Iranian religions

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Iranian religions, also known as Persian religions, are, in the context of comparative religion, a grouping of religious movements that originated in the Iranian (Persian) plateau (or Greater Iran).


The beliefs, activities, and cultural events of the ancient Iranians in ancient Iran are complex matters. The ancient Iranians made references to a combination of several Aryans and non-Aryan tribes. Aryans, or ancient Iranians, worshiped natural elements such as the sun, sunlight and thunder, but they eventually shifted their attention mostly to a single god, whilst acknowledging others. The Iranian ancient prophet, Zoroaster, reformed Iranian religious beliefs to a form of henotheism/monotheism. The Gathas, hymns of Zoroaster's Avesta, brought monotheistic ideas to Persia, while through the Yashts and Yasna, mentions are made to polytheism and earlier creeds. The Vedas and the Avesta have both served researchers as important resources in discovering early Aryan beliefs and ideas.[1]


  • Proto-Indo-Iranian religion:[2] The various beliefs and practices from which the later indigenous religion of the Iranian peoples evolved. This religion was also the origin of the Indian religions.
  • Ancient Iranian religion: The ancient religion of the Iranian peoples
    • Scythian religion: The religion of the Scythians and precursor to modern Uatsdin. Some researchers further speculate that Daevas may partly be based on Scythian gods, hence further influences across Iranian religions as a whole.[3]
  • Zoroastrianism: The present-day umbrella term for the indigenous native beliefs and practices of the Iranian peoples. While present-day Zoroastrianism is monolithic, a continuation of the elite form of the Sasanian Empire, in antiquity it had several variants or denominations, differing slightly by location, ethnic affiliation and historical period. It once had large population and high diversity.
  • Mithraism: A mystery religion centred around the proto-Zoroastrian Persian god Mithras that was widely practised in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to the 4th century CE
  • Manichaeism: A 3rd century ditheistic religion that may have been influenced by Mandaeism. Manichaeans believe in a "Father of Greatness" (Aramaic: Abbā dəRabbūṯā, Persian: pīd ī wuzurgīh) and observe Him to be the highest deity (of light).
  • Yazdanism
  • Yazidism[4]

Medieval period[edit]

Some religionists made syncretic teachings of Islam and local beliefs and cults such as Iranian paganism, Zurvanism, Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism.[5]

  • 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 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.
  • Yarsanism, a religion which is believed to have been founded in the late 14th century. The basis of faith is belief in one God, who manifests in 1 primary form and 6 secondary ones, and together they are the Holy Seven.
  • Druze faith: an esoteric, monotheistic ethnic religion whose tenets include reincarnation and the eternity of the soul. It was founded by the Persian Hamza ibn Ali ibn Ahmad, an Ismaili mystic from Khorasan, and another important early preacher and 'prophet' of the religion was the Persian ad-Darazi, after whom the religion has taken its name.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jahangir Oshidri (1997), Mazdisna encyclopedia , Markaz Publishers , 1st publish.ISBN 964-305-307-5.
  2. ^ Relating Religion: Essays in the Study of Religion by Jonathan Z. Smith
  3. ^ Mary Boyce, A History of Zoroastrianism: Volume II: Under the Achaemenians, BRILL, 1982
  4. ^ Allison, Christine (20 September 2016) [20 July 2004]. "YAZIDIS i. GENERAL". Encyclopædia Iranica. New York: Columbia University. doi:10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_1252. ISSN 2330-4804. Archived from the original on 17 November 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  5. ^ Algar, Hamid (2015). "The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism by Patricia Crone". Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies. 8 (3): 367–378. doi:10.1353/isl.2015.0028. S2CID 147683295.


  • Alessandro Bausani, Religion in Iran: From Zoroaster to Bahaullah, Bibliotheca Persica, 2000
  • Richard Foltz, Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the Present, London: Oneworld, 2013.

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