Prophet Mani (pbuh) is a mysterious figure in history. His claims intrigued many and he accumulated many followers over the years. His religion became one of the most widespread religions that the world had seen. Today, however, not many people know much about this great personality or his teachings. What is even more unfortunate is that many of the holy books authored by Mani were lost or intentionally destroyed. Only small fragments remained, but what has remained, gives us a good idea of what he taught and preached, and what the results were from his teachings.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) is known throughout the world as the founder of the religion of Islam, he was born several centuries after the death of Prophet Mani (pbuh). Today the Islamic religion is one of the world’s most practising religions, widespread across the globe. Both of these founders were born after the founding of Christianity and had emerged as new faiths. It may come as a shock to learn that the closest religion to Islam with many shocking similarities, is not Judaism nor Christianity, but rather Manichaeism, we will be looking in-depth into what makes these two similar, and how they are connected.
The first and most important belief that both Mani and Muhammad (pbut) had preached was Monotheism, the oneness of God, without a partner, they also rejected the concept of a triune God, which distinguished Manichaeism from their mainstream Christian rivals.
At the age of 12, Mani received his first revelation from what is believed to be an Angel as a messenger to him saying: “Withdraw from this sect, for none of its people belongs to you; your concern is with purifying the soul and abandoning the passions. But (the time for) your public appearance has not yet come, for you are still too young.”(Gospel of Mani p. 25) At the age of 24, he was once again visited by this Angel who had informed him to declare himself publicly to the people, Mani (pbuh) had called out to his people stating: “As once Buddha came to India, Zoroaster to Persia, and Jesus to the lands of the West, so came in the present time, this prophecy through me, Mani, to the land of Babylonia.” (The Acts of the Apostle Thomas, Prof. M. M. Ninan, p.275) He had declared himself to be a prophet to his people by the command of this angel who he identified as his Twin.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) at the age of 40 had also received his first revelation from an angel, that angel was none other than Gabriel (pbuh), and at the age of 43, he declared himself openly to the public to be a Prophet and Messenger of God. Both Mani and Muhammad (pbut) had declared themselves publicly by these angels to be on a mission from God the almighty, and what is even more interesting are the names that Mani (pbuh) had called out as past Prophets, ‘Buddha, Zoroaster, and Jesus (pbuh)’, and that he was the next in line in a succession of prophets.
You will find Islamic scholars that believe or consider Buddha and Zoroaster (pbut) to be past Prophets whose call and message had become distorted over time, it’s also reported that the Muslims who had invaded Persia had considered Zoroaster (pbuh) to be a divinely sent prophet, and the Muslims had labelled Zoroastrians under the category of ‘People of the Book’ like the Christians and Jews. The Quran also testifies that there are unknown Prophets who are not mentioned in the Quran:
“We already sent messengers before you. We have told you the stories of some of them, while others We have not. It was not for any messenger to bring a sign without Allah’s permission. But when Allah’s decree comes, judgment will be passed with fairness, and the people of falsehood will then be in ˹total˺ loss.”
– Holy Quran, Ghafir verse 78
“We surely sent a messenger to every community, saying, “Worship Allah and shun false gods.” But some of them were guided by Allah, while others were destined to stray. So travel throughout the land and see the fate of the deniers!”
– Holy Quran, An-Nahl verse 36
Both Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) and Prophet Mani (pbuh) had claimed to come as reformers of the religions of their predecessors after their call and message had been distorted and corrupted over time, such as the religion of Christianity, which is why you will find some unique claims in these religions. For example, just as Mani (pbuh) claimed to be the direct successor and disciple of Jesus (pbuh), so do the Muslims, as they claim that Muhammad (pbuhahf) was a successor of Jesus (pbuh).
In Islam fasting is also obligatory, it is upon every Muslim man and woman to fast during the holy month of Ramadan, consisting of 29 or 30 days, abstaining from food and drink and during the entirety of the month from dawn to sunset.
“…and for boasting, “We killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” But they neither killed nor crucified him—it was only made to appear so. Even those who argue for this ˹crucifixion˺ are in doubt. They have no knowledge whatsoever—only making assumptions. They certainly did not kill him.”
– Holy Quran, An-Nisa verse 157
Another controversial belief besides the concept of the trinity and crucifixion which both religions reject is the idea that Jesus (pbuh) was the absolute God in the flesh.
The Quran states:
“Those who say, “Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary,” have certainly fallen into disbelief. The Messiah ˹himself˺ said, “O Children of Israel! Worship Allah—my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever associates others with Allah ˹in worship˺ will surely be forbidden Paradise by Allah. Their home will be the Fire. And the wrongdoers will have no helpers.”
– Holy Quran Al-Ma’idah verse 72
Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) had assigned 5 daily obligatory prayers to his followers, Manichaeans are reported to have prayed between 4 to 7 times a day.
Even the start of the prayer is quite similar, in Islam one must perform ablution to approach and initiate the prayer, at the beginning of the prayer there is a standing position facing the Qibla, the direction of prayer, the Kaaba, which is considered by Muslims to be the ‘House of God’ in which the worshipper recites praises, bows, and prostrates to the Lord, in Manichaeism, the direction of prayer was, the Sun and the Moon, as they represented the Light of God, and if the Moon was not Visible at night, they prayed in the direction of the North, the Throne of the Light King.
Al-Nadim has reported about the Manichaean prayer in his book Al-Fihrist: “Now indeed he, the man, stands up and washes in the flowing water or something else, and he turns towards the greater Luminary, standing.” This shows a clear similarity between the Muslim and Manichaean ablution and prayer.
Not only this but just as the Muslims bow and prostrate several times in their prayers, the Manichaeans also bow and prostrate several times throughout their prayers, the Manichaeans also used to supplicate to their lord with their hands up with their palms facing towards the sky, and this is exactly how you find Muslims supplicating today.
In Islam, there are five pillars, four of which are: The declaration of faith, prayer, charity, and fasting. From these four, we have already gone over the fact that Islam and Manichaeism share the belief in One God and the belief of their founders being a sent Messenger of God, and both of these religions have daily obligatory prayers, but what of the other two pillars?
In Islam it is obligatory to give in charity also known as Zakat, to help the poor and needy. The Quran states:
“Establish prayer, and pay alms-tax. Whatever good you send forth for yourselves, you will ˹certainly˺ find ˹its reward˺ with Allah. Surely Allah is All-Seeing of what you do.”
– Holy Quran, Al-Baqarah verse 110
Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) has placed a huge emphasis on giving to the poor in charity, it is narrated by Abu Burda that the Prophet (pbuhahf) said, “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Prophet! If someone has nothing to give, what will he do?” He said, “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked, “If he cannot find even that?” He replied, “He should help the needy who appeal for help.” Then the people asked, “If he cannot do that?” He replied, “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds.”
– Sahih Bukhari, Abi Abdullah Muhammad ibn Isma’il Al-Bukhari, Book of Obligatory Charity (Zakat), hadith 1445
In Islam fasting is also obligatory, it is upon every Muslim man and woman to fast during the holy month of Ramadan, consisting of 29 or 30 days, abstaining from food and drink and during the entirety of the month from dawn til sunset.
“O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will become mindful ˹of Allah˺.”
– Holy Quran, Al-Baqarah verse 183
Fasting was prescribed so this way those who were more fortunate than others in this world would have an idea of what it was like to have the pains of hunger like that of the less fortunate, it allowed one to become more humble and sympathetic towards others, fasting in itself is considered in Islam as a charity for the body itself.
And if fasting has been decreed upon those before Islam, then let’s take a look at Manichaeism and see if fasting is included along with charity.
“This is kephalaion 79: ‘Concerning the Fasting of the Saints’ (191.9-192.3)
Once more the enlightener speaks to his disciples: ‘The fasting that the saints fast by is profitable for four great works.
The first work: Shall the holy man punish his body by fasting, he subdues the entire ruling-power that exists in him.
The second: This soul that comes in to him in the administration of his food, day by day; it shall be made holy, cleansed, purified, and washed from the adulteration of the darkness that is mixed in with it.
The third: That person shall make every deed a holy one; the mystery of the children of light in whom there is neither corruption nor […] the food, nor wound it. Rather, they are holy, there is nothing in them that defiles, as they live in peace.
The fourth: They make a […] the Cross, they restrain their hands from the hand […] not destroy the living soul.
The fasting is profitable to the saints for these four great works should they persist; that is if they are constant in them daily, and cause the body to make all its 3 members to fast with a holy fast.
[…] faith. They who have not strength to fast daily should make their fast on the lord’s day. They too make a contribution to the works and the fasting of the saints by their faith and their alms.”
– Manichaean Texts from the Roman Empire, Iain Gardner and Samuel N. C. Lieu, p. 240
The fasting of the Manichaeans is also the same as the Muslims, they both refrain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, and they had a prescribed Month of fasting. According to the historian Al-Nadim, “when the New Light appears and the sun is in Aquarius and the eight days have passed of the (lunar) month, they (the Manichaeans) fast for thirty days, but break the fast each day at nightfall.”
Doesn’t the implementation of charity and fasting complete four of the five pillars of Islam by the Manichaeans? You can almost even call them Muslims, but let us continue looking at what other things bring these two faiths together.
In both Islam and Manichaeism, there exists the belief of Angels, just as we had gone over, Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) was visited by the Angel Gabriel and Mani (pbuh) by an Angel known as his Twin who Manichaeans also identify as Jesus (pbuh).
In Islam, it is a must to believe in the unseen, like God for example, and this, of course, stretches out to the Angelic beings in the religion, in Islam the most known angels are the likes of Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Azrael. God had warned against being enemies to his angels as stated:
“Whoever is an enemy of Allah, His angels, His messengers, Gabriel, and Michael, then ˹let them know that˺ Allah is certainly the enemy of the disbelievers.”
– Holy Quran, Al-Baqarah verse 98
In the Manichaean Book of Giants, four angels are mentioned, these angels are none other than, Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Uriel. As you can see, even the identity of some of the Angels are also the same, the Angels in both religions are benevolent and can act as messengers to prophets just as the Twin was for Mani (pbuh), and Gabriel to Muhammad (pbuhahf). Each Angel is assigned a different task, even the task of collecting the souls of the deceased and sending them to their next life.
Both faiths hold the belief in an afterlife, humanity has long feared death, and what lies beyond this life, asking, what happens after death? Where do we go? And why?
According to both Islam and Manichaeism, there exist two realms besides this one, there is Heaven or Paradise, a place filled with everlasting bliss and pleasure for those who had faith and were good, abstaining from all that which was evil and forbidden, and there exists a realm opposite to Heaven, and that is Hell, Hell is a place which houses the souls of the wicked and evil souls, it is a place described as an abyss of everlasting pain, torture and misery, a roaring fire is set for them as compensation for their grievous evil deeds during the lifetime of the individual. Or the soul simply reincarnates back into this world.
That’s right, the religion of Mani openly preaches and believes in reincarnation, the return of the soul into this physical life multiple times, reincarnation also serves as a divine judgment and punishment of the soul in poor living conditions, sometimes the individual can incarnate as an animal.
Amu, a companion of Mani (pbuh), stated:
“We were on our way, while our Father (Mani) sat on the mule. Then a big lion came down to meet us, with an arrow in its side, weeping. So our Father bade that it keep still while he removed it. Then he spoke to us again: You see this. That was Pilate, who once condemned Jesus; but in his favour he uttered one word, namely: Lo, my hands are pure from the blood of this Righteous One. On that account has he received forgiveness of (his) sins.”
– Manichean Homilies 91
Although most mainstream Muslims do not believe in reincarnation, you will find that there are sects that believe in reincarnation within Islam and there are Muslims who question and even accept the possibility of reincarnation and the return of the soul.
Al-Haft Al-Shareef, an ancient Islamic manuscript, displays conversations between Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq (pbuh) the descendant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) and his loyal and faithful companion Al Muffadal ibn Umar. The book is filled with lengthy esoteric revelations which include reincarnation, the Imam (pbuh) explained how the soul can incarnate as a human and can incarnate as an animal due to the misdeeds of the individual, those who believe in reincarnation also use the Quran as a basis for the belief in reincarnation. An example of reincarnation of an animal known as “Maskh” is by the words of the Holy Imam (fhip) within the book, he states:
And of them were those taken by the trembling and of them are those who went into Maskh as Monkeys and Pigs and the likes of that of the Torture of the Afterlife.
Then Allah said: ‘And indeed We will make them taste of the lower Penalty prior to the supreme Penalty, in order that they may return.’ (The Holy Qur’an 32:21)
– Al-Haft Al-Shareef, Al Mufaddal ibn Umar Al-Ja’fi, door 62
And this act of reincarnating as a monkey or pig can be found in the following verse:
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Shall I inform you of those who deserve a worse punishment from Allah ˹than the rebellious˺? It is those who earned Allah’s condemnation and displeasure—some being reduced to apes and pigs and worshippers of false gods. These are far worse in rank and farther astray from the Right Way.”
– Holy Quran Al-Ma’idah verse 60
Other verses state:
“How can you disbelieve in Allah when you were lifeless and He brought you to life; then He will cause you to die, then He will bring you [back] to life, and then to Him you will be returned.”
– Holy Quran, Al-Baqarah verse 28
“From the earth We created you, and into it We will return you, and from it We will bring you back again.”
– Holy Quran, Taha verse 55
And the Quran states that those who reject reincarnation are disbelievers, it states:
˹All will be resurrected,˺ yet the deniers are astonished that a warner has come to them from among themselves ˹warning of resurrection˺. So the disbelievers say, “This is an astonishing thing! ˹Will we be returned to life,˺ when we are dead and reduced to dust? Such a return is impossible.”
– Holy Quran, Qaf verse 2-3
And He is the One Who gave you life, then will cause you to die, and then will bring you back to life. ˹But˺ surely humankind is ever ungrateful.
– Holy Quran, Al-Hajj verse 66
The fact of the matter is that Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) did teach that the soul reincarnates and the evidence of this in the religion of Islam is numerous for those who sincerely search…
Another similarity that both religions share is the belief in the End Times, both religions believe that Jesus Christ the son of Mary has a return at the End Times to save humanity from the darkness and to distinguish the darkness from the light. Both beliefs also share that the end times herald an age of perfect Justice, God’s Kingdom on Earth, or as the divine just state. In Islam, Jesus (pbuh) is not alone, but rather he is accompanied by Imam Al-Mahdi (pbuhahf), who is greater than Jesus (pbuh), and Jesus (pbuh) is also one of his followers, the state of Imam Al-Mahdi (fhip) according to the Muslims is similar to that of Manichaeism, it is a state with justice and equity only after this world had been filled with injustice and tyranny.
The similarities between both of these religions are numerous and shocking, to the extent that even towards the end of their lives. These founders left behind something very similar for their communities, so they would never go astray. Before Mani (pbuh) died, he had gathered his companions and selected for them their leader from amongst them. his divinely appointed successor after him, Sisin. Before Mani died:
They came closer to him; he laid his hand upon the head of Sisin, saying: “Use the place that I have given you for the help and strengthening of your brethren…after me.”
– Manichean Homilies
The divine appointment was obvious to all of the Manichaeans without dispute. After Mani (pbuh), they would recite a prayer revolving around Mani (pbuh) as followed:
“You did appoint the twelve Teachers and the seventy-two Overseers; you did make Sisin Leader over your children.”
– Manichean Psalms 44
And it did not end with Sisin. There was another. Sisin also appointed a successor named Innai.
“His word was laid upon Innai, that he should himself be the Leader of the Sect in his place.”
– The Gospel of the Prophet Mani, Duncan Greenlees, p.98
In Islam, most Muslims state that Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) did not leave behind a successor, but rather Abu Bakr was the successor of the Prophet by the people. This however is not true. During the Event of Ghadeer Khumm, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) had designated his cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib (pbuh) as his successor decreed by Allah. And it has been reported in countless narrations and authenticated over the centuries by even mainstream Muslims.
Al-Baraa’ ibn Azeb narrated: “We were travelling with the Messenger of Allah (pbuhahf) then we stopped at Ghadeer Khum, and we were called to prayer. The Messenger of Allah (pbuhahf) sat under two trees, he then prayed Dhuhr prayer (Noon prayer) and took Ali’s hand (pbuh) and said: “Do I not have more right over the believers than what they have over themselves?” They said: “Yes”, he said: “Do I not have more right over every believer than what he has over his own self?” They said: “Yes”. He said: “Whoever I am the mawla (master) of, then Ali is his mawla. O Allah, befriend those who befriend him and take as enemies those who take him as an enemy.”
– Musnad Ahmad, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, v.4, p.281 Sunan Ibn Majah, Muhammad bin Yazid Ibn Majah, Book of the Sunnah, hadith 116
At this time, the Muslims had accepted the words of the Prophet without question.
However, during the event known as ‘The Calamity of Thursday,’ in which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) was laying on his death bed, it is reported that he had desired to write a Will for his nation before his death, but unfortunately, his request was met with disrespect. This event has been regarded as completely authentic by all Muslims.
Ibn Abbas narrated said “When Allah’s Messenger (pbuhahf) was on his deathbed and there were some men in the house, he said, ‘Come near, I will write for you a writing after which you will never go astray.’ One of them said, ‘Allah’s Messenger is seriously ill and you have the Qur’an. Allah’s Book is sufficient for us.’ So the people in the house differed and started disputing. Some of them said, Come near so that Allah’s Messenger may write for you a writing after which you will never go astray, while the others said what the other one said. When they made much noise and differed greatly before the Prophet (pbuhahf), he said to them, ‘Go away and leave me.’ Ibn Abbas used to say, No doubt, it was very unfortunate (a great disaster) that Allah’s Messenger was prevented from writing for them that writing because of their differences and noise.”
– Sahih Bukhari, Abi Abdullah Muhammad ibn Isma’il Al-Bukhari, Book of Holding fast to the Qur‘an and Sunnah, hadith 7366
Do you believe that God who is all-knowing and all-loving would allow his nation to go astray without allowing his Messenger to have written his statement in which he promised them that they would never go astray if they held on to it? Of course not, because the truth is that he did allow his Messenger to write it. On the night of his death, Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) had dictated his Will to Ali ibn Abi Talib (pbuh). Written within it the names of his Successors, 12 Imams and 12 Mahdis, the first Imam and successor being Imam Ali (pbuh), all the way to the 12th Imam who is still alive today. Imam Al-Mahdi (pbuh) and his successor, the first Mahdi, Ahmad, and he is the awaited Saviour of Mankind who is accompanied with Jesus Christ (pbuh). The identity of this saviour and reformer who brings the world out of darkness into the light is none other than Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip), he has come to rid the world of injustice and tyranny and replace it and fill it with Justice and Equity, he is the one who will herald in the just divine state, the kingdom of God on earth. And he has revealed certain pieces of information concerning the religion of Mani (pbuh), revealing how the religion is so similar to the Islamic religion.
Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) revealed that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was the physical father of Prophet Mani (pbuh), who continued the true call of his father, and that Muhammad (pbuhahf) was a descendant of Prophet Mani (pbuh), Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) was, in fact, a Manichaean. He was continuing the call of Allah the Almighty. This explains why the beliefs and practices of prophet Mani (pbuh) mirror perfectly those of Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf).
Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Mani (pbut) were both prophets whose missions were revealed to them by angels, they taught there followers of the existence of these angelic beings and to believe in them although they may be unseen, they both preached the belief in One God, they both rejected the Christian concept of the Trinity, crucifixion, and the absolute divinity of Jesus (pbuh), they taught there followers about past prophets and messengers before them, those who were known and unknown, they claimed to be successors of the past prophets in a chain of successions to reform the true message which was lost overtime, they taught there followers how to perform ablution, to pray several times a day, there prayers were similar as it included bowing, prostrating, sitting, supplication and standing, they made there followers give in charity to the less fortunate and they both had a month long fasting from dawn to sunset, there beliefs included an afterlife of heaven or hell, and the reincarnation of the soul into this world, they also appointed infallible successors who would lead mankind after there deaths and they both spoke of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (pbuh) in the end times and this return has already taken place.
But today, just as it was in the past, Mani (pbuh) came as a reformer of the corrupted religions which had true divine founders, and just as Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) also came as a reformer with the same mission.
Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) has also come to reform the Islamic religion anew after it had been corrupted and distorted and revealing certain truths that have been lost, and true teachings which other religions hold as well and he has come to bring humanity out of the darkness into the light, saving us from our selves, this call is the same as that of Prophet Mani (pbuh), who humanity today sympathises over the tragic loss of his religion because of the ignorant and intolerant ones of his time. Do not make the same mistake, as Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) has come to unite all of humanity, under one truth, under one call, under one divine just state, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. It is time that we support him, it is time that we throw aside our systematic dogmas and hold faithfully to the chosen one of God in our time, and it is time that we become united.