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Nazaret Daghavarian, "The birth of Protestantism and the Faith of the People of Qizilbash": the content of the book

Nazaret Daghavarian, "The birth of Protestantism and the Faith of the People of Qizilbash": the content of the book

Nazaret Daghavarian was born on December 25, 1862 in the city of Sivas. Doctor, agronomist, historian, teacher, member of the Ottoman Parliament, he is one of the founders of AGBU, the largest Armenian non-profit organization. Throughout his life he served the Armenian people and was awarded prizes for important research in the field of medicine and agriculture. On April 24, 1915, Nazaret Daghavarian was among the first arrested and killed Armenian intellectuals in Istanbul. 

Nazaret Daghavarian's book The birth of Protestantism and the Faith of the People of Qizilbash consists of three parts. The first chapter “The main Christian beliefs among Armenians” briefly describes the five main Christian trends in the life of the Armenian people. The following cults are mentioned in the chapter:

1. Marcionism

The name of the religious belief comes from the name of its founder Marcion of Sinope and it  originated in the second century. In the fifth century, Assyrians and Armenians became followers of this belief. It is of Gnostic origin, combining Christian and pagan philosophies. The followers of Marcionism reject the Old Testament, but accept the Gospel of Luke, the epistles of the Apostle Paul. They depicted Jesus in human form.

2. Manichaeism

This is a dualistic religious movement  which was founded by the Iranian prophet Mani. He studied Zoroastrianism and Christianity. Combining Christianity and Zoroastrianism, he created a new religious movement  and declared himself the last prophet. For this, he was expelled by Christians and settled in the Arabion castle on the border of Iran and Mesopotamia. There he continued to spread his religious movement. As a result, he was declared a heretic by the priests and by the order of the King of the Temple, he was executed in 274 and his skin was removed. Manichaeism absorbed many ideas from different religious movements, but most of all from Zoroastrianism. This spread in Armenia, Assyria (Syria), Egypt, up to Southern Europe (France). Also, this teaching gave rise to many secondary movements.

3. Mithraism

This cult is specific to the Syrians, originated in the fourth century. It had a very small number of supporters, among whom were Armenians. This teaching has much in common with Manichaeism.

4. Paulicianism

The movement originated in the middle of the seventh century in Armenia. The main principle of it  was the Markionist dualism.

5. Tondrakians

This is a Christian sect, which emerged in the ninth century in the village of Tondrak (Western Armenia). The cult is the continuation of the teachings of Paulicianism.

This section contains general information about the founders of these movements and teachings, where they spread and how they influenced each other, how Jesus was presented in these cults, and how they changed over time.

The second chapter is called “The Birth of Protestantism in Christianity” which tells us about the seven fundamental principles of the church, which became widespread in Europe. The second section of the chapter describes Armenian Protestantism, and also summarizes the chapter from the book by Professor Koniber “The Key to Truth”.

The title of the third chapter is “Qizilbashes” and this is the most remarkable chapter in the whole book. The author studied the Christian cults that emerged in Asia Minor and later developed into Eastern and Western Protestantism.

“Some Paulicians, because of the pressure, turned to the Hakan commandments and since then have been under their protection. They took their names and their religion. And they began to teach their children their holy book (the Koran). Since then, they agreed, according to the teachings, use circumcision.”

As we can understand from this part, the Alevis (Islamic religious community), originated from ancient Armenian teachings. Daghavarian writes that Alevis comply with the basic Christian laws “They have the same rituals as baptism, confession, and repentance. They also read prayers, as do Christians”.

The author writes that the Ottoman state considered Qizilbashes as rebellious Muslims. For this reason, as it is written in the book, many of them, not involved in either politics or public life, were slaughtered and persecuted.

In this section, the author writes: “Circumcision, spiritual confession, prayers, places of pilgrimage, the rite of exchange of sacred bread, basic customs, such as marriage, burial, mourning, have much in common with Christian ones.”

At the end of the section there is a chapter “Who are the Qizilbashes”, which says that because of persecution and pressure, they were forced to convert to Islam. They began to take Muslim names, look like Muslims and perform cults that were not close to them.

According to Daghavarian, the Qizilbashes adopted some customs from the Sofia Armenians. The author continues the idea that the Qizilbashes have some common cults with the Paulicianism. He emphasizes that the Qizilbashes spoke either Turkish or Kurdish, and referred to themselves as Armenian communities.


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