måndag 30 mars 2009

Alevism and Zoroastrianism

Dear Robert

All Indo-European religions have a common heritage and Zooastrianism is certainly an Indo-European religion with its origin among the Iranian tribes of central Asia (as is Yezedism). I believe today there is a split between those Zoroastrians who regard their religion as pantheistic (monistic) and those who regard Zarathushtra's message to be panentheistic (a soft dualism). The Gathas does not answer the question so this split is left open and much discussed which I find quite fruitful. What both convictions have in common is a disregard for the Abrahamic form of strong dualism.

However,there are apparently several forms of sufism and possibly other forms of Islam with a pantheistic theology which of course interest us as Zoroastrians. I would say that the sufism of Ibn Arabi och the Turkish branch of Alevism would most definitely be two of them. Would you regard a Zoroastrian influence on Alevism? Yezedis have long been counted as brethren among the Zoroastrians. The Yezedi community in Sweden, consisting mostly of Kurdish immigrants, is widely regarded as part of the Zoroastrian community here.



Dear Alexander,

I would not say that they are totally separate. There are some
similarities, maybe, if you allow me the comparison, like Yezidis and
Zoroastrians. However, Nusayri-Alawi are more 'Semitic' in their
heritage, while the Alevis have a strong Turko-Iranian, or
Irano-Turkic heritage. They do not share, for example, their saintly
figures. This is quite distinct, like are their rituals. The Anatolian
Alevis have a strong tradition of a collective worship service called
_cem_ (djam´). The Nusayri-Alawi do not have such a thing.

Nevertheless, some modern Alevis and Alawis do not know much, and do
not care much, about religious history (and theology etc by the way).
Turkish Alevis see the Alawis as their Arab counterpart, like you did.
Alawis in Turkey (not in Syria, of course), as I mentioned, mingle
sometimes with Turkish Alevis, especially in migration contexts when
they are far from their traditional structures, such as in Turkey's
larger cities and in Europe.

As for your question: I must admit, I cannot answer that; out of my
insufficient knowledge of Zoroastrian theology on the one hand, on the
other hand, because I, as a scientist, hesitate to find an essence of
'a' certain religious tradition. What would you define as
'Zoroatrianism' to compare to 'Islam'? Is Zoroatrianism pantheistic? I
francly do not know. (Alevism, by the way, is decidedly pantheistic,
at least in modern Alevi 'theology'.)

Concerning 'heritage' of structures, figures, rituals, the Yezidis to
my impression are the closest to Zoroastrianism as I know it (I work
mainly on religious practices, not on ideas). However, the Yezidis do
not consider themselves as Muslims (anymore), although they have
strong Islamic elements included in their practices, repertoire of
saintly figures, terminology etc.

Best wishes,

Robert Langer

Zitat von Alexander Bard :

> Dear Robert
> I must say this is a first-rate aha experience to me!!!
> I was always of the conviction that the Alevis and the Alawis were one and
> the same movement, albeit in different countries. But I believe you when you
> say they should be regarded as totally separate movements.
> And as for Islamic movements with close ties to Zoroastrianism, which one
> would be regarded the closest? Perhaps the Pantheistic version of Sufism
> presented by Ibn Arabi? Or are there other candidates?
> Ushta
> Alexander

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