Manichaean religion

 Manny's upbringing

In a fertile palm grove on the banks of the Tigris, in the second century AD, a young boy named “Mani” grew up among a strict Christian Baptist group of men who called themselves “the ones in white.” Mani did not know that one of these men was called “Batig.” He is the same father, and he is the one who brought him to this place. He was very young when the people of the white robes, with his father’s approval, forcefully snatched him from the bosom of his mother, Maryam, in order to keep him away from the life of disbelief and be raised among the only group that he believed knew the path to the truth. 

Battig withdrew from Mary and abandoned her when he met one of these men on one of his business trips. Battig was sincere in his search for God and the truth, and believed that he had to leave his life behind him and go to live in the palm grove with the believing community.

He left his wife pregnant and abandoned his business, his home, and his fields for the sake of his belief. When his wife gave birth to her baby and he found it to be a boy, he had to, according to the law of the people of white clothing, bring the child to the garden so that he could grow up away from disbelief, but it seems that this garden was not large enough for women. “So what is it?” A female is forbidden, and what is forbidden is a female.” Only men are truly believers, and no woman can worship the Lord of the people of white clothes. That is why Patig took the boy and left his wife behind him forever.

Manichaeism, or as it is also called "Mananism", is a religion created by a man named "Mani" of Magi origin, born in 216 AD in Babylon, who said that the revelation came to him when he was twelve or twenty-four years old, and he believed in the prophecy of Christ, Jesus, son of Mary, but he did not He did not believe in the prophecy of Moses, so he took a path between Magianism and Christianity. In addition, he tried to establish a link between his religion and other non-Christian religions, such as Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. He wrote several books, most notably his own Bible, which is considered a counterpart to the Christian Bibles.

The history of the emergence of Manichaeism

Manichaeism appeared as a religious movement in Persia in the third century AD at the hands of the Supreme Illuminator or Messenger of Light, Mani, who was born in southern Babylon, Iraq. He claimed that there was a revelation from heaven that came to him, so he announced his new doctrine and religion, and began preaching it throughout Persia.

However, after a while, the king opposed what he was doing and imprisoned him, and after 26 days of torture, a period that his followers called “the Passion of the Illuminator,” Mani was crucified and died at a time between the years 274 and 277 AD, and Mani saw himself as a messenger in a long line of prophets. The previous ones, starting with Adam and continuing through Buddha, Zoroaster, and Jesus. 

Mani encouraged the translation of his writings and the Gospel into other languages, and this made Manichaeism spread rapidly in the West and reach the Roman Empire, Egypt, and North Africa in the early fourth century AD. Many Manichaean churches were founded, especially in southern Gaul and Spain, but the Christian Church and the Roman Empire They attacked him severely, so the Manichaean religion completely disappeared from Western Europe by the fifth century, then it disappeared from the eastern side in the sixth century, and by the seventh century the Manichaean religion had already spread to the east, especially in China, and in the eighth century it reached Turkestan, and Manichaeism continued in China. Until the fourteenth century, and during the Middle Ages in Europe, Manichaeism reappeared strongly, especially in Armenia, Bulgaria, and southern France. 

The Manichaean doctrine declined and disappeared in the West due to its inability to confront and discuss philosophical theologians. In the Middle East, Manichaeism became extinct after the spread of Islam, and in the Far East it ended due to the opposition of the Buddhists, Confucians, and Mongols to it. 

Manichaean beliefs

Manichaeism is considered one of the dualistic doctrines that is based on the dualistic belief that the world consists of two ancient origins, which are light and darkness, where light was the supreme element of the greatest creation, and in the kingdom of light the supreme god set up his throne, and because he was pure, he summoned the mother of life, which summoned the ancient man. This is what represents the trinity of “father, mother, and son.” This human being, who was called the affectionate son, was loyal because he succeeded in defeating the forces of darkness with his courage and boldness, but along with these traits, he needed another trait for victory, which is suffering, and therefore Manichaean mythology sees human suffering. Redeeming them is its main topic, as the ancient man or the first man is the savior of humanity, and at the same time he needs to be redeemed.

Accordingly, Manichaeism is similar to the Gnostic religions, which all depend on the doctrine of redemption and salvation. Salvation occurs by freeing the soul from the prison of the body, so it can ascend to God, because its long period of living inside the body is what caused it to forget its high and sublime origin and put it in a state of ignorance.

The body and its desires are considered evil, because they prevent the soul from achieving salvation. Accordingly, salvation from ignorance is represented by knowledge, and man needs the Savior whom he called “the Son of God” in order to achieve this. Therefore, the Manichaean doctrine encourages asceticism and monasticism, and forbids everything encourages physical and sensual desires, and it even forbids meat, because it originates - according to its belief - from Satan, and therefore the followers of Manichaeism live on fruit, especially watermelon, oil and fruit juice.

In their faith, it is forbidden to kill animals and plants, and whoever commits this sin will be punished by being born again in the form of the thing that killed him. In addition, they prefer to avoid drinking a large amount of water, and they forbid marriage or sexual relations because it is an evil thing, and they see procreation as something more evil than marriage.

All those who can carry out these commandments are called “Mujtabīn.” As for the sāmīn, they are the ones who carry out the prohibited tasks on behalf of the mujtīn and provide them with food. Therefore, the sāmīn say when they do anything that the mujtīn have prepared, such as when they eat bread, for example: “I did not reap you, or grind you, or eat bread.” I knead you or put you in the oven to bake you, but someone else did that and brought you to me so that I could eat you without sin.”

Manichaeism also believes in the idea of confession, repentance, and Manichaean baptism, as well as the holy feast or the Lord’s Supper, which takes place at the end of the twelfth month, “the month of Manichaean fasting.” This holiday is a reminder of Mani’s depart, and we can notice how similar these beliefs are to their counterparts in Christianity.

Mani's writings

Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the only sources for the Manichaean religion were limited to descriptions and quotations by non-Manichaean authors from Christians, Muslims, Zoroastrianism and others.

By 1904 AD, a group of German researchers discovered the site of the ancient Manichaean kingdom of Uygur, located near Turfan in Chinese Turkestan, which was destroyed in approximately 1300 AD. It contained many of the Manichaean holy books, which were written in different languages, including Middle Persian and Old Turkish. Although... Since most of the books were in poor condition, the Germans analyzed them and republished them in Hebrew.

A group of German researchers also found a number of Manichaean works written in the Coptic language in Egypt, which were republished again in Berlin before the outbreak of World War II. In China, French researchers discovered the largest collection of Manichaean books written in Chinese, which were translated into French, Japanese, English, and German. In the late twentieth century, scholars discovered a book by Mani describing his life written in Greek. Mani wrote eight books, including the Gospel of Mani, which he wrote in Syriac Aramaic.

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