AHC: No Zoroastrianism (POD of 600 BC)
In this alternate history challenge you need to find a way to prevent Zoroastrianism from existing, What would happen if Zoroastrianism never existed? How will this effect the Pre-Islamic Iranian Civilizations or the cultures surrounding it? Would it butterfly away Abrahamic religions like Judaism, Christianity or Islam? Would these religions still manage to exist without Zoroastrianism (maybe in a different form?) Without the existence of Zoroastrianism, what religion would take its place in Pre-Islamic Iranian Culture? Maybe a form of Iranian Paganism similar to Hinduism? Maybe Buddhism? Maybe even some form of Christianity if the non existence of Zoroastrianism doesn't butterfly it away? Maybe even a religion similar to Zoroastrianism will take its place anyways? Would Islam still exist or be butterflied? If it does exist would it still replace the Pre-Islamic Iranian Religion? Would the Arab invasions still happen without Islam or will it still happen but the Arab invaders just adapt to the native Religion instead similar to other migratory invaders like Turks or Mongols? Answer down below what your take on this alternate history scenario would be like!
 
It would have an interedting effect on western ideologies.

The idea of a dialectical fight between good and evil and of the world progressing inevitably towards some goal (the end of history) originated in Zoroastrianism and was then borrowed into Christianity and then to secular ideologies.

Without it western philosophy would be unrecognizable since all western -isms subscribe to the " some absolute truth is fighting some absolute evil in the world, the truth will win and there will be the end of history' kind of thinking
 
AHC: No Zoroastrianism (POD of 600 BC)
In this alternate history challenge you need to find a way to prevent Zoroastrianism from existing, What would happen if Zoroastrianism never existed? How will this effect the Pre-Islamic Iranian Civilizations or the cultures surrounding it? Would it butterfly away Abrahamic religions like Judaism, Christianity or Islam? Would these religions still manage to exist without Zoroastrianism (maybe in a different form?) Without the existence of Zoroastrianism, what religion would take its place in Pre-Islamic Iranian Culture? Maybe a form of Iranian Paganism similar to Hinduism? Maybe Buddhism? Maybe even some form of Christianity if the non existence of Zoroastrianism doesn't butterfly it away? Maybe even a religion similar to Zoroastrianism will take its place anyways? Would Islam still exist or be butterflied? If it does exist would it still replace the Pre-Islamic Iranian Religion? Would the Arab invasions still happen without Islam or will it still happen but the Arab invaders just adapt to the native Religion instead similar to other migratory invaders like Turks or Mongols? Answer down below what your take on this alternate history scenario would be like!
Muslim hated Zoroastriasm as Kafirs/Polytheist...so that would not change
 
There might not even be an Islam without Zoroastrian influence on the other 2 Abrahamic religions.
No, there WILL not be Islam without Zoroastrianism. Neither will there be recognizable Judaism, nor Christianity at all.

I can still imagine a big gnostic "good versus evil" narrative being adopted or invented by the peoples influenced by Zoroastrianism. It's a basic enough idea. But the absence of Zoroastrianism's influence opens the playing field up to all kinds of beliefs, the possibilities are endless. I wonder what the Iranians will end up developing. Zoroastrianism as far as I know is the only gnostic Indo-European religion.
 
No, there WILL not be Islam without Zoroastrianism. Neither will there be recognizable Judaism, nor Christianity at all.

I can still imagine a big gnostic "good versus evil" narrative being adopted or invented by the peoples influenced by Zoroastrianism. It's a basic enough idea. But the absence of Zoroastrianism's influence opens the playing field up to all kinds of beliefs, the possibilities are endless. I wonder what the Iranians will end up developing. Zoroastrianism as far as I know is the only gnostic Indo-European religion.
You're somewhat misusing the term gnostic - which referes primarily to a Judeo-Christian belief system which values gnosis (mystical knowledge) gained through direct experience with the Godhead. There were elements of Zoroastrianism which could be considered gnostic, or pseudo-gnostic, but Zoroastrianism in its entirety doesn't fall under under the gnostic umbrella. I think what you're thinking of is dualism - a belief that the universe is primarily invovled in a struggle between the Forces of Good and those of Evil (Or Order vs. Chaos, etc). Once again, there were some gnostics that believed this, but it wasn't gnostism itself.

Now, if we have a world that is bereft of Zoroastrianism, I wonder if we could see the development of a greater religious continuum which spread from the Iranian world to that of India. Certainly the religion won't be practiced the same way throughout - different parts of the continuum would have influenced by local and foreign ideas and the like, as well as political realities - but there would be a larger crossover of Gods and perhaps even some rituals. That, in and of itself, would be pretty interesting.

As for Judiasm, assuming no butterflies prior to the arrival of Cyrus (and yes, I know, that's a big If) you are still going to have the Babylonian Captivity and their eventual return which was a huge factor in compiling and collecting many of the earlier books of the Hebrew Bible. There is also a lot of debate on just how much Zoroastrianism influenced the development of Judiasm at this time (there is, I think, certainly some influence on certain schools of Judaism by the beginnings of the Christian Era, especially in some of the more esoteric apocalyptic branches, like the compilers of the Deadsea Scrolls. But prior to that, it gets a bit more hazy). I could see Jewish Monotheism still developing, or Judaism would instead take a different route and continue to accept the presense of other gods but promote the worship of their diety solely. As others have said, however, Christianity and Islam are right out due to the POD being so far back.
 
Iranian Religions would be more similiar to Hinduism and other Indian religions, where there is a God for every aspect and almost each city, town or village has its own Gods and Goddess
 

Johnharry

Kicked
@John7755 يوحنا can put it better than me, but there are many misconceptions about "Zoroastrianism" and how prevalent it ever was in Iran in reality.

To simply put it, Zoroastrianism was not the only, nor most common Iranian religion.
 
To simply put it, Zoroastrianism was not the only, nor most common Iranian religion.

This. The first question is what the OP wants exactly. State Zoroastrianism in the later Sassanian period (what, I think, many people think of first when they think of Zoroastrianism) is pretty easy to butterfly with an ancient pod. What would change by butterflying Zoroaster himself is a different question, and a tricky one.

If we go back far enough, Iranian polytheism was almost indestinguishable with early Vedic religion. Of course it started branching off, probably pre-Zoroaster, but certainly after his arrival (whenever he lived, we know less about him than most every other foudner of a major world religion I can think of, and what we do know comes from oral tradition). But in any event the main religious innovation attributed to him is the primacy of Ahura Mazda, the importance of dualism (which I think others have mentioned), and the corresponding decline of some of the other polytheistic gods. The Achaemenids were influenced by this, but their own texts don't mention Zoroaster, so it's questionable whether they were really Zoroastrians, and even with a world in which the Zoroastrian movement was nipped in the bud the historical record probably wouldn't look too different to us (excepting butterflies). In fact, things probably wouldn't really be visibly different until the time of the Sassanian, since they were the first dynasty to really fuse religion and the state and develop a vision of orthodoxy reaching back to Zoroastrian texts. The Parthian state probably doesn't change much if they're Iranian polytheists uninfluenced by Zoroastrianism.
 

Johnharry

Kicked
This. The first question is what the OP wants exactly. State Zoroastrianism in the later Sassanian period (what, I think, many people think of first when they think of Zoroastrianism) is pretty easy to butterfly with an ancient pod. What would change by butterflying Zoroaster himself is a different question, and a tricky one.

If we go back far enough, Iranian polytheism was almost indestinguishable with early Vedic religion. Of course it started branching off, probably pre-Zoroaster, but certainly after his arrival (whenever he lived, we know less about him than most every other foudner of a major world religion I can think of, and what we do know comes from oral tradition). But in any event the main religious innovation attributed to him is the primacy of Ahura Mazda, the importance of dualism (which I think others have mentioned), and the corresponding decline of some of the other polytheistic gods. The Achaemenids were influenced by this, but their own texts don't mention Zoroaster, so it's questionable whether they were really Zoroastrians, and even with a world in which the Zoroastrian movement was nipped in the bud the historical record probably wouldn't look too different to us (excepting butterflies). In fact, things probably wouldn't really be visibly different until the time of the Sassanian, since they were the first dynasty to really fuse religion and the state and develop a vision of orthodoxy reaching back to Zoroastrian texts. The Parthian state probably doesn't change much if they're Iranian polytheists uninfluenced by Zoroastrianism.
The Sassanid state was weird. Most of the seven houses were not Zoroastrians and favored other deities compared to Ahura Mazda. The house of Sassan was merely chosen as a compromise between the powerful seven houses, so they would agree on a weaker head.

Quite frankly, culturally, not much would change, and it is likely culturally a non zoroastrian persia around OTL sassanian period will be culturally similar, minus the nominal head patronizing a minority religion related to a prophet called zoroaster. Who would take power, probably one of the seven parthian clans instead.

edit: and yes, there is similarity with both early Vedic religion, and also similarity with more near eastern religions
 
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minus the nominal head patronizing a minority religion related to a prophet called zoroaster.

I don't think we have nearly enough evidence to suggest that Zoroastrianism was a minority faith in Sassanid Iran - on the contrary I'd argue that the Sassanians were involved in a process of codifying an extant religious tradition recognized at this point by most of Iran. Also you can't ignore that the Sassanian state had the power to persecute people for deviating from state orthodoxy.

Yes, the Sassanians were first among equals in a confederation with other great houses, elevated because they weren't themselves a great house. But that doesn't mean that they didn't exercise real power, particularly in matters of religion.

edit: and yes, there is similarity with both early Vedic religion, and also similarity with more near eastern religions

Well, the two religious "bundles" so to speak diverged from the same core. Butterflying early religious "reformers" (for lack of a better term) might lead to an Iranian religion that, while still considerably different from Indian religion, retained some of that similarity, at least on a superficial level? Certainly Iranian religion would look quite different if you stripped out the dualistic impulse early on.
 
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Johnharry

Kicked
I don't think we have nearly enough evidence to suggest that Zoroastrianism was a minority faith in Sassanid Iran - on the contrary I'd argue that the Sassanians were involved in a process of codifying an extant religious tradition recognized at this point by most of Iran. Also you can't ignore that the Sassanian state had the power to persecute people for deviating from state orthodoxy.

Yes, the Sassanians were first among equals in a confederation with other great houses, elevated because they weren't themselves a great house. But that doesn't mean that they didn't exercise real power, particularly in matters of religion.
There is evidence that Zorostrianism was marginal in Iran.

That Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion in Iran. For one, Zoroastrianism wasnt a monolith and the Sassanian sponsored zurvanism was facing decline. Most of the Iranian population likely followed Iranian polytheism. The Parthian houses for example were other Iranian religions. For example Bahram Chobin Mihran said “‘You have your inferior god and I have my superior god’ (in reference to Mithra)”



House of Mihran: Mithra. worshippers of Mithra.

House of Suren: Unknown. Probably not tied to any but I can most likely be corrected on this. Given their holdings were closest to the eastern Iranian fire-temples and the Avestan homeland we can maybe assume more rustic Ahura Mazda worship (similar but not zoroastrian)

House of Karen: Ahura Mazda worshippers by the Sassanian times but also gave patronage to Anahita.

House of Ispahbudhan: Ahura Mazda. They were the most closely tied to the Sassanian regime and used the legitimacy provided by the Book of Kings to justify their descent and their worship of the Wise Lord.

House of Zik: Wahram/Verethragna. Was definitely a lesser deity by this point but the numismatic finds in Armenia confirm that they patronised the deity quite a lot.

House of Varaz: Sraosha or Ahura Mazda. Despite being close to the Avestan homeland, with their holdings in eastern Khorasan, the Book of Kings suggest Sraosha.

House of Spandhiadh: Unknown, however they were the rivals of the Mihrans and as such might have had a different tutelary deity.

The potrayal of Zoroastrianism as a "unified religion" was largely thanks to for one, modern zoroastrianism ending up that way, and the fact Byzantine sources generally did not cover the internal situation in the Sassanian Empire (more accurately, Sassanian Parthian Confederation) too accurately
 
There is evidence that Zorostrianism was marginal in Iran.

How does this square with the evident power of the Zoroastrian clergy during the Sassanian era? The campaigns of iconoclasm and persecutions of minority religions clash with the vision of a marginal Zoroastrianism. I fully recognize that Mazdaism within Iran was complex and varied, but I'd be curious how we reconcile the power of the state church with the idea that few people worshipped it.

Most of the Iranian population likely followed Iranian polytheism. The Parthian houses for example were other Iranian religions.
The Parthian houses themselves were not indigenous to Iranian, and this would hardly be the first society where the elite aristocracy kept their own religious traditions outside what the common people believed (and given the division of power in Sassanian state, it would be easy for them to avoid religious persecution as long as they didn't stray too far).

Edit: I'm absolutely not saying that Mihr worship wasn't widespread and central to Iranian culture - just pushing back against the idea that Zoroastrianism was "marginal" - it was the main game in town, imo.

Sassanian sponsored zurvanism was facing decline.
Zurvanism, imo, is more of a theological doctrine (do you emphasize the role of Zurvan or not) that at varying times came to prominence and was endorsed by the Sassanians and at other times was dismissed or minimized. I don't buy into the idea that the Sassanians themselves were at all times sponsors of "Zurvanism" as a distinct creed - the question is more akin to whether a particular branch of Christianity emphasizes the role of the holy spirit more or less. Zurvanism, unlike Mazdakism, was not a pure heresy.
 
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Johnharry

Kicked
How does this square with the evident power of the Zoroastrian clergy during the Sassanian era? The campaigns of iconoclasm and persecutions of minority religions clash with the vision of a marginal Zoroastrianism. I fully recognize that Mazdaism within Iran was complex and varied, but I'd be curious how we reconcile the power of the state church with the idea that few people worshipped it.


The Parthian houses themselves were not indigenous to Iranian, and this would hardly be the first society where the elite aristocracy kept their own religious traditions outside what the common people believed (and given the division of power in Sassanian state, it would be easy for them to avoid religious persecution as long as they didn't stray too far).


Zurvanism, imo, is more of a theological doctrine (do you emphasize the role of Zurvan or not) that at varying times came to prominence and was endorsed by the Sassanians and at other times was dismissed or minimized. I don't buy into the idea that the Sassanians themselves were at all times sponsors of "Zurvanism" as a distinct creed - the question is more akin to whether a particular branch of Christianity emphasizes the role of the holy spirit more or less. Zurvanism, unlike Mazdakism, was not a pure heresy.
Well you may be correct actually, and John7755 does know more than me on the issue, but in the end, it still relates to the question.

The rise of the Achaemenid, Alexander, and Parthian Empire's were largely events outside of the development of Zoroastrianism.

I do still think the Ascarids as we knew them would fall to a different house, but the seven clans and their iranic religions will be retained in this scenario.

The question is, without Zoroastrianism, what about the population? Well it would be similar to the seven parthain clans, who would patronize different "head dieties" yet were polythiests; not unlike the early vedic religion you mentioned, though the urban iranian population would probably still have slight differences with the "outsider" parthian clans in ritual
 
The question is, without Zoroastrianism, what about the population?

Perhaps the most plausible answer is a continued emphasis, or perhaps re-emphasis, of Mihr? There'd be a similar divergence of beliefs as OTL, but in different directions - Mihr as a god of war and covenants, Mihr reinterpreted in a millenarian sort of way, all sort of different explanations for how the rest of the polytheistic pantheon fit into the picture. And then someone would come along and establish an orthodox way of understanding Mihr.
 

Johnharry

Kicked
Perhaps the most plausible answer is a continued emphasis, or perhaps re-emphasis, of Mihr? There'd be a similar divergence of beliefs as OTL, but in different directions - Mihr as a god of war and covenants, Mihr reinterpreted in a millenarian sort of way, all sort of different explanations for how the rest of the polytheistic pantheon fit into the picture. And then someone would come along and establish an orthodox way of understanding Mihr.
If we look at the houses; they did not agree on who to patronage but their honored all the same pantheon most likely. Mihr could become a majority position, but I think even the urban iranian population will not reach 100% consensus. I could see it evolve into something like Hinduism, where there are different heads honored, (like Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism.)
 
If we look at the houses; they did not agree on who to patronage but their honored all the same pantheon most likely. Mihr could become a majority position, but I think even the urban iranian population will not reach 100% consensus. I could see it evolve into something like Hinduism, where there are different heads honored, (like Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism.)
That also seems plausible, yeah.
 
The Sassanid state was weird. Most of the seven houses were not Zoroastrians and favored other deities compared to Ahura Mazda.
They were, at least there is no solid evidence they weren't, otherwise we get a lot of complications.
 
They were, at least there is no solid evidence they weren't, otherwise we get a lot of complications.

Really depends how you define Zoroastrian. But the Mihran and the Karin definitely both worshipped Mihr, that is well attested in the names and symbols used by the dynasty. And I don't think a fear of "complications" is a good reason to rule something out.
 
Zurvanism, imo, is more of a theological doctrine (do you emphasize the role of Zurvan or not) that at varying times came to prominence and was endorsed by the Sassanians and at other times was dismissed or minimized. I don't buy into the idea that the Sassanians themselves were at all times sponsors of "Zurvanism" as a distinct creed - the question is more akin to whether a particular branch of Christianity emphasizes the role of the holy spirit more or less. Zurvanism, unlike Mazdakism, was not a pure heresy.
In fact there is no evidence of Zurvanism as a distinct cult separate from usual Mazda-worship, the belief is based on sources outside the usual iranian ones (mostly Armenian and Manichean ones) which... doesn't always take observable creeds of Mazda-worship correctly (Armenians seemed to belief the Sasanians had some fetish on making stuff out of human skin), Zurvan was certainly a minor deity under the Iranian pantheon (not unlike Sasan, which the Sasanian family takes its name) that had some following, but as Sasan did Zurvan ended up in the same obscurity and forgotten, no evidence of a distinct Zurvanite cult remaining.
Really depends how you define Zoroastrian. But the Mihran and the Karin definitely both worshipped Mihr, that is well attested in the names and symbols used by the dynasty. And I don't think a fear of "complications" is a good reason to rule something out.
That's pretty simple: A Mazda-worshiper (Zoroastrianism is a misnomer) is one that follows the "truth" revealed by Zoroaster on the Gathas and the tradition from which they stem. Also no, there is no hard evidence the Mihrans (or the Karens) were "Mihr-worshipers" that's a weird theory that comes from crazy Kurdish nationalists (we wurun't persians guise) and Pourshariati decided to sponsor it for some reason, which as far as I know has no traction in major Iranology academia, Touraj Daryaee did a neat breakdown of this theory on his review of her book, and Maksymiuk (which is somewhat sympathetic of the rest of her thesis) does note she makes... liberal interpretations of her sources to support it (like attributing the religious purge of Khosrow I of the Mazdakites to Khosrow II against those fabled "Iranian polytheists" as revenge for Bahram Chobin's rebellion), crazy stuff.
For btw, if a honoring of a yazata (in this case Mihr) means you're not a Zoroastrian, the Sasanians themselves weren't (they would be Anahitism by this logic), the Sasanian themselves worshiped Mihr, he's present on several reliefs.
EDIT: By "complications" I mean the fact that the Parthian houses (particularly the supposed non-Zoroastrian Mihrans) were really close to Khosrow I's religious reforms that most likely created the central Mazda-worshipping "church", why would them support Khosrow's return to orthodoxy following the Mazdakite uprising if they didn't even follow the faith? Particularly as Khosrow is characterized by strict creed? That makes no sense.
 
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