Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Islam and the Fire Worshippers

 June 20, 2016
By Saeed Qureshi

The Zoroastrians who worshipped fire came much after the Sabians. Zoroaster who is believed to be also a prophet by his followers founded the Zoroastrian religion around 600 BC. He was an extremely intelligent person who conceived the concept of an enemy of God.

It was Satan who according to him was responsible for the evil deeds in this world. Since both good and evil are prevalent in human society, he espoused that while God was a force of goodness, Satan was the perpetrator and force of evil. Thus the concept of duality came into being.
 The belief in God as the source of all good things has been in vogue from the known religious’ history of mankind as Satan was there when Adam was being crafted by God according to the scriptures. Satan tried to induce Abraham on a rebellious course against God. It was again Satan that misled Cain the son of Adam to kill his brother Able. And also in case of Noah he instigated his son not to align himself with his pious father.
So Satan was all the time there in the religious mythology. We cannot find the activities of Satan when Moses was fighting either against the Egyptian powerful kings or in case of Jesus who was braced against the Jewish religious zealots. But there were the vicious human beings who were opposing these pious people for their opposition to the established faiths and because Satan prompted them.

There is the parallel belief in Abrahamic religions that since God alone was the master of the universe, nothing moved and happened without his will and order. This would also mean that the evil acts of humans were also directed by God.

 But at the same time God was all good so how come that evil existed and if it existed then should we hold God responsible for that. So to absolve God from the evil acts of man, Zoroaster espoused the concept of God and with the creation of a rival and a matching foe. Zoroaster justified the existence of Satan as the force of darkness and negativity.

Banu Israel (children of Israel) were defeated by a Babylonian king Banu Kid Nazar and brought to Babul (Iraq) where they lived as slaves for 80 years. They were liberated in 539 BC by an Iranian king (Koresh Kabir). During their captivity in Babul they imbibed many beliefs of both the Sabians and the Zoroastrians such as the existence of Satan as a negative counterpoise of God, the story of Adam and Eve, paradise and Hell and Noah’s deluge., et el.
Interestingly the cardinal body of Zoroastrian beliefs bears very close resemblance to those of early Sabians and later of Muslims. Some of the common beliefs are given below.

  • Like Muslims they pray five times a day according to the position of the sun.
  • Like Muslims and Christians, they believe that before the end time a mighty hero named as Shah Behram (a prototype of Jesus Christ) would come and establish the rule of the fire worshippers on earth.
  • Like Muslims they believe that the dead men’s souls would sojourn in limbo or purgatory till the final Day of Judgment when reward and punishment would be handed out by God. This is exactly what the Islamic belief is: that the human soul would be kept in waiting in “Barzakh” till the day of resurrection.

  • Like Muslims, they believe in the bridge (Pul-e-Sarat) to be crossed before entering paradise or hell.
  •  They believe in beautiful women (Houris for Muslim) in paradise to serve the faithful.
  •  They believe in seven grades of paradise while the Muslims believe in eight.
  • Ablution and cleanliness of body and garments and format of prayers are almost similar between the Judism, Islam and Zoroastrian religions.

The main difference between the Zoroastrian and Muslims is with regard to the divinity of fire. Muslims don’t believe fire as a symbol of God or the Sun God as the Zoroastrian believe The Zoroastrians don’t worship fire but treat it as the symbol of God’s pure and radiant light which in Islamic terminology is called Nur or holy or divine light. Muslims too believe in divine light called Nur but that has nothing to do with the fire or heat of the Sun.

However, the elements of offering sacrifices, saying main prayers once in a week, circumcision, Nikah (relgious ritual of wedlock); divorce, abstention from prayers during ceremonial impurity, not eating pork and taking alcohol are common elements of belief between Jews and Muslims.

There is also a sharing of beliefs between the Fire worshippers and the Christians. Mithra was a cult that was practiced both by fire worshippers and Saibeens. It was a religion that remained in vogue for 600 years in Iran and later moved to Roman Empire in 70 AD.

Following their conquest of Iran, the Romans practiced Mithra faith for about 300 years but was put on back burner after Constantine adopted Christianity as the empire’s relgions in 313 C.E. But despite that Mithra had become a part of Christian faith in matters of rituals and forms.

For instance, In Mithra December 25 is celebrated as the birthday of Sun God. This was adopted by Roman Catholic Pope Laibris as the birthday of Jesus Christ to please Mithra’s followers although the actual birthday of Jesus Christ is January 6.

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