Tag Archives: Study of Religions

The Coherence of Yasna

Zoroastrian fire ceremony.

Ahmadi, Amir. 2017. On the coherence of Yasna: A critical assessment of recent arguments. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 1-26.

In recent years a number of scholars have proposed more or less detailed schemas of the formation of the Zoroastrian ritual. These schemas offer accounts of the arrangement of the texts in the liturgy, the process of its formation, and even its function from an endogenous perspective. One way or another, they argue that the official Zoroastrian liturgy is an integrated ritual with a coherent text, and that the function of the ritual and the intention behind the arrangement of the texts can be determined by means of philological, literary and comparative analyses. The questions of formation and meaning of the Zoroastrian liturgy these scholars have placed on the agenda are important not only for the study of Zoroastrianism but also for the history of religions and ritual theory. I consider their accounts with respect to the texts they invoke and the methods they use, and show that their arguments suffer from fatal flaws.

Mani in Cambridge

Mani in Cambridge: A Day-Symposium on Manichaean Studies | Ancient India & Iran Trust

On Saturday 25 March, as part of an ongoing research project, we are holding a one day Symposium on Manichaean Studies sponsored jointly by the Ancient India and Iran Trust, the International Association of Manichaean Studies and the Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum Project.

Source: Mani in Cambridge: A Day-Symposium on Manichaean Studies | Ancient India & Iran Trust

Non-Mainstream Religion in Persianate Societies

Raei, Shahrokh (ed.). 2017. Islamic Alternatives; Non-Mainstream Religion in Persianate Societies. (Iranica, GOF III/NF 16). Göttingen: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Islamic Alternatives are the proceedings of a symposium which was held in April 2014 within the framework of a research project entitled The Khāksār Order between Ahl-e Ḥaqq and Shiite Sufi Order, funded by the German Research Foundation.
The tradition and belief system of the Khāksār is closely connected to several cultural and religious traditions across a vast geographical area in the Orient: the territory of Persianate societies, which might also be called ‘the territory of wandering dervishes’. The extensive historical and cultural relations and associations, the similarities between the Khāksār Order and the Futuwwa tradition or religious communities (such as the Ahl-e Ḥaqq (Yārsān) and Bektashi order in different geographical territories), the relationship between this order and Dervish groups in Pakistan and Central Asia on the one hand and its connection with the official orthodox Shia on the other hand are the main topics dealt with in the present book.
The commonalities and cultural relations of these numerous and diverse cultural traditions as well as the heterodox movements in this region are so substantial that understanding the related aspects of each helps us gain a deeper knowledge of the whole subject matter. This symposium and the present proceedings attempt to gather as many specialists of these diverse but associated themes as possible in order to achieve a better understanding of these concepts.
Table of Contents (PDF):
Early Shiʿism and Futuwwa
  • Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi: “New Remarks on Secrecy and Concealment in Early Imāmī Shiʿism: the Case of khatm al-nubuwwa – Aspects of Twelver Shiʿi Imamology XII
  • Mohsen Zakeri: “From Futuwwa to Mystic Political Thought: – The Caliph al-Nāṣir li-Dīn Allāh and Abū Ḥafṣ Suhrawardī’s Theory of Government

Ahl-e Ḥaqq (Yāresān)

  • Philip G. Kreyenbroek: “Some Remarks on the Early History of the Ahl-e Ḥaqq”
  • Martin van Bruinessen: “Between Dersim and Dālahū – Reflections on Kurdish Alevism and the Ahl-e Ḥaqq Religion
  • Yiannis Kanakis: “Yāresān Religious Concepts and Ritual Repertoires as Elements of Larger Net-works of Socio-Political ‘Heterodoxy’ – Some Thoughts on Yāresān , Shiite and Qizilbash/Bektashi Sources and Symbolism
Cultural Anthropological Analysis
  • Jürgen Wasim Frembgen: “Beyond Muslim and Hindu – Sacred Spaces in the Thar Desert of Pakistan
  • Alexandre Papas: “Dog of God: Animality and Wildness among Dervishes”
  • Thierry Zarcone: “Sacred Stones in Qalandariyya and Bektashism”
  • Mehran Afshari: “Quṭb al-Dīn Ḥaydar-e Tūnī and his Connection to the Ḥaydariyya and Khāksāriyya”
  • Shahrokh Raei: “Some Recent Issues and Challenges in the Khāksār Order”
Folk Sufism
  • Razia Sultanova: “Female Folk Sufism in the Central Asian Space-Time Continuum”
 About the Editor:
Shahrokh Raei is an scholar of Sufī and Khāksār Order and lecturer at the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Freiburg.

Manichaeism East and West

Lieu, Samuel, Nils Arne Pedersen, Enrico Morano & Erica Hunter (eds.). 2017. Manichaeism East and West (Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum – Analecta Manichaica 1). Brepols Publishers.

The volume contains the proceedings of the eigth international symposium of the International Assocation of Manichaean Studies covering all major aspects of Manichaean studies.
This new volume brings the research on many aspects of the texts published in the Corpus up to date and signals new texts to appear in the Corpus. It includes important studies on the scientific dating of the Medinet Madi, codices as well as the newly discovered Manichaean texts in Chinese and Parthian from Xiapu in South China.

Source: Manichaeism East and West

Persian Religion in the Achaemenid Period

Henkelman, Wouter & Céline Redard (eds.). 2017. Persian religion in the Achaemenid period (Classica et Orientalia 16). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Including twelve English, French, and German papers originally presented at a colloquium convened by Jean Kellens at the Collège de France (2013), this volume addresses a range of issues relating to Persian religion at the time of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BCE). Moving away from the reductive question whether the Achaemenid kings were Zoroastrians or not, the contributors have tried to focus either on newly identified or recently published sources (Central Asian archaeological finds, Elamite texts and seal impressions from the Persepolis Fortification Archive, Aramaic texts from Bactria, the Persepolis Bronze Plaque), or on current (and ongoing) debates such as the question of the spread of the so-called long liturgy to western Iran. In doing, different perspectives are chosen: whereas some have stressed the Iranian or Indo-Iranian tradition, others have pointed out the importance of the Elamite and Assyro-Babylonian contexts. At the same time, the volume shows a broad agreement in its insistence on the essential position of primary sources, problematic as they may be, and on the important role the Achaemenid rulers and the imperial project played in the evolution of Iranian religion.

The Church of the East

Baumer, Christoph. 2016. The Church of the East: An illustrated history of Assyrian Christianity. I.B. Tauris.

The so-called ‘Nestorian’ Church (officially known as the Apostolic Assyrian Church of the East, with its See in Baghdad) was one of the most significant Christian communities to develop east of the Roman Empire. In its heyday the Church had 8 million adherents and stretched from the Mediterranean to China. Christoph Baumer is one of the very few Westerners to have visited many of the most important Assyrian sites and has written the only comprehensive history of the Church, which now fights for survival in its country of origin, Iraq, and is almost forgotten in the West. He narrates its rich and colorful trajectory, from its apostolic beginnings to the present day, and discusses the Church’s theology, christology, and uniquely vigorous spirituality. He analyzes the Church’s turbulent relationship with other Christian chuches and its dialogue with neighboring world religions such as Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Islam, Buddhism, and Taoism. Richly illustrated with maps and over 150 full-color photographs, the book will be essential reading for those interested in a fascinating, but neglected Christian community which has profoundly shaped the history of civilization in both East and West.

About the Author: Dr. Christoph Baumer is a leading explorer of Central Asia and Tibet, who has made several important archaeological and historical discoveries on his journeys.

Source: The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity

Between Rome and China

Lieu, Samuel & G. Mikkelsen (eds.). 2016. Between Rome and China: History, religions and material culture of the Silk Road (Silk Road Studies 18). Brepols Publishers.

This book contains a key study on sericulture as well as on the conduct of the trade in silk between China and the Roman Near East using archaeological and literary evidence.
The eight studies in this volume by established and emerging scholars range geographically and chronologically from the Greek Kingdom of Bactria of the 2nd century BCE to the Uighur Kingdoms of Karabalgasun in Mongolia and Qočo in Xinjiang of the 8th-9th centuries CE. It contains a key study on sericulture as well on the conduct of the trade in silk between China and the Roman Near East using archaeological as well as literary evidence. Other topics covered include Sogdian religious art, the role of Manichaeism as a Silk Road religion par excellence, the enigmatic names for the Roman Empire in Chinese sources and a multi-lingual gazetteer of place- and ethnic names in Pre-Islamic Central Asia which will be an essential reference tool for researchers. The volume also contains an author and title index to all the Silk Road Studies volumes published up to 2014. The broad ranging theme covered by this volume should appeal to a wider public fascinated by the history of the Silk Road and wishing to be informed of the latest state of research. Because of the centrality of the topics covered by this study, the volume could serve as a basic reading text for university courses on the history of the Silk Road.

Source: Between Rome and China: History, Religions and Material Culture of the Silk Road

Philosophy in the Islamic World

Adamson, Peter. 2016. Philosophy in the Islamic world (A history of philosophy without any gaps 3). Oxford University Press.

A short editorial note: This book offers a very useful overview, as the title suggests, of philosophy in the Islamic world rather than Islamic philosophy as such. To that end, Part II of the book is dedicated to philosophy in Andalusia, including Jewish philosophy. One chapter deals with the so-called translation movement while others discuss Islamic philosophy developed by “Iranian” philosophers in different eras. I can highly recommend this book as an introductory volume to philosophy in the Islamic world.

The latest in the series based on the popular History of Philosophy podcast, this volume presents the first full history of philosophy in the Islamic world for a broad readership. It takes an approach unprecedented among introductions to this subject, by providing full coverage of Jewish and Christian thinkers as well as Muslims, and by taking the story of philosophy from its beginnings in the world of early Islam all the way through to the twentieth century.

Source: Philosophy in the Islamic World – Peter Adamson – Oxford University Press

The Sacred Books of the East

Molendijk, Arie. 2016. Friedrich Max Müller and the Sacred Books of the East. Oxford University Press.

This volume offers a critical analysis of one the most ambitious editorial projects of late Victorian Britain: the edition of the fifty substantial volumes of the Sacred Books of the East (1879-1910). The series was edited and conceptualized by Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900), a world-famous German-born philologist, orientalist, and religious scholar.

Arie L. Molendijk is the Professor of the History of Christianity and Philosophy, University of Groningen.

Source: Friedrich Max Müller and the Sacred Books of the East – Arie L. Molendijk – Oxford University Press

Minorities in Iran and Beyond in Memory of Rudolf Macúch

Rudolf Macúch (1919-1993)
Rudolf Macúch (1919-1993)

Minorities and Majorities in the Middle East and Asia

In Memory of Rudolf Macúch (1919-1993)

The Department of Comparative Religion is honoured to invites to the conference titled “Minorities and Majorities in the Middle East and Asia” which will take place at the Faculty of Arts of Comenius University in Bratislava on the days of 14th and 15th of September. The conference is dedicated to the memory of the world-renowned scholar Professor Rudolf Macúch. The talks cover different aspects of the religions and cultures of minorities, especially in today Iran and Iraq, from Mandaeans, Christians, Yezidis, Yārsān (Ahl-e Haq) and Sufīs to Buddhists, ect.

Organizers: Department of Comparative Religion, Comenius University in Bratislava
Slovak Association for the Study of Religions
Venue: Comenius University in Bratislava, Faculty of Arts, 2 Gondova St.

Conference programme (PDF):

Wednesday, 14th September 2016

  • Maria Macuch: “Rudolf Macuch – A Life Dedicated to the Study of Minorities”
  • Eden Naby: “Modern Assyrian Culture and Prof Rudolf Macuch”
    Mahmoud Jaafari-Dehaghi: “Professor Rudolf Macúch at the University of Tehran”
  • Jiří Gebelt: “Rudolf Macúch’s Contributions to the Mandaean Studies in the Light of Current Research”

PANEL 1: The Mandaeans of Iran

  • Muhammad Allahdadi: “Are Mandaeans Men of the Book? A Study of the Evolution of Shi’a Jurists’ Ideas about Mandaeans As Men of the Book”
  • Mohsen Jafari: “The Mandaeans: The Lost Tribe of the Iranian Constitution”
  • Reza Yarinia: “The Mandaean Cosmological Structure and Its Manifestation in the Purity of Creatures”
  • Behnam Eskandari: “The Mandaeans’ Mythical and Religious Communications with Other Religions”

Thursday, 15th September 2016

PANEL 2: Diasporas

  • Martin Klapetek: “The Near Orient? The Transfer of “Otherness” to European Contexts”
  • Torsten Tschacher: “On Being a Multiple Minority: ‘Indian Muslims’ in Singapore between ‘Race’ and ‘Religion”
  • Katarína Šomodiová: “The Iraqi Christian Community in Slovakia”

PANEL 3: Multiplied and fragmented minorities

  • Alam Saleh: “The Fragmented Middle East: Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Religion”
  • Attila Kovács: “Minority-Majority Dynamics and the Public Space in the Old City of Jerusalem: A Visual Approach”
  • Dušan Deák: “Emplacing the Saintliness: Rural Muslim Religiosity between Vaishnavas Sufis and Demons”

PANEL 4: Minority policies

  • Luboš Bělka: “Minority Religion: The History of Russia´s Policy towards Tibetan Buddhism in Buryatia (1717-2016)”
  • Marko Jovanović: “Uyghur Separatism: A Fight for Cultural or Religious Identity?”
  • Eszter Spät: “Religion and Nation-Building among the Yezidis of Iraq”

PANEL 5:  Minorities and Religious Dogmatics

  • Alireza Bahrami: “Exploring Islam’s View about the Men of the Book”
  • Lukáš Větrovec: “Present-Day Reflections of the Viewpoints of Ibn Taymiyya on Non-Muslim Communities”
  • Qasem Muhammadi: “Religious Minorities ‘the Self’ or ‘the Other’ in the Islamic Government as Presented in the Shi‘a School of Thought”

PANEL 7: Religious fractions and groups

  • Seyedeh Behnaz Hosseini: “Yārsān-a religious minority in Iran”
  • Mahmoud Jafari-Dehaghi: “Buddhism in the East of Iran”
  • Abdolmajid Etesami: “Zayd Ibn Ali Ibn Husayn (a.s.) and the Imamate”
  • Matej Karásek: “Christian sannyasis and Christian ashram movement in India: minors amongst Hindus or Christians?”

PANEL 8: Minorities and majorities in literature & writing

  • Łukasz Byrski: “Writing Systems and the Minorities”
  • Deepra Dandekar: “Popular Islamic Literature and Muslim Minoritization in India”
  • Miklós Sárközy: “Wladimir Ivanow and his memoirs about Iranian Ismailis and Gypsies”
  • Estiphan Panoussi: “Hungarian Calvinist Church in Budapest Hungary Classifications of Difficulties of Some Verbal Roots and Homonyms the the Senaya Dialect of Neo-Aramaic”