RLG204H5 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Zaidiyyah, Sevener, Alevism

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2 Apr 2017
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17-4-2
Eve of Islam
Pgs. 17-29
-Islam said to have two major roots: One in central Arabia and others in the lands
surrounding it, from iran to greece to egypt and Ethiopia (Hellenistic Iranian world).
-Political face of the Hellenistic Iranian world had two major superpowers.
Two “superpowers”
-Much of land North and East of Arabia was divided between two large empires: the
Sassanians and the Byzantines
-Both ruled over other ethnic groups
Sassanians
-Iranian in language and culture
-Ruled over the Aramaic speaking people in Iraq
Byzantines
-Greek
-Ruled over the Aramaic speaking people in Syria and Coptic speakers in Egypt
-Sasanians and Byzantines were in frequent conflict with one another during prophet
Muhammad’s lifetime
Religion in Iran: Zoroastrianism
-Official religion of the Sassanians known as Zoroastrianism or Mazdaism
-Zoroastrianism taught a cosmic dualism of good and bad: Ahura Mazda (Ormazd) —>
“the wise lord”, Angra Mainyu —> “the evil spirit”
-Task of humans is to side with Ormazd and struggle for the good.
-Cosmic saviour will determine final victory of good and evil, then dead will be raised,
the wicked annihilated and the righteous will enjoy eternal happiness
-Avestra: The zoroastrian scripture
-Zoroastrian concepts contributed to Jewish, christian and islamic conceptions of
cosmic struggle between good and evil with angels, demons, and a dramatic end of
time.
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17-4-2
-State plays important and positive role in cosmic struggle (Shah, or king, symbolizes
ormazd —> prosperity and well-being of people depend on the shah).
-Over the four centuries following Muslim conquest, most Iranians became Muslim but a
small community of Zoroastrians continue in Iran and Mumbai.
Other Iranian Religions
Manicheism
-Founded by Mani who claimed to be a prophet and successor to Zarrathustra, Buddha,
Christ, whose true teachings he claimed to restore and complete.
-Taught cosmic struggle between good and evil —> evil trapped in human body can
only escape through celibacy and vegetarianism
-Mani’s movement continued for some ventures, spreading into central Asia, China, and
Roman empire
Mazdak
-Taught a peaceful way of life and sought fairer feel for the poor, including redistribution
of property.
-Mazdak’s movement symbolized social disruption
Byzantine Christianity
-Christianity began in Palestine in the first century as a Jewish sect
-Believed that Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead, taken up to heaven
but would return to establish the reign of God.
-Patriarch of Constantinople became head of the Byzantine church
-Three main divisions of Christianity: Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman catholicism,
Protestantism).
-Believed that God is three “persons” —> father, son and holy spirit.
-Jesus’ death and resurrection have opened the way for humans to be saved from the
power of sin and death and to receive eternal life (Islam rejects all of these beliefs).
Iconostasis: Partition that divides the church
-Domes in churches symbolize heaven
-At the top of the dome, looking down on the people, if the figure of Christ himself.
-Icons: pictures of Christ and his mother or saints, that are painted according to a
traditional format.
-The church and state were distinct but not separate and the Emperor played an
important role in the church thought he did not dictate its teachings —> this close
relationship between state and church was to continue under Islam.
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17-4-2
Monasticism was also an important aspect of church life: those who wished to devote
themselves fully to contemplation and prayer renounced a normal life to become ether
hermits or monks living in a community.
-Monasticism began in Egypt and was to be rejected by Islam
-The Byzantine church was culturally Greek
-Orthodox Christianity spread beyond the empire to Eastern Europe —> used their own
national language and provided an important element of the national identity.
Millets: Autonomous communities often governed by their patriarchs and bishops.
Other Forms of Christianity
Nestorians (Church of the East)
-Forced out of Byzantine but accepted by Sassanian rule.
-Prospered under Muslim rule and made significant contributions to Islamic civilizations
-Reduced to small minority after Mongol ruler converted to Islam and after the invasion
of Timur
-Recognized as Assyrians in modern day and are found in Iran, Iraq and other
immigrant populations throughout the World.
Monophysite churches
-Coptic church in Egypt which almost all the native population adhered to.
-Diminished under Muslim rule but still represents 10% of Egyptian population today.
-Coptic christianity (Ethiopia), Jacobite church (Syria)
-Suffered from the Crusades and activities of the Mongols and Timur
Maronites
-From Lebanese Mountains; eventually accepted Roman Catholicism.
-Play an important roles in Lebanese politics
Jews
-Some jews followed Jesus as Messiah while others looked back to Abraham as their
“Father” and Moses as their greatest prophet and teacher.
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