The Ahmadi Religion of Peace & Light

Similarities Between Zoroastrianism & Manichaeism

Let us take a look now at one of the most known and famous country in the Middle East, Iran. Iran is an Islamic country, most of its people associate themselves with the Shia branch of Islam, following the religion and teachings of Prophet Muhammad and the twelve Imams from his family pbut. However not much is known about Iran by the people of the west except for perhaps the Image of the countries Leader, and the religious scholars that surround him. But did you know that some of the most famous Biblical figures who have played a big role in the Bible, were not Jewish nor Christian? Some of them had come from the land to the East, from the Persian Empire such as Artaxerxes I, Darius the Great, the 3 Magis, and Cyrus the Great pbut. 

Cyrus the Great was a man who was to the jews.. The messiah and their liberator.. A man who had conquered the lands from the indus river in india all the way westwards to the Aegean sea the cradle of the great mediterranean civilisation.. A tolerant and ideal monarch, called father by the ancient Persians and the elder by the greeks. 

Cyrus the Great pbuh was even viewed as a Messiah by the children of Israel for his famous edict to the reconstruction and building of the Second Temple and the Holy City of Jerusalem. Cyrus pbuh is quoted in the Bible saying:

“The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you—may the LORD their God be with them, and let them go up.” – 2 Chronicles 36:23

And God had declared concerning him:

“who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.” – Isaiah 44:28

These personalities were adherents of one of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism, and their Prophet was none other than Zoroaster pbuh. Today, Iran is a country that many have  neglected to learn about, it is one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the World, with one of the worlds Oldest Religions still being practiced today, Zoroastrianism.

Zoroaster pbuh was a very unique man, it was said that he was born into the world laughing and not crying, he received divine revelations at the age of 30 during a spring festival; while bathing in a river during a pagan purification rite. On the bank of the river, he saw a ‘Shining Being’ made of light who revealed himself as Vohu Manah or ‘Good Mind’. Vohu Manah led Zoroaster to the presence of Ahura Mazda and five other radiant beings, which are called the Amesha Spentas.

Similarity 1: Prophetic Founders

Prophet Zoroaster pbuh after years of struggling to call his people towards the One True God and having only converted his cousin Maidhyoimanha to the faith but eventually managed to attract the attention of the King Vishtaspa, Zoroaster pbuh is said to have reached the court of the King and was given the opportunity to speak about his religion, the King had invited all the priests and wise men of his court to attend and listen to Zoroaster pbuh and question him which led to a debate between Zoroaster pbuh and the priests and wise men for three days.

At the debate in the court of King Vishtaspa, Zoroaster pbuh eloquently spoke and convincingly responded to all challenges and questions. The King saw the wisdom of this man, and his teachings and embraced the religion. However, the enemies of Zoroaster pbuh and his new religion was met with great hatred and a sinister plot had occurred against Zoroaster pbuh, the priests had planted various objects of black magic in his quarters, in order to accuse the Prophet of being a sorcerer, Zoroaster pbuh was imprisoned and denied food and drink.

It is said that the King’s favorite horse became paralyzed due to it being struck with an incurable disease. None of the physicians could cure the horse, but when Zoroaster heard about this, he offered the King the opportunity to cure his Horse…  after witnessing zoroaster miraculously heal his horse..  The King then realized the error of his judgment about Zoroaster pbuh, and instead embraced and promoted his religion and punished the priests who conspired against Zoroaster. 

Zoroastrianism became the State Religion having a great number of followers, today however it’s adherents only number between 110-120,000. Another native religion of Iran which used to be one of the most widespread religions in the world is Manichaeism, founded by Prophet Mani pbuh. Prophet Mani pbuh brought about a Gnostic form of Christianity, his teachings had labeled him as a heretic amongst main-stream Christians, his teachings were hard to swallow during his time, At the age of twelve Prophet Mani pbuh had a vision of his ‘Twin Angel’ who Manichaeans consistently identified as Jesus pbuh, this Twin Angel of Mani had appeared to him saying: “Withdraw from this sect, for none of its people belong 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.” 

At the age of 24, he again saw his Twin, who said to him:

And who would be averse to the religion of Abraham except one who makes a fool of himself. And We had chosen him in this world, and indeed he, in the Hereafter, will be among the righteous.

Quran 2:130

He also claimed to be a Prophet of God among a long line of successors starting with the Old Testament with the first man Prophet Adam pbuh down to Jesus Christ pbuh in the New Testament. He also claimed that other non-Abrahamic figures were also his predecessors such as Buddha and Zoroaster pbut. Mani pbuh went as far as to Convert the King of Peria at his time Shapur I, much like how Zoroaster pbuh had converted the King of his time, Shapur I was allowed for religious tolerance in his kingdom and Mani pbuh was able to preach peacefully. However after 10 years, Shapur I left the faith because of his desire for engaging in war.

Some have claimed that these two religions are incompatible with one another, but how can this be if Mani pbuh had claimed to be a successor from the long line of successors which included Zoroaster pbuh, then surely the teachings of Zoroastrianism can be found within Manichaeism as well. 

Similarity 2: Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu

The Core beliefs of Zoroastrianism is the belief in Ahura Mazda pbuh, who had sent Zoroaster pbuh as his Messenger to the people of Persia and that the evil force of the world is Ahriman also known as Angra Mainyu, he is what Abrahamic Faiths view as “The Devil.” Prophet Mani pbuh also believed in the existence of the evil Angra Mainyu, he had warned his followers of Ahriman just as Zoroaster did, opposing the forces of evil.

“And he whose name is Akundag is Ahriman.”

– An Apocryphal Epistle to Mar Ammo, Ascribed to Mani

Prophet Mani pbuh also testifies to Ahura Mazda just as Prophet Zoroaster pbuh had, he states:

“And he whose name is Akundag is Ahriman.”

– An Apocryphal Epistle to Mar Ammo, Ascribed to Mani

These two religions from Iran have played a huge role in religion today. It is believed that Zoroastrianism had influenced or shares very similar beliefs to that of the Abrahamic religions. Manichaeism before the advent of Prophet Muhammad pbuhahf was spreading with extraordinary speed throughout both the East and West and was the main rival to Christianity before Islam. Manichaeism can also be viewed as a Gnostic sect from Christianity, as its founder had laid claim to be an Apostle and Successor to Jesus Christ pbuh.

Sacred Books

Both of these religions had revealed Holy Books, Prophet Mani pbuh was said to have written seven or eight books, which contained the teachings of his religion, however only scattered fragments and translations of the original works remain. The most known popular of the written books was the Gospel of Mani and The Arzhang meaning “Picture Book.” Zoroastrianism sacred text is known as “The Avesta,” it supposedly contains the teachings of Prophet Zoroaster pbuh although he had not written the text himself, it contains teachings on cosmogony, law, and liturgy.

Dress Code

When it comes to clothing, Zoroastrian priests can be seen wearing traditional white caps and white robes, in Manichaeism, a piece from the Arzhang also depicts practitioners or priests of the religion also wearing similar white caps and white robes, showing a clear similarity between the dress code of these two religions.

Monotheism

Zoroastrianism is popularly credited for being the oldest and arguably the first Monotheistic religion, worshiping only one God, Manichaeism is also a Monotheistic religion, worshiping the same One God of Zoroastrianism, which is also the same God which the Abrahamic faiths believe in. Although it is argued that these two believe in Two Divine beings or Two Gods, this is simply not true since Angra Mainyu is not considered to be a Divine God, he is an evil Demon who is not omnipotent in contrast to God the Almighty.

Duality and Creation

Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, God and the Devil, the world is all too familiar with this eternal truth. In all walks of life, you will find concepts of what is good and what is evil. Most religious people view the ultimate personification of good to be God, God can be described as Good, Loving, and Merciful, while the ultimate personification of evil is The Devil. Many people have asked, “If God is good why is there evil and suffering in this world?” You may have heard the argument that It’s the fault of the Devil, but then it is asked, “If God is all-powerful then why does he not stop the Devil?” Those who do no find a satisfying answer come to a dead-end constantly in confusion, some even doubt or deny the existence of God all together because of this known problem of Evil. It has even reached to such an extent that some have unfortunately concluded that if God does exist, then he must be a sadistic creator. Those who have studied Manichaeism know that Prophet Mani pbuh had given a satisfying answer to this difficult question. Prophet Mani pbuh had revealed that it was not God who had directly created this world. Manichaeism is a dualistic belief, if God did created Light, then the byproduct of such a creation would be darkness, for if there is light, there is also darkness. The Zoroastrians believe this as well, the light being Ahura Mazda and the darkness being Angra Mainyu. According to both religions, a mixing had taken place between light and darkness, and the goal of this life is to retrieve back the light from the darkness. The mixing had caused the creation of this physical world as we see it and the ruler of it is the Devil Angra Mainyu.

Dr. M. N. Dhalla, a Zoroastrian Scholar makes a rational statement on the topic, he states that:

“Evil is as complete and independent as Good, sharing with it the pairs of opposites. God cannot be the source of both, or He would be a contradiction and a chaos. If Evil comes from Him He cannot be all-Good or deserve our worship; if He is all-Good, Good only should exist; but Evil too exists, so it must be independent of His will. If He, for some purpose, wills both Good and Evil, then His will, He Himself, is imperfect; if He wills only Good, then someone else wills Evil, the Devil.”

Monotheism

Zoroastrianism is popularly credited for being the oldest and arguably the first Monotheistic religion, worshiping only one God, Manichaeism is also a Monotheistic religion, worshiping the same One God of Zoroastrianism, which is also the same God which the Abrahamic faiths believe in. Although it is argued that these two believe in Two Divine beings or Two Gods, this is simply not true since Angra Mainyu is not considered to be a Divine God, he is an evil Demon who is not omnipotent in contrast to God the Almighty.

Zoroaster pbuh said, “In the beginning, there were two primal spirits, Twins spontaneously active, These are the Good and the Evil, in thought, and in word, and in deed.”

Yasna 30:3

Daily Prayers

Another similarity is that Both Zoroastrians and Manichaeans pray several times a day, Zoroastrians pray five times a day, Manichaeans are reported to pray between 4 to 7 times a day.

Direction of Worship

One thing that makes there worship different from monotheistic religions is that they face the Fire which is stationed inside the temple Zoroastrians pray in, hence the reason the Zoroastrians are popularly referred to as Fire Worshippers, but this is simply not true, the Fire that is faced is not worshipped by the Zoroastrians, rather it is simply a prayer direction and the Fire is simply considered to be an agent of purity and as a symbol of righteousness and truth. Instead of fire, they can face any other natural source of light during prayer like the Sun and the Moon.And just like the Zoroastrians, the Manichaeans during prayer also face the sun and the moon. In the Day during the prescribed prayer times, they faced the Sun, and during the night they faced the moon, however, if the moon is not visible then they would pray towards the North, in the direction of the Throne of the Light King. The reason for the facing of the Sun and the Moon is because it was Light that was leftover from the First Light when it was mixed and consumed by the Darkness, the Sun and Moon are therefore not worshipped, but rather it’s taken as a direction of prayer to the Worship because the Light represents the Light of the One True God, Just as Islam and Judaism have there own direction of Worship, it does not mean that they worship the Kaaba or the City of Jerusalem. 

Acts of Worship

During Prayer, you will find that the Zoroastrians are reciting, The Zoroastrians are reported to bow in their prayers, Zoroaster pbuh said:

“We therefore bow before Thee, and we direct our prayers to Thee with confessions of our guilt, O Ahura Mazda! with all the good thoughts (which Thou dost inspire), with all the words well said, and the deeds well done, with these would we approach Thee”

Yasna 36:5

In the Fire Temples you will find the worshippers reciting while their hands are spread out and palms facing towards the heavens, you will find that they also pray in congregation at times, facing the fire with the hands raised up, however, this sort of prayer is not only found with the Zoroastrians, from the surviving records we can see that while in prison Prophet Mani pbuh also prayed the same:

“He began to crumple up in pain, while he groaned because of the urgency of his prayers, spreading out his hands to Heaven while his arms called upon God.”

Manichean Homilies 54 

Manichaeans during their worship not only perform supplication in the same way as Zoroastrians, but they also perform bowing and prostration in their Prayers:

Thereon they, the Righteous (and) the Helpers, shall prostrate and then speak thus: “ O Lord, thou art a God and an Immortal whom neither Greed nor desire (can) vanquish, who becomes neither hungry nor thirsty and on (thee) distress never comes. When was it that we (did) this service?”

– The Gospel of the Prophet Mani by Duncan Greenless

Hymns

Since the action of Prayer is similar in both of these religions, what about their praises? We find that the Manichaeans daily worship consists of Psalms and Hymns, Zoroastrians also sing Hymns in their worship as well, one of the holy books of the Zoroastrians is known as the Gathas. The Gathas are seventeen Avestan hymns which are believed to have been compiled by Zoroaster pbuh himself. 

Meditation

The Prayers and Hymns practiced by the Zoroastrians can be done in a meditative way. Zoroaster pbuh is believed by some Zoroastrians to have practiced Meditation and would have surely reflected on the Truths of Nature using his inner wisdom. Zoroaster pbuh states:

“Verily I believed Thee, O Mazda Ahura, to be the Supreme Benevolent Providence, When the Good Mind came to me and told me assuringly, That a reflective, contented mind is the best possession. Let not a leader compromise with, or propitiate evil-doers, For they treat the righteous as enemies.”

– Yasna 43:15

It is believed that before his first vision, he had spent years in wilderness meditating and trying to reach God. Prophet Mani pbuh practiced meditation, it is believed that during his stay in India, he adapted Reincarnation and Meditation into his religion.

Prophet Mani pbuh had said:

“The pure devout must sit down in pious meditation and he should turn away from sin and increase what is pious.”

Ritual Purification

Before one can pray in the Zoroastrian faith, one must undergo a purification ritual known as PĀDYĀB is required, it is a form of Ablution which involves washing certain parts of the body with water in a prescribed order:

You must wash the exposed parts of your hands three times; if you are a male, wash the right hand first, if female, wash the left hand first. Then wash your head three times, from your face to your ears. Then wash your feet three times, if you are a male, start with the right one, if female, start with the left one. In the end, wash the hand used for washing the feet.

Doesn’t the Ablution seem very familiar? When you hear the word Ablution normally you would ascribe the practice to be something Islamic, as it is the Muslims who wash their hand’s face and feet before the daily prayers. Zoroastrians not only share this similar practice that the Muslims are known for but also the religion of Prophet Mani pbuh

“Now indeed he, the man, stands up and washes in the flowing water or something else, and he turns towards the greater Luminary, standing.”

– Al-Nadim’s Fihrist 333:14

Angels

Nearly everyone knows about Angels, in the Abrahamic faiths normally you would hear about Archangels such as Gabriel, Michael, and Israfil, you probably came across iconic statues and images of the Archangel Michael standing over Satan, ready to stab him with either a sword or a spear. Angels are often described as agents and messengers of God, being intermediaries between humanity and the All-Mighty.

Zoroastrians believe in the Yazatas, according to their doctrine, they were created by Ahura Mazda and they function exactly the same way as how angels are described and thought of according to the Abrahamic faiths. In the Zoroastrian faith, the angles are of three kinds, for example, one of them is the Amesha Spentas they are known as the Archangels, the Fravashis are known as the Guardian Angels, and the Yazatas are known as the Angels, they all play a role in managing the affairs of what they are ascribed to and reside in certain areas.

Angels in Manichaeism are also not a secret, they are known and described much like how the Zoroastrians believe in them and their role, Ibn Al-Nadim had reported about the Mother of Mani that while Mani pbuh was in the womb, she used to enjoy pleasant dreams and she would on waking see an Angel carry the unborn child up to heaven and then return him to the womb after, sometimes, a day or two.

At one point while Prophet Mani pbuh was imprisoned, he had prayed to God for help saying:

“I implore you to send the Angel who comes to those who are confined in the body and yet stand firm in the Faith.”

– Manichaean Homilies 52

Afterlife

Many religions have an idea of an afterlife, Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism are no exception to this, they both believe in an afterlife, Evil goes to Hell to suffer and be punished while the Good, in contrast, enters Heaven, a paradise filled with pleasures and eternal Bliss.

Angels

Nearly everyone knows about Angels, in the Abrahamic faiths normally you would hear about Archangels such as Gabriel, Michael, and Israfil, you probably came across iconic statues and images of the Archangel Michael standing over Satan, ready to stab him with either a sword or a spear. Angels are often described as agents and messengers of God, being intermediaries between humanity and the All-Mighty.

Zoroastrians believe in the Yazatas, according to their doctrine, they were created by Ahura Mazda and they function exactly the same way as how angels are described and thought of according to the Abrahamic faiths. In the Zoroastrian faith, the angles are of three kinds, for example, one of them is the Amesha Spentas they are known as the Archangels, the Fravashis are known as the Guardian Angels, and the Yazatas are known as the Angels, they all play a role in managing the affairs of what they are ascribed to and reside in certain areas.

Angels in Manichaeism are also not a secret, they are known and described much like how the Zoroastrians believe in them and their role, Ibn Al-Nadim had reported about the Mother of Mani that while Mani pbuh was in the womb, she used to enjoy pleasant dreams and she would on waking see an Angel carry the unborn child up to heaven and then return him to the womb after, sometimes, a day or two.

At one point while Prophet Mani pbuh was imprisoned, he had prayed to God for help saying:

Reincarnation

Prophet Mani pbuh famously preached reincarnation of the soul, however, some believe that Manichaeism does not have an idea of an afterlife for the soul other than reincarnation, this is not true, as Prophet Mani pbuh had mentioned Hell and Heaven, Ibn al-Nadim has reported that Prophet Mani pbuh said:

“Well, these three paths in which human souls are grouped: one of them (leads) to the Gardens, and they are the Righteous; and the second to the world and phantoms, and they are the- guardians of the Righteous; and the third to hell, and that is the (road) of the wicked man.”

Both religions believe in a final Judgement of each individual, Humanity will be judged justly and their abode will depend on their evil deeds and good deeds.

While there are many similarities between the Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism, the ignorant in the past had failed to realize the compatibility between these two religions as if they were the same religion, just with a different name, if you removed the labels “Manichaeism” and “Zoroastrianism” you would hardly see the difference and you would think it was the same religion. 

Religion of Peace

Both of these peaceful Prophets had been killed unjustly, Zoroaster pbuh was killed at the age of 77 while he was praying before an altar in the temple of Nush-Adar with a rosary in his hand. A Turanian, named Bratrok-resh, killed the prophet with his sword. However, Prophet Mani pbuh who had preached non-violence and only wished to guide humanity out of the darkness into the light met a fate worse than death by the tyrant Bahram I, an adherent to the religion of Zoroaster pbuh, He decided to imprison Prophet Mani pbuh and flayed him alive, stuffing his skin with straw and nailing him on a cross, this was how he was crucified. The Manichaeans no longer exists, they were exiled from their lands, they were killed and faced brutal persecutions for centuries not only from Persia, but other groups such as the Catholic Church and China had also treated Manichaeism as a heresy that was to be destroyed. Isn’t it a shame that humanity turned a blind eye to the similarities Manichaeism had with Zoroastrianism that a whole group of people were wiped off the face of the earth…. Just because of small insignificant differences? 

The End Times

Manichaeism and Zoroastrians also believe in the End Times and a Savior that comes along, the Zoroastrians are waiting for the coming of three future saviours called the Saoshyant, meaning “one who brings benefit,” the last of the three is the one who will lead humanity in the final battle against evil separating it from the light, and according to the Manichaeans at the end Evil will be defeated, and Darkness and Light will be separated, and Perfect Justice prevails as the Great Judge of Manichaeism who judges all men without partiality in his law and no turning in his righteousness, the wicked shall go to Hell and the Good shall enter Paradise. It is believed that Prophet Mani pbuh will return in the end times in which Mani pbuh implores the millions of humanity to hear his call, to choose the Light and to avoid the misery of the Darkness; he does all he can to win them over, but the decision rests in their own hands.

Isn’t it obvious that these two religions, although divided by the times of their founding can show so many similarities? Both of its founders were peaceful and had preached peace, they also claimed to be divine Prophets of God, they believe in duality and two conflicting beings one being good and one bad, Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu and how creation had began, they also believe in the existence and worship of only One God, they believed in Angelic beings who acted as Messengers, they also believed in the existance of a heaven and hell after death, along with the belief in reincarnation. There teachings were left behind in a form of a scriptures, they prayed several times a day and there direction of worship was the same, whether it be directed towards the sun, the moon, or fire they directed there prayers to the illuminarie bodies, they supplicate to their lord and include bowing and prostration in their worship, they also sang Hymns to the lord, before prayer they would make ablution, they seemingly dressed the same as well from what is depicted and they used to meditate, and the belief of the end Times…. And the end times has already arrived.

Glad tidings to those who are watching as the Savior of Mankind is here, Imam Ahmed al-Hassan pbuh has come to fill the world with justice and equity, after it has been filled with Injustice and Oppression, he has come to separate the darkness from the light, and to bring about the new age, and he has not come alone, he has returned his son and successor, Aba Sadiq pbuh, the reincarnation of Prophet Mani pbuh imploring the masses today to hear his call and to choose the light over the darkness, there are more similarities between us than there are differences, humanity must learn from the mistakes of the past nation, otherwise humanity is bound to repeat it once again, Manichaeism which was seen as a heretical group deserving death and persecution, today is looked upon as an oppressed group. Humanity can not repeat the same mistake again, as this is the time now that was promised from the Manichaeans and the Zoroastrians, it’s time to go back to the Light and support it, it’s times to end religious oppression, it’s time to support Prophet Mani pbuh and walk towards the light, it’s time to come together under a single truth, it is time that we become… United.

Related Articles