The Zoroastrians are a group of people practicing a peculiar form of an ancient religion that comes from the city of Yazd in Iran. These people continue to provoke diverse reactions from others. However, when a circle of people practices a lifestyle that is different from the one that is popular within its surroundings, a struggle is inevitable. In essence, the main aim of Zoroastrians has been to impact the world with their religion. However, their uniqueness has made them strange, makingthem a subject of the news and international media platform discussions. There has been reports of alleged persecution of the circle by the Iranian government operatives and by other Muslim groups. By and large, this group is used as a benchmark, as it has undergone a lot of, hence, purported, ill-treatment. Zoroastrians are a group that successfully historically, socially, politically, economically and culturally survived in spite of the maltreatment.
Zoroastrians` Historical and Religious Success.
The Zoroastrians had a powerful impact on the spread of their religion. In essence, it is the oldest religious group in Iran. In fact, the latest population census of Iran accomplished in 2012 showed their quantity to reach 25,271(BBC, 2014). Before the Islamization of Iran in the ancient period, Zoroastrianism was the main religion in the area. However, when the Shiite Muslims occupied the area, Zoroastrian people had been forced to convert to Islam by power of persecution and violation of their rights (Stewart et al., 2013). Boyce (2015) notes that Zoroastrianism was the state religion in Iran between 600 BCE to 650 BCE. The religion had a leader, who was also its Supreme Being, named Prophet Zarathustra.
The religious teaching during this period replaced many Indo-Iranian gods, namely, Ahura, and only one wise god, known as Ahura Mazda. They acknowledge that the whole universe was created by Ahura Mazda and that the earth is supposed to evolve gradually to perfection. The earth operates according to the perfect law of Asha supported by righteousness introduced in Avesta, their holy book. They religiously considered no other form of sacrifice than by fire. Thus, Zoroastrians regard fire as the only symbol of truth. Moreover, the deity of their God, as they believed, was based on struggles,mainly on a struggle between truth and lies, light and darkness, life and death, depictingthe whole course of the human history. Consequently, duality is a main concept andhuman beings have the free will of choice only along the dual division.
In the later periods, Zoroastrians practiced their faith in isolation for the severe persecution by Islam adherents. Due to such adverse conditions, some of the Zoroastrians of Yazd immigrated to India, which was then under British rule. Consequently, the spread of the religion has since been under threat,in fact, in Iran, they are considered cultic and no relationships with them are allowed. Nevertheless, the members of the group have been relentless in spreading the religion, since, according to their beliefs, suffering comes at the expense of a godly purpose.
The economic impact of the Zoroastrians is evident in distinct parts of the world. It is crucial to note that spread of their religion was proportioned to the creation of luxury in their areas of settlement. In India, they acquired wealth and shared their fortunes with their brothers in Yazd. It substancially raised the conditions in their ancestral community in Yazd. At the start of the 20th century, they moved from rural areas and pursued the establishment in business, education, and industry (BBC, 2014). Representing a liberal yet a religious approach to life, their professionals and entrepreneurs were the first to introduce English and sports in schools, they were the first to set up a modernized vibrant business enterprise in Yazd, Iran (Boyce, 2015). In a region being of semi-desert climate, a food enterprise has come to be very successful. The Zoroastrian members have taken advantage of it to establish a modern agricultural system: they operated a modern irrigation and agriculture network system that have made them quite wealthy. Industrially, they had excelled in setting up plastic, aluminum and steel factories. What is more, the Zoroastrians have ventured in the automobile industry, although on a small scale.
Besides, they ventured into construction and real estate sector, initiating large scale construction projects. It saw a quick growth of state-of-the-art infrastructures for endowed hospitals and schools. They justify it as their Godly reward for being victimized in their own area and to the steadfastness in faith. Indeed, the Zoroastrians succeeded greatly in such important life aspects as government, business, industry, arts, and sciences within less than a century. They have expanded their networks through migrating to Tehran, where they accumulated as much wealth. Boyce (2015) notes that the Iranian constitution recognized them as a minority religion group and an ethnic group in December 1987. As a minority group, the Zoroastrians are allowed to elect a representative to the Majilis (Rivetna, 2005), which enables them not to feel marginalized as other minority communities: they are allowed to seek employment in government and enjoy civil liberties just as other citizens. However, they have experienced some certain cases of prejudice at individual levels.
All in all, the Zoroastrians have expanded the empire of ranges of businesses and investments that made them immensely wealthy. The various investments include agriculture, sport, and education among other lines. Having a rich culture has attracted tourists who have interests in studying their rich heritage. In fact, the Zoroastrian of Yazd has been the subject of international media such as CNN, BBC, and Alja zee rah among other news channels. The news item on CNN, for instance, broadcast the ongoing persecution of Zoroastrian religion in Iran by the Islamic republic government. They brought the oldest religion into global attention, increased the tourism and produced the documentaries and publications about the culture and religion. For example, Prof Mary Boyce visited Yazd to research their lifestyle and culture (Boyce, 2015). Any community that has a power of wealth in any economy in the world takes part in the politics of the region. The Zoroastrian people not only have depicted their authority in wealth creation, but also in education. Furthermore, most of their children have obtained professional training overseas, and having western training in this part of the Arab world is considered progressive, which resulted in making the community reasonably influential.
Ethical and Moral Success
Moreover, the Zoroastrians put much emphasis on the moral conduct and righteous behavior, as it comes directly from their doctrinal teachings. They state that man must be perfect in speech, thought and deed as Ahura is. They support that Asha is the immutable law that must enter everybody`s life, claim that a subset of their belief will be under judgment preceding life after death, and that it is the sum of one’s thoughts, deeds, speech among other aspects that will vindicate them before the divine thrones. In real life, to confirm the high moral regards they practice. Consequently, children and strangers are always advised that upon reaching a strange town they should locate a Zoroastrian’s home to spend the night. All in all, it confirms the trust their moral threshold have won from the general members of the society.
Culturally, their modern lifestyles are influenced a great deal by their ancient cultures and practices. For example, most of the Zoroastrians have access to modern medical facilities (BBC, 2014). The Iranian government requires that all students pursuing medical courses have an attachment in all the provinces as residents dispensing services. It means that all the people, including Zoroastrians, benefit from these services. However, the elderly insists on the use of herbal medicines. Among them, whatever the medical approach is used, modern scientific or herbal, they are accompanied by prayers. Political and religious persecutions have also shaped their culture in terms of their buildings: the adobe walls of the buildings show an ingrain of memories of the repression period that they underwent. Their architecture is reminiscent of asylums and protections behind the usual walls, all buildings are accessible through one door.
Yazd is located in isolated dry plateaus, surrounded by two deserts. Its deserted location has helped the city by shielding it from the distinct rebellions in Iran. The city remained unharmed, under the protection of the vast deserts that formed a safe haven for the Zoroastrians during the invasions. The majority of their cultural and religious practices still stays relatively undisturbed. By the way, Yazd is famous for its tall skyline building called badgris, such as tall towers are intended to catch slightest air movement and direct it to cool chambers beneath the ground. The towers also helped in seeing the enemy coming from afar.
In their essence, the Zoroastrians men are heavily built and strong in the figure. They have been well endowed with strength to wage war. In fact, they defeated most of their enemies (BBC, 2014). Unfortunately, within their surroundings, it would not help them much, as, in fact, there was strict regulation, ensuring peace and order: if a Zoroastrian fights with a Muslim and kills him by accident, the Zoroastrian would certainly be killed, whereas in a case like this involving a Muslim killing a Zoroastrian, the Muslim would just be given a small charge, often waived by the authorities. Analytically, their cultural surroundings and structure made them organized and able to hide in the face of attacks.
In spite of the numerous successes that the group has had, critics continue to argue that the Zoroastrians are people who have no place in history. They claim that the persecution they face has been detrimental to their stability, that Zoroastrian religion is cultic and finds no admiration from the rest of the world. Moreover, they say that that was the main reason that led to their migration from one place to another. Nevertheless, the crucial aim of the group has been to spread their religion. In essence, it involves their cultural and moral practices. Consequently, the group has been successful at it. They have exercised persistence in the face of challenges and their uniqueness has been a source of attraction. It is apparent that they are a group who distinctively achieves their objectives to a particular degree. They are not widespread, however, their impact is evident in every place they stay, in fact, it is their persecution that has been constructive in the spread of their religion.
All things considered, the Zoroastrian community has preserved reasonable culture heritage that identifies them. The religious intolerance experienced in this Middle Eastern country has made their life too hard, but has made them remarkably the resilient. Their entrepreneurial virtues have given them a power and the education that they give to their children has made them achieve much more than their Muslim brothers, as it has helped them to uphold social standards. While they face persecution in different parts of the world, their impact is inevitable. In spite of the ill treatment, Zoroastrians do historically, socially, politically, economically and culturally exist.