A Summary of Rastafarian Religious Beliefs, Practices, and Culture
Rastafari, also spelled Ras Tafari, religious and political movement, begun in Jamaica in the s and adopted by many groups around the globe, that combines Protestant Christianity, mysticism, and a pan-African political consciousness. Rastas, as members of the movement are called, see their past, present, and future in a distinct way. May 31, †Ј New Developments In the late s, a radical version of Rastafarianism, known as the Youth Black Faith, emerged from the slums of the Jamaican capital of .
Rastafarialso spelled Ras Tafarireligious and political movement, begun kown Jamaica in the s and adopted by many groups around the globe, that combines Protestant Christianitymysticismand a pan-African political consciousness. Rastas, as members of the movement are called, see their past, present, and future in a distinct way.
Looking to the New Religioh book of RevelationRastas await their deliverance from captivity and their return to Zion, the symbolic name for Africa how to train an english setter to hunt from the biblical tradition.
Ethiopiathe site of a dynastic power, is the ultimate home of all Africans and the seat of Jah, and repatriation is one goal of the movement. Jamaican Rastas are descendants of African slaves who were converted to Christianity in Jamaica by missionaries using the text of the Knlwn James Version of the Bible.
Rastas maintain that the King James Version is a corrupted account of the true word rreligion God, since English slave owners promoted incorrect readings of the Bible in order to better control slaves. Based on their reading of the Old Testament, many Rasta men uphold patriarchal values, and the movement is often charged with sexism by both insiders and outsiders. Reggae music grew out of the Rastafari movement and was made popular throughout the world by the Jamaican rastafaroan and songwriter Bob Marley.
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History of Rastafarianism
Jun 25, †Ј Rastafari is an Abrahamic new religious movement that accepts Haile Selassie I, the Ethiopian emperor from to as God incarnate and the Messiah who will deliver believers to the Promised Land, identified by Rastas as Ethiopia. It has its roots in Black-empowerment and back-to-Africa movements. Mar 20, †Ј Rastafarianism is considered an offshoot of Abrahamic religious traditions like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Rastafarians believe in the Judeo-Christian God and call him Jah. They believe. Jan 02, †Ј Answer: Rastafarianism, Rastafari, or Rasta is a religious movement originating in Jamaica in the s. Rastafarianism takes elements of the Bible and combines them with the ideology of Marcus Garvey and the belief that Haile Selassie I, emperor of Ethiopia (Ч) was the second advent of the Messiah.
Rastafari , also known as the Rastafari movement or Rastafarianism , is a religion that developed in Jamaica during the s. It is classified as both a new religious movement and a social movement by scholars of religion.
There is no central authority in control of the movement and much diversity exists among practitioners, who are known as Rastafari, Rastafarians, or Rastas. Rasta beliefs are based on a specific interpretation of the Bible. Central is a monotheistic belief in a single God, referred to as Jah , who is deemed to partially reside within each individual.
Rastas accord key importance to Haile Selassie , the Emperor of Ethiopia between and ; many regard him as the Second Coming of Jesus and Jah incarnate, while others see him as a human prophet who fully recognised Jah's presence in every individual. Rastafari is Afrocentric and focuses attention on the African diaspora , which it believes is oppressed within Western society, or "Babylon".
Many Rastas call for this diaspora's resettlement in Africa, a continent they consider the Promised Land , or "Zion". Some practitioners extend these views into black supremacism. Rastas refer to their practices as " livity ". Communal meetings are known as "groundations", and are typified by music, chanting, discussions, and the smoking of cannabis , the latter regarded as a sacrament with beneficial properties. Rastas emphasise what they regard as living "naturally", adhering to ital dietary requirements, wearing their hair in dreadlocks , and following patriarchal gender roles.
Rastafari originated among impoverished and socially disenfranchised Afro-Jamaican communities in s Jamaica. Its Afrocentric ideology was largely a reaction against Jamaica's then-dominant British colonial culture. It was influenced by both Ethiopianism and the Back-to-Africa movement promoted by black nationalist figures such as Marcus Garvey. The movement developed after several Protestant Christian clergymen, most notably Leonard Howell , proclaimed that Haile Selassie's crowning as Emperor of Ethiopia in fulfilled a Biblical prophecy.
By the s, Rastafari's countercultural stance had brought the movement into conflict with wider Jamaican society, including violent clashes with law enforcement.
In the s and s, it gained increased respectability within Jamaica and greater visibility abroad through the popularity of Rasta-inspired reggae musicians, most notably Bob Marley. Enthusiasm for Rastafari declined in the s, following the deaths of Haile Selassie and Marley, but the movement survived and has a presence in many parts of the world.
The Rasta movement is decentralised and organised on a largely sectarian basis. There are several denominations, or " Mansions of Rastafari ", the most prominent of which are the Nyahbinghi , Bobo Ashanti , and the Twelve Tribes of Israel , each offering a different interpretation of Rasta belief.
There are an estimated , to 1,, Rastas across the world. The largest population is in Jamaica, although small communities can be found in most of the world's major population centres.
Rastas come from various ethnicities, although the majority are of black African descent and some groups accept only black members. Rastafari has been described as a religion,  meeting many of the proposed definitions for what constitutes a religion,  and is legally recognised as such in various countries. Edmonds also suggested that Rastafari was "emerging" as a world religion , not because of the number of its adherents, but because of its global spread.
Emphasising its political stance, particularly in support of African nationalism and Pan-Africanism , some academics have characterised Rastafari as a political movement,  a "politico-religious" movement,  or a protest movement. Rastafari has continuously changed and developed,  with significant doctrinal variation existing among practitioners depending on the group to which they belong.
Middleton suggested that it was appropriate to speak of "a plethora of Rasta spiritualities " rather than a single phenomenon. The term "Rastafari" derives from "Ras Tafari Makonnen", the pre-regnal title of Haile Selassie , a former Ethiopian emperor who plays a major role in Rasta belief. The term " Ras " means a duke or prince in the Ethiopian Semitic languages ; "Tafari Makonnen" was Selassie's personal name. Rastas refer to the totality of their religion's ideas and beliefs as "Rastalogy".
Edmonds described Rastafari as having "a fairly cohesive worldview";  however, the scholar Ernest Cashmore thought that its beliefs were "fluid and open to interpretation". Rastafari is deeply influenced by Judeo-Christian religion,  and shares many commonalities with Christianity.
Glazier , Rasta approaches to the Bible result in the religion adopting an outlook very similar to that of some forms of Protestantism. Contrary to scholarly understandings of how the Bible was compiled, Rastas commonly believe it was originally written on stone in the Ethiopian language of Amharic. Rastas are monotheists , worshipping a singular God whom they call Jah.
Jesus is an important figure in Rastafari. From its origins, Rastafari was intrinsically linked with Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia from to Other Rastas see Selassie as embodying Jesus' teachings and essence but reject the idea that he was the literal reincarnation of Jesus.
While he was emperor, many Jamaican Rastas professed the belief that Haile Selassie would never die. Some Rastas believed that Selassie did not really die and that claims to the contrary were Western misinformation.
During his life, Selassie described himself as a devout Christian. I also met certain Rastafarians. I told them clearly that I am a man, that I am mortal, and that I will be replaced by the oncoming generation, and that they should never make a mistake in assuming or pretending that a human being is emanated from a deity.
According to Clarke, Rastafari is "concerned above all else with black consciousness, with rediscovering the identity, personal and racial, of black people".
Practitioners of Rastafari identify themselves with the ancient Israelites ЧGod's chosen people in the Old TestamentЧand believe that black Africans broadly or Rastas more specifically are either the descendants or the reincarnations of this ancient people. There is no uniform Rasta view on race. While some still hold this belief, non-black Rastas are now widely accepted in the movement.
Rastafari teaches that the black African diaspora are exiles living in "Babylon", a term which it applies to Western society. In the Old Testament, Babylon is the Mesopotamian city where the Israelites were held captive , exiled from their homeland, between and BCE;  Rastas compare the exile of the Israelites in Mesopotamia to the exile of the African diaspora outside Africa. Rastas view Babylon as being responsible for both the Atlantic slave trade which removed enslaved Africans from their continent and the ongoing poverty which plagues the African diaspora.
Rastas view " Zion " as an ideal to which they aspire. In portraying Africa as their " Promised Land ", Rastas reflect their desire to escape what they perceive as the domination and degradation that they experience in Babylon. By the movement's fourth decade, the desire for physical repatriation to Africa had declined among Rastas,  a change influenced by observation of the Ч famine in Ethiopia.
Rastafari is a millenarian movement,  espousing the idea that the present age will come to an apocalyptic end. Rastas do not believe that there is a specific afterlife to which individuals go following bodily death. Barrett observed some Jamaican Rastas who believed that those practitioners who did die had not been faithful to Jah. Most Rastas share a pair of fundamental moral principles known as the "two great commandments": love of God and love of neighbour.
Rastafari promotes the idea of "living naturally",  in accordance with what Rastas regard as nature's laws. The scholar Maureen Warner-Lewis observed that Rastafari combined a "radical, even revolutionary" stance on socio-political issues, particularly regarding race, with a "profoundly traditional" approach to "philosophical conservatism" on other religious issues.
Rastafari promotes what it regards as the restoration of black manhood, believing that men in the African diaspora have been emasculated by Babylon.
Rasta women usually wear clothing that covers their head and hides their body contours. As it existed in Jamaica, Rastafari did not promote monogamy. Turner for instance encountered Kenyan feminists who were appropriating Rastafari content to suit their political agenda. Rastafari regards procreation as the purpose of sex, and thus oral and anal sex are usually forbidden. Rastas refer to their cultural and religious practices as "livity".
The term "grounding" is used among Rastas to refer to the establishment of relationships between like-minded practitioners. One of the central activities at groundings is " reasoning ". These involve supplication of God, the supplication for the hungry, sick, and infants, and calls for the destruction of the Rastas' enemies, and then close with statements of adoration. The largest groundings were known as "groundations" or "grounations" in the s, although they were subsequently re-termed "Nyabinghi Issemblies".
Nyabinghi Issemblies typically take place in rural areas, being situated in the open air or in temporary structuresЧknown as "temples" or "tabernacles"Чspecifically constructed for the purpose. The principal ritual of Rastafari is the smoking of ganja, also known as marijuana or cannabis.
In Rastafari, cannabis is considered a sacrament. Rastas typically smoke cannabis in the form of a large, hand-rolled cigarette known as a spliff. There are various options that might explain how cannabis smoking came to be part of Rastafari.
By the 8th century, Arab traders had introduced cannabis to Central and Southern Africa. In Kumina, cannabis was smoked during religious ceremonies in the belief that it facilitated possession by ancestral spirits. In many countriesЧincluding Jamaica  Чcannabis is illegal and by using it, Rastas protest the rules and regulations of Babylon.
Rastafari music developed at reasoning sessions,  where drumming, chanting, and dancing are all present. The bass-line of Rasta music is provided by the akete , a three-drum set, which is accompanied by percussion instruments like rattles and tambourines. As Rastafari developed, popular music became its chief communicative medium.
Rastas typically regard words as having an intrinsic power,  seeking to avoid language that contributes to servility, self-degradation, and the objectification of the person.
Rastas make wide use of the pronoun "I". Rastas often make use of the colours red, black, green, and gold. Rastas seek to produce food "naturally",  eating what they call ital , or "natural" food.
Rastafarians typically avoid food produced by non-Rastas or from unknown sources. Rastas use their physical appearance as a means of visually demarcating themselves from non-Rastas. Rastas differ on whether they regard dreadlocks as compulsory for practicing the religion. From the beginning of the Rastafari movement in the s, adherents typically grew beards and tall hair, perhaps in imitation of Haile Selassie.
The wearing of dreadlocks has contributed to negative views of Rastafari among non-Rastas, many of whom regard it as wild and unattractive. Rastafari developed out of the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade, in which over ten million Africans were enslaved and transported to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Rastafari owed much to intellectual frameworks arising in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Further contributing significantly to Rastafari's development were Ethiopianism and the Back to Africa ethos, both traditions with 18th-century roots. Garvey supported the idea of global racial separatism and called for part of the African diaspora to relocate to Africa.
Du Bois who supported racial integration,  and as a mass movement, Garveyism declined in the Great Depression of the s. Its plot revolved around the crowning of the fictional Prince Cudjoe of Sudan, although it anticipated the crowning of Haile Selassie later that year. Haile Selassie was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in A number of Jamaica's Christian clergymen claimed that Selassie's coronation was evidence that he was the black messiah that they believed was prophesied in the Book of Revelation, [h] the Book of Daniel, [i] and Psalms.