Text:Debate of Imam al-Rida (a) with the Zoroastrian Scholar

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After taking Imam al-Rida (a) to Khorasan, al-Ma'mun held debates between him and the prominent figures of other religions and denominations for his own purposes. The debate cited below is between Imam al-Rida (a) and the senior Zoroastrian figure present in one of the debates. In this conversation, the Zoroastrian figure appeals to reports about Zarathustra's miracles transmitted to us by earlier people as evidence for his prophethood. The Imam (a) employs the same evidence to prove the prophethood of the prophets after Zarathustra, and the Zoroastrian figure cannot reply to the Imam's (a) argument.

The Debate

In a debate held by al-Ma'mun between Imam al-Rida (a) and the heads of religions and denominations, the Imam (a) asked Zoroastrians about their evidence for the prophethood of Zarathustra. He told Hirbidh the Great:

What is your reason for Zarathustra's prophethood?

Hirbidh replied: he had miracles which were never displayed by anyone before him. Of course, we have not seen him, but we have reports from earlier people to the effect that he permitted us to do things which were not permitted before. Thus, we follow him.

The Imam (a) said:

So, you follow him because of the reports you have received.

Hirbidh replied: Yes. It is true.

The Imam (a) said:

Other previous nations are the same. They heard reports about the miracles of prophets—Moses (a), Jesus (a), and Muhammad (s). So, what is your excuse for not believing in these prophets, while you have believed in Zarathustra only because of numerous, assuring reports about miracles he had which nobody else had displayed?

Hirbidh could not reply.[1]


  1. Tabrisi, al-Ihtijaj, vol. 2, p. 424


  • Tabrisi, Ahmad b. 'Ali al-. Al-Ihtijaj. Ed. Muhammad Baqir Musawi Khirsan. Mashhad: Nashr al-Murtada, 1403 AH.