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Persian Religion

As absolute autocrats, the Persian kings believed they were superior to all human beings. Neither they nor their subjects, however, considered the king to be a god but, rather, the agent of the supreme god of Persian religion, Ahura Mazda. Persian religion1, based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster, was dualistic, conceptualizing the world as the arena for a constant battle between good and evil. Unlike the Greeks, the Persians avoided animal sacrifice. Fire, kindled on special altars, formed an important part of their religious rituals. Although the language of ancient Persia has survived in its homeland in the form of modern Iranian, the religion of ancient Persia has been replaced in today's Iran by Islam. The religion called Zoroastrianism, a descendant of the dualistic religion of ancient Persia, survives to this day in the modern world. Contemporary Zoroastrianism has preserved the central role of fire in its practice, and its sanctuaries are called fire temples. The largest surviving population of Zoroastrians today resides in Bombay, India, descended from Persians, who had emigrated from their homeland over a thousand years ago.

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