”In his writings Zoroaster speaks of an ethical and moral opposition between Asha (“order”), which he equates with righteousness, and Drug (“confusion”), which he equates with evil and the lie. Zoroaster personifies this dualism in a pair of spirits called Ahura Mazda (“Wise Lord,” known as Ohrmazd in Middle Persian), and Angra Mainyu (“Evil Spirit,” known as Ahriman in Middle Persian). See also Persian Language.
According to Zoroastrian doctrine, Ahura Mazda is a perfect, rational, and omniscient (all-knowing) entity. Thus, Zoroastrians believe that Angra Mainyu created sin, disease, death, and similar evils. Ahura Mazda is said to have created six Amesha Spentas (“Holy Immortals”), who represent aspects of material creation, in addition to other minor spiritual beings who assist in protecting the world and all creatures. Angra Mainyu is said to have produced numerous Daevas (demonic spirits), who represent aspects of pain, suffering, and death, to attack Ahura Mazda’s creations.
Zoroastrians believe that Ahura Mazda created humans as allies in the cosmic struggle against evil and that humanity will be resurrected and granted immortality once evil has been defeated. They further view the material world as a trap into which evil has been lured and in which evil will undergo defeat by divinities and humans working together. Zoroastrianism preaches that when someone dies his or her soul undergoes individual judgment based on actions while alive. If the soul’s good deeds are greater than its evil deeds, it enters paradise. If the soul’s evil deeds outweigh the good done while alive, it is cast into hell to await the day of universal judgment. In cases where a soul’s good deeds equal its evil deeds, it is consigned to limbo.
Close to the end of time a savior will resurrect the dead, Zoroastrianism claims. Ahura Mazda will descend to earth with the other good spirits. Each sinner, having already suffered in hell or limbo after death, will be purified. Thereafter, immortality will be granted to all humans. Ahura Mazda, the holy immortals, and other divine beings will annihilate the demons and force Angra Mainyu to scuttle back into hell, which will then be sealed.
The Zoroastrian doctrine of heaven, hell, and limbo influenced the other faiths. Islam absorbed not only the ideas of heaven, hell, and limbo, but also the scheme of individual judgment at a celestial bridge and the notion of final, universal judgment. Christianity further assimilated the Zoroastrian belief of heaven, hell, purgatory, individual judgment, the soul’s afterlife and the appearance of a savior, resurrection, and eternal life at the end of the world.”