With all the recent violence and suffering in Iraqi Kurdistan, some Kurds have begun to question their Islamic faith, and instead have turned to their ancient roots for religious guidance.
Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion, was founded in the Kurdish region of Iran, nearly 3,500 years ago. Although it fell out of mainstream practice as Judaism, Christianity and Islam spread across the region, the Kurdish ethnicity has always retained cultural ties to the ancient religion.
Islamic Divisions Deter Iraqi Kurds
Recent sectarianism, or sect-based divisions, in Islam has discouraged many Kurds, who are said to take their Islamic faith lightly. “The people of Kurdistan no longer know which Islamic movement, which doctrine or which fatwa they should be believing in,” said Mariwan Naqshbandi, the spokesperson for Kurdistan Regional Government‘s Ministry of Religious Affairs. Zoroastrianism, on the other hand, believes that that the forces of good and evil are always at odds, and encourages people to explore pacifism, harmony and love.
Kurdish representatives and Zoroastrianism followers from Sulaymaniyah have approached KRG officials in recent months, asking that Zoroastrianism be recognized as an official religion of Kurdistan. The Kurdistan Regional Government, which practices religious tolerance, says that people are free to choose any religion they want to practice.
Founded by Zarathustra
Zoroastrianism predates Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and was founded by a Kurdish man named Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, who was born in the Kurdish region of Iran nearly 3,500 years ago. The religion’s ancient text, known as the Avesta, was written in an ancient language that would eventually lead to the Kurdish language.
Today, there are approximately 200,000 Zoroastrianism believers in the world — although this number may rise if the Kurds continue to pick up their ancient roots.[Read more at the Daily Beast]