Thursday, February 2, 2017


A religion with deep political convictions, Rastafarianism began in the slums of Jamaica in the 1920s and 30s. African religious tradition has heavily influenced the culture of Rastafarianism and biblical themes have heavily influenced the religion's belief system. The most famous Rastafari is arguably Bob Marley, whose reggae music gained the Jamaican movement international recognition.
Bob Marley smoking marijuana

There is no formal, organized leadership in Rastafarianism, creating a wide variety of spiritual and moral variation within the religion. Some Rastafarians see Rasta more as a way of life, and others see it more as a religion. Nevertheless, uniting the diversity within the movement is belief in the divinity and/or messiah-ship of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the influence of Jamaican culture, resistance of oppression, and pride in African heritage.
The Rastafarian lifestyle usually includes ritual use of marijuana, avoidance of alcohol, the wearing of one's hair in dreadlocks, and vegetarianism.
The date of the founding of Rastafarianism is generally said to be November 2, 1930, the year Emperor Hailie Selassie I (1892-1975) was crowned, but based in a movement in the 1920s.Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), a black Jamaican who taught in the 1920, is considered a second John the Baptist. There are about1 million in Rastafarianism worldwide. The symbols of in Rastafarianism are the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Ethiopian flag's colors: green, red, yellow.

The Lion of Judah Flag

Followers of the Rastafari movement are known as Rastafarians, Rastafaris, Rastas, or Ras Tafarians. The movement is named for Ras Tafari Makonnen, who was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in 1930. Some Rastafaris dislike the term "Rastafarianism" because they reject the "isms and schisms" that characterize oppressive and corrupt white society. The movement is referred to as "the Rastafari movement," "Rasta," or "Rastafari."
Rastafarians believe in the Judeo-Christian God, whom they call Jah. In general, Rastafarian beliefs are based in Judaism and Christianity, with an emphasis on Old Testament laws and prophecies and the Book of Revelation.
Jah was manifested on earth as Jesus, who Rastas believe was black, and Emperor Haile Selassie. Selassie is referred to as His Imperial Majesty or H.I.M. (pronounced "him") and believed to still be alive - his death was a hoax and he lives in protection awaiting the Day of Judgment. Selassie is worshipped as divine. (Scriptural proof texts include Revelation 5:2-5, 17:14, 19:6, 22:16, Ezekiel 30, Psalm 9, 18, 68, 76, 87:4, Isaiah 9.) Rastafarians also honor Old Testament prophets such as Moses and Elijah.
H,I,M, Emperor Haile Selassie. 

Rastafarians do not believe in an afterlife but instead look to Africa (called "Zion") as a heaven on earth. True Rastas are believed to be immortal, both physically and spiritually, a concept called "everliving." An important Rastafarian concept is "I and I," which is said instead of "you and I." It emphasizes the oneness between humanity and God as well as the equality of all humans.
Another central concept is Babylon, which refers to the white power structure of Europe and the Americas. Rastas seek to resist Babylon, which once cruelly enslaved blacks and still continue to hold them down through poverty, illiteracy, inequality, and trickery. The greed and conceit of Babylon is contrasted with the humble simplicity and naturalness of the Rastas.
The sacred text of Rastafarians is the Holy Piby, the "Black Man's Bible." It was compiled by Robert Athlyi Rogers of Anguilla from 1913 to 1917 and published in 1924. The Holy Piby is a version of the Christian Bible that has been altered to remove all the deliberate distortions that are believed to have been made by white leaders during its translation into English. The Ethiopian national epic, the Kebra Negast, is also respected by Rastas but less so than the Bible.

There are three main sects or orders of Rastafari today. All agree on the basic principles of the divine status of Haile Selassie and the importance of black images of divinity. Many Rastafari do not belong to any sect and the movement as a whole is loosely defined and organized. The three sects are The Nyahbinghi Order, Bobo Shanti and The Twelve Tribes of Israel.
The Nyahbinghi Order (a.k.a. Theocratic Priesthood and Livity Order of Nyabinghi) is named for Queen Nyahbinghi of Uganda, who fought against colonialists in the 19th century. This is the oldest of the orders and it focuses mainly on Haile Selassie, Ethiopia, and the eventual return to Africa. It is overseen by an Assembly of Elders.
Bobo Shanti was founded by Prince Emanuel Charles Edwards in Jamaica in the 1950s. "Bobo" means black and "Shanti" refers to the Ashanti tribe in Ghana, from which this sect believes Jamaican slaves are descended. Members of Bobo Shanti are also known as Bobo Dreads.
Prince Emanuel Charles Edwards
In belief, Bobo Dreads are distinguished by their worship of Prince Emmanuel (in addition to Haile Selassie) as a reincarnation of Christ and embodiment of Jah; their emphasis on the return to Africa ("repatriation"); and their demands for monetary reimbursement for slavery.
Members of the Bobo Shanti order wear long robes and tightly wrapped turbans around their dreads. They adhere closely to the Jewish Law, including the observance of the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday and hygiene laws for menstruating women. They live separately from Jamaican society and other Rastafarians, growing their own produce and selling straw hats and brooms. They often carry brooms with them to symbolize their cleanliness.
The Twelve Tribes of Israel sect was founded in 1968 by Dr. Vernon "Prophet Gad" Carrington. It is the most liberal of the Rastafarian orders and members are free to worship in a church of their choosing. Each member of this sect belongs to one of the 12 Tribes (or Houses), which is determined by birth month and is represented by a color.
Rastafarianism too has a set of thirteen commandments that each Rastafarai is asked to follow. They all revolve around better oneself as well as being accepting of others. They are:
1)  His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, King of Kings, Lord of Israel, Conquering Lion of The Tribe Of Judah, 225th descendent of the House of David.
2)  One must know and acknowledge the Bible and the teachings of Jah Rastafari above all things.
3)  One accepts and holds in reverence the person of His Majesty Haile Selassie as the living manifestation of Jah (God) in the flesh.
4)  One must know that the so called death “death” is not an eternal phenomenon, one only sees “death” happening in life-a Rastaman knows not of death but of life everlasting. 5) One seeks after the world of life, Jah Life (The Kingdom of Jah) and not after the material things of this world, for they are only temporary (Kingdom of Babylon).
6)  A Rastafarian is a Jew by nature, being a righteous one of principles, dignity and love for God.
7)  A Rasta cannot afford to be “color blind.” Jah is universal, Jah go and do as he wishes, Jah can take on any color he pleases.
8)  All people are of Jah Rastafari regardless of color.
9)  A Rastafarian must accept the oath of the Nazarite, such as the forefathers- Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Jess-us Christ, and Ras Ta Fari.
10) A Rastafarian must be a man of peace, love and unity, living in harmony with Jah, man, and nature. Living without violence, corruption and envy towards his brothers and sisters.
11)  A Rastafarian must accept and observe the laws of the Ten Commandments, which Jah left early mankind, comprising of every prerequisite for a flourishing communal life. 12) It is and should be the will of all Rastafarian to liberate and eradicate all iniquity (evil) from all the world.
13)  Repatriation is a must for all Rastafarians. Repatriation from Babylon (western concepts and false teachings) to Zion land, the Promised Land, African Land. A physical and spiritual repatriation to the land of ‘I n I’ (our) fore parents, with clean hands and pureness of heart” (Wadadah, 7).

It’s important to consider the second commandment of Rastafarianis because it shows the connection between the two religions of Judaism and Rastafarianism. It says, “One must know and acknowledge the Bible and the teachings of Jah Rastafari above all things”, the acknowledgement of the Bible helps draw the connection between the two because Judaism so heavily depends upon the Old Testament or the Bible. The Old Testament is a major influence in the Rastafarian religion and is the bridge that ultimately links The Jewish religion and  Rastafarianism together. Rastafarianism accepts the Old Testament and shapes much of its religion around it, Rasta’s also accept the set of Ten Commandments that were given to the Jewish people and follow them closely.

Many of the holidays that revolve around Rastafarianism are centered around the life of Haile Selassie and various events that have occurred to him. Some of the holidays include; the coronation of Selassie on November 2, the ceremonial birth of Selassie on January 6, Selassie’s visit to Jamaica on April 21, Selassie’s personal birthday July 23, the emancipation from slavery august 1, and Marcus Garvey’s birthday on August 17.

Marcus Garvey

Rastafarianism is considered a religion but it can also be regarded as a lifestyle. There are excerpts that have been pulled from the Old Testament that Rastafarians then dub into their own religion. The commandment to not cut ones hair was taken from Leviticus 21:5 which says “You should never mourn by shaving bald spots on your heads, shaving the edges of your beards, or slashing your bodies.” This is why Rastafarians often have beards and dreadlocks. Although the Old Testament does not say anything about dreadlocks, Rastafarians believe that dreadlocks are a representation of a lion’s mane, which represents strength, Africa, Ethiopia and the Lion of Judah.

A Man With Dreadlocks

Rastafarianism during the beginning was not an all “one-love” inclusive of all faiths religion. Leonard Howell one of the first preachers of the Rastafarianism movement came up with a set of 6 commandments that started the Rastafarian principles. Many of these principles were abandoned as the Rastafarian movement developed and they were as followed:
1)  Hatred for the white race.
2)  The complete superiority of the black race.
3)  Revenge on whites for their wickedness.
4)  The negation, persecution and humiliation of the government and legal bodies of Jamaica.
5)  Preparation to go back to Africa.
6)  Haile Selassie as the Supreme Being and only ruler of the black people. 

Rastafarians do not believe in an afterlife. They believe that Africa is the heaven on earth and that true Rasta’s are immortal both physically and spiritually believing that they are “ever living”.

The slave trade also has a great importance when considering Rastafarianism. Large numbers of blacks were extracted from Africa and held in captivity outside of their native homeland. Over 700,000 slaves were brought from Africa to Jamaica and were treated poorly. Rastafarianism was an escape from the exploitation of slavery. 

Slave Cane Cutter In Jamaica

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