torsdag 1 september 2011

Islam vs Zoroastrianism - a philosophical exercise (and where to put Spinoza in this mix)

Dear Parviz

There are many Sufi philosophers (are there are many great Sufi philosophers) who have tried to interpret Islam in an affirmative manner but this is where they ultimately fail.
What makes Zoroastrianism (Mazdayasna) distinctly different from Islam is the concept of asha-vahishta, the concept of an AFFIRMATIVE attitude towards fate FOLLOWING acceptance. It doesn't stop at understanding and accepting asha, it is not asha-ism.
Mazdayasna is not acceptance towards asha (they way Islam can be interpreted), it is never surrendering and even less so OBEDIENCE (the proper English translation of Islam) but rather DIALOGUE and CO-CREATION. So Mazdayasna is acceptance FOLLOWED BY AFFIRMATION. The same goes for Spinoza and Nietzsche: The acceptance is NOT an END IN ITSELF (rather this "slave morality" is what Nietzsche hated the most) but just a STARTING POINT for then moving into a state of AFFIRMATION of life and existence, to CREATE SOMETHING out of the raw material that is accepted fate. Islam stays with the raw material, it does not ENDORSE and make an ethical substance of what HUMANS CREATE THEMSELVES. No wonder it is a religion where human creation is a waste and God is supposed to do all creation.
Remember that Zarathushtra doesn't stop at creative thoughts, he MOVES ON to creative words to then COMPLETES THE CYCLE with creative deeds. All three levels conducted by humans are ourselves since we are the MANIFESTATIONS of Ahura Mazda when we do the right thing.


2011/8/31 Parviz Varjavand

Dear friends,

Please be a little into deep thinking when answering this question of mine.
Islam means Taslim or surrender, surrender to the flow, the flow of that which is the greatest.
Forget all you know about Islam, think about what it could be.
Can Islam not mean Amor Fati to the new Moslem intellectuals?

Against Islam stands Kofr. Kofr means to deny or to cover.
Against Asha stands Droj.
(Remember Dino describing Asha in the forest, how all is Asha when you reach out.)
I venture that a case can be made for Islam being the same as Amor Fati and Asha and Kofr beeing Droj and Dev.
Remember, close-minded Zoroastrianism can be ugly too, and we chose not to be for it and went abstract and went past it.
I think open-minded Islam can be a beautiful thing, (Please no long winded cries of pain in response, just go abstract and bypass all that) what says you?


--- On Wed, 8/10/11, Alexander Bard wrote:

From: Alexander Bard
Subject: [Ushta] Spinoza and Zoroastrianism
Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 1:06 PM

Dear Sharooz

Thank you for a wonderful contribution on Spinoza.
However, I disagree on the interpretation of Spinoza's concept of will, I believe your interpretation is too deterministic. I find Spinoza's attitude to will similar to if not identical with Zarathushtra's. God's perfection according to Spinoza is only a phenomenon in hindsight (as it is with Hegel too), but never beforehand. In this, Zarathushtra is similar too, as is Nietzsche woith the concept of "amor fati" (the obligation to love fate).


2011/8/10 SHAHROOZ ASH

[Attachment(s) from SHAHROOZ ASH included below]

Shahrooz Ash

Spinoza was Jewish and came from a Spanish family, he eventually moved to Holland. He claimed, God had a physical body. And for this reason the Jewish community did not want to be associated with him, they did not want people to think that this was the view of the Jews, because this view was considered to be heresy. Spinoza's universe is very cold and impersonal, his system has one idea in its meta-physics, "God is the only thing that exists". According to Spinoza, God is perfect and the only thing that exists, apart from God there is nothing. We are all a part of God, and the world is a part of God, the world is physical and that's why God is physical. Everything is God.

We do not exist permanently, we die and turn into something else. Mind and Consciousness loses its nature, but, it does not disappear, our mind is part of God and our consciousness is part of God. The world and nature is a part of God, if this is the case, then, does this mean God is just nature? God is just thinking of nature, it's the conception of nature. But it’s even more than that, God is a substance, it is something that can exist independently. Hence God is the only existence.

God also has an Essence, and his essence has Attributes, God has an infinite number of attributes. Out of all the infinite attributes we only know of two.

1. Thought
2. Extension > (leads to)> Space.

God has no purpose, he is not making things more perfect or better for us. This is because God is already perfect. So, what is Thought, and, is Thought nature? And since we don't know the rest of the attributes, then we can never know it. It is beyond anything we can ever know. We exist among the attributes of Thought, Mind and Extension, which is body.

So you and I don't exist permanently, we pass away. We are modifications of the attributes. We are like waves in the ocean, and God is the ocean, God creates the waves and not us. Water will always be there in the ocean, that's God. But waves are gone, while the water is still there. God causes everything that happens in the world. Spinoza does not believe in free-will he is a Determinist, God does everything. This means no one is ever praise or blame worthy, Evil ultimately does not exist. He also likes Occasionalism, one of Descartes students came up with it, his name was Malbranche. Causes are not a cause, they are an occasion of the effect, God creates both of them.

Spinoza likes occasionalism and determinism. This is because of the Islamist theology which was around during his time in the Middle Ages in Spain and Holland. Why did Spinoza like this as a person? God is impersonal, and God does not care about us. It’s all good to God whatever that happens, but, how about us. There is another connection, this can be traced to the middle ages of Judaism and Islam. It is Mysticism, there is a mystical side to Spinoza, an Islamic parallel.

The Mutazilites (an Islamic school of thought) believed in free will and justice of God. But, by the Middle Ages we get the Ashrites (which is another Islamic school of thought), they opposed the existence of free will. They believed in the power of God and God’s free will. God does what he pleases, and if God leads a person stray then you just have had it. So, if God decides to mess you up, you have had it. The Ashrites believed, if God is to be Omnipotent (All Powerful), then God must be permitted to do anything. If God is to be all powerful, then this means God cannot be all good, because, this will limit God. Man cannot be free, because, our freedom will reduces God's freedom and power, and this would mean God will no longer be all powerful and free. It is selfish to look at things that affect us, to Spinoza we are nothing.

1. Free-will

a: Matazilites > freewill > justice of God

b: Ashrites > no freewill > power and freedom of God.

2. Occasionalism

a: Al-Ghazzali

3. Mysticism

a: Sufism > compare to God we are nothing > they want to obtain "Extinction" of self.

Sufism of the time had many similar beliefs; one such common belief amongst most of these different Islamic sects is this, a person should try and reach the state which enables one to get absorbed by God, so one becomes extinct. God is so overwhelming, we are nothing. According to Spinoza, you and I, do not exist apart from God. Spinoza was like Hallaj in Sufism. Hallaj said, "Extinction of Self". Spinoza wants to lose the sense of himself, and achieves extiction so that he can get absorbed by God. He has no separate freewill and his will becomes God's will.

God is free because of his nature, God could not do anything different. But, the fact that God could not do anything different becomes a problem, because, does this mean God is limited? Why do things exist? Why are things the way they are? And why is God the way he is? Spinoza's answer is, you would know this if you saw God. All the Mysticism was a big deal in the Medieval times, Islamic and in some cases even Jewish mysticism, (things like the Cabbala).

To Spinoza God is perfect, and individuals such as Hitler and Jesus are each a part of God, this means there is no difference between the two in terms of ethics. The interesting thing here is, despite the view that there is no difference between Hitler and Jesus in terms of ethics, Spinoza actually develops a system of ethics. How he explains this no one knows. However, the system of ethics which he developed is constructed like Geometry, he does Philosophy like Geometry which is what Aristotle would have expected. If we claim God's causes makes things happen, and his causes came from the past and the past makes things happen, then the future is determined by his causes of the past. Because of this we are not in control of the future events.

Human freedom will reduce and restrict God's power and he will no longer be all powerful. This idea is strange and foreign in Zarathushtrianism, one of the most important concepts introduced by Zarathushtra is free-will and choice by individuals. In Zarathushtrianism human free-will does not limit the power of God, in fact it increase god's power. So in terms of free-will Zarathushtra and Spinoza are not similar.


Since God has no purpose and all causes are Gods, then evil does not exist. Hitler and Jesus are a part of God and there is no difference between the two. God is not making things perfect and better, because he is already perfect. So, for a perfect God there cannot be any imperfection in terms of values, there is no wrong for a perfect being. God is already perfect, so it has no purpose. Thus, God has no ethical value per-say in terms of right and wrong. God does not have a will and does not act for a good, or an end, but for his nature. With the issue of there not being any difference between Hitler and Jesus in terms of ethics, Zarathushtra would disagree. In this respect the two are a world apart and not similar at all.

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