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lundi, 04 septembre 2017

The Geopolitics of Jason Jorjani

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The Geopolitics of Jason Jorjani

Jason Reza Jorjani
World State of Emergency [2]
London: Arktos Media, 2017

Dr. Yen Lo: ”You must try, Comrade Zilkov, to cultivate a sense of humor. There’s nothing like a good laugh now and then to lighten the burdens of the day. [To Raymond] Tell me, Raymond, do you remember murdering Mavole and Lembeck?”[1] [3]

If Dr. Jason Jorjani were an inanimate object, he would be an exploding cigar; or perhaps one of those cartoon guns with a barrel that twists around [4] and delivers a blast to the man behind the trigger.[2] [5] Jorjani, however, is neither a gun nor a cigar, but an author, and with his new book he delivers another kind of unexpected explosion of conventional — albeit alt-Right — expectations. Anyone possessed with the least amount of intellectual curiosity — and courage — needs to read this book; although you should keep well away from windows and beloved china, as you will likely want to hurl it away from time to time.

After the twin hammer blows of first, publishing Prometheus and Atlas (London: Arktos, 2016), and then almost immediately taking on the job of Editor-in-Chief at Arktos itself, Jorjani has symmetrically one-upped himself by almost simultaneously resigning from Arktos and unleashing a second book, World State of Emergency, the title of which represents, he tells us almost right at the start, his “concept for a state of emergency of global scope that also demands the establishment of a world state.”[3] [6]

It’s no surprise that there hasn’t been much change here, but a glance at his resignation statement — helpfully posted at his blog[4] [7] — shows that he has set his sights on new targets, and changed his focus from how we got here to where we — might? must? — be going.

In my view, the seismic political shift that we are shepherding, and the Iranian cultural revolution that underlies it, represents the best chance for the most constructive first step toward the Indo-European World Order that I conceptualize in my new book, World State of Emergency.

Another change is that unlike his previous book, where the length and variety made it a bit difficult to keep the thread of the argument before one’s mind, this work is relatively straightforward. In fact, he provides an admirably clear synopsis right at the start, and by Ahura Mazda he sticks to it.

Over the course of the next several decades, within the lifespan of a single generation, certain convergent advancements in technology will reveal something profound about human existence. Biotechnology, robotics, virtual reality, and the need to mine our Moon for energy past peak oil production, will converge in mutually reinforcing ways that shatter the fundamental framework of our societies.

It is not a question of incremental change. The technological apocalypse that we are entering is a Singularity that will bring about a qualitative transformation in our way of being. Modern socio-political systems such as universal human rights and liberal democracy are woefully inadequate for dealing with the challenges posed by these developments. The technological apocalypse represents a world state of emergency, which is my concept for a state of emergency of global scope that also demands the establishment of a world state.

An analysis of the internal incoherence of both universal human rights and liberal democracy, especially in light of the societal and geopolitical implications of these technologies, reveals that they are not proper political concepts for grounding this world state. Rather, the planetary emergency calls for worldwide socio-political unification on the basis of a deeply rooted tradition with maximal evolutionary potential. This living heritage that is to form the ethos or constitutional order of the world state is the Aryan or Indo-European tradition shared by the majority of Earth’s great nations — from Europe and the Americas, to Eurasia, Greater Iran, Hindu India, and the Buddhist East.

In reviewing Jorjani’s previous book [8], Prometheus and Atlas, I said that it could serve as a one-volume survey of the entire history of Western thought, thus obviating the need to waste time and money in one of the collegiate brainwashing institutes; I also said that “the sheer accumulation of detail on subjects like parapsychology left me with the feeling of having been hit about the head with a CD set of the archives of Coast to Coast AM.”

The new book changes its focus to technology and its geopolitical implications, but a bit of the same problem remains, on a smaller scale and, as I said, the overall structure of the argument is clear. In the first chapter, Jorjani lands us in media res: the Third World War. Unlike the last two, most people don’t even realize it’s happening, because this is a true world war, a “clash of civilizations” as Samuel Huntington has famously dubbed it.

The dominance of Western values after the Second World War was a function of the West’s overwhelming military and industrial power; the ease which that power gave to the West’s imposition of its values misled it into thinking those values were, after all, simply “universal.” With the decline of that power, challenges have emerged, principally from the Chinese and Muslim sectors.

Jorjani easily shows that the basis of the Western system — the UN and its supposed Charter of Universal Human Rights — is unable to face these challenges; it is not only inconsistent but ultimately a suicide pact: a supposed unlimited right to freedom of religion allows any other right (freedom from slavery, say, or from male oppression) to be checkmated.

Chapter Two looks at the neocon/neoliberals’ prescription for an improved world order, the universalizing of “liberal democracy.” Here again, Jorjani easily reveals this to be another self-defeating notion: liberalism and democracy are separate concepts, which history shows can readily be set to war with each other, and Moslem demographics alone predicts that universal democracy would bring about the end of liberalism (as it has wherever the neocon wars have brought “democracy”).[5] [9]

For a more accurate and useful analysis, Jorjani then pivots from these neo nostrums to the truly conservative wisdom of the alt-Right’s political guru, Carl Schmitt.

Schmitt’s concept of the state is rooted in Heraclitus: the state emerges (note the word!) not from the armchair speculations of political philosophers on supposed abstract “rights,” but from

Decisive action required by a concrete existential situation, namely the existence of a real enemy that poses a genuine threat to one’s way of life.

Thus, there cannot be a “universal” state: the state must be grounded in the ethos or way of life of a particular people, from which it emerges; and it does so in the state of emergency, when the people confronts an existential Enemy. Unless . . .

Humanity as a whole were threatened by a non-human, presumably extraterrestrial, enemy so alien that in respect to it “we” recognized that we do share a common way of life that we must collectively defense against “them.”[6] [10]

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There it is — bang! Just as Jorjani found a passage in Heidegger’s seminar transcripts that he could connect to the world of the paranormal,[7] [11] he grabs hold of this almost off-hand qualification and runs for daylight with it.

We have in interplanetary conflict a threat to Earth as a whole, which according to the logic of Schmitt’s own argument ought to justify a world sovereign. This is even more true if we substitute his technological catalyst[8] [12] with the specter of convergent advancements in technology tending towards a technological singularity, innovations that do not represent merely incremental or quantitative change but qualitatively call into question the human form of life as we know it. This singularity would then have to be conceived of, in political terms, as a world state of emergency, in two senses: a state of emergency of global scope, and a world state whose constitutional order emerges from out of the sovereign decisions made therein.

After this typically Jorjanian move, we are back to the land of Prometheus and Atlas, where each chapter is a mini-seminar; Chapters Three, Four and Five are devoted to documenting this “technological singularity” that “calls into question the human form of life as we know it.”

Take biotechnology:

What is likely to emerge in an environment where neo-eugenic biotechnology is legalized but not subsidized or mandates is the transformation of accidental economic class distinctions, which is possible for enterprising individuals to transcend, into a case system based on real genetic inequality.[9] [13]

Next up, robotics, artificial intelligence, drones, and most sinister of all, virtual reality:

In some ways, the potential threat to the human form of life from Virtual Reality is both more amorphous and more profound than that posed by any other emergent technology. It could become the most addictive drug in history. The enveloping of the “real world” into the spider-web of Cyberspace could also utterly destroy privacy and personal identity, and promote a social degenerative sense of derealization.

None of this matters, however, if we cannot maintain the “development of industrial civilization” after “the imminent decline in petroleum past the global peak in oil production.” This can only be addressed by the third technological development, “a return to the Moon for the sake of Helium-3 fueled fusion power.” This will “challenge us to rethink fundamental concepts such as nationalism and international law.” Who, on the Moon, is to be sovereign?

Having softened up the reader with this barrage of terrifying facts, Jorjani is ready to spring his next trap. The task of regulating biotechnology and guiding us to the moon requires a world state; Schmitt has shown us that a state can emerge only from the ethos of a particular people.

However,

We have also seen that a bureaucratic world state will not suffice. Certain developments in robotics mean the end of personal privacy [and] as we live ever more of our lives in cyberspace, identity theft is coming to have a much more literal meaning. All in all, the convergent technological advancements that we have looked at require a maximal trust society simply for the sake of human survival. We need a world society with total interpersonal transparency, bound together by entirely sincere good will.

And yet, even if we could create such a society, perhaps by biotechnology itself, we don’t have the time: we have at most a generation to act. Is there “an already existing ethos, a living tradition that is inter-civilizational[10] [14] and global in scope,” as well as promoting high levels of mutual trust?

That would be, of course, “the common Aryan heritage of the Indo-European civilizations.”

It’s as if Jorjani took Carl Schmitt and Kevin MacDonald[11] [15] and through some kind of genetic engineering produced a hybrid offspring: the World State.

Reeling but still upright, the Alt-Right reader at least still has this to hang onto: “good old Aryan culture!” Lulled into complacency, he doesn’t even see the next punch coming:

Iran or Iran-Shahr — literally the “Aryan Imperium” — is the quintessentially Indo-European Civilization.

Iran is not just one great civilization among a handful of others, it is that crossroads of the world that affords all of humanity the possibility for a dialogue toward the end of a new world order.

A renaissance of Greater Iran . . . will be the spearhead of the war for an Indo-European World Order.

Once the Iranian or Aryan Renaissance triumphs domestically, the Persians and Kurds in the vanguard of the battle against the nascent global Caliphate — with its fifth-column in the ghettos of the major European cities — will reconstitute Greater Iran as a citadel of Indo-European ideals at the heart of what is now the so-called “Islamic world” . . . this is going to happen.

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At this point, the alt-Right reader throws up his hands and shouts “No mas! I didn’t sign up for this crusade!”

Now might be the point to bring up the general question: in what sense — if any – is Jorjani an Alt-Right writer? There is that resignation business, and what’s with all this Iranian Renaissance stuff?[12] [16]

Well, you say “Aryan,” he says “Iran.” The point is that the Aryan Imperium is explicitly White, and fulfills Greg Johnson’s principle of setting up a white hegemony where all public issues are discussed in term of “what’s good for the White race,” rather than other hot button issues like school choice, abortion, etc. Under Jorjani’s postulated “world emergency” the new Aryan overlords would be viewed as both necessary and, therefore, literally unquestionable.[13] [17]

In a way, the Aryan Imperium is even too white, hence the alt-Rightist’s discomfort. Jorjani delights in taking “conservative” ideas and taking them to their logical endpoint. Enumerating the accomplishments of the Indo-Iranians, he lists “major . . . religious traditions such as . . . Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.” As in his previous book, Jorjani goes beyond the fashionable anti-Jihadism of the Right and locates the root of the problem in the Semitic tradition as such.

This is probably not what most alt-Rightists signed on for. But then, it is they who are among “those self-styled ‘identitarians’ who want to hold on to Traditional Christianity and hole up in one of many segregated ethno-states.” Not to worry; they will “perish together with the other untermenschen” in the coming world state of emergency, which will be the “concrete historical context for the fulfillment” of Zarathustra’s prophecy of a “new species,” the Superman.

So, I guess we have that to look forward to, at least.[14] [18]

As you can see, the anti-Christian animus can claim a pedigree back to that alt-right darling, Nietzsche, although it may not be something one is supposed to mention in public. That brings us to another sense in which Jorjani is an alt-Right thinker: he draws on, and orients himself by, the alt-Right canon: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Schmitt, de Benoist, Faye, Dugin, etc.

But again, as always . . .

“I’ve tried to clear my way with logic and superior intellect. And you’ve thrown my own words right back in my face, Brandon. You were right, too. If nothing else, a man should stand by his words. But you’ve given my words a meaning that I never dreamed of! And you’ve tried to twist them into a cold, logical excuse for your [Aryan Imperium].”[15] [19]

Calm down, people! Always with a little humor, comrades, to lighten the day’s geopolitical work.

While there is a cottage industry of goodthinkers trying to find evidence — well, more evidence — of how Heidegger’s allegiance to National Socialism “twisted” his thought, Jorjani found connections with parapsychology and even the occult; it’s a toss-up which association Heidegger epigones found more infuriating.

Now, Jorjani uptilts Heidegger’s colleague and fellow party-member Carl Schmitt; did Schmitt argue that the world-state of liberal globalist dreams was logically and existentially impossible? Sure, except this place here where he grants that one would be possible and necessary — if aliens invaded.[16] [20]

As for your White Imperium, sure, we’ll have that . . . run out of Tehran![17] [21]

The alt-Right is full of titanic thinkers of the past — Heidegger, Spengler, Yockey, Benoist — and their modern epigones (fully their equals, at least in their own minds), but Jorjani is the thinker we need now: more than just a lover of wisdom, he’s a wise guy.[18] [22]

That’s how Wolfi Landstreicher describes Max Stirner, and we might compare our situation to the Left Hegelians and Die Freien who populated the Berlin beerhalls and Weinstube — the blogs of the day — in the wake of Hegel. Among them were such “serious” thinkers as Karl Marx — and we know how that turned out — and Bruno Bauer, who invented the Christ Myth theory.

But there was also an individual — a Unique One — born Caspar Schmidt, calling himself — his online handle, if you will — “Max Stirner.”

As I wrote in my review [23] of Landstreicher’s new translation of The Unique One and Its Property, Stirner was driving people nuts right from the start.

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Marx famously claimed to have found Hegel standing on his head, and to have set him right-side up; in other words, he re-inverted Hegel’s already inverted idealist dialectic and made material reality the basis of ideas.

Stirner, by contrast, picked Hegel up and held him over his head, spun him around, and then pile-drove him into the mat; a philosophical Hulk Hogan.

Stirner’s magnum opus is a kind of parody of Hegelianism, in which he spends most of his time using the famous dialectic to torment Hegel’s epigones, first Feuerbach and then, at much greater length, the Whole Sick Crew of (mid-19th century Euro-)socialism.

Have you philosophers really no clue that you have been beaten with your own weapons? Only one clue. What can your common-sense reply when I dissolve dialectically what you have merely posited dialectically? You have showed me with what kind of ‘volubility’ one can turn everything to nothing and nothing to everything, black into white and white into black. What do you have against me, when I return to you your pure art?[19] [24]

Of course, unless you’re Howard Roark claiming “no tradition stands behind me,” everyone has their sources; the more creative among us are the ones who transform them, and no one’s alchemical sleight of hand is as dramatic as Jorjani’s.[20] [25] As the great Neoplatonist John Deck wrote:

Clearly, there can be no a priori demonstration that any philosophic writer is more than a syncretist: but if it is good to keep our eyes open to spot “sources,” it is even better to bear in mind that a philosopher is one who sees things, and to be ready to appreciate it when sources are handled uniquely and, in fact, transmuted.[21] [26]

As always, the Devil — or Ahriman — is in the details.[22] [27]

In reviewing his previous book, I took Jorjani to task for assuming that a particular view of Islam, the fundamentalist, was ipso facto the “true” or “original” version of the religion.

Why privilege the fundamentalist, or literalist, view? It is as if Jorjani thinks that because religion determines culture (true) it does so in a way that would allow you to read off a culture simply from a study its sacred books, especially the ethical parts.[23] [28]

But the latter is neither the same as nor a valid inference from the former. A religion does not “imply” a culture, like a logical inference. Both the Borgia’s Florence and Calvin’s Geneva are recognizably “Christian” and totally unlike any Islamic society, but also almost totally unlike each other.

By this method, one could readily predict the non-existence of lesbian rabbis, which, in fact, seem to be everywhere.

The temptation, of course, is to dismiss those outliers are “not really Islam,” in preference to one’s own, whether one is a Wahabi oneself or an observer like Jorjani insisting Wahbism is “real” Islam; but to call the moderate Islam that made Beirut “the Islamic Riviera” heretical ironically puts Jorjani and other anti-jihadis in the same boat as an Obama, who hectors terrorists about “betraying Islam” and lectures us that “Islam is a religion of peace.”[24] [29]

And yet Jorjani himself upbraids Huntington for advising Westerners to “take pride in the uniqueness of western culture, reaffirming, preserving and protecting our values from internal decay,” which he derides as “the kind of conservatism that imagines “western values” to be static.”

In the book under review here, Jorjani doubles down: Islam is still based on a book actually written by this chap Mohammed, and a reading thereof shows it to be “impervious to reform or progressive evolution.”

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But to this he now adds a similar concept of Zoroastrianism, but of course given a positive spin:

A handful of ideas or ideals integral to the structure of Iranian Civilization could serve as constitutional principles for an Indo-European world order: the reverence for Wisdom; industrious innovation; ecological cultivation, desirable dominion; chivalry and tolerance.

Jorjani writes in his two, last, geopolitical chapters as if there were a discernable set of “principles” written down or carved in stone as defining Zoroastrianism, and that these principles were adhered to, unquestionably, down through Persian history, accounting for its salient features. In reality, like all religions, Zoroastrianism was in favor and out of favor, adhered to strictly and given mere lip service, and always subject to reinterpretation and syncretism with outside sources.

After flourishing early on among the Achaemenid Persians (600s to 300s BC), Zoroastrianism was suppressed under the Parthian regime (200s BC to 200s AD), only to reemerge under the Sassanid dynasty for a few final centuries before the Arab conquest imposed Islam.

Zaehner distinguished three distinct periods in the history of pre-Islamic Zoroastrianism: “primitive Zoroastrianism,” that is, the prophet’s own message and his reformed, monotheistic creed; “Catholic Zoroastrianism,” appearing already in the Yasna Haptaŋhaiti and more clearly in the Younger Avesta, which saw other divinities readmitted in the cult, a religious trend attested in the Achaemenid period, probably already under Darius I and Xerxes I, certainly from Artaxerxes I onwards as shown by the calendar reform that he dates to about 441 BCE and finally the dualist orthodoxy of Sasanian times.[25] [30]

At times Jorjani recognizes this interplay of text, interpretation, and historical necessity, at least with Christianity:

The so-called “Germanization of Christianity” would be more accurately described as an Alanization of Christianity, since Alans formed the clerical elite of Europe as this took shape.[26] [31]

Or here:

One particularly colorful practice which reveals the love of Truth in Achaemenid society is that, according to Herodotus, the Persians would never enter into debates and discussions of serious matters unless they were drunk on wine. The decisions arrived at would later be reviewed in sobriety before being executed. . . . It seems that they believed the wine would embolden them to drop all false pretenses and get to the heart of the matter.

Indeed, and rather like the Japanese salarymen as well.[27] [32] But it comports poorly with Zoroaster’s insistence on sobriety and temperance; indeed, according to Zaehner, the whole point of Zoroaster’s reforms was the recognition that the drunken, orgiastic rites of the primitive Aryans (involving the entheogen haoma, the Hindu soma) were inappropriate for peasants in a harsh mountainous terrain.[28] [33]

I have spent this time — shall we say, deconstructing — Jorjani’s account of Zoroastrian culture because it is the envelope in which he presents us with his Indo-European principles, and is therefore important; but this must not be taken to mean I object to the principles themselves. They are fine ones, but if we choose to make them the principles for our Indo-European Imperium, it will be because we do so choose them our own, not because they instantiate some hypothetical, synchronic version of Zoroastrianism which we have already persuaded ourselves must govern our choices.[29] [34]

Such great, world-creating choices require the guidance of great minds, and not just those of the past. The Great Thinkers of the past are not only Titans but dinosaurs; and racing around them is a wily newcomer, Jason Jorjani — a prophet, like Nietzsche or Lawrence, who imagines new forms of life rather than reiterating the old ones[30] [35] — to whom the archeo-future belongs.

Notes

[1] [36] The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer, 1962)

[2] [37] Surprisingly, this myth is confirmed: MythBusters Episode 214: Bullet Baloney [38] (February 22, 2014).

[3] [39] Big scope and small scope, as we used to make the distinction back in the analytic philosophy seminars. Down the hall in the English Department corridor, Joyce Carol Oates was typing away at her novel of madness in Grosse Pointe, Expensive People: “I was a child murderer. I don’t mean child-murderer, though that’s an idea. I mean child murderer, that is, a murderer who happens to be a child, or a child who happens to be a murderer. You can take your choice. When Aristotle notes that man is a rational animal one strains forward, cupping his ear, to hear which of those words is emphasized — rational animal, rational animal? Which am I? Child murderer, child murderer? . . . You would be surprised, normal as you are, to learn how many years, how many months, and how many awful minutes it has taken me just to type that first line, which you read in less than a second: I was a child murderer.” (Vanguard Press, 1968; Modern Library, 2006).

[4] [40] “My Resignation from the alt-Right,” August 15th, 2017, here [41].

[5] [42] It’s happening here as well; a commenter at Unz.com observes that [43] “That’s the thing about representative democracy with universal, birthright citizenship suffrage. You don’t need to invade to change it, just come over illegally and have children. They’ll vote their homeland and culture here.”

[6] [44] Jorjnan’s paraphrase of Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political, p. 54: “Humanity as such cannot wage war because it has no enemy, at least on this planet.

[7] [45] In Prometheus and Atlas, Jorjani discusses an imaginal exercise conducted by Heidegger himself in his Zollikon Seminars, in which participants are asked to “make present” the Zurich central train station. Heidegger insists that “such ‘making present’ directs them towards the train station itself, not towards a picture or representation of it,” his conclusion being that ‘We are, in a real sense, at the train station.” (Quoting from Zollikon Seminars: Protocols, Conversations, Letters [Northwestern, 2001], p. 70). See my review [8] for a discussion of the implications of the Japanese saying, “A man is whatever room he is in.”

[8] [46] In a late work, Theory of the Partisan, Schmitt already begins to suggest that the development of what we would now call “weapons of mass destruction” may already constitute such a planetary threat.

[9] [47] Perhaps only evaded by “a small but highly motivated and potentially wealthy anarchical elite of Transhumanists who want to push the boundaries ad infinitum.”

[10] [48] I think Jorjani reverses “civilization” and “culture” (i.e., ethos) as defined by “Quintillian” here [49] recently: “The left cunningly advances its false narrative by deliberately contributing to the confusion between two terms: culture and civilization. Simply put, a civilization is an overarching (continental) commonality of shared genetics, religious beliefs, and political, artistic, and linguistic characteristics. A civilization is generally racially identifiable: African civilization, Asian civilization, and white European civilization. A civilization can have any number of constituent cultures. The culture of the Danes and that of the Poles are very different in superficial details, but they are both immediately identifiable as belonging to the same Western civilization. Africans are similarly divided among a variety of culture and ethnicities.” But “As I [Jorjani] understand it, a civilization is a super-culture that demonstrates both an internal differentiation and an organic unity of multiple cultures around an ethno-linguistic core.” Both would agree, however, that “the Indo-Europeans originated nearly all of the exact sciences and the technological innovations based on them, the rich artistic and literary traditions of Europe, Persia and India, as well as major philosophical schools of thought and religious traditions.” (Jorjani)

[11] [50] See, for example, the discussion of trust in White societies in Greg Johnson’s interview with Kevin MacDonald, here [51].

[12] [52] Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

[13] [53] A typically subtle point: by requiring a high-trust population, Jorjani implicitly excludes Jews and other Semites. A low-trust people themselves, the Jewish plan for World Order is to encourage strife within and between societies, until the sort of managerial or administrative state Jorjani rejects is installed to maintain order, under the wise leadership of the secular rabbis.

[14] [54] “So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.” Bill Murray, Caddyshack (Landis, 1980).

[15] [55] Rupert Cadell, upbraiding the crap-Nietzscheanism of his former pupils in Rope (Hitchcock, 1948). Cadell, of course, actually refers to “your ugly murder” which, the viewer knows, sets off the action of the film.

[16] [56] A not uncommon trope in science fiction, from The Day the Earth Stood Still to Childhood’s End to Independence Day; as well as a particularly desperate kind of Keynesian economic punditry: in a 2011 CNN interview video Paul Krugman proposed Space Aliens as the solution to the economic slump (see the whole clip here [57] for the full flavor).

[17] [58] I am reminded of the moment when Ahab reveals his hidden weapon against the Great White Whale: “Fedallah is the harpooner on Ahab’s boat. He is of Indian Zoroastrian (“Parsi”) descent. He is described as having lived in China. At the time when the Pequod sets sail, Fedallah is hidden on board, and he later emerges with Ahab’s boat’s crew. Fedallah is referred to in the text as Ahab’s “Dark Shadow.” Ishmael calls him a “fire worshipper,” and the crew speculates that he is a devil in man’s disguise. He is the source of a variety of prophecies regarding Ahab and his hunt for Moby Dick.” (Wikipedia [59]) For more on Moby Dick and devils, see my review of Prometheus and Atlas.

[18] [60] “You know, we always called each other goodfellas. Like you said to, uh, somebody, “You’re gonna like this guy. He’s all right. He’s a good fella. He’s one of us.” You understand? We were goodfellas. Wiseguys.” Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990). Who but Jorjani would define “arya” as “‘crafty,’ and only derivatively ‘noble’ for this reason.” But then is that not precisely the Aryan culture-hero Odysseus?

[19] [61] Max Stirner,The Philosophical Reactionaries: The Modern Sophists by Kuno Fischer,reprinted in Newman, Saul (ed.), Max Stirner (Critical Explorations in Contemporary Political Thought), (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), p. 99.

[20] [62] Given Jorjani’s love of Heraclitus, one thinks of Water Pater’s description, in Marius the Epicurean, of the Roman philosopher Aristippus of Cyrene, in whom Heraclitus’ “abstract doctrine, originally somewhat acrid, had fallen upon a rich and genial nature well fitted to transform it into a theory of practice of considerable simulative power toward a fair Life.”

[21] [63] John N. Deck, Nature, Contemplation, and the One: A Study in the Philosophy of Plotinus (University of Toronto Press, 1969; Toronto Heritage series, 2017 [Kindle iOS version].

[22] [64] Including such WTF moments as Jorjani off-handedly defines “Continental Philosophy” as “largely a French reception of Heidegger.”

[23] [65] Ethical treatises, such as Leviticus, as best seen as reactions to the perceived contamination of foreign elements, rather than practical guides to conduct; Zaehner dismisses the Zoroastrian Vendidad as a list of “impossible punishments for ludicrous crimes. . . . If it had ever been put into practice, [it] would have tried the patience of even the most credulous.” R. C. Zaehner, The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism, London, 1961, pp. 27, 171.

[24] [66] As one critic riposted, “Who made Obama the Pope of Islam?” Indeed, the Roman Catholic model may be the (mis-)leading model here; Islam, like Judaism, lacks any authoritative “magisterium” (from the Greek meaning “to choose”) to issue dogma and hunt down heretics. Individual imams have only their own personal charisma and scholarly chops to assert themselves, just as individual synagogues hire and fire their own rabbis, like plumbers. On Jorjani’s model, lesbian rabbis should be as scarce as unicorns, rather than being a fashionable adornment of progressive congregations.

[25] [67] Encyclopedia Iranica Online, here [68]. Quoting Zaehner, op. cit., pp. 97–153.

[26] [69] Compare, on your alt-Right bookshelf, James C. Russell: The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

[27] [70] What, by the way, happened to Japan, which in Jorjani’s first book was specially favored by its non-Abrahamic traditions and catastrophic encounter with atomic energy to lead the way into the new future?

[28] [71] Zaehner, op. cit., p. 81. In fact, Herodotus never mentions Zoroaster at all, suggesting how obscure and un-influential the cult was at that time. Rather than the modern idea of “in vino veritas,” the “wine” here, as in the symposiums of Greece, may have been “mixed wine” containing entheogenic substances. “Visionary plants are found at the heart of all Hellenistic-era religions, including Jewish and Christian, as well as in all ‘mixed wine’, and are phenomenologically described in the Bible and related writings and art.” (Michael Hoffman, “The Entheogen Theory of Religion and Ego Death,” in Salvia Divinorum, 2006.)

[29] [72] Whether it’s Cyrus or Constantine, periods of Imperium are ipso facto periods of syncretism not orthodoxy. Surely this is more in accord with the author’s notion, here and elsewhere, of truth emerging from a Heraclitean struggle?

[30] [73] “[Henry] James evidently felt confident that he could make his last fictions not as a moralist but as a prophet; or a moralist in the sense in which Nietzsche and Lawrence were prophets: imagining new forms of life rather than reinforcing old ones.” Denis Donoghue, “Introduction” to The Golden Bowl (Everyman’s Library, 1992).

jeudi, 02 février 2017

Fête de Sadeh

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Fête de Sadeh

Grandes festivités universelles du feu

Babak Ershadi

Ex: http://www.teheran.ir 

Sadeh (qui veut dire littéralement "centaine" en persan) est la fête de l’apparition du feu, une centaine de jours après la fin de l’été ou une centaine de jours avant le début du printemps, selon la légende. La fête de Sadeh est une fête aussi ancienne que Norouz ou Mehregân. Elle était la plus grande fête du feu de l’antiquité iranienne et également l’une des plus grandes solennités des Perses. A ce titre, elle était célébrée avec magnificence et par des cérémonies publiques. Lorsqu’arrivait le soir de la fête, au dixième jour du mois de Bahman (onzième mois du calendrier persan), sur toute l’étendue du vaste territoire de la Perse antique, la population en liesse célébrait la fête en allumant des feux sur les collines et sur les toits. Les gens se rassemblaient autour des feux et priaient ensemble pour le retour de la saison chaude. Venait ensuite le moment des spectacles, des jeux et des chants d’allégresse autour des feux.

L’histoire de la fête de Sadeh remonte à la plus haute Antiquité. Dès l’origine, Sadeh fut une festivité populaire puisant ses sources dans l’observation par l’homme des changements cycliques des conditions climatiques pendant une année, durée conventionnelle voisine de celle d’une révolution complète de la Terre autour du Soleil. Initialement, la fête de Sadeh n’avait donc aucune origine ethnique ou religieuse : elle était une festivité populaire appartenant à tout le monde, animée du souffle d’un sentiment "cosmique" dans le sens philosophique du terme : sentiment d’appartenir à l’univers considéré comme un système bien ordonné. La fête de Sadeh était célébrée en des temps immémoriaux, et ses sources remontent à une époque si ancienne qu’elle s’est effacée de la mémoire collective. Cette ancienneté est, en réalité, la raison principale de l’hétérogénéité des récits et des légendes que relatent les documents anciens sur les origines de Sadeh, documents qui ne manquent pas d’ailleurs de se contredire parfois concernant la date de l’apparition de la fête de Sadeh.

Dans la mythologie iranienne, la légende attribue l’instauration de la fête de Sadeh au roi Houchang. Dans son "Livre des rois", le poète épique iranien Ferdowsî dépeint la scène de la découverte du feu par l’homme : un jour, le roi Houchang et son cortège suivaient leur chemin au pied de la montagne. Le roi vit un grand serpent noir sur un rocher. Il descendit de cheval, prit une petite pierre et la lança vers le serpent qui avait effrayé les chevaux. La pierre ne toucha pas le serpent, mais le caillou qu’avait lancé le roi Houchang était une pierre à feu, et heurta brusquement une autre pierre à fusil sur le rocher. Le contact brusque des deux petits morceaux de pierre fit jaillir des étincelles. Le serpent prit la fuite, mais les étincelles qui jaillissaient de la pierre mirent le feu à un petit arbrisseau. Le roi Houchang se prosterna devant Dieu et le remercia pour lui avoir appris comment faire du feu. Le dixième jour du mois de Bahman, nous dit Ferdowsî, est devenu ainsi la fête du feu, car l’homme est le seul être qui fasse du feu, ce qui lui a donné l’empire du monde.

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Abû Raihân al-Bîrûnî (973-1048), savant, philosophe, voyageur et historien, a relaté dans Les signes restants des siècles passés (الآثار الباقیة عن القرون الخالیة) et son Comprendre la science de l’astronomie (التفهیم لصناعة التنجیم), que est le roi Fereydoun qui a donné l’ordre, pour la première fois, d’allumer des feux sur les toits. Dans son ouvrage consacré à l’astronomie, Omar Khayyâm (1048-1131) a écrit : "Fereydoun instaura la fête de Sadeh le jour où il vainquit Zahak. Le peuple émancipé de l’oppression de Zahak célébra la fête. Dès lors, les Iraniens et les habitants des pays voisins célèbrent chaque année cette fête pour commémorer les bons rois des époques lointaines."

Les Perses célébraient la fête de Sadeh, une centaine de jours après le début de la saison froide. Ils croyaient que cent jours après le début de la saison froide, l’hiver commençait peu à peu à s’affaiblir. Pour eux, l’hiver était un symbole de stagnation et de chaos, œuvres du diable (Ahriman). Les gens se réunissaient donc dans la plaine, à l’extérieur de leurs villes et villages, pour faire un grand feu au crépuscule. Selon les Perses anciens, le feu était un rayon de la lumière divine et luttait contre le froid. La tradition de faire un grand feu pour la fête de Sadeh s’est institutionnalisée, pour la première fois, à l’époque de la dynastie des Sassanides.

Dans le calendrier ancien des Perses, la fête de Sadeh était célébrée cent jours après le début de la saison froide, et quarante jours après le début de l’hiver. Selon les croyances populaires qui puisent leurs racines dans les légendes mythologiques, au quarantième jour de l’hiver, la terre qui s’est endormie depuis le début de la saison froide, reprend souffle et arrive enfin à respirer. La fête a été appelée "Sadeh" (qui veut dire littéralement "centaine" en persan) car cinquante jours et cinquante nuits après cette fête, commence le printemps.

Selon certains autres récits sur l’origine de la fête de Sadeh, la fête a été appelée ainsi car, dans l’ancien calendrier des Perses, il n’y avait que deux saisons : un été de 210 jours et un hiver de 150 jours. La fête de Sadeh comptait d’une part le centième jour de l’hiver, elle arrivait une centaine de jours avant que ne poussent les céréales, vers le mois de mai (Ordibehesht).

En 226 de notre ère, un grand seigneur perse, Ardeshîr Ier, se rebella contre les Parthes, les battit à la bataille d’Ormuz (en 224 ap. J.-C.) et fonda une nouvelle dynastie perse, les Sassanides. Il fit du zoroastrisme la religion officielle de la Perse. Selon Abu Reyhan al-Birûnî, c’est Ardeshîr Ier qui fit de la fête de Sadeh une fête solennelle. Dans son ouvrage, il relate que cette fête était appelée "Sadeh" (centaine), car le jour de la fête se situait, dans le calendrier ancien, cinquante jours et cinquante nuits avant le début du printemps. Selon des légendes plus anciennes, la fête de Sadeh était le jour où le nombre des enfants du roi Kiyoumars (premier homme et père de la race humaine dans la mythologie perse) était arrivé à cent, et ce jour-là, ils choisirent l’un d’entre eux comme roi.

Le chercheur contemporain, Mehrdâd Bahâr présente une autre théorie pour expliquer l’étymologie du mot "Sadeh" : Selon lui, dans le persan ancien, le mot "Sadeh" voulait dire "apparition", et il était célébré quarante jours après la fête de Yaldâ, la nuit qui précède le premier jour de l’hiver dans l’hémisphère nord, considéré comme jour anniversaire de la naissance du Soleil. Mehrdâd Bahâr écrit : "La fête de Sadeh était célébrée quarante jours après le début de l’hiver. Le même jour, il existait une autre fête avec une origine différente : une fête du feu puisant ses racines dans le mithraïsme, culte de Mithra, dieu de la lumière et de la sagesse dans la Perse antique, qui est devenu plus tard l’une des religions principales de l’Empire romain et le rival du christianisme dans le monde romain. Si la fête de Yaldâ célébrait la naissance du Soleil, la fête de Sadeh était la fête du quarantième jour de sa naissance, comme il est de coutume chez les Iraniens, depuis des temps immémoriaux, de célébrer le quarantième jour d’un événement important." Dans sa recherche étymologique, Mehrdâd Bahâr rappelle que dans l’Avesta, les écritures sacrées zoroastriennes des anciens Perses, le mot "Sadheh" (سذه) a été utilisé à la fois comme "aube" et "crépuscule". Selon les légendes avestiques, il y a cinq mille ans, un événement astronomique se produisit et il devint l’origine de la fête de Sadeh : deux grands astres connus des gens de l’époque apparurent en même temps dans le ciel, l’un en ascension droite, l’autre en déclinaison finale. L’apparition et la disparition de ces deux astres en même temps, créèrent l’idée de la "dualité", notion chère dans l’esprit et les croyances mythiques des Perses d’où, selon Mehrdâd Bahâr les deux significations contradictoires et dualistes du mot Sadeh ou Sadheh dans les textes avestiques.

De nos jours, la fête de Sadeh est célébrée uniquement dans les temples zoroastriens. Cependant, malgré les grands efforts des zoroastriens pour protéger les cérémonies de la fête de Sadeh, une grande partie des us et des coutumes de cette fête ancienne a disparu avec le temps.

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Cérémonies festives de Sadeh

Dans les temps anciens, la cérémonie festive la plus importante de Sadeh était d’allumer un grand feu. La somptuosité de la fête dépendait fondamentalement du feu allumé le dixième jour et le onzième soir du mois de Bahman. Les rois et les grands seigneurs faisaient préparer un très grand feu de bois de tamarix (Gaz), arbuste originaire des pays d’orient. Le feu était parfois si grand que l’on pouvait le voir de très loin. Le célèbre historien de l’époque de la dynastie des Ghaznavides au XIe siècle Beyhaghî relate dans l’un de ses ouvrages que le sultan Massoud de Ghaznî avait fait préparer un très grand feu en l’an 426 de l’Hégire pour la fête de Sadeh, feu dont la lumière était visible, dans la nuit, à une distance d’une dizaine de lieues (environ 40 km). Les grands feux de Sadeh étaient souvent allumés à l’extérieur des villages, dans les plaines, sur les collines ou sur les montagnes. Mais la fête de Sadeh n’était pas seulement une fête royale, car les petites gens aussi la célébraient avec magnificence. Hommes, femmes et enfants sautaient par dessus les feux et chantaient des chants d’allégresse. Aujourd’hui, les zoroastriens célèbrent majestueusement la fête de Sadeh. Ce sont les mages qui allument les premiers feux. Tenant une petite torche à la main, le mage prie et tourne trois fois autour du bois ; il allume ensuite le feu avec sa torche. Les cérémonies, les chants et les jeux s’organisent autour du feu, dans une ambiance de joie et d’allégresse.

Etendue géographique de la fête de Sadeh

La fête de Sadeh était célébrée autrefois dans une vaste étendue géographique, de l’Anatolie, région de l’ouest de l’Asie qui désignait dans l’Antiquité l’Asie Mineure (qui recouvre aujourd’hui l’ensemble de la Turquie d’Asie) à Sin-Kiang, province occidentale de la Chine, en passant par l’ensemble du monde iranien. Les documents historiques témoignent que dans cette vaste partie du monde, la fête de Sadeh était connue des habitants de races, de cultures et de religions différentes, tout comme la fête de Norouz marquant le début du printemps. Aujourd’hui, la fête de Sadeh est propre surtout aux milieux ruraux : les habitants des régions du nord-ouest de la région iranienne du Khorasan, certains groupes ethniques en Afghanistan, en Asie centrale, au Kurdistan iranien, irakien et turc, les habitants des villages du plateau central de l’Iran et les tribus nomades des provinces iraniennes du Lorestan, de Kerman et d’Azerbaïdjan célèbrent encore la fête de Sadeh.

Sadeh à des périodes historiques différentes

Avant la période sassanide :

Comme nous l’avons déjà évoqué, Ferdowsî attribue l’apparition de la fête de Sadeh au roi légendaire Houchang, tandis que pour Abû Raihân al-Bîrûnî et Omar Khayyâm, l’histoire de l’apparition de cette fête remonte au grand roi de la mythologie perse Fereydoun. Les auteurs anciens sont plus ou moins unanimes pour dire que c’est à partir du règne d’Ardeshîr Ier, fondateur de la dynastie sassanide, que la fête de Sadeh fut considérée comme une fête générale dans le calendrier royal.

Pendant la période islamique :

Les grands auteurs de la période islamique tels que al-Bîrûnî, Beyhaghî, Gardizî, ou encore Mekouyeh ont décrit les évolutions des cérémonies de célébration de la fête de Sadeh depuis la dynastie des Ghaznavides (XIe siècle) jusqu’à l’invasion mongole de Gengis Khan et de Tamerlan (XIIe et XIVe siècles). La plupart des documents historiques de cette période décrivent les cérémonies de la fête de Sadeh à la cour des rois perses et des sultans d’origine turque, sans nous donner cependant beaucoup de détails quant à la manière dont le peuple la célébrait.

A l’époque contemporaine :

Dans les régions telles que le Mazandaran, le Lorestan ou le Sistan et le Baloutchistan, les paysans, les éleveurs ou les tribus nomades choisissent un jour de l’hiver, plutôt vers le début ou vers la fin, pour allumer des feux au coucher du soleil, sur le toit d’une maison, au pied de la montagne, près d’un lieu de culte, ou encore près d’une prairie ou d’un champ, sans connaître pour autant la fête de Sadeh, son histoire ou ses cérémonies.

A Kermân, ville du sud-est de l’Iran, chef-lieu de la province du même nom, la population, toutes religions confondues (musulmans, zoroastriens, juifs, …) organise chaque année des cérémonies spéciales le dixième jour du mois de Bahman pour célébrer la fête de Sadeh. Les éleveurs nomades de la province de Kermân, ceux qui vivent aux alentours de Bâft et Sirdjan, allument des feux avec quarante bois, symbole du quarantième jour de l’hiver, au coucher du soleil. Les paysans de la même région allument leurs feux sur la place centrale de leur village, et ils chantent ensemble :

(سده سده دهقانی / چهل کنده سوزانی / هنوز گویی زمستانی)

Sadeh, Sadeh des paysans,

Nous allumons quarante bouts de bois,

Comme si l’hiver allait durer encore très longtemps.

D’après les documents et les ouvrages historiques, la fête de Sadeh est demeurée dépourvue de dimension religieuse, d’autant plus que les légendes et les mythes liés à cette fête ancienne ont tous un aspect profane. Cet héritage culturel appartient donc non seulement aux zoroastriens, mais à tous les Iraniens, héritage que partage également une grande partie des populations des pays voisins de l’Iran.

jeudi, 05 mai 2016

Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms – illuminating the plight of the Middle East’s minorities

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Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms – illuminating the plight of the Middle East’s minorities

This journey by Gerard Russell into the ‘disappearing religions of the Middle East’ is a fascinating record of the end of tolerance

William Dalrymple

Ex: http://www.theguardian.com

Book-cover-UK.jpgIn the spring of 2006, Gerard Russell was a bored British diplomat stewing in the heat of the Green Zone in Baghdad, “a five-mile 21st-century dystopia filled with concrete berms and highway bridges that ended in midair where a bomb had cleaved them”. Then he received a call from the high priest of the Mandeans.

The Mandeans, he knew, claimed descent from Seth, son of Adam, and believed themselves to be the last followers of John the Baptist. They were also said to be the last surviving remnant of the Gnostic sects that once proliferated across the Middle East in late antiquity. In addition, Arab scholars had long recognised them as “the last Babylonians”. It was, writes Russell, “rather like being summoned to meet one of the knights of the Round Table”. He arranged to meet the high priest and his entourage in Al-Rasheed hotel on the edge of the Green Zone.

The encounter had, however, a sad conclusion. The high priest told Russell how the American invasion of Iraq had unleashed a firestorm on his people. The Mandeans had been protected by Saddam Hussein, who saw them as a link to the ancient Babylonian empire that the Ba’athists claimed as the precursor of the modern nation state of Iraq. But during the anarchy after his fall, and the US occupation that followed, life had become impossible. The high priest spoke of the long series of forced conversions, bombings, killings and kidnappings for ransom that had affected his flock since 2002. Now he wanted to transport the entire community to the west: “There are only a few hundred of us left in Iraq,” said the high priest. “And we want to leave. We want your country to give us asylum.”

The slow and still continuing unravelling of the vast multiethnic, multireligious diversity of the Ottoman empire has been the principal political fact of both the Middle East and the Balkans ever since the mid-19th century. Under the capricious thumb of the sultans, the different faiths, tribes and ethnicities of the Ottoman empire had lived, if not in complete harmony, then at least in a kind of pluralist equilibrium: an interwoven patchwork of different communities living separately, yet side by side. But with the Ottoman retreat from the Balkans in the early 19th century, and the eventual collapse of the rest of that empire in the aftermath of the first world war, that patchwork was ripped apart.

Everywhere, pluralism was replaced with a ferocious polarisation. Almost all the former Ottoman lands suffered bouts of savage bloodletting, and some of these – Turkey 1919-21, Palestine 1948, Cyprus 1963-4, Lebanon 1975-90, Bosnia 1991-2, Iraq from 2002 and most recently in Syria from 2011 – grew into civil wars of startling violence and fought along religious faultlines.

In the aftermath of each of these wars, from Sarajevo to Baghdad, in dribs and drabs and occasional tragic exoduses such as occurred with the Yezidis last summer, ethnic and religious minorities have fled to places where they can be part of a majority: the Pontic and Smyrna Greeks to Greece; the Anatolian Armenians to Armenia; the various Jewish communities to Israel – in each case creating religious nationalisms operating in two directions. Those too few for that, such as the Mandeans and Yezidis, have tended to abandon the region altogether, seeking out places less heavy with history, such as North America or Australia. The recent Isis-driven departure of the Yezidis and Chaldean Christians of Mosul is only the latest chapter in a process that began with the secession of Serbia and Greece from Ottoman control in the 19th century, and the subsequent explusion of their Turkish minorities: in 1878, for example, about 130,000 Bosnian Muslims migrated from Sarajevo to areas under Ottoman rule.

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Baptism ritual of the Mandeans

Islam has traditionally been tolerant of minorities: the relatively gentle treatment of Christians under Muslim rule contrasts strongly with the fate of Jews and Muslims in, say, 15th-century Spain, forced to flee or convert and even then pursued by the cruelties and tortures of the Inquisition. As Aubry de la Motraye, a 17th-century Huguenot exile escaping religious persecution in Europe, admiringly put it, “there is no country on earth where the exercise of all religions is more free and less subject to being troubled than in Turkey”. The same broad tolerance that gave homes to the Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal also protected the survivors of other religions that preceded Islam: not just Judaism and eastern Christianity, but also Yezidis, Samaritans and Mandeans, as well as relative latecomers such as the Druze and the Alawites.

All this came to an abrupt end after the first world war, and the establishment of a series of ethno-religious Ottoman successor states such as Serbia, Turkey and Israel. Here, citizenship was often conflated with a religious and ethnic identity. In each of these, majoritarianism was the rule, and minorities felt increasingly unloved and unwelcome.

This process has only accelerated in the 21st century, especially in Iraq, Syria and Egypt, where the slow decline of communism and Arab nationalism, “Islamism’s secular competitors”, has taken place in parallel with the rise of fundamentalist Salafi Islam. As Russell observes: “In Egypt, the past 50 years have seen much more violence against the Copts than the previous 50 years had. Iraq, a country ruled in the 1950s by a man of mixed Shi’a-Sunni parentage, is now a maelstrom of communal violence.”

In each case, the situation of the minorities has grown increasingly untenable: the Chaldeans, Mandeans and Yezidis have all had to flee Iraq, the last Armenians have left Syria and the Copts are now haemorrhaging out of Egypt. To the east of Ottoman lands, among the Zoroastrians of Iran and the Kafir Kalash of Afghanistan, there has been a similar process of growing violence culminating in emigration.

There have been good studies of individual parts of the process, but Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms, Russell’s brilliant and constantly engaging account of his travels through the disappearing religions of the Middle East, is the first attempt to pull all these diverse threads together. His descriptions of dogged believers clinging on in their last shrines may be terse compared with the fully drawn pen portraits one gets from Ryszard Kapuściński or Colin Thubron, but where Russell excels is in his ability to link the past and the present, and to draw from a well of historical and theological scholarship, and his deep erudition in Arabic and Farsi, to show why we must take note of these unlikely survivors from the ancient Middle East, why their emigration matters and how this is likely to affect contemporary politics.

The opening Mandean chapter shows the full range of Russell’s strengths. The Mandeans are usually looked on as the last of the Gnostics, yet he convincingly shows that many of their customs and traditions date from many centuries earlier: their scriptures are written “in a language very close to that used by Jewish scholars who compiled the Babylonian Talmud”. Their music and hymns and their avoidance of meat and alcohol, as well as their suspicion of sex, link them to the Manicheans, whose founder, Mani, was born into a Mandean household. Their use of astronomy and some of their spells, which still invoke the goddess Libat or Ishtar, are inheritances from Babylon.

It is a similar case with the Yezidis. They have long been accused by their Muslim and Christian neighbours of being devil worshippers. This is a crude caricature of a much more interesting and complex esoteric theology, whose worship of the peacock angel, Melek Taus, draws on elements of Assyrian and Sumerian religious beliefs and whose bull slaughter is an inheritance from that early competitor of Christianity, Mithraism. At the centre of their belief is their faith that Melek Taus, having rebelled against God, “extinguished the fires of hell with his tears of repentance and was restored to favour as the chief of all the angels”.

The book, which opens with one dystopia, Baghdad, ends with another: the urban wasteland of Detroit, the unlikely destination of many of these exiles. On the way, Russell takes us on a fascinating and timely journey through the beliefs and predicaments of seven fascinating but little-known religions; as well as the Mandeans and Yezidis, we meet the last of the Iranian Zoroastrians, the Druze and Samaritans lodged uneasily between Israel and the Arabs, the increasingly persecuted Coptic Christians of Egypt and the Kafir Kalash of the Hindu Kush. It’s a long time since I read a travel book that taught or illuminated so much, but its importance is greater than that. Tragically, this book puts on record for the last possible time a once-plural world that is on the verge of disappearing for ever.

• William Dalrymple’s Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan is out in paperback.

• To order Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms for £16 go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846.

lundi, 14 septembre 2015

Zarathoestra beleeft revival in Noord-Irak

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Door: Dirk Rochtus - Ex: http://www.doorbraak.be

Zarathoestra beleeft revival in Noord-Irak

Koerden in Noord-Irak herontdekken de oude religie van Zarathoestra als een wapen in de strijd tegen het door IS belichaamde Kwaad.

Een golf van politiek, religieus en sektarisch geweld overspoelt het Midden-Oosten. In Syrië woedt de soennitische terreurorganisatie Islamitische Staat (IS) in alle hevigheid tegen andersdenkenden en aanhangers van andere geloofsstrekkingen. In Turkije escaleert de strijd tussen het Turkse leger en de milities van de Koerdische Arbeiderspartij PKK. Iran en Saoedi-Arabië wedijveren met elkaar om de macht in de regio. Sjiieten en soennieten bestrijden elkaar om de juiste uitlegging van de islam.

Ware cultuur

De chaos drijft niet alleen vele mensen op de vlucht, maar doet ook velen onder de thuisblijvers snakken naar zekerheid en geborgenheid. Zo komt het bijvoorbeeld dat meer en meer Koerden een oude religie herontdekken. In de provincie Suleiman, in de Koerdische deelstaat van Noord-Irak, vond in de maand mei een merkwaardige ceremonie plaats. Honderden Koerden deden er een gewijde gordel, de 'koeshti', om. Ze betoonden zo hun gehechtheid aan het zoroastrisme, de religie van de Perzische profeet Zarathoestra (ook Zarathustra of Zoroaster genaamd). Ook dienden ze bij de overheid van de Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) een aanvraag in voor de bouw van twaalf zoroastrische tempels en voor de erkenning van het zoroastrisme als officiële godsdienst. Volgens Luqman al Hadsch Karim van de zoroastrische organisatie Zand zouden met de revival van het zoroastrisme de 'ware cultuur en religie van de Koerden' weer in ere worden hersteld.

De 'betere Bijbel'

Over het leven van Zarathustra is niet veel geweten. Hij zou rond 1200 voor Christus geleefd hebben in Perzië, het huidige Iran. Hij predikte als eerste het geloof in 'één God' - Ahura Mazda, de 'Wijze Heer' of de god van het goede die strijdt tegen de duivel Ahriman -, het bestaan van engelen, van hemel en hel en het Laatste Oordeel. Al deze geloofsbeelden zouden via de Joden in ballingschap in Babylon binnengeslopen zijn in de latere monotheïstische religies. Voor de publicist Paul Moonen schreef Zarathustra daarom ook de 'betere Bijbel'. Maar juist omdat Zarathoestra als de 'vader' van het monotheïsme geldt, gebruikte de godloochenende Duitse filosoof Friedrich Nietzsche hem in een ironische omkering in zijn poëtisch meesterwerk 'Also sprach Zarathustra' om de 'dood van God' te verkondigen.

zor520-9-8df4d.jpgVuur

De zoroastriërs vereren in hun vuurtempels het eeuwig brandende vuur als afbeeld van Ahura Mazda. Het zoroastrisme groeide later uit tot de staatsgodsdienst van het Perzische Rijk. Toen de islam in de zevende eeuw Perzië veroverde, vluchtten vele zoroastriërs naar het naburige India. Vandaag de dag leven er vooral nog in Bombay een paar tienduizend 'parsi's' die vasthouden aan het zoroastrische geloof. In Iran zelf telt de zoroastrische gemeenschap een dertigduizend leden. Ze wordt in de Islamitische Republiek van Iran erkend als een minderheid. Net zoals de Armeense en de Joodse gemeenschap heeft ze recht op één zetel in de Majlis, het Iraanse parlement. Toch moet ze nog heel wat onderdrukking en discriminatie doorstaan. Ook de Jezidi's, de aanhangers van een door IS vervolgde Koerdische 'volksreligie', zouden door het zoroastrisme beïnvloed zijn. Zijzelf wijzen elke band met de leer van Zarathoestra af.

Strijdtoneel

Het zoroastrisme leek de laatste jaren op de terugweg. Het aantal gelovigen in Iran en India was aan het slinken ten gevolge van lagere geboortecijfers, vervolging en discriminatie. Merkwaardig is het dan ook dat Koerden in Noord-Irak de Oud-Perzische religie van Zarathoestra herontdekken. Sowieso zijn er culturele verbanden. De Koerden spreken een met het Farsi (Perzisch) verwante taal en in Newroz, hun nieuwjaarsfeest, speelt het vuur een grote rol. Volgens analisten zou de onzekerheid over wat nu de ware islam is nationalistische en liberaal denkende Koerden in de armen van een tolerante religie als het zoroastrisme drijven. Zarathoestra zag in de wereld het strijdtoneel van het Goede en het Kwade en riep de mensen op om de zijde van de goede god Ahura Mazda te kiezen. In zulk een wereldbeeld past voor vele Koerden ook de strijd tegen IS als de belichaming van het Kwade.

 

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lundi, 01 juin 2015

Iraqi Kurds revive ancient Kurdish Zoroastrianism religion

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Thanks to Islamic extremism, Iraqi Kurds revive ancient Kurdish Zoroastrianism religion

by Alaa Latif

Ex: http://ekurd.net

The One, True Kurdish Prophet

SLEMANI, Kurdistan region ‘Iraq’,— The small, ancient religion of Zoroastrianism is being revived in Iraqi Kurdistan. Followers say locals should join because it’s a truly Kurdish belief. Others say the revival is a reaction to extremist Islam.

One of the smallest and oldest religions in the world is experiencing a revival in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. The religion has deep Kurdish roots – it was founded by Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, who was born in Iranian Kurdistan (the Kurdish part of Iran) and the religion’s sacred book, the Avesta, was written in an ancient language from which the Kurdish language derives. However this century it is estimated that there are only around 190,000 believers in the world – as Islam became the dominant religion in the region during the 7th century, Zoroastrianism more or less disappeared.

Until – quite possibly – now. For the first time in over a thousand years, locals in a rural part of Slemani (Sulaymaniyah) province conducted an ancient ceremony on May 1, whereby followers put on a special belt that signifies they are ready to serve the religion and observe its tenets. It would be akin to a baptism in the Christian faith.

The newly pledged Zoroastrians have said that they will organise similar ceremonies elsewhere in Iraqi Kurdistan and they have also asked permission to build up to 12 temples inside the region, which has its own borders, military and Parliament. Zoroastrians are also visiting government departments in Iraqi Kurdistan and they have asked that Zoroastrianism be acknowledged as a religion officially. They even have their own anthem and many locals are attending Zoroastrian events and responding to Zoroastrian organisations and pages on social media.

Although as yet there are no official numbers as to how many Kurdish locals are actually turning to this religion, there is certainly a lot of discussion about it. And those who are already Zoroastrians believe that as soon as locals learn more about the religion, their numbers will increase. They also seem to selling the idea of Zoroastrianism by saying that it is somehow “more Kurdish” then other religions – certainly an attractive idea in an area where many locals care more about their ethnic identity than religious divisions.

As one believer, Dara Aziz, told Niqash: “I really hope our temples will open soon so that we can return to our authentic religion”.

“This religion will restore the real culture and religion of the Kurdish people,” says Luqman al-Haj Karim, a senior representative of Zoroastrianism and head of the Zoroastrian organisation, Zand, who believes that his belief system is more “Kurdish” than most. “The revival is a part of a cultural revolution, that gives people new ways to explore peace of mind, harmony and love,” he insists.

In fact, Zoroastrians believe that the forces of good and evil are continually struggling in the world – this is why many locals also suspect that this religious revival has more to do with the security crisis caused by the extremist group known as the Islamic State, as well as deepening sectarian and ethnic divides in Iraq, than any needs expressed by locals for something to believe in.

“The people of Kurdistan no longer know which Islamic movement, which doctrine or which fatwa, they should be believing in,” Mariwan Naqshbandi, the spokesperson for Iraqi Kurdistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, told Niqash. He says that the interest in Zoroastrianism is a symptom of the disagreements within Islam and religious instability in the Iraqi Kurdish region, as well as in the country as a whole.

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“For many more liberal or more nationalist Kurds, the mottos used by the Zoroastrians seem moderate and realistic,” Naqshbandi explains. “There are many people here who are very angry with the Islamic State group and it’s inhumanity.”

Naqshbandi also confirmed that his Ministry would help the Zoroastrians achieve their goals. The right to freedom of religion and worship was enshrined in Kurdish law and Naqshbandi said that the Zoroastrians would be represented in his offices.

Zoroastrian leader al-Karim isn’t so sure whether it is the Islamic State, or IS, group’s extremism that is changing how locals think about religion. “The people of Kurdistan are suffering from a collapsing culture that actually hinders change,” he argues. “It’s illogical to connect Zoroastrianism with the IS group. We are simply encouraging a new way of thinking about how to live a better life, the way that Zoroaster told us to.”

On local social media there has been much discussion on this subject. One of the most prevalent questions is this: Will the Kurdish abandon Islam altogether in favour of other beliefs?

“We don’t want to be a substitute for any other religion,” al-Karim replies. “We simply want to respond to society’s needs.”

However, even if al-Karim doesn’t admit it, it is clear to everyone else. Committing to Zoroastrianism would mean abandoning Islam. But even those who want to take on the Zoroastrian “belt” are staying well away from denigrating any other belief system. This may be one reason why, so far, Islamic clergy and Islamic politicians haven’t criticised the Zoroastrians openly.

As one local politician, Haji Karwan, an MP for the Islamic Union in Iraqi Kurdistan, tells Niqash, he doesn’t think that so many people have actually converted to Zoroastrianism anyway. He also thinks that those promoting the religion are few and far between. “But of course, people are free to choose whatever religion they want to practise,” Karwan told Niqash. “Islam says there’s no compulsion in religion.”

On the other hand, Karwan disagrees with the idea that any religion – let alone Zoroastrianism – is specifically “Kurdish” in nature. Religion came to humanity as a whole, not to any one specific ethnic group, he argues.

By Alaa Latif
Regions and cities names in Kurdish may have been changed or added to the article by Ekurd.net.

jeudi, 19 mars 2015

Norooz, Persian New Year

Shakila Norouz Eid Persian New Year Song

 

Norooz, The Persian New Year