The Origins of the Abrahamic Faiths: One God: Zoroastrianism

It is believed that the Magi-the three wise men who travelled to find Jesus were in fact priests of the Zoroastrian Faith. This faith is believed to have started in around 1200BCE and the truth as to whether this or Judaism was  the first “revealed” religion as well as being the first to announce the “One God” is still being debated. But the so-called Abrahamic religions, grew from either Zoroastrian or Judaism.

 These Magi may well have travelled from Iran, which is situated in “the East”. On arrival in Jerusalem, from the East, [in the times of King Herod], they asked where the newborn king of the Jews was. They had “seen his star at its rising” and had come to pay him homage. King Herod ruled between 37 BCE and 4BCE.

Zoroastrianism believes in one god, Ahura Mazda who is: Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, impossible for a human being to conceive, Unchanging, Creator of everything, and the source of all goodness and happiness in the world.

Zoroastrians are not fire worshippers as is generally believed. Fire is an important symbol in their faith. Fire or light represents the divine light of the Ahura Mazda. Therefore, when a Zoroastrian prays, he prays in the direction of fire or light. Zoroastrians also are not very ritualistic but are more concerned with ethics of ‘Good Words, Good Thoughts and Good Deeds’. To represent these, a Zoroastrian will wear around him a cord, called a kusti that has been knotted thrice.

Zoroastrians also promote communal worship, which may be conducted during seasonal festivals or social functions such as marriage or navjote, the initiation ceremony of a young child into Zoroastrianism. It also does not promote temple worship and believers are allowed to pray at home.

Zoroastrianism is supposed to have been a major influence on the religions of Christianity and Judaism who may have borrowed the ideas of heaven and hell from this religion, and Zoroastrianism believes in the purity and goodness of all of God’s creations and thus they are very careful not to pollute and destroy river and trees. Thus, it is often called the first ecological religion ever. This supreme God is worshipped and his prophet is Zoroaster. Zoroaster is not worshipped but is followed as his directed path of truth and righteousness.

In the Gathas, Zoroaster sees the human condition as the mental struggle between aša (truth) and druj (lie). The cardinal concept of aša—which is highly nuanced and only vaguely translatable—is at the foundation of all Zoroastrian doctrine, including that of Ahura Mazda (who is aša), creation (that is aša), existence (that is aša) and as the condition for Free Will, which is arguably Zoroaster’s greatest contribution to religious philosophy. The purpose of humankind, like that of all other creation, is to sustain aša. For humankind, this occurs through active participation in life and the exercise of constructive thoughts, words and deeds. Elements of Zoroastrian philosophy entered the West through their influence on Judaism and Middle Platonism and have been identified as one of the key early events in the development of philosophy.

Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant relationship God developed with the Children of Israel.  Rabbinic Judaism holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah. Judaism claims a historical continuity spanning more than 3,000 years. It is one of the oldest monotheistic religions. Rabbinical Judaism calculated a lifespan of Moses corresponding to 1391–1271 BCE.  So we have an overlap of very similar dates between Moses and Zoroaster; and perhaps at the moment it is not possible for us to tell which actually came first! Perhaps archeological or other data will emerge which will help date the first One God and from whence it originated into religious belief. The Book of Kings relates how a “law of Moses” was discovered in the Temple during the reign of King Josiah (r. 641–609 BCE). This book is mostly identified as an early version of the Book of Deuteronomy, perhaps chapters 5-26 and chapter 28 of the extant text. This text contains a number of laws, dated to the 8th century BC kingdom of Judah, a time when a minority Yahwist faction was actively attacking mainstream polytheism, succeeding in establishing official monolatry of the God of Israel under Josiah by the late 7th century BCE.

In Islam;  when the companions of the Prophet, on invading Persia, came in contact with the Zoroastrian people and learned these teachings, they at once came to the conclusion that Zoroaster was really a Divinely inspired prophet. Thus they accorded the same treatment to the Zoroastrian people which they did to other “People of the Book.” Though the name of Zoroaster is not mentioned in the Qur’an, still he was regarded as one of those prophets whose names have not been mentioned in the Qur’an, for there is a verse in the Qur’an: “And We did send apostles before thee: there are some of them that We have mentioned to thee and there are others whom We have not mentioned to Thee.” (40 : 78). Accordingly the Muslims treated the founder of Zoroastrianism as a true prophet and believed in his religion as they did in other inspired creeds, and thus according to the prophecy, protected the Zoroastrian religion.

Zoroaster appears in the Bahá’í Faith [another Abrahamic Faith]  as a “Manifestation of God”, one of a line of prophets who have progressively revealed the Word of God to a gradually maturing humanity. Zoroaster thus shares an exalted station with Abraham, Moses, Gautama Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb, and the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, saw Bahá’u’lláh as the fulfillment of a post-Sassanid Zoroastrian prophecy that saw a return of Sassanid emperor Bahram.  Shoghi Effendi also stated that Zoroaster lived roughly 1000 years before Jesus or 3500 years before the present time.

Certainly whichever monotheistic faith came first; both the earlier ones had their roots in periods about 1200-1300 years before Jesus Christ was born.


One thought on “The Origins of the Abrahamic Faiths: One God: Zoroastrianism

  1. Shirin J Mistry says:

    The kusti is WOUND around the waistline thrice and KNOTTED twice, once in the front and the second time in the back.

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