Founded by the prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran 3500 years ago, Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world. Followers believe in one God who is all-knowing and all-powerful, and they worship him above all else. This God is known as Ahura Mazda and although he's impossible for humans to understand, the faith provides a number of details about his nature.
Zoroastrianism teaches that God is the supreme power in the universe and is wholly good and pure. Ahura Mazda translates as "Wise Lord," reflecting the belief that he is all powerful. Zoroastrians believe that God is responsible for all good things that happen to people, and by worshiping him and studying the holy book, the Avesta, followers believe they can get closer to God. Zoroastrians also believe that they can know God through the elements, such as fire, which represents God's light and wisdom.
According to Zoroastrianism, God created everything in existence, and because God himself is pure, all of creation is similarly perfect and should be treated with respect. This means that God is part of the natural world, and human beings should avoid contaminating the environment or disrupting the natural order of things. Zoroastrians believe that holy spirits called Amesha Spentas helped God create the world. The six spirits -- Vohu Manah, Spenta Ameraiti, Khashathra Vairya, Asha Vahishta, Hauravatat and Ameretat -- all represent different aspects of creation. For example, Asha Vahishta represents truth and Hauravatat represents health and wholeness.
Zoroastrian morality comes from the belief that the evil Ahriman challenges the goodness of Ahura Mazda. God is wholly good and wants human beings to follow him, but when humans sin or fail to live up to God's expectations, they fall victim to Ahriman. Zoroastrians believe this tug-of-war between good and evil will culminate in a final battle in the end times. This battle will be for the salvation of humanity and is one that God will inevitably win, leaving the world free from evil.
The prophet Zoroaster handed down all knowledge of God in Zoroastrianism. Followers do not worship Zoroaster, but they believe that by studying his prophecy and following the moral tenets he outlined, they can follow a path of truth and righteousness. Zoroaster started out as a priest named Zarathustra, who criticized many Bronze Age religious practices, such as animal sacrifice. According to the faith, at the age of 30, Zoroaster had a divine vision of a shining spirit who taught the prophet about Ahura Mazda and the other divine spirits. Through his vision, the spirit explained the nature of God as a lawgiver and supreme authority. Following the encouragement of the spirit, Zoroaster then went out into the world and preached the word of the new religion.
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