Zoroastrianism mixes parts of monotheism and dualism in its construct. Many modern theologians accept that Zoroastrianism have had a big influence on Judaism and Mithraism, and therefore, indirectly influenced Christianity and Islam.
Zoroastrianism was evolved from an earlier, polytheistic religion by Zoroaster in Persia approximately 1000BC (though, owing to a lack of written records, some conjectures have gone to as late as 600BC). In some circles, it is also referred to as Mazdaism, an homage to the Zoroastrian lead deity, Ahura Mazda.
Fundamental to the Zoroastrianism belief is the universe's perpetual conflict between light and the darkness. At the start of creation, the Supreme Being, Ahura Mazda, distinguished by again, light, justice and omniscience, as opposed to Ahura Ariman, a darkness that embodies carnage and death, both spiritual and temporal.
This universal duality between good and evil is distinct to the Abrahamic beliefs of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In Judaism and Christianity, all of God's creation accepted as essentially good and all stain of evil in the universe is a result of humanity's rejection of Him.
The ensuing universal struggle involves the whole cosmos, which forces humankind to choose a path. Evil, in its totality, will be utterly demolished at the end of eternity. Duality will reach its end and light will be radiant in every corner of the creation. Nevertheless, humanity is still free to select between the two paths. However, the paths of goodness, Asha, shall bring you to Ushta, happiness, whereas the path of evil will inevitably lead to darkness and its many manifestations.
This philosophy is emblematic of one of Zoroastrianism's most popularly sayings; “Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta” or "Good thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.
This philosophy also provides the basis for the popular concept of Heaven, Hell and Judgment Day. After death, the soul bridges the Chinvato Peretu, where their deeds in life are measured and the resulting decision will determine where their eventual place in eternity.
Zoroastrian communities regularly make it a requirement for children who have come of age to recite the profession of faith, the Fravarani: I confess myself a devotee of Ahura Mazda, a follower of Zoroaster, opposing the darkness and accepting the beliefs of the Ahura."
Equality of the gender
Women and men are treated as equals in the society.
Cleanness of the environment
Nature, as one of divinity's construct, is accorded its proper respect and status and this is reflected by the numerous nature related festivities in the Zoroastrian calendar.
Work and charity
Sloth is frowned upon and charity is encouraged as a community and individually.
Denunciation of oppression towards the living
Equality and respect for all living constructs of the creator, regardless of creed and origin
The Fire Symbolism
Similar to how the Christians revere the Cross, fire draws the same reaction from practicing Zoroastrian, as fire shares the characteristics of the Ahura – purity and radiance
Zoroastrians abhors proselytizing others, and believes that the only path to becoming a follower of the faith is through birthing. In fact, one of the great flaws of its people is the tendency to marry within the community, thus preventing the growth of its people and faith. In addition, those who marry out of the community are commonly branded as having left their faiths, notwithstanding the actual circumstances.
For instance, in Iran, due to the still existing discrimination, interfaith marriages are officially not encouraged by the authorities. With the globalization of contemporary society and the declining number of Zoroastrians, these rules are being observed with decreasing frequency, particularly by the diasporas overseas.
Small but flourishing Zoroastrian communities are found in the Indian subcontinent, Americas and even Africa. These communities there comprises of mainly groups branches of the South Asian Zoroastrians (the Pharsis), and the Persians of Iranian background. A conservative estimate of the global population for Zoroastrians is estimated in excess of 5 million, with a majority of them still in Iran.
Zoroastrians in Iran have, like other religious minorities, overcome centuries of persecution. Communities exist in Tehran or on the smaller cities of Yazed and Karman, where plenty are still conversant in Dari, a language stretching back across the millennia.
The Zoroastrian scriptures are identified as the Avesta and the commentaries are called the Zand. They are sometimes referred to as the Zand Avesta. The Avesta contains texts written in multiple Indo-Iranian languages, compiled and presented as a whole system instead of individually. A common criticism with the Avesta is that its use of metaphors and abstracts prevents the common folks from truly being able to understand the rich underlying concepts of the religion apart from it theme of good against evil.
Yasna denotes service, prayers and obeisance - the hymns of worship. Priests commonly recite the Yasna as part of their daily routine of five prayers or other ceremonial and communal duties.
The Visperad is recited during festivities and are normally read/sung after the Yasna.
A historical trove that also contains elements of jurisprudence.
It is essentially religious choirs that mimics (but predates) the nasyid tradition of the Muslim world.
Stock passages to be read during baptisms, blessing or other purity based ceremonies.