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The Zoroastrian Law and Faith

In the religious tradition of the pre-Islamic Iranians, religion was considered as a system that supervised religious obligations and do’s and don’ts from both the legal as well as ritualistic aspects; a characteristic of the Zoroastrian laws that can be found in some ways to be commensurate with Islamic jurisprudence. A perusal of the surviving Zoroastrian texts proves that issues pertaining to religious obligations had been included in them like a particular branch of religious knowledge. Interestingly, these issues were even subject to differences in interpretations of religion and, in an Islamic sense, had also resulted in the formation of different jurisprudential schools.

It is for this very reason that the legal texts that have survived from the Sassanid period are basically religious in nature and in effect reflect the views of a particular “Chāshteh” (religious jurisprudent) over religious issues. The most outstanding surviving Zoroastrian legal text is the “Mādiyān Hezār Dādestān” (lit.: “A Collection of One Thousand Legal Verdicts”) of Farrokhmard-e Vehrāmān, which deals with a wide range of civil and personal matters like marriage, inheritance, guardianship, ownership, rent, legal representation, partnership, and to some extent criminal issues. As it appears, this text which is at times referred to as the civil (or social) law of the Sassanid Iran, was not an official law but was rather a religious text.

The other surviving Zoroastrian texts that more evidently consist of legal and religious obligations include the “Dādestān-e Dini”, the “Shāyest Ne-Shāyest”, the “Revāyāt-e Omid Ashuheshtān”, the “Revāyāt-e Āzar Faranbagh Farrokhzādan”, the “Revāyāt-e Faranbagh Sorush”, the “Porsish-hāye Hirbad Esfandiyār Farrokh Barzin”, as well as some parts of the “Dinkard Encyclopedia”.

 

* source: Pakatchi , Ahmad "Iran Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.10 ,pp.622

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