Iranian religions

Iranian religions

Several important religions and religious movements originated in Greater Iran, that is, amongst speakers of various Iranian languages and hence with an Iranian cultural background.

Iron Age

The religions of pre-Zoroastrian Iran were polytheistic ones, deriving - as Zoroastrianism would also - from the religious beliefs of the Indo-Iranian era. Notable concepts among these was that of the "ahuras" and "daevas", collectively termed the "yazatas", "worthy of worship", with each individual, clan or tribe adopting one or more of these divinities as their patron or protector entities, but collectively also recognizing and observing the patron divinities of other groups. In later Iran, the term "daeva" would acquire a negative connotation, but this was not yet the case in the old Iranian religions. Although these pre-Zoroastrian religions are not directly attested, many of these pre-historic concepts remain evident in the texts of the Avesta, and hence even in the Zoroastrianism of today.

Late Antiquity

* By late Achaemenid times, Zoroastrianism was also evident as Zurvanism (Zurvanite Zoroastrianism), a monist dualism that even had a following as late as the Sassanid era. Zurvanite belief is not attested after the 10th century.
* Mandaeism, a gnostic monotheism of the 1st century CE observed Mandā d-Heyyi - "Knowledge of Life".
* Manichaeism, 3rd century ditheistic gnosticism that may have been influenced by Mandaeanism. Manichaens believed in a "Father of Greatness" (Aramaic: Unicode|Abbā dəRabbūṯā, Persian: "pīd ī wuzurgīh") and observed Him to be the highest deity (of light).
*Mazdakism (6th century)

Middle Ages

* 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.
* Yarsan, a religious order of Yazdanism, which is believed to have been founded in the 16th century. Yazdanism promulgated the belief in a God manifest as one primary and five secondary avatars to form with God the Holy Seven.


* Bábísm, a mid-19th century monotheistic religion founded by the Báb that was a predecessor of the Bahá'í Faith.
* Bahá'í Faith, an emerging monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh, a 19th century Persian exile.


* [ Britannica Concise Encyclopedia]
* [ Encyclopedia Britannica]
* "Religious Texts in Iranian Languages", red. Fereydun Vahman och Claus V. Pedersen, The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Copenhagen, 2007.

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