Criticism of Zoroastrianism

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Criticism of Zoroastrianism has taken place over many centuries not only from the adherents of other religions but also among Zoroastrians themselves seeking to reform the faith.

Zoroaster[edit]

In the early 19th century, a Christian missionary based in British India, John Wilson, claimed that Zoroaster never had a genuine divine commission (or ever claimed such a role),[1] never performed miracles, or uttered prophecies and that the story of his life is "a mere tissue of comparatively modern fables and fiction."[2][3] Others assert that all the available Zoroastrian sources regarding Zoroaster only provide conflicting images about him,[4] especially between earlier and later sources.[5]

Literature[edit]

The Dasatir-i-Asmani, while being accepted by Zoroastrian communities in Iran and India as genuine, especially by the Kadmi, it is generally believed to be a forgery.[6]

Wilson argued that the Avesta could not be divinely inspired because much of its text was irrevocably lost or unintelligible[7][8] and Martin Haug, who greatly helped the Parsis of India to defend their religion against the attacks of such Christian missionaries as Wilson, considered the Gathas to be the only texts and only authoritative scriptures that could be attributed to Zoroaster.[9]

Polytheism[edit]

John Wilson attacked the Zoroastrian reverence of the Amesha Spenta and Yazatas as a form of polytheism, although the Parsis at the time immediately refuted this allegation and insisted that he had in fact addressed the Bundahishn, a text whose relevance to their practice was remote.[10][11] Critics also commonly claim that Zoroastrians are worshipers of other deities and elements of nature, such as of fire—with one prayer, the Litany to the fire (Atesh Niyaesh),[12] stating: "I invite, I perform (the worship) of you, the Fire, O son of Ahura Mazdā together with all fires"—and Mithra.[13] Some critics have charged Zoroastrians with being followers of dualism, who only claimed to be followers of monotheism in modern times to confront the powerful influence of Christian and Western thought which "hailed monotheism as the highest category of theology."[14] Critics insist that the monotheistic reformist view is seen to contradict the conservative (or traditional) view of a dualistic worldview most evident in the relationship between Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu.[15] and arguing that Zoroastrians follow a belief system influenced by henotheism. Other Western scholars such as Martin Haug, however, have dismissed the concept of theological dualism as a corruption of Zoroaster's original teachings, gradually added by later adherents of the faith.[16] Critics add that the fact that such differing views have proliferated are a sign of the enigmatic nature of the Zoroastrian beliefs regarding the divinity.[17]

Inter-Zoroastrian divisions[edit]

Zoroastrian reformers, such as Maneckji Nusserwanji Dhalla, have argued that literary precedence should be given to the Gathas, as a source of authority and textual authenticity. They have also deplored and criticized many Zoroastrian rituals (e.g. excessive ceremonialism and focus on purity,[18][19] using "bull's urine for ritual cleansing, the attendance of a dog to gaze at the corpse during funerary rites, the exposure of corpses on towers [for consumption by vultures and ravens]")[20][21] and theological and cosmological doctrines as not befitting of the faith.[22] This orthodox versus reformist controversy rages even on the internet.[23]

Divisions and tensions also exist between Iranian and Indian Zoroastrians and over such issues as the authority of a hereditary priesthood in the transmission and interpretation of the faith, ethnicity and the nature of Ahura Mazda.[24] Historically, differences also existed between the Zoroastrian branches of Zurvanism, Mazdakism and Mazdaism.[25]

Who is a Zoroastrian (Zarathushti)?[edit]

Much like the question of who is a Jew?, Zoroastrian identity, especially whether it is adopted through birth or belief (or both), "remains a cause for tension" within the community.[26][27] Reformers have criticised the orthodox refusal to accept religious converts as one reason for the communities' declining population.[28]

Predestination[edit]

Zoroastrians have been criticized by Muslim authors for their rejection of predestination.[29][30] This follows a famous hadith of Muhammad in which he negatively associates the Qadariyah Islamic sect with the Magians.[31][32]

Patriarchy[edit]

Zoroastrianism has been criticized for the perception that it promotes a patriarchal system, expressed through such avenues as an all-male priesthood and its historical allowance of polygamy—practiced by Zoroaster himself.[33][34][35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sharma, Suresh K.; Sharma, Usha, eds. (2004). Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Zoroastrianism. Mittal Publications. pp. 17–18. ISBN 9788170999621.
  2. ^ Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 206–7. ISBN 9780857719713.
  3. ^ Stausberg, Michael; Vevaina, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw, eds. (23 Mar 2015). The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism. John Wiley & Sons. p. 75. ISBN 9781118785508.
  4. ^ S. Nigosian (24 Sep 1993). Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 10. ISBN 9780773564381.
  5. ^ Sharma, Suresh K.; Sharma, Usha, eds. (2004). Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Zoroastrianism. Mittal Publications. p. 14. ISBN 9788170999621.
  6. ^ Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. p. 204. ISBN 9780857719713.
  7. ^ Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 205–6. ISBN 9780857719713.
  8. ^ Kenneth Boa (1990). Cults, World Religions and the Occult (revised ed.). David C Cook. p. 48. ISBN 9780896938236.
  9. ^ Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 207–8. ISBN 9780857719713.
  10. ^ Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. p. 205. ISBN 9780857719713.
  11. ^ Stausberg, Michael, ed. (2004). Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (illustrated ed.). BRILL. pp. 479–80. ISBN 9789004131316.
  12. ^ John R. Hinnells (28 Apr 2005). The Zoroastrian Diaspora: Religion and Migration (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 706. ISBN 9780198267591.
  13. ^ Stausberg, Michael, ed. (2004). Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (illustrated ed.). BRILL. pp. 50, 298–99. ISBN 9789004131316.
  14. ^ Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla (1914). Zoroastrian Theology: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day. p. 337.
  15. ^ S. Nigosian (24 Sep 1993). Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 116. ISBN 9780773564381.
  16. ^ Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 207–208. ISBN 9780857719713.
  17. ^ S. Nigosian (24 Sep 1993). Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 23. ISBN 9780773564381.
  18. ^ Kenneth Boa (1990). Cults, World Religions and the Occult (revised ed.). David C Cook. p. 48. ISBN 9780896938236.
  19. ^ Stausberg, Michael, ed. (2004). Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 43. ISBN 9789004131316.
  20. ^ S. Nigosian (24 Sep 1993). Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 116. ISBN 9780773564381.
  21. ^ Stausberg, Michael, ed. (2004). Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 471. ISBN 9789004131316.
  22. ^ Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. p. 208. ISBN 9780857719713.
  23. ^ Stausberg, Michael, ed. (2004). Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 51. ISBN 9789004131316.
  24. ^ Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 221–2. ISBN 9780857719713.
  25. ^ Leaman, Oliver, ed. (19 Oct 2006). Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy. Routledge. p. 608. ISBN 9781134691159.
  26. ^ Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 210–11, 220. ISBN 9780857719713.
  27. ^ Ariane Sherine (9 December 2013). "Zoroastrianism needs to adapt its archaic laws – or die". Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  28. ^ LAURIE GOODSTEIN (6 September 2006). "Zoroastrians Keep the Faith, and Keep Dwindling". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  29. ^ Ibn Taymiyyah (1976). Memon, Muhammad Umar, ed. Ibn Taimiya's Struggle Against Popular Religion: With an Annotated Translation of His Kitab iqtida as-sirat al-mustaqim mukhalafat ashab al-jahim (reprint ed.). Walter de Gruyter. p. 117. ISBN 9783111662381.
  30. ^ Tamim Ansary (2010). Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (illustrated, reprint ed.). PublicAffairs. p. 9. ISBN 9781586488130.
  31. ^ Richard C. Martin; Mark R. Woodward; Dwi S. Atmaja (1997). Atmaja, Dwi S., ed. Defenders of Reason in Islam: Mu'tazilism from Medieval School to Modern Symbol (illustrated ed.). Oneworld Publications. p. 86. ISBN 9781851681471.
  32. ^ Muhammad Qasim Zaman (1997). Religion and Politics Under the Early ʻAbbāsids: The Emergence of the Proto-Sunnī Elite. BRILL. p. 62. ISBN 9789004106789.
  33. ^ Ghada Hashem Talhami (2013). Historical Dictionary of Women in the Middle East and North Africa. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 186, 372. ISBN 9780810868588.
  34. ^ Dale T. Irvin; Scott Sunquist (10 Jan 2002). History of the World Christian Movement: Volume 1: Earliest Christianity To 1453 (illustrated ed.). A&C Black. p. 202. ISBN 9780567088666.
  35. ^ Solomon Alexander Nigosian (1993). The Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research (reprint ed.). McGill-Queen's Press. p. 13. ISBN 9780773511446.