World Religion History Term Paper

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Zoroastrianism vs. Islamism

The author of this report has been asked to compare and contrast Zoroastrianism and Islamism using several different points of analysis. These points will include a general introduction of both religions, the similarities in how they worship, the interactions between the two based on both religion and national borders, the consequences of breaking laws in the two religions, whether they have a prophet or not, how the religions have changed over the years and general arguments, stories and cases of both religions and how they can be used to showcase the differences and similarities between the two. While there are some basic similarities between Zoroastrianism and Islamism, they are also quite different and they have not seen eye-to-eye all that much over the course of human history.

Summary of the Two Sects

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Term Paper on World Religion History Assignment

Zoroastrianism has actually been around for a long time. It has its roots with their initial patriarch Zoroaster and it emerged in the ancient Persian Empire. It actually represents the work of initial prophet Zoroaster taking the Iranian gods and condensing them into a simpler faith. Further, Zoroaster posited that there were two main and opposing forces in the universe, those being the Spenta Mainyu and the Angra Mainyu. Those two terms mean the progressive mentality and destructive mentality respectively. The religion is monotheistic and looks to a God known as Ahura Mazda. The name of the god means "illuminating wisdom." Zoroastrianism emerged as a full-fledged religion starting in the sixth century BCE and it ended up heavily influencing the behaviors and beliefs of Islamism, Christianity, Gnosticism and Judaism. While the aforementioned sixth century BCE is when the religion was projected to have started, the oldest recorded instance of Zoroastrianism is found in texts dating to roughly the fifth century BCE in what is now Iran. Zoroastrianism experienced some resistance but existed fairly unabated until Zoroastrianism adherents starting warring with Islamists in the 10th and 11th century and this eventually led to the Zoroastrianism falling to the Islamists at around that time and the latter has controlled much (but not all) of the region since then. Zoroastrianism has found refuge largely in India but exist in other places as well. Zoroastrianism holds that there is a Heaven and Hell, of sorts, but that people that end up going to Hell can redeem themselves and earn their way into Heaven. Those that commit more good deeds than bad can bypass the Zoroastrianism version of Hell and go straight to Heaven. They hold that Mazda's actions will all humans immortal and that there will be two judgments, one physical and one spiritual

Islam Summary & History

On the other hand, Islam is like Zoroastrianism in that it is monotheistic but the similarities beyond that are fairly coincidental. Islam is much more similar to Christianity than Zoroastrianism but there are similarities among all three. All three believe in one God and all three put at least some weight with good deeds in life. Both Islam and Christianity believe in the same basic God and both believe in Angels, resurrection and prophets. The details of those angels and prophets vary a bit, but the basic beliefs are quite similar. They believe that one of those prophets was Jesus and that the prophet Muhammad, who came about later, was another prophet in a post-Jesus world. Islam adherents believe that their way of thinking is the one and true way of looking at things supernatural and omnipotent. They exist all over the world including in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and even in the West like in Europe and the United States, although they are in the stark minority in the latter two regions of that list. There are divided into two main sects, those being the Sunni and Shiites. Sunnis are far more numerous as they make up anywhere from three fourths to nine tenths of the overall Muslim population. The main reason for the two factions is who could have and should have succeeded the prophet Muhammad upon his death. Sunnis wanted that the first four leaders post-Muhammad (the first two are mentioned below) were the rightful leaders whereas Shias believed that an elected ruler should succeed Muhammad. Their choice for that role was Ali ibn Abi Talib and they named him the first Imam even despite the Sunnis' choice of Abu Bakr, mentioned below

Even though Muhammad only lived to be about 22 years old and died in 632 CE…or nearly fourteen millennia ago. The fight over his successor started immediately thereafter and it has never stopped. Abu Bakr took over but only lived until 634 himself and then his successor, a man named Umar, was assassinated by the Persians (Persia is now Iran) in 644. The Muslims/Islamists of those fourteen millennia killed non-Muslims and each other as they tried to wrest control from non-Muslims or Muslims that they disagreed with. This sort of behavior has manifested both with nation states and dissidents/terrorists with ISIS/ISIL being an example of the latter. ISIS has laid waste to anyone that disagrees with their point-of-view and this includes other Muslims (Sharafi, 2005) 2.

Compare and Contrast

Holy Books & Scriptures

Islam adherents hold the Quran to be their holiest book while Zoroastrianism followers read the Avesta. The Avesta is the original verbiage offered by the Zoroastrianism founder Zarathustra. This may have changed over the years, but Zoroastrianism followers do not generally read or follow the Bible or the Quran because Zoroastrianism was founded and created before either of the other two, at least according to many. Some hold that the older parts of the Bible's Old Testament pre-date the Bible but there is not really a defined way of knowing for sure as documentation of history was so scant and biased in the BCE years. On the other hand, there is no doubt that Islam post-dates the advent of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism as it was an off-shoot created by Muhammad in the 600's CE. While it is generally accepted that the Zoroastrianism followers, at least in part, were doing their own thing religiously as its creation predates Jesus at the very last (if not Christianity in general), Islam obviously had a more defined choice to make when speaking of what other holy books (if any) to follow. Muslims hold that the Bible is indeed a revelation from God but many Muslims also assert that the Bible is not pure or completely accurate as compared to the Quran and the general tenets of the Muslim faith. That being said, they do hold that the books of the Torah (Moses), the Psalms and the Gospels are mostly if not entirely accurate and holy. When it comes to the Torah (the Old Testament of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy, basically), there are many mentions of that holy book in the Quran 1-2.

Women in Zoroastrianism

When it comes to how women are treated in the Zoroastrianism and Islamism faiths, there are some major differences. Zoroastrianism holds men and women in equal status, more or less. Children are to honor their mother and father as equals. There were six immortal beings created by Mazda and half of them were women. However, there are indeed some differences and limitations for women in some instances. For example, Zoroastrianism priests in India are not allowed to be women but they can hold other roles of slightly lesser import 1.

Women in Islam

When it comes to Islam, there is a lot of variance but a lot of the treatment is less than positive. To look at the Quran directly, men are the "maintainers" of women. Women are to be "obedient" to their spouses. If a Muslim woman engages in sex with a man other than her actual spouse, this is deemed to be a religious crime. Sometimes, this even holds true if the woman is raped by someone else, despite the lack of consent and the obvious crime that has been committed. Some hold that the Quran condones or even encourages domestic violence but many others say that this is inconsistent with modern Muslim thought and belief. Muslim women can divorce men but only in certain instances, not unlike the Christian Bible. Dressing women in "modest" clothes is a requirement of Islam, although the definition of modest tends to vary 2.

Conflicts between Islam & Zoroastrianism

Regarding the religious and border-based conflicts between Zoroastrianism and Islamism, there have been many. Indeed, the Zoroastrianism follows seemed to be doing quite well for themselves for a time but then the Muslims rose up and started persecuting Zoroastrianism followers. Hardline Muslims deemed Zoroastrianism to be against Islam and thus they were to be punished and enslaved. However, some Zoroastrianism followers would punish and impugn other Zoroastrianism followers. The Arab Invasion ended the Zoroastrianism experience as it was once known and there has never been a correction or regression of any major amount since then

Law Breaking & Sin in Zoroastrianism

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How to Cite "World Religion History" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

World Religion History.  (2014, December 1).  Retrieved January 15, 2021, from

MLA Format

"World Religion History."  1 December 2014.  Web.  15 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"World Religion History."  December 1, 2014.  Accessed January 15, 2021.