Parsing Zoroastrian vs. Islamic Cosmogonies and Christian vs. Islamic Myths of the Fall
This post is in response to a post by “fyi” who said:
“I tend to err on the side that considers Zoroaster a messenger of God whose message was not preserved correctly through the millennia…. His message was that God had created men to help God fight the False Lord, the Lord of Lies, the Evil One. That the Dark Lord may be entrapped in the Creation. [In the language of the Aristotelian metaphysics, this amounted to the negation of the potentiality of Evil and its neutralization by being baited (by mankind) into a trap called Creation.] In fact, before Time was created and Universe existed, God – the Wise Lord – gathered the souls of all men ever to be born and asked them if they pledged themselves to that struggle. They all agreed. That was referred to as the Day of Alast in Islamic Tradition.”
You have made two very gross errors here, I am afraid. The first is in your depiction of the cosmogonic or creation myths of Zoroastrianism as positing that the world is the creation of the forces of Good in an attempt to ward off evil. It is no such thing. To the contrary, the world, in the mind of Zoroaster and his followers, is the creation of the Evil One, Ahriman. It was an act in response to a pre-creation Event that shattered the Unicity of Good into myriad Shards of Light. The Evil One then proceeded to create the World or Creation as a Crypt for those Shards of Light, in order to prevent them from re-uniting with their Source and achieving Unicity once more. The motivation for Ahriman, who is ontically co-equal with Ahura Mazda in this schema, is envy.
The World-As-Crypt cosmology or weltanschauung most probably has its origin in Africa. It can be seen in the Hindu concept of Maya (which posits the world as a delusion from which one must escape through asceticism), in Manichaeism, in Gnostic Christianity, and finally in Pauline and later, Nicene (Trinitarian) Christianity, where the world and all its inhabitants are doomed to eternal damnation save for the Christ sacrificing himself in order to save human souls from this crypt (the belief in Original Sin is provided as the reason for our having found ourselves in a situation necessitating salvation): we are between a rock and a hard place, which is why we are in need of the Christ to save us. And he cannot save us by simply willing it, as he is *not* all-powerful. The vestigial remnants of an ontically co-equal Entity are clearly still extant in this soteriology, which can only obtain from a non-monist ontology.
OK, so you utterly misunderstood Zoroastrianism, whose ritual purities and the need to keep the flame alive at all times are precisely to *avoid* entrapment in the World and to guarantee Godspeed in deliverance from it. But then you make another massive mistake by equating the Day of Alast in the Islamic Tradition with this:
“God – the Wise Lord – gathered the souls of all men ever to be born and asked them if they pledged themselves to that struggle (That the Dark Lord may be entrapped in the Creation). They all agreed. [That was referred to as the Day of Alast in Islamic Tradition.] “
And so, having turned black into white, you go on to equate the Islamic creation myth with your own impromptu concoction. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad, with whom be peace, was sent to rid the world of these imprisoning word viruses that started with Zoroaster and whose errors were perpetuated by Hinduism and Buddhism and Christianity and such modern day pseudo-religions as scientism, empiricism and its cognitive analogue, logico-positivism. The lesson of the Day of Alast is that the world is decidedly *not* a crypt, that it was our own will, expressed in pre-eternity, to come into creation, out of eternal unicity and into time-bound multiplicity. And the reason we did this, a hadith qudsi tells us, is that “I was a Hidden Treasure, and I wanted to be known. So I created creation, in order to be known.” The “I” is interchangeable with “we”, we being the souls who are the sons and daughters of Adam. The heedlessness or forgetfulness (gheflah) that this interchangeability obtains is part of the fantastic pre-programming that we opted into on that fateful Day when the decision was made. Elsewhere, God reminds us (from a tanzihic perspective; or, reminds Himself, from a tashbihic one) that when we accepted this Trust (amanat – of His vice-regency on Earth – a Trust that was offered to the Heavens and the Mountains, and from which “they shrank [in fear] thereof”), that “Verily, [we] were foolish and unjust [to ourselves].”
One has to be careful not to fall into the gnostic world-as-crypt trap, which incidentally Pauline Christianity fell into after Nicea, with the syncretistic creedal incorporation of Original Sin (and the subsequent need of the Christ as salve and salvific persona). Islam, of course, avoided that trap, holding to the tenet that the ingesting of the Forbidden Fruit was the *occasion* rather than the *cause* of the Fall, as we were always meant from the Day of Alast (in preeternity) to live on Earth, it being a mirrored surface manifesting the Signs and Attributes of God in His ongoing self-manifestation project – The Ocean Without Shore.
By insisting on the unicity of God (tauhid), His ontic uniqueness or oneness, i.e., that there is only One God, and that there are no others, Islam brings man back in tune with the reality that there are no other forces (such as aliens or the Mayan calendar or God only knows what else) out there which are independent of God’s will. “Not a leaf falls from a tree without God willing it to happen.” (Koranic paraphrase). And by so doing, it lifts the dark cloud of pessimism which humanity was laboring under thanks to the decadence of all previous religions before it.
May God shine His Muhammadan Light to all of the dark corners of the world, so that non-Moslems are liberated from the shackles of their self-imposed mental crypts.
Posted by Arash Darya-Bandari