Which Religion Was Afghanistan Before Islam?

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Which Religion Was Afghanistan Before Islam?

[cap­tion id=“attachment_80231” align=“aligncenter” width=“400”]Benediction_at_camp_Bastion Bene­dic­tion at Camp Bas­tion in Hel­mand Province, Afghanistan[/​caption]

by baldilocks

A friend asked if Afghanistan was Hindu and/​or Bud­dhist before it was Mus­lim. Well, ‘yes’ would be a safe answer, but two other faiths which were preva­lent in Afghanistan before Islam were Zoroas­tri­an­ism and Christianity.

From the BBC:

  • Zoroas­tri­ans believe there is one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and He cre­ated the world.
  • Zoroas­tri­ans are not fire-​worshippers, as some West­ern­ers wrongly believe. Zoroas­tri­ans believe that the ele­ments are pure and that fire rep­re­sents God’s light or wisdom.
  • Ahura Mazda revealed the truth through the Prophet, Zoroaster.
  • Zoroas­tri­ans tra­di­tion­ally pray sev­eral times a day.
  • Zoroas­tri­ans wor­ship com­mu­nally in a Fire Tem­ple orAgiary.
  • The Zoroas­trian book of Holy Scrip­tures is called The Avesta.
  • The Avesta can be roughly split into two main sections:
  • The Avesta is the old­est and core part of the scrip­tures, which con­tains the Gathas. The Gathas are sev­en­teen hymns thought to be com­posed by Zoroaster himself.
  • The Younger Avesta — com­men­taries to the older Aves­tan writ­ten in later years. It also con­tains myths, sto­ries and details of rit­ual observances.

Zoroas­tri­an­ism is one of the world’s old­est monothe­is­tic reli­gions. And for those won­der­ing how Chris­tian­ity reached the Indian peninsula…

From Wikipedia:

Leg­end based on the apoc­ryphal Gospel of Thomas and other ancient doc­u­ments sug­gests that Saint Thomas preached in Bac­tria, which is today north­ern Afghanistan.[14] An early third-​century Syr­iac work known as the Acts of Thomas[15] con­nects the apostle’s min­istry with two kings, one in the north and the other in the south. Accord­ing to the Acts, Thomas was at first reluc­tant to accept this mis­sion, but the Lord appeared to him in a night vision and com­pelled him to accom­pany an Indian mer­chant, Abbanes (or Hab­ban), to his native place in north­west India. There, Thomas found him­self in the ser­vice of the Indo-​Parthian (South­ern Afghanistan, Pak­istan, and North­ern India) King, Gon­do­phares. The Apostle’s min­istry resulted in many con­ver­sions through­out the king­dom, includ­ing the king and his brother.[15]

Bar­daisan, writ­ing in about 196, speaks of Chris­tians through­out Media, Parthia and Bac­tria[16] and, accord­ing to Ter­tul­lian (c.160230), there were already a num­ber of bish­oprics within the Per­sian Empire by 220.[17] By the time of the estab­lish­ment of the Sec­ond Per­sian Empire (AD 226), there were bish­ops of the Church of the East in north­west India, Afghanistan and Baluchis­tan, with lay­men and clergy alike engag­ing in mis­sion­ary activ­ity.[15]

See also: Nesto­rian Church, Church of the East, and Assyr­ian Church of the East. There is some con­fu­sion as to which church is which.

All of the Afghani faiths resisted con­ver­sion to Islam for cen­turies after the sev­enth cen­tury rise, with vary­ing degrees of suc­cess. (In the 15th cen­tury, the Church of the East was erad­i­cated in the area by Mus­lim Mon­gols; Bud­dhists held on until the 19th cen­tury.) But, even­tu­ally, Islam won the bat­tle. The war, of course, con­tin­ues.

Look­ing into these things resem­bled peel­ing back a huge onion. There­fore, I’m post­ing this to give myself pre­lim­i­nary mark­ers to inves­ti­gate as much as to answer my friend’s ques­tion. Feel free to offer cor­rec­tions and insights.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was pub­lished in 2012. Her sec­ond novel, ten­ta­tively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Fol­low her on Twit­ter.baldilocks

Please con­tribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB: HER TRIP TO KENYA! Her new novel, her blog, her Inter­net to keep the lat­ter going and COF­FEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Inde­pen­dent Journalism — -»»

Benediction_at_camp_Bastion
Benediction at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan

by baldilocks

A friend asked if Afghanistan was Hindu and/or Buddhist before it was Muslim. Well, ‘yes’ would be a safe answer, but two other faiths which were prevalent in Afghanistan before Islam were Zoroastrianism and Christianity.

From the BBC:

  • Zoroastrians believe there is one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and He created the world.
  • Zoroastrians are not fire-worshippers, as some Westerners wrongly believe. Zoroastrians believe that the elements are pure and that fire represents God’s light or wisdom.
  • Ahura Mazda revealed the truth through the Prophet, Zoroaster.
  • Zoroastrians traditionally pray several times a day.
  • Zoroastrians worship communally in a Fire Temple orAgiary.
  • The Zoroastrian book of Holy Scriptures is called The Avesta.
  • The Avesta can be roughly split into two main sections:
  • The Avesta is the oldest and core part of the scriptures, which contains the Gathas. The Gathas are seventeen hymns thought to be composed by Zoroaster himself.
  • The Younger Avesta – commentaries to the older Avestan written in later years. It also contains myths, stories and details of ritual observances.

Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. And for those wondering how Christianity reached the Indian peninsula…

From Wikipedia:

Legend based on the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and other ancient documents suggests that Saint Thomas preached in Bactria, which is today northern Afghanistan.[14] An early third-century Syriac work known as the Acts of Thomas[15] connects the apostle’s ministry with two kings, one in the north and the other in the south. According to the Acts, Thomas was at first reluctant to accept this mission, but the Lord appeared to him in a night vision and compelled him to accompany an Indian merchant, Abbanes (or Habban), to his native place in northwest India. There, Thomas found himself in the service of the Indo-Parthian (Southern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Northern India) King, Gondophares. The Apostle’s ministry resulted in many conversions throughout the kingdom, including the king and his brother.[15]

Bardaisan, writing in about 196, speaks of Christians throughout MediaParthia and Bactria[16] and, according to Tertullian (c.160–230), there were already a number of bishoprics within the Persian Empire by 220.[17] By the time of the establishment of the Second Persian Empire (AD 226), there were bishops of the Church of the East in northwest India, Afghanistan and Baluchistan, with laymen and clergy alike engaging in missionary activity.[15]

See also: Nestorian Church, Church of the East, and Assyrian Church of the East. There is some confusion as to which church is which.

All of the Afghani faiths resisted conversion to Islam for centuries after the seventh century rise, with varying degrees of success. (In the 15th century, the Church of the East was eradicated in the area by Muslim Mongols; Buddhists held on until the 19th century.) But, eventually, Islam won the battle. The war, of course, continues.

Looking into these things resembled peeling back a huge onion. Therefore, I’m posting this to give myself preliminary markers to investigate as much as to answer my friend’s question. Feel free to offer corrections and insights.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.baldilocks

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB: HER TRIP TO KENYA! Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>