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As Christmas Approaches, Muslims Erect ‘Allah Has No Son’ Banner in Nazareth
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
By Julie Stahl

http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=41260

A banner proclaiming a verse from the Koran that denies God has a son hangs in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth (Photo: Julie Stahl)Nazareth, Israel (CNSNews.com) – As Nazareth’s Christians prepare to celebrate Christmas, they are playing down the appearance of a confrontational Islamic banner that challenges an elemental Christian belief.

Journalists visiting the city saw two large banners--one in English, one in Arabic--hanging in the plaza in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation, with a verse from the Koran (112:1-4) contradicting the New Testament proclamation that Jesus is the “only begotten” of God.

“In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful, Say (O Muhammad): He is Allah, (the) One and Only. Allah, the Eternal, the Absolute. He begetteth not, nor was begotten, and there is none like unto him,” the banner reads.

Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy played down concerns that a banner effectively denying Jesus’ deity was provocative to Christians, although he did question its position, in front of Nazareth’s most prominent landmark.

“I don’t think that it’s provocative against anyone,” he said. “My point of view [is] that it’s not the right place to put it and it’s not the right way to do that.”

But Jaraisy said he would not remove the banner because some Islamic fundamentalist groups were looking to provoke a confrontation in order to promote their cause. He did not want to provide them with that opportunity.

Situated in northern Israel, Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel. It also has one of the highest concentrations of Christians here.

Although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Christian residents of Nazareth are proud to point out Christianity’s roots in their town.

Mary, a Jewish virgin, lived in Nazareth when the angel Gabriel appeared and told her she would give birth to the promised Jewish Messiah and call his name Jesus. He would be God-incarnate, the Bible says. After Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, he grew up in Nazareth.

The Basilica was built over a small grotto which, according to Catholic tradition, marks the remains of Mary’s house.

(Another Koranic verse, 4:171, declares in part: “Allah is only one God; far be it from his glory that he should have a son.”)

Jaraisy said there were good relations and respect between Christian and Muslim inhabitants of Nazareth, and offered himself as proof. Born into a Christian family, Jaraisy has been elected mayor of the city three times, despite the fact that 70 percent of the city’s 60,000 residents are Muslim.

A decade ago there was trouble in the city after the municipality decided to demolish a school in front of the Basilica and build a large plaza to accommodate Christian pilgrims visiting Nazareth. But Muslims, inspired by fundamentalists, erected a large protest tent, saying that an Islamic sage had once been buried there.

The Israeli government eventually granted the Muslims the right to build a mosque at the site – upsetting the Vatican and Christians around the world.

According to Wadi Abunassar, an Arab Catholic and political scientist, the issue was resolved only after President Bush telephoned then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urging a solution. The mosque was never built at the location and tensions eased.

Abunassar said the fact that Islamists were defeated in recent municipal elections although Nazareth has a Muslim majority indicates that “a large portion” of the Muslims are not necessarily anti-Christian.

Removing the banner would would present a “serious political problem,” he said. Legally, the municipality should take it down but would not dare do so because it could provoke clashes between adherents of the two faiths. The state could order its removal for security reasons, however, he said. He wondered why the authorities had not done so.

Abunassar said the best way to deal with the situation would be to simply ignore the provocations of the extremists and build relations with moderate Muslims.




The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth (Photo: Julie Stahl)’Complicated’

Abunassar said the 110,000 Arab Christians living in Israel – excluding those who live in Jerusalem, which remains disputed – exist in a “complicated reality.” While ethnic Arabs they are not Muslims and they live in a predominantly Jewish state.

During the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, he recalled, Christian Arabs were among those killed in Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel. Abunasser said he lost students who were Israeli soldiers fighting in the war, and had also lost relatives living in Lebanon.

Internally, the Christian community is made up of some 20 different churches and sects, as well as different political streams. There is no real unity in terms of church leadership, Abunassar said.

Despite its Muslim majority, Christmas is an official holiday in Nazareth with offices and schools closed, although Jaraisy said some shops remain open. Santas, Christmas trees and other decorations adorned some of the shop windows in town this week.

A Muslim worker at the municipality said she would be celebrating Christmas alongside the Christians in the city, as other Muslim residents do.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry and the Nazareth Municipality will host a reception for the heads of the churches and mayors of Jewish, Christian and Muslim towns and villages in the area.

The Tourism Ministry said the reception would be held at the Basilica of the Annunciation on Christmas Eve, followed by a traditional Christmas mass.

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But who is that Allah ? http://soerenkern.com/web/?p=125


Soeren Kern, August 23, 2007
Filed Under Eurabia, Islam

Europeans love to mock the salience of religion in American society. But they won’t be laughing for very long. It is a well-documented fact that the de-Christianization of Europe in the name of “tolerance” is rapidly driving the spiritually shiftless continent into the arms of Islam. And now, amidst the postmodern theological confusion that defines contemporary Europe, even Catholic clergy are jumping on the Islamomania bandwagon.


The latest post-Christian theological spectacle comes to us from the Netherlands (of Ayaan Hirsi Ali fame), where the Roman Catholic Bishop of Breda, Tiny Muskens, says he wants Christians to start calling God “Allah” because he believes such a gesture would promote “rapprochement between Christianity and Islam”. Appearing on Dutch television, the 71-year-old cleric said: “Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn’t we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? … What does God care what we call him?”


Inquiring minds want to know: If the bishop really thinks the names “God” and “Allah” are interchangeable, why doesn’t he ask Muslims to start calling Allah “Yahweh”, the biblical name for God? But he won’t, because he knows they won’t.


Indeed, just because Christianity, Judaism and Islam are called “monotheistic” faiths, it does not follow that Christians, Jews and Muslims pray to the same God. So for those pre-postmoderns who believe that words still mean something, a quick survey of archaeology, history and theology—accompanied by a dose of common sense—can answer the question of whether the Allah of Islam is really the God of the Bible.


What Archaeology Says about Allah


Muslims claim that in pre-Islamic times, “Allah” was the biblical God of the Patriarchs, prophets and apostles. Indeed, the credibility of Islam as a religion stands or falls on its core claim of historical continuity with Judaism and Christianity. No wonder, then, that many Muslims get uppity when the claims of Islam are subjected to the hard science of archaeology.


Because archaeology provides irrefutable evidence that Allah, far from being the biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was actually the pre-Islamic pagan moon-god. Indeed, it is an established archaeological fact that worship of the moon-god was the main religion of the ancient Middle East.


But what about the Arabian Peninsula, where Mohammed (570-632) launched Islam? During the last two centuries, prominent archaeologists have unearthed thousands of inscriptions which prove beyond any doubt that the dominant religion of Arabia during Mohammed’s day was the cult of the moon-god.


In fact, for generations before Mohammed was born, the Arabs worshipped some 360 pagan gods housed at a stone temple in Mecca called the Kabah. According to archaeologists, the chief deity of Mecca was the moon-god called al-ilah (meaning the god or the idol), which was shortened to Allah in pre-Islamic times. Pagan Arabs even used Allah in the names they gave themselves: Mohammed’s father (Abdallah), for example, had Allah as part of his name.


What History Says about Allah


Historians say that pre-Islamic Arabs worshipped the moon-god by bowing in prayer toward Mecca several times a day. They would also make a pilgrimage to Mecca, run around the Kabah seven times and throw stones at the devil. And they fasted for one month, which began with the appearance of the crescent moon and ended when the crescent moon reappeared.


These same rites form the core of Islam today: Muslims bow in prayer toward Mecca; they make a pilgrimage to Mecca and run around the Kabah seven times; and they still throw stones at the devil. They also observe the fast of Ramadan, which begins and ends with the crescent moon.


Moreover, the ancient symbol of the pagan moon-god, the crescent moon, is the official symbol of Islam; it appears on the flags of Muslim countries, as well as on the tops of mosques and minarets everywhere.


Historians say that Mohammed, who as a traveling trader was exposed to Judaism and Christianity during his visits to different parts of the Middle East, tried to mimic those monotheistic faiths by taking Allah, the main deity within the Arabian pantheon, and making it the only god. Indeed, the basic confession of Islam is not that “Allah is Great” but that “Allah is Greater”. Greater than all the other idols, that is.


But Islam also draws from other pagan traditions. For example, the tale of Mohammed’s night journey into heaven parallels the Zoroastrian story of Arta Viraf. Zoroastrianism also inspired the Islamic belief that dark-eyed virgins await every man who enters heaven. And the Islamic ritual of praying five times a day? That, historians say, originates with the Sabeans, Syrian pagans who practiced an ecumenical mixture of Babylonian and Hellenic religion.


No surprise, then, that some scholars refer to Islam as monotheistic heathenism.


What Theology Says about Allah


Muslims claim that Islam is Judaism and Christianity reformed. They say the Koran confirms the truth of the Torah and the Gospels. But since those texts did not jibe with Mohammad’s beliefs, they accuse Jews and Christians of changing and distorting the original versions. Muslims therefore assert that the Koran “clarifies” the Bible.


Even if that were the case, the Koran and the Bible present ideas about God (especially about His character) that are so diametrically opposed that any reasonable observer would conclude that each book refers to a distinct deity.


The Koran, for example, states unequivocally that Allah is an unknowable and non-personal deity. By contrast, the God of the Bible allows Himself to be known and desires fellowship with human beings on a personal basis. Indeed, the Bible says that Abraham (the same Abraham who Muslims say they venerate) was the “friend of God.”


The Koran also portrays Allah as a vindictive deity who hates sinners and desires to afflict them. But the Bible says God is love.


Moreover, the Bible teaches that God loved humanity so much that He came to earth to pay the debt for man’s sin, and that that act of grace is available for free to anyone who believes Jesus Christ is their personal Savior. But Islam denies that Christ was God or that He died in order to save humanity. Indeed, Allah does not provide any way for man to be reconciled to God.


And the theological differences go on and on, so much so that the God of the Bible cannot possibly be the Allah worshipped in Islam. Unless, of course, a Dutch bishop says so.


Allah and Eurabia


Mohammed thought the Jews and Christians of his day would receive him as a prophet. But the Bible says that any new revelation must agree with what is already established in Scripture (Isaiah 8:20). So they rejected his Allah as a false god. And Mohammed replied by setting his Islam on a maniacal warpath against Judaism and Christianity that continues to this day.


The Dutch bishop and other Muslim fellow travelers think they can buy a fake peace with Islam by playing relativistic word games as a part of an “inter-faith” dialogue. But Muslims understand much better than do post-modern Europeans that ecumenical appeasement is a symptom of a Judeo-Christian civilization that is weak and dying.


The irony is that the real danger from Islam stems not so much from ordinary Muslims as it does from sickly Europeans who have subverted their Judeo-Christian heritage in search of secular hedonism. Because they live only for the moment, they are willing submit to anything, including Islam, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the pursuit of pleasure today.


It has been more than 50 years since the late Christian apologist C.S. Lewis first warned about Western Civilization’s disastrous lurch into post-Christianity. But even he would be surprised to see how quickly Islam is filling the religious and cultural vacuum that is post-Christian Europe.


It’s not that Europeans haven’t been forewarned. It’s that they couldn’t care less.


Originally published in The American Thinker

Also published in The Brussels Journal

Also published in Front Page Magazine


Soeren Kern is Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratйgicos / Strategic Studies Group.

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The Caged Virgin http://www.slate.com/id/2141276/

Holland's shameful treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.


By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, May 8, 2006, at 3:44 PM ET

Ayaan Hirsi AliThree years ago, at a conference in Sweden, I was introduced to a Dutch member of parliament named Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Originally born in Somalia, she had been a refugee in several African countries and eventually a refugee from her own family, which had decided to "give" her in marriage to a distant male relative she had never met. Thinking to escape from such confines by moving to the Netherlands, she was appalled to find that radical Islam had followed her there—or in fact preceded her there—and was proselytizing among Turkish and Moroccan and Indonesian immigrants. In ancient towns like Rotterdam and Amsterdam, where once the refugees from Catholic France and inquisitional Spain had sought refuge, and where Baruch Spinoza had been excommunicated and anathematized for his opposition to Jewish fundamentalism, there were districts where Muslim women were subjected to genital mutilation and where the Dutch police were afraid to set foot.

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SINGLE PAGEYahoo! Buzz FacebookMySpace Mixx Digg Reddit del.icio.us Furl Ma.gnolia SphereStumbleUponCLOSEEntering politics to try to alert the European left to this danger, she was first elected as a deputy for the Labor Party, but after 9/11 she changed her allegiance to the Liberals. This, she explained, was because many Labor spokesmen preferred to think of immigrants as possessing "group rights." They had become so infatuated by their own "multi-culti" style that they had ignored the rights of individuals—especially women and girls—who were imprisoned within their own ghetto. (That, by the way, was precisely Spinoza's problem as well. The Dutch rabbis cursed him and condemned him in their own sectarian "court," of which the Christian authorities approved because it took care of dangerous secularism among Jews.)


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Related in Slate
Christopher Hitchens has had Ayaan Hirsi Ali's back for a while: In May 2006, he demanded that the Dutch government allow this caged virgin to sing. Later that month, Hitchens saluted Hirsi Ali for redefining "Dutch courage." Anne Applebaum toasted her as Europe's favorite infidel. Bloggers throw in their two cents' worth about Hirsi Ali here.At the Swedish event, Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke calmly and rationally about the problem. I never know whether or not it's right to mention, with female public figures, the fact of arresting and hypnotizing beauty, but I notice that I seem to have done so. Shall I just say that she was a charismatic figure in Dutch politics, mainly because of the calm and reason to which I just alluded? She was the ideal choice of collaborator for the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh (a distant descendant of the anguished painter) on Submission, a film about the ignored problem of enslaved and oppressed women in Holland. Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote the screenplay and provided the movie's voice-over.


You probably remember what happened next: Van Gogh was bicycling to work one morning in 2004 in the capital city of one of Europe's most peaceful and civilized countries when he was shot down in the street and then mutilated in a ritual fashion by an Islamist fanatic. The murderer (who had expected to become a martyr but who was only wounded in the leg by the gentle Dutch cops) left a long "martyr's letter" pinned to van Gogh's corpse by an equally long knife. In it, he warned Ayaan Hirsi Ali that she was the next target, and he gave a long and detailed account of all the offenses that would condemn her to an eternity in hell. (I noticed, reading this appalling screed when it was first published, that he obsessively referred to her as "Mrs. Hirshi Ali," as if trying to make her sound like a Jew. Other references to Jews in the text were even less tasteful.)

She has had to live under police protection ever since, and when I saw her again last week in Washington, I had to notice that there were several lofty and burly Dutchmen acting in an unaffected but determined way somewhere off to the side. I would urge you all to go out and buy her new book, The Caged Virgin, which is subtitled An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam. The three themes of the story are: first, her own gradual emancipation from tribalism and superstition; second, her work as a parliamentarian to call attention to the crimes being committed every day by Islamist thugs in mainland Europe; and third, the dismal silence, or worse, from many feminists and multiculturalists about this state of affairs.

Before being elected to parliament, she worked as a translator and social worker among immigrant women who are treated as sexual chattel—or as the object of "honor killings"—by their menfolk, and she has case histories that will freeze your blood. These, however, are in some ways less depressing than the excuses made by qualified liberals for their continuation. At all costs, it seems, others must be allowed "their culture" and—what is more—must be allowed the freedom not to be offended by the smallest criticism of it. If they do feel offended, their very first resort is to violence and intimidation, sometimes with the support of the embassies of foreign states. (How interesting it is that the two European states most recently attacked in this way—Holland and Denmark—should be the ones that have made the greatest effort to be welcoming to immigrants.) Considering that this book is written by a woman who was circumcised against her will at a young age and then very nearly handed over as a bargain with a stranger, it is written with quite astonishing humor and restraint.

But here is the grave and sad news. After being forced into hiding by fascist killers, Ayaan Hirsi Ali found that the Dutch government and people were slightly embarrassed to have such a prominent "Third World" spokeswoman in their midst. She was first kept as a virtual prisoner, which made it almost impossible for her to do her job as an elected representative. When she complained in the press, she was eventually found an apartment in a protected building. Then the other residents of the block filed suit and complained that her presence exposed them to risk. In spite of testimony from the Dutch police, who assured the court that the building was now one of the safest in all Holland, a court has upheld the demand from her neighbors and fellow citizens that she be evicted from her home. In these circumstances, she is considering resigning from parliament and perhaps leaving her adopted country altogether. This is not the only example that I know of a supposedly liberal society collaborating in its own destruction, but I hope at least that it will shame us all into making The Caged Virgin a best seller.

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Ancient Persian Religion



http://alkman1.blogspot.com/2006/08/ancient-persian-religion.html


I. Before Zoroaster.

1. Early Aryan Religion:

There are clear indications in the Avesta that the religion of the Medes and Persians before Zoroaster's time agreed in most respects with that of the Indian Aryans, and in a less degree with the beliefs of the Aryans in general. All the Aryan tribes in very ancient times showed great respect for the dead, though they carefully distinguished them from the gods (compare Rig-Veda X, 56, 4). The latter were principally the powers of Nature, the wind, fire, water, the sky, the sun, the earth, and a host of personifications. The procreative powers in Nature, animate and inanimate, seeming to be the source of animal and vegetable life, received adoration, which ultimately led to unspeakable corruption. Herodotus tells us that the Persians in his time worshipped the sun, moon, sky, earth, fire, wind and water (i.131). Offerings to the gods were laid on a mass of pomegranate twigs (baresman; Sanskrit, barhis), and the flesh of victims was boiled, not burnt. Libations of haoma-juice were poured out, just as in India the soma was the drink of both gods and their worshippers.

2. Avesta and Rig-Veda:

A comparison between the spiritual beings mentioned in the Avesta and those spoken of in the Rig-Veda is most instructive in two ways. It shows that the original religion of the Iranians and of the Indian Aryans agreed very closely; and it also enables us to realize the immensity of the reformation wrought by Zoroaster. Many of the names of supernatural beings are practically the same; e.g. Indra (Indra, Andra), Mitra (Mithra), Aryaman (Airyaman), Asura (Ahura), Apam Napat (Apam Napat), Tvashtri (? Tishtrya), Rama (Raman), Vayu (Vayu), Vata (Vata). So are many words of religious import, as Soma (Haoma), Mantra (Mathra), Hotra (Zaotar). The Yama of India is the Yima of Persia, and the father of the one is Vivasvat and that of the other Vivanhat, which is the same word with dialectic change. The Holy River of the Avesta, Aredhvi Sura, the Unstained (Anahita), is represented by the Sarasvati, the Ganga (Ganges) and other sacred streams worshipped in India. In Persia Atar (or Fire) is a son of Ahura Mazda (Yasna LXIV, 46-53), as Agni (equals Ignis) is of Tvashtri in the Rig-Veda. Armaiti is Ahura Mazda's daughter, as Saranyu in the Rig-Veda is the daughter of Tvashtri, the "Creator." The use of gomez (bovis urina) for purification is common to both India and Persia. Though the soma-plant is not now the same as the haoma, the words are the same, and no doubt they at one time denoted one and the same plant. Many of the myths of the Avesta have a great resemblance to those of the Rig-Veda. This comparison might be extended almost indefinitely.

In another respect also there is an important agreement between the two. Though some 33 deities are adored in the Vedic Hymns, yet, in spite of polytheism and low ideas of the divine, traces of something higher may be found. Varuna, for instance, represents a very-lofty conception. In the closest connection with him stands Asura, who is a being of great eminence, and whose sons are the gods, especially the Adityas.

3. The Creator:

Tvashtri again is creator of heaven and earth and of all beings, though his worship was ultimately in Vedic times displaced by that of Indra. It is clear then that the Indian Aryans were worshippers of the Creator and that they knew something of Him long before they sank into polytheism. In the Avesta and in the Persian cuneiform inscriptions alike, Ahura Mazda occupies much the same position as Varuna, Asura (the same word as Ahura), or Tvashtri in the Rig-Veda, or rather in the ancient belief of which traces are retained in the latter work. Hence, as the Avesta teaches, Zoroaster was not for the first time preaching the existence of Ahura Mazda, but he was rather endeavoring to recall his people to the belief of their ancestors, the doctrine which Ahura Mazda had taught Yima in primeval time in his first revelation (Vendidad II, 1-16,42). The great truth of the existence of the Creator, testified to by tradition, reason and conscience, undoubtedly contributed largely to Zoroaster's success, just as a similar proclamation of the God Most High (Allah ta`ala'), worshipped by their ancestors, helped the thoughtful among the Arabs in later years to accept Muhammad's teaching. The consciousness in each case that the doctrine was not new but very ancient, materially helped men to believe it true.

II. Zoroastrianism.

1. Leading Principle:

The reformation wrought by Zoroaster was a great one. He recognized--as Euripides in Greece did later--that "if the gods do aught shameful, they are not gods." Hence, he perceived that many of the deities worshipped in Iran were unworthy of adoration, being evil in character, hostile to all good and therefore to the "All-Wise" Spirit (Ahura Mazda) and to men. Hence, his system of dualism, dividing all beings, spiritual or material, into two classes, the creatures of Ahura Mazda and those of the "Destroying Mind" (Anro Mainyus). So many of the popular deities were evil that Zoroaster used the word daeva (the same as deva, deus, and Aramaic di) to denote henceforth an evil spirit, just as Christianity turned the Greek daimones and daimonia (words used in a good sense in classical authors) into "demons." Instead of this now degraded word daeva, he employed baga (Old Persian; Av. bagha, Vedic bhaga, "distribution," "natron" "lord") for "God."

2. Not Monotheistic:

But, it must be remembered that Zoroaster did not teach monotheism. Darius says that "Auramazda and the other gods that there are" brought him aid (Beh. Inscr., IV, 60-63), and both he and Xerxes speak of Auramazda as "the greatest of the gods." So, even in the first Gatha, Zoroaster himself invokes Asha, Vohu-Mano, maiti, Sraosha, and even Geus-urvan ("the Soul of the Bull"), as well as Ahura Mazda.

(1) Darius and Xerxes.

Darius mentions the "clan-gods," but does not name any of them. He and Xerxes ascribe the creation of heaven and earth to Auramazda, and say that the latter, "Who made this earth, who made yon sky, who made man, who made happiness for man," has appointed each of them king. It is "by the grace of Auramazda" (vashna Auramazdaha) that Darius conquers his enemies. But both Artaxerxes Mnemon and Artaxerxes Ochus couple Mithra and Anahata (Anahita) with Auramazda (Ahura Mazda) in praying for the protection of the empire.

(2) Ahura Mazda.

In the Avesta, Ahura Mazda is one of the seven Amesha spentas or "Bountiful Immortals." He is the father of one of them, Spentas Armaiti, who is also his spouse. He is primus inter pares among them, their chief, but by no means the only god. Monotheism is distinctly taught in later Zoroastrian works, for instance, in the Zaratusht-Namah, composed 1278 AD, but it is due to Christian and Islamic influence.

3. Objects of Worship:

The modern Zoroastrian view, clearly stated in the Dasatir i Asmani and elsewhere, that all the good creatures of Ormazd (Ahura Mazda) are entitled to adoration, undoubtedly rests upon the Avesta. There we find, in the first place, the Amesha Spentas, who occupy in regard to Mazda the same position as do the Vedic Adityas toward Varuna, though not one of the Adityas is identical with any of the Amesha Spentas.

The names of these are:

(1) Ahura Mazda (otherwise called Spento Mainyus or "Bountiful Mind");

(2) Vohu Mano ("Good Mind");

(3) Asha Vahista ("Best Righteousness");

(4) Khshathra Vairya ("Excellent Ruler");

(5) Spenta Amaiti ("Bounteous Piety");

(6) Haurvatat ("Health");

(7) Ameretat ("Immortality").

Each has a special province:

thus Armaiti is the general spirit of earth and presides over its fruitfulness. She is the troness of virtuos matrons. Khshathra is the guardian of metals. Vohu Mano guards sheep and cattle and introduces to Ahura Mada the spirits of the just. Next in rank come the Yazatas ("Worshipful Ones"), of whom there are a large number. Three of them, Mithra, Rashnu and Sraosha, preside at the judgment of the dead on the 4th day from death. Rashnu holds the scales in which a man's deeds are weighed. Sraosha guards the soul during the first three nights after death. Airyaman Ishya ("the longed-for comrade") is the protector of mankind, the bestower of peace and happiness. On one occasion (Vend., Farg. XXII, 23-29) Ahura Mazda sends his messenger Nairyo Sanha ("male instructor") to ask his aid against overwhelming odds. Riman Hvastra, the bosom friend of Mithra, presides over the atmosphere and also gives its taste to food. Mithra is the genius of truth, possessed of 1,000 ears, and riding in a single-wheeled chariot (the sun), while darting golden darts and driving fiery steeds. Tishtrya, identified with the dog-star Sirius, sends rain and is by Ahura Mazda endowed with his own power and dignity (Yasht VIII, 52). This is true of Mithra also (Yasht X, 1) Atar ("Fire"), Vayu ("Air"), Vata ("Wind"), Verethraghna ("Mars"), Saoka ("Prosperity"), Aratat (genius of Justice), Vizista ("Lightning"), Fradatfshu (the guardian of cattle), Berejya (genius of grain), Cista and Daena ("Knowledge" and "Religion"), who are others of the Yazatas. All these are entitled to worship at the hands of the true adorer of Mazda (Mazdayasna, opposed to Daevayasna, or worshipper of the demons).

4. Anro Mainyus and His Creatures:

In opposition to the creatures of Ahura Mazda are those of Anro Mainyus, who is the source of all moral and material evil. The first chapter of the Vendidad tells how he created something bad in opposition to everything good made by Ahura Mazda.

A demon is the adversary of each Amesha Spenta:

Aka Mano ("Evil Mind") that of Vohu Mano, and so in order: Indra (or Andra, "demon of untruthfulness"), Saurva ("evil government") Nonhaithya ("discontent"), Tauru ("who poisons water") and Zairi ("poison"), being antagonistic to the other Bountiful Immortals. Aeshma-Daeva ("Demon of Wrath")--the Asmodeus of Tobit 3:8--is the special foe of Sraosha, the genius of obedience. Apaosha, demon of drought, is the enemy of Tishtrya. Buiti (or Buidhi) teaches men to worship idols, and also causes death. Bushyasta is the demon of sloth. Vidhatus or Astuvidhstus causes death by destroying the body. Other evil beings, Drujes, Pairikas, Jainis, Yatus, are so numerous in the later parts of the Avesta that a pious Zoroastrian must have lived in continual dread of their assaults. He had even to conceal the parings of his nails, lest they should be used as darts to his injury by these his spiritual foes.

5. Production versus Destruction:

Holiness does not enter into Zoroaster's conception of the divine nature. This is a point to which attention has not yet been properly directed, though its importance can hardly be exaggerated. The epithet Spenta, often applied to Ahura Mazda and mistranslated "Holy," is by the Zoroastrians themselves in Pahlavi rendered afzunik, i.e. "that causes increase." Its (?) span or spen equals (Sanskrit) svi, "to swell," "to grow," "to increase." The opposite to this is the term anro (angro, from (?) angh; compare German eng, "narrow") to the Evil Spirit, and denoting "narrowing," "decreasing," "destroying." Hence, as the Destroyer, he is styled pourumahrka, "full of death."

Fertility.

Ahura Mazda and his assistants promote life, fertility in man, beast and plant, agriculture, increase; while Ahro Mainyus and his creatures cause destruction and death. Atar ("Fire"), also styled Apam Napat ("Offspring of the Waters"), is the vital flame and the male energy in the world; Aredhvi Sura Anahita is the female. As a river the latter flows from Mt. Hukairya, a peak in the Elburz Range (Yasna LXIV), into the Caspian Sea (Vourukasha) in the midst of which grows the tree Hvapa ("well watered") which bears the seeds of all plants. Anahita means "'undefiled," but it is applied to purity of water (to defile any of the four "elements" was, for later Zoroastrians, a grievous sin) and not to any moral purity in the goddess. Her association with Mithra was close, even in Herodotus time, for he falls into the mistake of saying (i.131) that the Persians called Aphrodite Mithra, when he should have said Anaitis (Anahita). Though god of truth and righteousness Mithra is not associated with moral purity (chastity). On the contrary, he was said to fertilize the earth with his rays, as sun-god, and Anahita as goddess of fruitfulness represented the female principle in conjunction with him. The vileness which led to the identification of Anahita with the Babylonian Mylitta was doubtless of later date than Zoroaster's time, yet there was little or nothing in Zoroastrianism to check it. Something similar asserts itself in Armenia, as well as in Iran, and in fact in all Nature-worship everywhere. Associated with this was the form of incest known as next-of-kin marriage (Av. Hvaetva-datha, Pahl. Khvetukdas), which permitted and encouraged marriages between brothers and sisters.

6. Contest between Ormazd and Ahriman:

According to later Zoroastrian belief, the contest between Ormazd (Ahura Mazda) and Ahriman (Anro Mainyus), after continuing for 9,000 years, is to be decided in favor of the former only through his possessing foreknowledge and Ahriman's lacking it (Bund., I). Both came into existence independently in limitless time (Av. Zrvana Akarana; Vend., Farg. XIX, 13; Pahl. Daman i Akandrakhom-and, Bund., I), which, personified in the Vendidad, is called "Self-created," and is there by Ahura Mazda's command invoked by Zoroaster in conjunction with Vayu, the Air, the Winds, "the bountiful, beauteous daughter of Ahura Mazda" (Armaiti), the Earth, and other objects of worship (loc. cit.). No creature of Ahriman is to be worshipped; hence, Indra, though in later Vedic times rising in India to a leading position in the Pantheon, is in the Avesta accounted a fiend, the very impersonation of the Lie which the Avesta so firmly denounces and which Darius mentions as the cause of all the rebellions, which produced so much bloodshed in his time. No virtue was valued so highly as truth in ancient Iran, as Herodotus agrees with the Avesta in testifying.

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7. Ethics:

Avestic morality encourages the destruction of all hurtful things, as being of Anro Mainyus' creation, and the propagation of everything good. Hence, agriculture is especially commended, together with the rearing of cattle and sheep. Somewhat later the whole duty of man was said to consist in good thoughts, good words, good deeds. Fierce opposition to every other religion was enjoined as a religious duty, and, under the Sasanides especially, this led to fearful and repeated persecutions of Christians throughout the empire.

8. Sacred Thread:

The Sacred Thread (Av. Aiwyonhana; Skt. Upavitam, etc., now by the Parsis styled the Kushti) plays as important a part in Zoroastrianism as in Hinduism. So do charms, mathras (Sanskrit, mantras), consisting in repetitions of the verses of the Avesta. The latter is even adored.

9. Early Traditions:

The first thing created by Ahura Mazda was a Bull, which may represent the earth, and reminds us of the Cow Audhumla in the Edda (Gylfaginning VI). This was killed Traditions by Anro Mainyus (in a later version, by Mithra). His spirit (Geus Urvan) went to heaven and became the guardian of cattle. The first man was Gaya-maretan ("Mortal Life"); hence, the phrase Haca Gayat Marethnat a Saosh-yantat, "from Gaya-maretan (Gayomard), Kayomarth) to Saoshyant" (Yasna XXVI, 10; Yasht XIII, 145), means "from the beginning to the end of the world." From the Airyanem Vaejo ("Aryan germ"), the first home of the Iranians, men were compelled to migrate because Anro Mainyus so altered the climate that the winter became ten months long and the summer only two. Yima Khshaeta ("Yima the Brilliant," Persian, Jamshid), son of Vivanhat, though he twice refused Ahura Mazda's commission to guard his creatures, and though by three lies he lost the "Royal Light" (Chvareno Kavaem) which he originally possessed, was yet directed to prepare a very extensive enclosure (Vara), in which he preserved "the seeds of sheep and cattle, of men, of dogs, of birds, and of red, glowing fires" from some terribly severe winters which came upon the earth (Vendidad II; Yasht XIX). The Bundihishnih tale of a flood differs from this, preserving an independent narrative. Ahura Mazda's law was preached to men within Yima's enclosure.

10. The Earth:

The earth consists of seven divisions, called Karshvares (compare the Sanskrit dvipas). Only one of these, Chvaniratha, is inhabited by men; the others are separated from it by impassable abysses. Sun, moon, and stars revolve round Mt. Taera, a peak in the Elburz Mountains (Demavend?). A later legend says that the Elburz Range surrounds the earth.

11. Heaven and Hell:

Each god and man possesses a fravashi, which has been compared to a guardian spirit and seems to differ from the soul (urvan). After judgment by Mithra, Rashnu and Sraosha, the souls of the dead must cross the Chinvat-bridge ("Bridge of the Judge"), which is guarded by two dogs and is narrow and difficult for the unjust, but wide and easy for the just. The righteous man then advances through three Paradises, those of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Works (Humata, Hukhta, Hvarsta:

Yasht XVI; Arta Viraf Namak, VII IX), until, led by Sraosha, Atar, and Vohu Mano, he finally reaches Ahura Mazda's abode of light and glory, Garo-nmana (in Gathas, Garo-demana; Pahl. Garotman), where Ahura Mazda himself receives him with the words: "Greeting to thee; well hast thou come; from that mortal world hast thou come to this pure, bright place" (A. V. Namak, XI, 8, 9). But the soul of the wicked man, passing through regions of Evil Thoughts, Evil Words and Evil Deeds, finally reaches a dark and gloomy Hell (Duzhanh). In later times it was believed that those not yet fit for heaven waited in Misvana Gatus, an intermediate place where the extra merits of the just were stored up for the benefit of the less fortunate (Vend., Farg. XIX). A later name was Hamistakan. But De Harlez is of the opinion that this idea was borrowed from medieval Christianity.

12. Interment:

In primeval times the Persians buried or burned their dead. Zoroastrianism may have introduced the dakhma (Vendidad, passim) or Tower of Silence, on which bodies are exposed to be eaten by vultures. Those of which the ruins have been discovered at Al Hibbah are very ancient. But in Herodotus' time it was usual, after permitting the flesh to be devoured by dogs and birds, to cover the bones with wax and bury them (Herodotus i.140). This was done to prevent them from coming in contact with and so polluting the earth. The custom of burial is proved by the tombs of the Achemenian kings near Persepolis, and that of Cyrus, a stone chamber raised high above the ground, at Pasargadae.

13. Worship:

Zoroastrianism permits no idol-worship and no temples, fire-altars only being used. These were served by Atharvans or fire-priests, who fed the fire with costly wood and poured into it libations of haomajuice, taking care to cover their mouths with a cloth (paiti-dhana) to keep the sacred fire from being polluted by their breath. Sacrifices were often offered on the tops of the highest mountains under the open sky (Herodotus i.132; Xen. Cyrop. viii).

14. The Magi:

The Magi doubtless owed their monopoly of priestly functions to their being Zoroaster's own tribe. They are not mentioned as priests in the Persian cuneiform inscriptions. Only once does the word. "Magus" occur in the Avesta, and then in composition (Moghu-tbish, a Magus-hater, Yasna LXV, 7). It is not necessary to trace to Babylonian influence the decay of Zoroastrianism and its degradation in late Achemenian times. This was at least in large measure due to a revival of the ideas and practices forbidden by Zoroaster, which reassert themselves in some parts of the Avesta, and which afterward gave rise to Mithraism.

15. Eschatology:

The Avesta states that, 1,000 years after Zoroaster's death, a prophet named Ukhshyat-ereta will arise from his seed to restore his religion. After another 1,000 years another, Ukhshyat-nemanh, will appear for the same purpose. The end of the world will come 1,000 years later. Then a third prophet, Saoshyant, will be born, and will usher in the Restoration (frasho-kereti) of the world to its primitive happiness and freedom from the evil creatures of Anro Mainyus. This process will be completed in 57 years, during which 6 other prophets will perform in the other 6 Karshvares the work which will here be accomplished by Saoshyant. But mention of this Restoration occurs only in very late parts of the Avesta (e.g. Vend., Farg. XVIII, 51). It does not mean Resurrection, as De Harlez has shown. Later still, something of the kind was believed, and in the Bundihishnih (chapter v) and the Patet (section 28) we have the word ristakhiz (from Av. irista, "departed," and chvis,"to rise"), which does mean "rising of the dead." But it can hardly be doubted that the doctrine is due to Hebrew and Christian influence, especially when we consider the late and uncertain date of the books in which the idea occurs.

16. Hebrew and Christian Influence:

Israelites settled in Media in large numbers in or about 730-728 BC under Sargon (2 Kings 17:6), long before Zoroaster's birth. It is possible that his reformation may have owed much therefore to Hebrew influence.

See, further, ZOROASTRIANISM.

The idea of virgin birth has been asserted to occur in Zoroastrianism, both with reference to Zoroaster himself and to the last three great prophets of whom mention has been made. This is an error. The Avesta and all later Zoroastrian books speak of Zoroaster's birth as quite natural, his father being Pourushaspa. Nor is virgin birth referred to in the case of Saoshyant and the rest.

17. No Virgin Birth:

(Mater cuiusque ex iis, sese in lacu quodam lavans, Zoroastris semine illic reposito grayida facta filium pariet:

Vend., Farg. XIX, 4-6; Yasht XIII, 128, 142; Bund., XXXII, 8, 9.) Virginity is not highly esteemed in the Avesta, though fornication is condemned.

LITERATURE.

Geldner's edition of text of Avesta; De Harlez, Avesta; Achemenian Inscriptions; Sacred Books of the East, volumes IV, XXIII, XXXI; Grassmann, Worterbuch zum Rig Veda; Haug and West, Arta Viraf Namak; Spiegel, Einleitung in die trad. Schriften der Parsen; Eranische Altertumskunde; Darmesteter, Etudes iraniennes; Haug, Essays on .... Religion of Parsis; De Harlez, Manuel du Pehlavi; Cook, Origins of Religion and Language.



W. St. Clair Tisdall

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