples
Origin
Languages
Iranian religions

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