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Iranian religions: Wikis


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The cultural continent of Greater Iran.

Several important religions and religious movements originated in Greater Iran, that is, amongst speakers of various Iranian languages and hence with an Iranian cultural background.


Iron Age

The religions of pre-Zoroastrian Iran were polytheistic ones, deriving - as Zoroastrianism would also - from the religious beliefs of the Indo-Iranian era. Notable concepts among these was that of the ahuras and daevas, collectively termed the yazatas, "worthy of worship", with each individual, clan or tribe adopting one or more of these divinities as their patron or protector entities, but collectively also recognizing and observing the patron divinities of other groups. In later Iran, the term daeva would acquire a negative connotation, but this was not yet the case in the old Iranian religions. Although these pre-Zoroastrian religions are not directly attested, many of these pre-historic concepts remain evident in the texts of the Avesta, and hence even in the Zoroastrianism of today.

Late Antiquity

  • Zurvanism: By late Achaemenid times, Zoroastrianism was also evident as Zurvanism (Zurvanite Zoroastrianism), a monist dualism that even had a following as late as the Sassanid era. Zurvanite belief is not attested after the 10th century.
  • Mandaeism, a gnostic monotheism of (at the latest) the 1st century CE observed Mandā d-Heyyi - "Knowledge of Life". Mandaean theology is based more on a common heritage than on any set of religious creeds and doctrines.
  • Manichaeism, 3rd century ditheistic gnosticism that may have been influenced by Mandaeanism. 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/early 6th century proto-socialist gnosticism that sought to do away with private property.

Medieval period

  • 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 self-acclaimed 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.





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