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Savills also offers tailored programmes for Property and Project Management graduates. View our Careers page. Search for property for sale or lease. The alleged descent from the Sassanid house counterbalanced the Arab nationalism of the Umayyads, and the Iranian national association with a Zoroastrian past was disarmed. Thus, according to scholar Mary Boyce, "it was no longer the Zoroastrians alone who stood for patriotism and loyalty to the past.

With Iranian especially Persian support, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in , and in the subsequent caliphate government—that nominally lasted until —Muslim Iranians received marked favor in the new government, both in Iran and at the capital in Baghdad. This mitigated the antagonism between Arabs and Iranians, but sharpened the distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The Abbasids zealously persecuted heretics , and although this was directed mainly at Muslim sectarians , it also created a harsher climate for non-Muslims.

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Despite economic and social incentives to convert, Zoroastrianism remained strong in some regions, particularly in those furthest away from the Caliphate capital at Baghdad. In Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan , resistance to Islam required the 9th-century Arab commander Qutaiba to convert his province four times. The first three times the citizens reverted to their old religion.

Finally, the governor made their religion "difficult for them in every way", turned the local fire temple into a mosque, and encouraged the local population to attend Friday prayers by paying each attendee two dirhams. The 9th century came to define the great number of Zoroastrian texts that were composed or re-written during the 8th to 10th centuries excluding copying and lesser amendments, which continue for some time thereafter. All of these works are in the Middle Persian dialect of that period free of Arabic words , and written in the difficult Pahlavi script hence the adoption of the term "Pahlavi" as the name of the variant of the language, and of the genre, of those Zoroastrian books.

If read aloud, these books would still have been intelligible to the laity. Many of these texts are responses to the tribulations of the time, and all of them include exhortations to stand fast in their religious beliefs. Some, such as the " Denkard ", are doctrinal defenses of the religion, while others are explanations of theological aspects such as the Bundahishn 's or practical aspects e. About sixty such works are known to have existed, of which some are known only from references to them in other works. In Khorasan in the northeastern Iran, a 10th-century Iranian nobleman brought together four Zoroastrian priests to transcribe a Sassanid-era Middle Persian work titled Book of the Lord Khwaday Namag from Pahlavi script into Arabic script.

This transcription, which remained in Middle Persian prose an Arabic version, by al-Muqaffa , also exists , was completed in and subsequently became the basis for Firdausi 's Book of Kings. It became enormously popular among both Zoroastrians and Muslims, and also served to propagate the Sassanid justification for overthrowing the Arsacids i.

Among migrations were those to cities in or on the margins of the great salt deserts, in particular to Yazd and Kerman , which remain centers of Iranian Zoroastrianism to this day.

Yazd became the seat of the Iranian high priests during Mongol Il-Khanate rule, when the "best hope for survival [for a non-Muslim] was to be inconspicuous. The descendants of that group are today known as the Parsis —"as the Gujaratis , from long tradition, called anyone from Iran" [54] —who today represent the larger of the two groups of Zoroastrians. The struggle between Zoroastrianism and Islam declined in the 10th and 11th centuries.

Local Iranian dynasties, "all vigorously Muslim," [54] had emerged as largely independent vassals of the Caliphs. In the 16th century, in one of the early letters between Iranian Zoroastrians and their co-religionists in India, the priests of Yazd lamented that "no period [in human history], not even that of Alexander , had been more grievous or troublesome for the faithful than 'this millennium of the demon of Wrath '.

Zoroastrianism has survived into the modern period, particularly in India, where it has been present since about the 9th century. Today Zoroastrianism can be divided in three different sects or dominions: Traditionalists or isolationists are almost solely Parsis and accept, beside the Gathas and Avesta, also the Middle Persian works called 'Nasks of the Sassanians'.

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They generally do not allow conversion to the faith. Therefore, for someone to be a Zoroastrian, they must be born of Zoroastrian parents. Some traditionalists recognize the children of mixed marriages as Zoroastrians. From the 19th century onward, the Parsis gained a reputation for their education and widespread influence in all aspects of society.

They played an instrumental role in the economic development of the region over many decades; several of the best-known business conglomerates of India are run by Parsi-Zoroastrians, including Tata , Godrej , Wadia families, and others. Though the Armenians share a rich history affiliated with Zoroastrianism that eventually declined with the advent of Christianity , reports indicate that there were Zoroastrian Armenians in Armenia until the s.

A comparatively minor population persisted in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Persia, and an expatriate community has formed in the United States some from India , and to a lesser extent in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Many of these are titled restorationists, progressives or "reformists". Progressives generally accept the Yashts and the Visperad texts of the Avesta as obligatory, along with the Gathas. Restorationists refer only to the compositions of Zoroaster, and thus only consider the Gathas , the other texts only having value as far as they elaborate on some Gathic point and do not contradict the Gathic teaching.

At the request of the government of Tajikistan , UNESCO declared a year to celebrate the "th anniversary of Zoroastrian culture", with special events throughout the world. In the Tehran Mobeds Anjuman announced that for the first time in the history of Iran and of the Zoroastrian communities worldwide, women had been ordained in Iran and North America as mobedyars, meaning women mobeds Zoroastrian priests. Some scholars believe [63] that key concepts of Zoroastrian eschatology and demonology influenced the Abrahamic religions. The religion of Zoroastrianism is closest to Vedic religion.

Some historians believe that Zoroastrianism, along with similar philosophical revolutions in South Asia were interconnected strings of reformation against a common Indo-Aryan thread. Many traits of Zoroastrianism can be traced back to the culture and beliefs of the prehistorical Indo-Iranian period, that is, to the time before the migrations that led to the Indo-Aryans and Iranics becoming distinct peoples.

Zoroastrianism consequently shares elements with the historical Vedic religion that also has its origins in that era. They are descended from a common Proto-Indo-Iranian religion. Vedic religious texts are replete with people from far flung countries practising or leaving Aryan teachings.


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Zoroastrianism is often compared with Manichaeism. Nominally an Iranian religion, it has its origins in Middle-Eastern Gnosticism. Superficially such a comparison seems apt, as both are dualistic and Manichaeism adopted many of the Yazatas for its own pantheon. Gherardo Gnoli, in The Encyclopaedia of Religion , [70] says that "we can assert that Manichaeism has its roots in the Iranian religious tradition and that its relationship to Mazdaism, or Zoroastrianism, is more or less like that of Christianity to Judaism".

They are however quite different. Zoroastrianism, on the other hand, rejects every form of asceticism, has no dualism of matter and spirit only of good and evil , and sees the spiritual world as not very different from the natural one the word "paradise", or pairi. Manichaeism's basic doctrine was that the world and all corporeal bodies were constructed from the substance of Satan, an idea that is fundamentally at odds with the Zoroastrian notion of a world that was created by God and that is all good, and any corruption of it is an effect of the bad.

From what may be inferred from many Manichean texts and a few Zoroastrian sources [ citation needed ] , the adherents of the two religions or at least their respective priesthoods despised each other intensely. Many aspects of Zoroastrianism are present in the culture and mythologies of the peoples of the Greater Iran , not least because Zoroastrianism was a dominant influence on the people of the cultural continent for a thousand years. The Avesta is the religious book of Zoroastrians that contains a collection of sacred texts.


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The history of the Avesta is found in many Pahlavi texts. According to tradition, Ahura Mazda created the twenty-one nasks which Zoroaster brought to Vishtaspa. Here, two copies were created, one which was put in the house of archives, and the other put in the Imperial treasury. During Alexander's conquest of Persia, the Avesta was burned, and the scientific sections that the Greeks could use were dispersed among themselves. During the Sassanid Empire , Ardeshir ordered Tansar, his high priest , to finish the work that King Valax had started. Shapur I sent priests to locate the scientific text portions of the Avesta that were in the possession of the Greeks.

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The compilation of these ancient texts was successfully established underneath the Mazdean priesthood and the Sassanian emperors. Only a fraction of the texts survive today. The later manuscripts all date from this millennium, the latest being from , years after the fall of the Sassanian Empire.

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The texts that remain today are the Gathas , Yasna , Visperad and the Vendidad. Along with these texts is the communal household prayer book called the Khordeh Avesta , which contains the Yashts and the Siroza. The rest of the materials from the Avesta are called "Avestan fragments".

Middle Persian and Pahlavi works created in the 9th and 10th century contain many religious Zoroastrian books, as most of the writers and copyists were part of the Zoroastrian clergy. All Middle Persian texts written on Zoroastrianism during this time period are considered secondary works on the religion, and not scripture. Nonetheless, these texts have a strong influence on the religion.

Zoroastrianism was founded by Zoroaster or Zarathustra , later deemed a prophet, in ancient Iran. The precise date of the founding of Zoroastrianism is uncertain.