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

Christian missionaries claimed that Zoroaster never had a 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

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

Christian missionaries 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 John Wilson, considered the Gathas to be the only texts and only authoritative scriptures that could be attributed to Zoroaster.[9]

Polytheism

Western scholars and Christian missionaries have frequently attacked the Zoroastrian reverence of the Amesha Spenta and Yazatas as polytheism.[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] At a minimum, critics charge 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] This 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] Others have argued that Zoroastrians follow a belief system based upon Henotheism. 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.[16]

Inter-Zoroastrian divisions

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,[17][18] 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]")[19][20] and theological and cosmological doctrines as not befitting of the faith.[21] This orthodox versus reformist controversy rages even on the internet.[22]

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.[23] Historically, differences also existed between the Zoroastrian branches of Zurvanism, Mazdakism and Mazdaism.[24]

Who is a Zoroastrian (Zarathushti)?

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.[25][26] Reformers have criticised the orthodox refusal to accept religious converts as one reason for the communities' declining population.[27]

Predestination

Zoroastrians have been criticized by Muslim authors for their rejection of predestination.[28][29] This follows a famous hadith of Muhammad in which he negatively associates the Qadariyah Islamic sect with the Magians.[30][31]

Patriarchy

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.[32][33][34]

References

  1. Sharma, Suresh K.; Sharma, Usha, eds. (2004). Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Zoroastrianism. Mittal Publications. pp. 17–18. ISBN 9788170999621.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 206–7. ISBN 9780857719713.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Stausberg, Michael; Vevaina, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw, eds. (23 Mar 2015). The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism. John Wiley & Sons. p. 75. ISBN 9781118785508.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. S. Nigosian (24 Sep 1993). Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 10. ISBN 9780773564381.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Sharma, Suresh K.; Sharma, Usha, eds. (2004). Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Zoroastrianism. Mittal Publications. p. 14. ISBN 9788170999621.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. p. 204. ISBN 9780857719713.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 205–6. ISBN 9780857719713.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Kenneth Boa (1990). Cults, World Religions and the Occult (revised ed.). David C Cook. p. 48. ISBN 9780896938236.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 207–8. ISBN 9780857719713.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. p. 205. ISBN 9780857719713.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Stausberg, Michael, ed. (2004). Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (illustrated ed.). BRILL. pp. 479–80. ISBN 9789004131316.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. John R. Hinnells (28 Apr 2005). The Zoroastrian Diaspora: Religion and Migration (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 706. ISBN 9780198267591.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Stausberg, Michael, ed. (2004). Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (illustrated ed.). BRILL. pp. 50, 298–99. ISBN 9789004131316.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla (1914). Zoroastrian Theology: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day. p. 337.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. S. Nigosian (24 Sep 1993). Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 116. ISBN 9780773564381.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. S. Nigosian (24 Sep 1993). Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 23. ISBN 9780773564381.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Kenneth Boa (1990). Cults, World Religions and the Occult (revised ed.). David C Cook. p. 48. ISBN 9780896938236.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Stausberg, Michael, ed. (2004). Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 43. ISBN 9789004131316.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. S. Nigosian (24 Sep 1993). Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 116. ISBN 9780773564381.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Stausberg, Michael, ed. (2004). Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 471. ISBN 9789004131316.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. p. 208. ISBN 9780857719713.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Stausberg, Michael, ed. (2004). Zoroastrian Rituals in Context (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 51. ISBN 9789004131316.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 221–2. ISBN 9780857719713.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Leaman, Oliver, ed. (19 Oct 2006). Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy. Routledge. p. 608. ISBN 9781134691159.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Jenny Rose (2 Apr 2014). Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 210–11, 220. ISBN 9780857719713.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Ariane Sherine (9 December 2013). "Zoroastrianism needs to adapt its archaic laws – or die". Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 22 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. LAURIE GOODSTEIN (6 September 2006). "Zoroastrians Keep the Faith, and Keep Dwindling". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Tamim Ansary (2010). Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (illustrated, reprint ed.). PublicAffairs. p. 9. ISBN 9781586488130.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Muhammad Qasim Zaman (1997). Religion and Politics Under the Early ʻAbbāsids: The Emergence of the Proto-Sunnī Elite. BRILL. p. 62. ISBN 9789004106789.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Ghada Hashem Talhami (2013). Historical Dictionary of Women in the Middle East and North Africa. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 186, 372. ISBN 9780810868588.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Solomon Alexander Nigosian (1993). The Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research (reprint ed.). McGill-Queen's Press. p. 13. ISBN 9780773511446.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>