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Re: Brothers of the Shadow (fwd)

Jan 20, 1995 11:12 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

According to Moojan Momen:
(Author of an authoritative history of Shi`ism published by
Yale in 1985)

> In message <> "K.  Paul Johnson"
> writes:
> >      I'm hoping one of you experts in Islam may be able to shed
> > some light on a perplexing concept found in Blavatsky's
> > Theosophy.  Her emphasis on Masters, adepts or Mahatmas is
> > fairly congruent with her sources in Hinduism, Buddhism,
> > Rosicrucianism, Masonry, etc.  But she has a complementary
> > concept of Brothers of the Shadow, followers of the left-hand
> > path, anti-Masters whom she sometimes calls dugpas (redhats.)
> >      Her attribution of the concept to Tibetan sources is
> > clearly incorrect.  Red hat sects, the unreformed Tibetan
> > Buddhism pre-Gelugpa (Nyingmapa and Kargyutpa mainly) are
> > regarded by the orthodox Gelugpa as just another variant of a
> > true religion; in no way are they seen as evil or destructive.
> > Yet she attaches the name to a concept that came from somewhere
> > else, and it doesn't seem to be from Hindu, Buddhist, or
> > Western sources.  What does that leave?  Islam, Judaism, and
> > Christianity in its Eastern variations.
> >      The reason I'm asking you all is that I recently came
> > across a phrase like Brothers of the Shadow or of the left-hand
> > path in a Baha'i source, `Abdu'l Baha I think, and now I can't
> > remember where.  Maybe someone can help.  But beyond that, does
> > this idea of a brotherhood of evil adepts ring any bells with
> > anyone in terms of Islamic history and theology?
> >
> >
> I do not know whether anyone has answered your question regarding
> redhats or not but the following is a hypothesis that occurs to
> me:
> The Shi'is were known from Turkey to India as the Qizilbash
> (red-heads) on account of the fact that the followers of Ismail
> Shah (the first of the Safavid Shahs who established Shi'ism in
> Iran) wore red hats.
> In India where Sunni Islam was the majority, the despised Shi'i
> minority who were supported by Iran, were frequently referred to
> as Qizilbash (this was certainly true in Afghanistan, and I am
> fairly certain that it was true also for India -- you might check
> this with Juan Cole who is more knowledgable about Indian Shi'ism
> than I am).  From this reference to the despised Shi'i minority
> as Qizilbash, the usage may have spread into popular usage as a
> general term of abuse.
> Regards
> Moojan Momen
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