Rastafari is not a religion but a Way of Life. Although when we look at the faith we have, principles that we keep and the type of scriptures we read it can be mistaken as a religion, because it has many similarities from the known religions of the world notable Christianity, Judaism and Islam. We live by many of the same laws and philosophies and pray to the same god YAHWEH (Allah in Islam). Still we don't see Rastafari as a religion, and will explane why. We know many people will say that a religion is defined by certain aspects and that when you fit into that, you are a religion.
We looked up the definition of religion and found that there are quite a lot of different definitions for it. Here are a couple we found.
Definition of Religion
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc. to enter religion.
5. ritual observance of faith.
6. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
7. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in belief and worship.
8. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
9. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
10. Belief in supernatural beings (gods).
11. A moral code believed to be sanctioned by the gods
12. Prayer and other forms of communication with gods.
By these definitions Rastafari could be seen as a religion because it fits into the many definitions that people have come up with.
We can also see religion as a word made up by people trying to label everything, but that religion doesn’t really exist and that it is only another word for culture.
Definitions of religion tend to suffer from one of two problems. They are either too narrow and exclude many belief systems which most agree are religious, or they are too vague and ambiguous, suggesting that just about everything that deals with faith, is a religion.
In any case we Rastafari dont see our self as part of a religion but see our culture more as a Way of Life. We looked up the definition of Way of Life and found these descriptions.
Definition of Way of Life
1. A course of conduct.
2. A mode of action.
3. A typical way in which a person or group lives.
4. What people normally do or have done.
5. The behavior, habits, customs etc that are typical of a particular society or person.
6. A style of living that reflects the attitudes of a person or group.
7. A lifestyle.
When we look at these definitions we can see that it has nothing to do with faith or principles but simply how one behaves or lives his or her life.
There are different reasons why we dont want to be called a religion. For one we have set I&I apart from modern day society and institutions making clear that we have different views about many things and by defining ourselves as a way of Life and not a religion, we make a distinction that people can gravitate to. But most important is that a Way of Life can be universal and religion is bound to a certain group. By not classifying our self as a separate religion we are more accessible for the rest of the world and have an opportunity to create more Inity. Because if we would say, we are a religion and we have faith in this book, have these principles, and nothing else
then everybody who doesn’t have the same faith could reject Rastafari just how they have rejected other religions. And that is what many wars have been fought over. Often small differences, but just because it is another religion will get rejected and disrespected.
By eliminating the religious aspect we want to create more unity in the world by the philosophy of a common Way of Life that can be acceptable for any body because it is not defined by religion.
We could say that Rastafari is a bit of both, a Way of Life that is Universal, with religious components that are for Rastafari personally.
What we would like to see is that people from all over the world of any religion (about 4.200 according to wikipedia) or people without religion, live the Rastafari Way of Life without letting go of their own religion, culture or personal believes. So a Muslim, Christian or a Jew could live the Rastafari Way of Life and still hold on to the believes and practices he or she already had. Rastafari is not about converting anybody we just want Love and Peace on Earth and by focusing more on the Way we Live we aim to achieve that. This would not be possible if we would only define our self as a religion.
What is the Rastafari Way of Life?
The Rastafari way of life is very simple and not specificly something we only do, there are many people who already live this way within all cultures, Budhism is also often explained as way of Life more then a religion and very similar to Rastafari, as with other groups who are more focused on spirituality.
* Love is the most precious attribute as it basically assures that the way we live our life will be positive. Truly overstanding and living in Love will expel most if not all our negative thoughts and behaviors. It is easier said then done but that is the road we trod on. And through being aware of this and consciously making choices in our life that comes from love we learn over time.
* Health is also an important factor as our bodys are temples of the most high and how we treat it has influence on our consciousness and therefore needs to be taken care of and nourished properly. We have our thoughts about what is healthy and this is mostly a vegan or vegetarian diet, no/little sugar, no chemicals, no alcohol or hard drugs.
* Spirituality is an Important aspect within Rastafari livity, Africans are by nature very spiritual and with the assistance of the Holy herb Rastafari take this spirituality to a deeper level. (note that Herb is not needed to live a spiritual life).
* being kind to people, being kind to animals, being respectful and nourishing to nature, being helpful to the needy, forgiving, practicing non judgment, honesty and truthfulness, non violent, caring, sharing, being in good/positive spirit, free of anger/negativity, taking good care of your body.
* living for a higher divine purpose, this is what many people will see as living for god or living in a manner that we know we are part of higher being and therefore do our best to try and serve this entity which is for the benefit of everybody god, you, me, I&I&I.
* Living Rebellious, by rejecting And making known that what we see as evil, bad or unhealthy and by embracing and exalting the positive we become rebels. Some take it further then others but by simply not partaking of certain things (like eating and drinking unhealthy, immoral behavior, lack of integrity) that babylon wants us to see as normal or accepting, we support the rebellion and the revolution.
If we don’t overstand and live this Way of Life we are bound to fall into the same destructive ways of the past, which most of us can see doesn’t benefit anyone or anything. So by living this way that can be universally accepting we still have a chance for world peace.
Here are some wonderful words of Emperor Haile Selassie I on Religion and Way of Life (which He defines as spirituality).
“Religion is a set of rules, regulations and rituals created by humans which were supposed to help people grow spiritually.
Due to human imperfection religion has become corrupt, political, divisive and a tool for power struggle”
”The temple of the most high begins with the human body, which houses our life, essence of our existence. Africans are in bondage today because they approach spirituality through Religion provided by foreign invaders and conquerors. We must stop confusing religion and spirituality.
Spirituality is not theology or ideology. It is simply a way of life, pure and original as was given by the Most High. Spirituality is a network linking us to the Most High, the universe and each other. As the essence of our existence it embodies our culture, true identity, nationhood and destiny. A people without a nation they can really call their own is a people without a soul. Africa is our nation and is in spiritual and physical bondage because her leaders are turning to outside forces for solutions to African problems when everything Africa needs is within her. When African righteous people come together, the world will come together. This is our divine destiny.``
“Discipline of the mind is the basic ingredient of genuine morality and therefore spiritual strength. Spiritual power is the eternal guide, in this life and the life after, for man can reach the summit destined for him by the Great Creator. Since nobody can interfere in the realm of God we should tolerate and live side by side with people of different faiths, In the mystic tradition of the different religions we have a remarkable Unity of Spirit. Whatever religion they may profess, they are Spiritual Kinsmen. While the different religions in their historic forms bind us to limited groups and militate against the development of loyalty to the world community, the Mystics have already stood for the fellowship of humanity ... in harmony with the spirit of the mystics of ages gone by. No one should question the faith of others, for no human being can judge the ways of God.”
“We are gratified in particular, to note that the work of this conference has been concerned
purely with religious, spiritual matters free from extraneous political considerations.
This is only fitting and proper, for the church, as a symbol of peace, must follow the path of
peace in all parts of the world. For world peace can only be made abiding by the grace of God,
through the prayers of the Holy Fathers. The truth of this cardinal fact is evident to all mankind. Therefore, it has become the noble responsibility of Christians, and peoples of other faiths and their leaders throughout the world, to pray and to work hard for the preservation of world peace
”We have always been religious, ever since childhood, ever since the day our father, Ras Makonnen, taught us the commandment of Our Lord the Creator. But we don't consider our religion alone valid and have granted the people the freedom to observe any religion they please. We believe in the reunification of the churches
Haile Selassie I
Blessed United Love
|Empress Menen Asfaw
|Royal Family of Ethiopia
|Ethiopian Orthodox Church
|Twelve Tribes Of Israel
|Other Rastafari Mansions
|Rastafari Way Of Life
|The 5th Commandment
|The Kebra Nagast
|Ethiopian World Federation
|Rastafari Art Work
|Rastafari News Articles