The religion of ancient Persia was founded by Zoroaster;
one of the world's great faiths that bears the closest resemblance to
Judaism and Christianity. According to the tradition in the Parsee books,
Zoroaster was born in 660 B.C. and died in 583; but many scholars claim
that he must have flourished at a much earlier time. All investigators,
however, are agreed that his teachings were generally in force throughout
Iran before the time of the Jewish Captivity
Zoroaster was originally a Magian
priest, and it is from this group, the Magi - Kings from the East came to
see baby Jesus following astral signs led by the star. Zoroastrian eschatological teachings-the
fight between good and evil, freewill of man, the coming of a Messiah, the
resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting are nearly identical to
Rabbi Mitchell M. Hurvitz is senior sabbi at Temple Sholom of
Greenwich, co-founder of the Sholom Center for
Interfaith Learning and Fellowship and a past-president of the Greenwich
Fellowship of Clergy For an archive of past Greenwich Citizen Columns,
please visit www.templesholom.com.2013
Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism are similar in
their cosmological ideas. The six days of Creation in Genesis finds a
parallel in the six periods of Creation described in the Zoroastrian
scriptures. Mankind, according to each religion, is descended from a single
couple, and Mashya (man) and Mashyana
(women) are the Iranian Adam and Eve.
the Flood story is nearly identical
Thus it is not surprising to see that they were all
based on similar revelations.
The Babylonian army conquered the Southern Kingdom in
586 BCE. Jerusalem was destroyed. The Judah were
taken into captivity to Babylon.
The development of the concept of heaven and hell
materialized only after the Babylonian exile and return to Jerusalem. The
pre-exilic Biblical books do not make reference to "afterlife."
"The early Jews were not monotheists but
henotheists or even outright polytheists. They had one central god but
believed in other gods. "Thou shalt have no
other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). This was the tribal god, often
bloodthirsty and murderous who not only (they claimed) ordered the killing
of women and children, but also even directly murdered the first born of
Egypt. Every tribe seemed to have their own god. This was no God of love or
compassion, but a god of survival." http://www.sullivan-county.com/news/mine/jud_zor.htm
The early Israelite theology was simply that, we came
from dust and would return to dust. With the first exile Jewish nation got
immersed in the religion of the Persian Empire and Zoroastrianism and there
arose many doctrinal finalization. . They were both monotheistic religion and
hence could see eye to eye resulting in Cyrus allowing them to return and
rebuild their nation.
Hence Judaism assimilated the idea that
:"personal and individual immortality is always offered to the
Origin of the word
The origin of the word "paradise" is
Persian, and the afterlife concept is transferred to post-exilic
Judaism. The paradise garden is a form of garden of Old Iranian origin,
specifically Achaemenid. Originally denominated
by a single noun denoting "a walled-in compound or garden", separating
it from "pairi"
("around") with a "daeza" or
"brick", or "shape"), Xenophon Grecized
the Persian phrase "pairi-daeza" into
"Paradeisos". Some people even today
refer to Eden as Parudeesa.
So the assumption was that the righteous will return to
Eden and will have the Father to Son/Daughter relationship with the Father
Life after Death according to Zoroastrian tradition
Automatic separation through programmed Bridge
According to the Zoroastrian tradition, after the death
of the body, the soul remains in this world for three days and nights, in
the care of Sraosha, one of the Yazatas or angels. During this period, prayers are said
and rituals performed to assure a safe passage of the soul into the
spiritual realm. On the dawn of the fourth day, the spirit is believed to
have crossed over to the other world, where it arrives at the allegorical Chinvat Bridge- “bridge of judgment” .
The cross over has various
versions. In one version, at the Chinvat Bridge, the soul meets a maiden who is the
embodiment of all the good words, thoughts, and deeds of its preceding
life. If the soul has led a righteous life (one in accord with the divine
Plan), the maiden appears in a beautiful form. If not, she appears as an
ugly hag. This image, fair or foul, confronts the soul, and the soul
acknowledges that the image is an embodiment of its own actions and thereby
judges itself, knowing whether it is worthy to cross over the
bridge to the other side or must return to earth to learn further lessons.
By another account, after the soul meets its own image,
it appears before a heavenly tribunal, where divine justice is
administered. Good souls go to a heaven called Vahishta
Ahu, the Excellent Abode. Evil souls are
consigned to a hell called Achista Ahu, the Worst Existence.
One account reflects a belief in reincarnation; the
other does not.
In the oldest Zoroastrian scriptures, heaven and hell
are not places, but states of mind that result from right or wrong choices.
Zoroaster spoke of the
House of Lies and the House of Song, ť to which souls are
sent. Some say that the fall of the soul into the House of Lies means a
return of the soul to earth, the realm of unreality or lies.
The souls will remain in their respective abodes until
the end of the current cycle of time. At the end of it there will be a
Judgment Day, when God will revive all the dead souls and review their
actions once again. This gives our resurrection of the dead both righteous
and unrighteous unto a final judgement seat - the
white throne Judgement. Those who were on the
side of the good and God will be rewarded with an eternal heavenly life,
while the rest will be consigned to a world of torment again.
As distinct from Judaism this is the resurrection of all
the dead to universal purification and renewal of the world. In the frashokereti doctrine, the final renovation of the universe
is when evil will be destroyed, and everything else will be then in perfect
unity with God (Ahura Mazda).
The doctrinal premises are
(1) good will eventually prevail over evil;
(2) creation was initially perfectly good, but was subsequently corrupted
(3) the world will ultimately be restored to the perfection it had at the
time of creation;
(4) the "salvation for the individual depended on the sum of [that
person's] thoughts, words and deeds, and there could be no intervention,
whether compassionate or capricious, by any divine being to alter this.
" Thus, each human bears
the responsibility for the fate of his own soul, and simultaneously shares
in the responsibility for the fate of the world. It is not difficult to see
that Judaism had adopted the same doctrines as those of the Zorastrians which had been transmitted to Christians
partially. It is generally believed
that the concept of Heaven and Hell were taken over and syncretised
soon after the exile of Israel into Babylon.
According to the tradition in the Parsee books,
Zoroaster was born in 660 B.C. and died in 583; but many scholars claim
that he must have flourished at a much earlier time. Zoroaster's birth is
dated between 1500 and 1200 B.C. All investigators, however, are agreed that
his teachings were generally in force throughout Iran before the time of
the Jewish Captivity. His name in its ancient form in the Avesta is "Zarathustra,"
"When the influence of Zoroastrianism on Judaism
and Christianity is studied, time and again we return to:
First, the figure of Satan, originally a servant
of God, appointed by Him as His prosecutor, came more and more to resemble Ahriman, the enemy of God.
Secondly, the figure of the Messiah, originally a future King of
Israel who would save his people from oppression, evolved, in Deutero-Isaiah for instance, into
a universal Savior
very similar to the Iranian Saoshyant.
Other points of comparison between Iran and Israel
the doctrine of the millennia;
Last Judgment; the heavenly book in which human actions are inscribed;
Resurrection; the final transformation of the earth; paradise on earth or
in heaven; and hell."
by J. Duchesne-Guillemin
Islamic version of
Judgment and Paradise.
Islam was essentially a return from the Christian
modification on Jewish faith and developed as a strict monotheistic
tradition. Most of the teachings are
similar to the Jewish teachings.
Islam originated in Mecca and Medina at the start of the 7th
century. In 610 CE, Muhammad began receiving his revelations. The major difference in the Abrahamic religions
lie in their approach to who God is.
Islam considers God as Master and humans as the Slaves.
Afterlife will start with the "Day of the
Arising" and a trumpet blast which will wake the dead from their
graves. "When all created beings, including men, angels, jinn, devils
and animals gather and sweat unshaded from the
sun the Perspiration will follow. Sinners and unbelievers will suffer and
sweat longer on this day, which lasts for "50,000 years". God
will judge each soul,
accept no excuses, and examine every act and intention—no
matter how small. It is believed those whose good deeds outweigh the bad
will be assigned to Jannah (heaven), and those
whose bad deeds outweigh the good to Jahannam.(Hell). Finally the souls will traverse over hellfire
via the bridge of sirat.
The sirat is a long and narrow
bridge that everyone will have to pass through before entering Heaven. It
is believed to be a “bridge over Hell”. It has been said that this bridge
will be a reflection of ones life in this world (Dunyia). The more a person saves himself from evil
actions the more it will be easier for him to pass over it.
Narrated by Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri: We, the companions of the Prophet asked:
"O Allah's Apostle! What is the bridge?'
› Belief in the Last Day › Paradise and Hell
Allah's Apostle said, "It is a slippery (bridge) on
which there are clamps and (Hooks like) a thorny seed that is wide at one
side and narrow at the other and has thorns with bent ends. Such a thorny
seed is found in Najd and is called As-Sa'dan. Some
of the believers will cross the bridge as quickly as the wink of an eye,
some others as quick as lightning, a strong wind, fast horses or
she-camels. So some will be safe without any harm; some will be safe after
receiving some scratches, and some will fall down into Hell. The last
person will cross by being dragged over the bridge." (Sahih Bukhari- Volume 9, Book
93, Number 532)
These hooks will snatch the people according to their
The bridge is like a hair split into seven parts
and sharp as a sharp razor
Some people will be ruined because of their evil deeds,
and some will be cut into pieces and fall down in hell, but will be saved
afterwards, when Allah has finished the judgments among His slaves, and
intends to take out of the Fire whoever He wishes to take out from among
those who used to testify that none had the right to be worshipped but
Allah.” (Sahi Bukhari-
Volume 8, Book 76, Number 577)
The Sirat is thinner than a
hair and sharper than a sword. Angels will try hard to save Believers. Jabrail 'alaihis-salam will
grip my waist, and I will pray, "O my Lord! Give salvation to my
nation and rescue them." On that day many people who will slip and
'We were informed that the Siraat is a
walking distance of 15000 years: 5000 years climbing up, 5000 years getting
down, and 5000 years walking on the surface (lengthwise), and it is thinner
than a hair and sharper than a knife, placed on Hellfire.' [Ibn 'Asaakir]
Abu Sa'id al Khudri reported Allah's Messenger as saying: "When
the believers pass safely over (the bridge across) Hell, they will be
stopped at a bridge between Hell and Paradise where they will retaliate
against one another for the injustices done among them in the world, and
when they are purified of all their sins, they will be admitted to
Paradise. By Him in Whose hands the life of Muhammad is, everybody will
recognize his dwelling in Paradise better than he recognizes his dwelling
in this world." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Fath Al-Bari)
The bridge is the judgement
which is to be crossed soon after the resurrection.
After Crossing the Bridge
When Believers cross the Sirat,
they will come across two springs. They will have a bath from one of the
springs and will drink from the other. Thus, after attaining material and
spiritual purity, they will come to the gate of Paradise. Angels will say, as it is stated in Zumar Sura,"Peace be upon you. Welcome! Enter here eternally." The believers will enter Paradise and
they will be of the shape and image of their father, Adam, sixty cubits in
height. Then they will be clothed
garments of Paradise, and all of them will go into Paradise. INSHALLAH!!
Notice that even from the Hell some will have
opportunity to get to heaven. Only
the worst will be left forever.
There is also a purgaorial path instead of
the Sirat bridge where a punitive time is served
and compensations of sins are made who will then walk into the paradise.
related to Hebrew Gehennom and refers to an
afterlife place of punishment for evildoers. The punishments are carried in
accordance with the degree of evil one has done during ones
life. In Quran, Jahannam
is also referred as al-Nar ("The Fire"), Jaheem ("Blazing Fire"
("That which Breaks to Pieces" ), Haawiyah ("The Abyss" ), Ladthaa , Sa’eer
("The Blaze" ), Saqar and also
the names of different gates to hell.
According to Quran Surah 11:119, Jahannam is for both evil among the Jinn and humans.