Faravahar, key symbol in Yazdism and Aldegar
|Mobedan Mobed||Ali Reza Khosravi|
Yazdism (Aldegarian: , transl. Din-e Yazdi) is a religion native to Aldegar based on the teachings of the prophet Shapur. Founded in classical antiquity, it has been the dominant religion throughout five thousand years of Aldegarian history.
The early history of Yazdism is not fully understood from a historical perspective but it is believed to have developed from various belief systems that existed prior to the 8th century BCE in Central Seleya. The spread of the religion throughout the region and its adoption by most Aldegarian people occurred at the time of the Kemokian Empire where it was adopted by Kurosh Shah.
Since that early period, it has developed significantly and influenced other major world religions. Important aspects of Hosianism and Ahmadism including the existence of "one, true God" and the role of prophets in bringing his message, as well as the existence of an end time when all humanity will be judged, originated in Yazdism. Today there are two major denominations: Ahadism and Zamānism.
At the centre of Yazdism is the supreme creator being known as Yazdān who is believed to be the source of all good and light. As part of its deeply dualist belief system, Yazdān is perceived as representing all good things including truth, wisdom and beauty. Existing opposite Yazdān is Duzakh, the source of all evil and darkness in the world.
Different sects interpret the relationship between the two beings differently and this is the primary distinction between the larger Ahadism and the smaller Zamānism. Ahadists hold to a directly monotheistic belief system under which all things arise from the uncreated creator Yazdān including Duzakh. Zamānists adhere to a more dualist understanding of the relationship between the two beings in which each are equal and opposite forces borne from the same force.
The main concept in Yazdism is that everything originates from the Eternal Fire (Aldegarian: ātesh-e javedān, literally the Immortal Fire), which is considered to be the "soul" of the world. The different Yazdean sects and derived religions have differing interpretations on what the Eternal Fire actually is, and its relation to God and the world.
In Yazdism, the Creator Yazdān is all good, and no evil originates from Him. Thus, in Yazdism good and evil have distinct sources, with evil (dorugh) trying to destroy the creation of Yazdān (asha), and good trying to sustain it. Yazdān is not immanent in the world, and His creation is represented by the Fereshte (angels) through whom the works of God are evident to humanity, and through whom worship of Yazdān is ultimately directed. The most important text of the religion is the Daftar-e Asha, the Book of Truth, based on the revelations of Shapur.
There are two main sects in Yazdism, Monotheist Ahadism and Dualist Zamānism. The main difference between them is their interpretation of the Eternal Fire. Whereas Ahadism considers that the Fire is the creative essence of God, through which he created the world and remains immanent within it, Zamānism equates the Fire with Zamān (Time), who is considered the First Principle and the primordial deity. Thus, for Ahadism Yazdān is the uncreated Creator, the origin of all that is, even of the evil spirit Duzakh. In contrast, Zamānism considers Yazdān not the transcendental Creator, but one of two equal-but-opposite divinities born from the Eternal Fire, thus believing Yazdān and Duzakh to be twin brothers. Moreover, Zamānism believes that, since both divinities originate from the Eternal Fire, they both have creating powers, with Yazdān being the creator of the Light, thought to be good and pure, and Duzakh being the creator of Darkness, seen as corrupt and the source of all evil. The world is the result of the struggle and consequent mixing between Light and Darkness, with neither spirit nor matter being intrinsically good or evil, but containing elements of both. The name of the faith comes from the Aldegarian yazdā, meaning "worthy of worship").
Yazdeans believe that there is one universal and transcendent God, Yazdān. He is the Creator of the world, to whom all worship is ultimately directed. Yazdān's creation—evident as asha, truth and order—is the antithesis of chaos, which is evident as dorugh, falsehood and disorder. The resulting conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity, which has an active role to play in the conflict. At the end of the world Yazdān is believed to destroy Darkness, bringing about the triumph of the Light.
For Yazdism, the origin of all existence is the Eternal Fire. This is interpreted as the principle of existence and creation, which is either the creative essence of God, or the ultimate origin of everything, including God himself. Yazdism considers that the human soul is a spark of the Eternal Fire, to which it will return after death. Due to this, Yazdism considers fire as the most fundamental element, giving rise to the other elements and thus to all things. For this reasons, all major Yazdean practices are centred around fire, which is considered to symbolize the Eternal Fire.
In Yazdean tradition, the malevolent is represented by Duzakh, who actively tries to corrupt creation and turn it to dorugh (falsehood). Although he will eventually be destroyed at the end of the world, Duzakh is now the sovereign ruler of creation. Unlike Yazdān, Duzakh is not omniscient, and his omnipotence is equally limited. Yazdān is frequently described as "the one who was, is, and will be", while Duzakh is described as "the one who was, is, but will not be".
Angels and Demons
Both divinities are assisted by a host of Angels (Fereshte) and Demons (Div), through which they become immanent in creation, and through which they interact with humankind.
The different denomination of Yazdism have divergent views on the afterlife. Ahadism considers that all humans will face judgement immediately after death, and those that are deemed pure and righteous shall enjoy eternal life in Paradise (from pairi-daēza, literally "walled enclosure", later meaning "pleasure garden"), whereas sinners will be purified in the Eternal Fire for ten thousand years. At the end of the world, after Duzakh will have been destroyed, all humans will be granted access into Paradise. Zamānism, on the other hand, due to its belief that not all creation is good, considers that humans are formed of both Light and Darkness, with Light, being a part of God, experiencing a painful captivity in the material world. Thus humans are condemned to a never-ending cycle of death and rebirth; only by enlightenment can this cycle be broken, leading to the liberation of Light and its return to God.
The eschatology of Yazdism is only briefly alluded to in the Daftar-e Asha, being fully developed in popular Yazdism and the resulting religious texts. The Aldegarian term for the End Times is Frashagird, literally meaning "making wonderful, excellent".
In Ahadism, the Frashagird will consist of a great battle between the forces of good (the Fereshte) and those of evil (the Divs) in which the good will triumph. On Terra, the Mihr will bring about a resurrection of the dead in the bodies they had before they died, after which all humans will receive a final judgement as they will all have to pass through a river of molten metal. The righteous will suffer no harm, while the wicked will be painfully purified and restored to their perfection. Yazdan will then destroy Duzakh and his Divs, eliminating evil from creation, and will grant immortality upon the resurrected humans, who will become like the Fereshte, living forever without hunger, thirst, illness, or suffering. Their restored bodies shall be so light as to cast no shadow, and all of Terra shall be united within a single nation, with no conflict or injustice. The Frashagird will thus result in the restoration of the universe as it was at the time of creation.
In Zamānism there is little distinction between the individual eschatology (i.e. what happens after one's death) and that of the entire world. As most humans remain unredeemed and trapped in the cycle of death and rebirth, their fate shall be decided only at the end of the world. The Frashagird in Zamānism is seen as the end of the current "time of mixing", leading to the final separation of Light from Darkness. A major difference from Ahadi eschatology is that the apocalypse will not bring about the restoration of creation and its return to purity, but rather the destruction of the world. Mihr is also a central character in Zamāni eschatology, as he will arise during the Frashagird to lead the final battle between Light and Darkness. The battle will result in the final and full separation of the two cosmic principles, and the last redeemable parts of Light shall be freed from this world, returning to God. The world shall then be destroyed in a great fire, which will however torment the immortal sinners, Divs, and Duzakh, who will be punished forever. One significant aspect of Zamāni eschatology is that not all elements of Light will be freed from the world; the victory of Light is ultimately imperfect, as part of it, trapped in souls and imprisoned in the world, cannot be released because it has been irredeemably corrupted, thus it will be punished forever, together with the powers of darkness. Since the Light trapped in the world is a part of Yazdān, this has the implication that God Himself is and will remain imperfect. Thus, differently from Ahadi doctrine, the Frashagird is not a restoration of the primeval purity of creation. Evil will not be destroyed, but will be rendered powerless, and good must suffer a permanent loss in order to restore the original unity of Light.
Due to the Yazdean belief in the Eternal Fire, most Yazdean ceremonies take place around a Sacred Fire. The place of worship in Yazdism is a Fire Temple, and in every temple there is a permanent source of fire, which the Yazdean priests (mobedān) have the duty to maintain. The "pure" (white) ashes from the sacred fire is essential in all major Yazdean rituals, and is considered to be a purifying agent.
In Ahadi tradition, a corpse is a host for decay, i.e., of dorugh. Consequently, scripture enjoins the "safe" disposal of the dead in a manner such that a corpse does not pollute the "good" creation. These injunctions are the doctrinal basis of the traditional practice of "ritual exposure", most commonly identified with the "Towers of Silence" (Dakhmas), where the dead are left for scavenger birds. Zamānism, on the other hand, since it does not believe that all creation is intrinsically good, has no practice designed to avoid polluting creation, and does not use towers of silence.
Throughout its thousands of years old history, Yazdism has suffered numerous schisms and has given birth to several world religions. The most important sects and offshoot religions of Yazdism are Ahadism, Zamānism, Daenism and Pantheism.
The dominant form of Yazdism is the monotheistic Ahadism, which believes Yazdān to be the transcendental creator of the whole world. According to Ahadism, Yazdān is an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent divinity, who created the universe and sustains it through the Eternal Fire, which Ahadis believe to be the essence of God. Ahadism believes that the evil spirit Duzakh was created by God, and that Duzakh, desiring power equal to Yazdān, sought for the Eternal Fire in vain. Duzakh's desire for the Eternal Fire led to his rebellion against Yazdān. Due to its belief that the entire world was created by God, Ahadism strongly opposes asceticism, and believes that it is the duty of all mankind to fight against the evil spirit by leading moral and productive lives.
Ahadism also has a strictly hierarchical priestly class, ruled by the Mobedan Mobed (Priest of Priests), who is elected for life by the most high-ranking mobeds. In the past, Ahadism has been a major supporter of the Aldegarian monarchy, and its conception of a unequally structured society has made the sect most popular with the aristocracy.
Zamānism was born in the 1st century BCE as a reaction to the power of the Ahadi clergy and the inequalities existing at the time. The founder of Zamānism is considered to be Shahriar, an Aldegarian mobed who taught what he saw as a purified form of Yazdism, but which was considered by the clergy at the time to be heretical. Shahriar's teaching dealt with the origin of evil, by addressing a theoretical part of the problem of evil by denying the omnipotence of God and postulating two opposite powers: Light, or Good, and Darkness, or Evil, both born from the impersonal Time, seen as the equivalent of the Eternal Fire, which creates and destroys everything. Light is characterized by knowledge and feeling and acts by design and free will, whereas Darkness is ignorant and blind, and acts at random. A key belief in Zamānism is that the powerful, though not omnipotent good power (Yazdān) is opposed by the evil power (Duzakh). Humanity, the world and the soul are seen as the byproduct of the battle between God and Duzakh. The human person is seen as a battleground for these powers: the soul defines the person, but it is under the influence of both light and dark. This contention plays out over the world as well as the human body—neither matter nor the flesh are seen as intrinsically evil, but rather possess portions of both light and dark. The human soul is believed to be a result of elements of Light being trapped in the world of Darkness due to the cosmic battle between Yazdān and Duzakh; thus humanity is trapped in a never-ending cycle of reincarnation named hamjariān. Only by winning the battle on the side of Light can the individual human soul escape hamjarian and be reunited with Yazdān.
What distinguishes Zamānism from Ahadism in terms of practices is the reduction of the importance of religious formalities. A good Yazdean is not one who follows the ritual purity laws with precision, but one who understands and relates correctly to the principles of the universe. Zamānism emphasizes good conduct, which involves a moral and ascetic life, no killing and not eating flesh, being kind and friendly and living in peace with other people. Thus Zamānism rejects the strong position of mainstream Ahadi clergy, which are seen as oppressing the common people and causing poverty and suffering. Zamānism does however have its own organized clergy, as the religion is divided into the monastic "Elect", meaning those who have taken upon themselves the vows of Zamānism, and "Hearers", meaning those who did not, but still participate in the religion. Due to centuries of persecution, many Zamānis do not openly practice their religion, and some even participate in Ahadi religious life.
One major religion born out of Yazdism is Daenism, which originated as a philosophical school within Zamānism in the 1st century. Founded by Bahram Bidar during the Phraatid Empire, Daenism expands upon the Zamāni belief in Hamjariān (Samsara) and the belief that the cycle of reincarnation can be broken by achieving enlightenment. However, Daenists reject the existence of a creator god, as the goal of enlightenment is not the reunification of the individual human soul with Yazdān, but the achievement of Nejāt (Nirvana). Borrowing from the radical Zamāni dualism, Daenism considers this world to be entirely evil and full of pain and suffering, and that any human activity will eventually lead to suffering, even the most pleasurable ones; the only solution out of this is the elimination of attachment, aversion, and ignorance.
Agathism is a syncretic belief developed in the Middle Ages, combining Zamāni dualism with a Hosian theology. Agathism has its roots in the spread of Yazdean dualistic beliefs in Majatra during late antiquity, and it was a direct challenge to the power of the Holy Apostolic Hosian Church of Terra, until the religion was almost completely destroyed as a result of the Sadarian Crusade.
Another religion to be born from Yazdism is Hamekhodāism, also known as Pantheism, which was a major religion in the 25th century in Aldegar, but has since declined to obscurity. Central to Pantheism is the belief in the One, which is considered the same as the Eternal Fire. Those closer to the one are less material and more spiritual things. Farther from the one are more material things and less spiritual. Humanity is on the fringes of the One's rays, only above inanimate objects. Only their small soul is spiritual. Close to the one are beings that have transcended, what the followers of Pantheism believe are the gods of every religion. Therefore the Pantheists believe all religions are correct because the worship the One by proxy. They also believe that humanity can move closer to the divine by transcending either by deep meditation and philosophical contemplation or dying after living a moral life.
Rowshanism is a modern religion born out of Yazdism, founded on the belief that Mihryazd, a 38th century Aldegarian, is the Mihr, the messianic figure of Yazdism and Daenism. Rowshanism's defining characteristic is the call for social revolution. The arrival of the Mihr as Mihryazd, initially conceived in primarily apocalyptic terms, was then reinterpreted as the beginning of a new age, whereby justice will be restored, the coercion of the strong will be ended, and possessions will be shared equally amongst all people. Rowshanism also strongly prohibits the shedding of blood, whether human or animal, except for when raising the banner of revolt; thus Rowhsanis are strict vegetarians. Roshanis believe in free love and free sex, as long as all participants offer their consent, and the faith proclaims the freedom of enjoying all pleasures and satisfying one's inclinations, granted that this causes no harm to others. Rowshani ethic is often described as altruistic hedonism.
|History||Kemokian Empire • Varigosian Kingdom • Phraatid Dynasty • Mu-Tze Khanate • Rostamid Dynasty • Shahnazid Dynasty • War of Luthori Succession|
|Geography||Aldegar Canal • Seleya|
|Satrapies||Somasi • Hikirena • Amuro • Kemoku • Polran|
|Demographics||Ethnicities: Aldegarians • Mu-Tze • Bihezis • Kharajis • Dudmanis • Majatrans • Canrillaise|
Religions: Yazdism • Hosianism • Aldegarian Apostolic Church • Daenism • Rowshanism • Hamekhodaism
|Government & Politics||Monarch of Aldegar|
|Notable People & Families||Shapur • Kurosh Shah • Shahriar • Bahram Bidar • St. Aladdin • House of Savārāni • Ardeshīr Savārāni • Mihryazd• Abu Bakr Omar Ibrahim Morsi|
|Armed Forces||Armed Forces of Aldegar|