Refuting the Claim that Miraj was Plagiarized from the Zoroastrian Book- Arda Viraz or ARDĀ WĪRĀZ
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
The Main Argument is Revolved around a book named Arda Viraz Namag.
The Arda Viraf Namag is a Collection of Parsi Legends and has a Story of a man named Arda Viraf:
Arda Viraf is chosen for his piety to undertake a journey to the next world in order to prove the truth of Zoroastrian beliefs, after a period when the land of Iran had been troubled by the presence of confused and alien religions.
He drinks wine and a hallucinogen, after which his soul travels to the next world where it is greeted by a beautiful woman named Den who represents his faith and virtue. Crossing the Chinvat Bridge, he is then conducted by Srosh, the pious and Adar, “the angel” through the “star track”, “moon track” and “sun track” – places outside of heaven reserved for the virtuous who have nevertheless failed to conform to Zoroastrian rules.
In heaven, Viraf meets Ahura mazda who shows him the souls of the blessed (ahlav). Each person is described living an idealised version of the life he or she lived on earth, as a warrior, agriculturalist, shepherd or other profession.
With his guides he then descends into hell to be shown the sufferings of the wicked. Having completed his visionary journey Viraf is told by Ahura Mazda that the Zoroastrian faith is the only proper and true way of life and that it should be preserved in both prosperity and adversity.
Now according to the critics, this was later put in the Islamic story of Al-Miraj.
The basis of this Argument is that the book was from the 3rd Century A.D, so according to the Islam-haters, the former got influenced the latter.
When was the Arda Viraf Namag written??
There are two historical persons mentioned in Arda Viraz Namag:
Adurbad-i-Maraspandan, the famous Dastur and minister of Shapur II (309-379 CE) and
Weh-Sapur, the famous Mobad (Zoroastrian Preist) in the time of Khosrow I (531-579 CE). It is interesting to note that Arda Viraz Namag says Wiraz was also called Weh-sapur:
From three, one named Wirâz, it is so that some called him Weh-sâpûr. [Arda Viraf Namag p.192.]
Did the author of Arda Viraz namag know that these historical personalities were after the 3rd century???
Vahman the Translator of Arda Viraz Namag Says:
I had no historical knowledge about the time when they lived. [p.11.]
This means the Story would have originated much after 579 CE.
Dr.Walter Belardi a Orientalist claims that the whole of chapter Chapter I, 1-20 is a Later Day Forgery. He was also the first one to claim this book dates from the 300’s A.D
[W. Belardi, The Pahlavi Book Of Righteous Viraz, 1979 (Biblioteca di ricerche linguistiche e filologiche 10), University Department of Linguistics: Rome, pp. 121-122. Also See pg. 32 ,pg.33,and pg .43 of the same book]
Vahman, the Translator of Arda Wiraz Namag says these names were interpolated due to the high standing of these priests.
[F. Vahman, Arda Wiraz Namag: The Iranian ‘Divina Commendia’, op cit., p. 11]
P. Gignoux, an Orientalist Claims:
It is known that the whole of the Pahalvi literature was written tardily, roughly speaking after the Muslim conquest, and that it however transmitted extremely old traditions to us, from Sassanide and even pre-Sassanide times….
One also needs to remark that the handwritten tradition in Iran was never regarded as a rigid data, untouchable and final from where successive rehandlings which the texts underwent, and that poses the literary critic problems that need to be solved, in what concern us in particular is that of the dating of the various draftings…..
A particularly significant example of the transmission of a text for the Pahalvi literature, is the book of Arday Viraz…. Like also indicated by Ms. Boyce, in the work already quoted, this book underwent many rehandlings, and in the final drafting, the introduction was written subsequently to the Muslim conquest.
But the adaptation of the text for purposes of a religious propaganda at the time, when Mazdaism had to be upheld against the attacks of Islam, does not seem to have been the last.
Certain linguistic facts, with savior the presence of well characterized “Persianisms”, attest that the text still seems to have undergone rehandlings in the 10th or 11th centuries and that the final drafting of the text such as it was preserved to us – insofar as, as one saw, one can speak about final drafting – could be extremely late.
[P. Gignoux, “Notes Sur La Redaction De L’Arday Viraz Namag: L’Emploi De Hamê Et De Bê”, Zeitschrift Der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 1969, SupplementaI, Teil 3, pp. 998-999.]
Encyclopedia Iranica states:
The Arda Wiraz-namag, like many of the Zoroastrian works, underwent successive redactions. It assumed its definitive form in the 9th-10th centuries AD, as may be seen in the texts frequent Persianisms, usages known to be characteristic of early Persian literature.
[“Arda Viraz”, Encyclopaedia Iranica, 1987, Volume II, Routledge & Kegan Paul: London & New York, p. 357.]
In its surviving form it is a prose work, written in simple, direct style; and an introductory chapter indicates a date after the Arab conquest. This late redaction was made in Pars, and is probably one of the 9th/10th century literary products of the province.
[M. Boyce, “Middle Persian Literature”, Handbuch Der Orientalistik, 1968, Band VIII, Iranistik: Zweitter Abschnitt, E. J. Brill: Leiden/Köln, p. 48.]
Vahman the Translator of Arda Wiraz Namag said:
The introductory chapter indicates a date after the Arab conquest and was apparently written in Pars. It is probably one of the 9th or 10th century literary products of the province. A linguistic analysis supports this view. [F. Vahman, Arda Wiraz Namag: The Iranian ‘Divina Commendia’, op cit., p. 11.]
P. Gignoux did a study on this book and reached the conclusion it was dated from the 9th or 10th centuries.
That is why Scholars dating this work say:
…. when it was set down is unknown. [M. Boyce, “Middle Persian Literature”, Handbuch Der Orientalistik, op cit., p. 48.]
The First Orientalist who claimed Zoroastrianism influenced islam was Goldziher
[I. Goldziher, ”Islamisme et Parsisme”, Revue De L’Histoire Des Religions, 1901, Volume XLIII, pp. 1-29.]
So it has Been Established that Arda Viraf was a later day fabrication to be used against Islam and this book went under several Redactions like most Pahlavi literature.
Also it must be noted that the Qur’an only mentions the raising to the heavens in the Surah Al-Isra and not the story of Buraq and a Flying Horse is mentioned in the sunnah. And it is the belief of the Ahlus Sunnah that the Meraj was Physical and not just spiritual as is the case with the above quoted book.
English Translation of the Qur’an:
Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).
Quran [Surah Al-‘Isra]