What is the Rastafarian Religion?

What is the Rastafarian Religion?


Hey folks, For years I have heard about the existence of Rastafari. Like many, I knew it was popular in Jamaica, had a special relationship with marijuana, and refers to something in Ethiopia. What I found was a simultaneously old and young religion, that practices Christianity with a very different spin. As I said, Rastafari is very young as far as religions go. It traces its origin to Jamaica in the 1930s. They formed around the coronation of Haile Selassie I to emperor of Ethiopia. They are at their core Christians, and saw Haile Selassie as the second coming. While adherents can go by the term Rastafarian, the term Rastafarianism is considered offensive. They have issue with any “isms” really. It comes from the mix of Ras and Tafari, Ras being a title in Ethiopian nobility akin to being a duke, and Tafari being the name of Haile Selassie before his coronation. They believe him to be the 225th generation descendant of king Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Haile Selassie supposedly died in 1975, but Rastafarians believe he simply went into hiding in a secretive monastery, preparing to save the world. Much of the practice of Rastafari comes from a mix of Jamaican and Ethiopian cultural roots. The religion has many associations with Afrocentric and pan-African movements. The church itself has a lineage going back to Ethiopian Christianity, and through them to the original Church of Alexandria. One of the first sects of Christianity. You might have heard of Coptic Christians. That’s where it all comes from. Back in the 5th century these Christians took their own path very different from the Roman Empire’s Christianity. They believe in god, whom they call Jah, and that he is 3 in 1. They believe they made his son manifest in Jesus, and himself manifest in Haile Selassie. They do believe in much of the bible, but that the years have corrupted its message. The life of Rastafarians involves abstaining from actions they call Babylon. This includes materialism, oppression, and succumbing to pleasures of the senses. They see Ethiopia as the birthplace of mankind, and refer to it as Zion. Converting requires repatriation to Zion. Today this can be physically moving to Ethiopia, or emotionally, spiritually communing with it. We should talk a little about the role of marijuana. They see cannabis as the leaf of the tree of life from the bible. To them, using it is sacramental, and mentioned in the Book of Revelation referring to an herb that would heal nations. Pipes need to be dedicated to Haile Selassie before smoking. They believe cannabis burns corruption from the human heart. They call it ganja, and smoke it at special reasoning ceremonies. That being said, use is not required to practice Rastafari. Rastafari makes a big deal of avoiding sects and denominations. However, there are three major umbrellas they call mansions. The prominent being the Twelve Tribes of Israel, Nyahbinghi, and Bobo Ashanti. As far as food goes, many are vegetarian, and some only keep from shellfish and pork. They believe that in the books of Leviticus and Numbers that law requires followers to grow dreadlocks. The length of one’s dreadlocks shows their time spent as a Rastafarian, and is a measure of wisdom and age. Combs, scissors, and razors are inventions of Babylon and Rome, not good places in their eyes. Music is hugely important to the practice and popularity of the religion. They have special chants for their grounding ceremonies, and Burru drumming. And we can’t talk about Rastafari without mentioning its biggest international ambassador Bob Marley. Much of the popularity of Rastafari comes from the international popularity of reggae music, and Bob Marley in particular. Many of his songs were about Rastafari and its way of life. People aren’t sure how many Rastafarians there are in the world. They compose between 22 thousand and 100 thousand Jamaicans, or about 5% of their population. As I said, a lot of variation. There are also many communities in Botswana, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Japan, Madagascar, Malawi, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Either way, I wanted to share this all with you guys. No other religion in my memory has such a gap between name recognition, and even basic understanding of what it’s about. If there’s something really cool about this very unique religion I didn’t mention, be sure to tell us about it down below. Like and share if you want to help out the channel, and of course subscribe to get yourself more Step Back.

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99 Comments

  1. You should do a video on the Abrahamic Religions I know you're doing on like other/new religions but just saying

  2. Since we are on the topic of religions, would you do a video on Zoroastrianism? That is a very interesting religion.

  3. I'm very, very skeptical of there being any Rastafari population large enough in Japan worth mentioning. Japan's population is almost exclusively native and those foreigners that do live there and mostly other East Asians or whites.

  4. I didn't understand the link between Jamaica and Ethiopia; why would Jamaicans consider the Ethiopian emperor as a Messiah, and not somebody else from a different country?

  5. I live in Jamaica… As far as i know Rastafarians i know say ist not a religion because "Religion a division" so they consider it as a way of life…

  6. When going through the list of countries that have Rastafarian populations you didn't mention Ethiopia at all. Does that mean there are none actually in Ethiopia?

  7. Hey man, once in a while you come across a fantastic channel and this is a perfect example of how brilliant YouTube can be. Big Love from Nottingham, UK! Keep up the great work 🙂

  8. Can you make a video on santeria (syncretic mix of yoruba beliefs and roman catholicism) often practiced in cuba and other latin american countries?

  9. Why Haile Selassie?  Is it because he rallied Ethiopia to fight off Mussolini's invasion?  After all, Mussolini's plan for Fascist Italy was basically to create a new Roman Empire.

  10. Rastas have to eat a diet called "Ital". "Ital it vital." I don't think this means being vegetarian but pork is definitely banned. It is linked mostly to Christianity but also has close ties to Judaism. Which I guess is where the pork thing is from.

  11. Ganja is the Hindi word marijuana. Ganja originates from India and was brought to the Caribbean by Indian indentured workers

    in the mid to late 1800's.

  12. Go on a tour of the world's religions with this whole series! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNh7QNRUVp0&list=PLnpoOo7lhNnG64vN6y07lLqQzYaiNDqwK

  13. One important part you omitted was what I and I call Livity.
    True adherence to Jah means living naturally and righteously in every day life.
    One other thing.
    His Imperial Majesty sees the salvation of the world, as happening through the continued
    works of all true followers of The Most High Creator, not dependent on His physical
    presence in the world.

  14. Jesus was a Ras Tafari. He had dreads, he told the Israelites to run to Africa. Like he did. When he was a babe, his parents took him and hid him in Egypt. Hair like lambs wool. Feet like fine bronze burned in furnace. Eyes a flame of fire. Haile Selassie I King of Kings return of God the Son and the holy spirit in the flesh.

  15. Rastafari is not a religion.
    It is a way of life which is natural, spiritual, socio-political. We don't all follow the Bible, those are called biblical rastas. Many Rasta elders have threw away the bible, and began approaching the movement through a more afro-centric and naturalistic way. Haile Selassie for us who are not biblical rastas is a divine figure which we pull wisdom, knowledge and spiritual upliftment and inspiration from.
    We seek to live as naturally as we can, through our habits, the kind of food we eat, how we dress and how we wash ourselves and clean ourselves.
    Rastafari is a way of life in the same category as Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism. There is no heaven and hell. There is only life, and the cycle of life. Instead of a judgement day, Rastas see every day as a judgement day, being judged according to your immediate actions and intentions, rather than have some entity judge you after you die.
    We see life as sacred. We celebrate life, uplift oneanother, take care of nature and the environment, love animals and every life form, and fight oppression however we can, in the most constructive way possible.
    This is, in a nutshell, what Rastafari is.

  16. rastas eat a diet called "ital" which is basically dairy, meat and sugar free. my gf mother is rasta and she eats fish but many consider a truely ital diet to just be vegetables only

  17. Should have talked a bit about the mansions you mentioned. Not all Rasta actually think Selassie was God. Oh and the y in Nyahbinghi is pronounced like eye.

  18. No,

    1.They would be excommunicated by every major Church council in The history of Christianity as racist, ethnocentric, elitist, sensualist, anti-Semitic and racist, and heretical heterodoxy and just plain wackadoo.

    2.Haile Selassie was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian who denied ever being The Messiah and had no connections to Jamaica whatsoever, other than he was a nice guy who tried to convert The Rastas to Ethiopian Orthodoxy.

    3.There is no real evidence for any of their Theological or historical claims.

    4.Bob Marley converted to Ethiopian Orthodoxy just prior to his death.

    https://youtu.be/_chyoOn0yWQ

  19. Listen here dumb-asses (srry) the oldest religions are the pagan religions and the most oldest religions in earth are Hinduism and Zoroastrianism ok ok 👌 !

  20. What's funny is Haile Selassie wasn't a Rastafarian. He denied being Jesus and he thought Rastafarianism is complete bullshit.

  21. This is a great video accept for one thing. ITS NOT A RELIGION IT A WAY OF LIFE, indeed I see what your doing educating the masses is greatly appreciated but you dont want to preach faslehood. One Love brother✌

  22. If you are talking about the origin of Rastafarian and how it relates to Jamaican culturally, the early and true intentions of its founding father the great one Leonard Perceval Howell other wise call The Gong, whom bob Marley got the name from, was not one of a religious concept, rather more of a way of life my friend; His objectives was to free his people from the black and European downpressors especially the king of England at the time. Also for his people to rise up and find a so called God in there own image. Most important you have to mention Marcus Mosiah Garvey who is the driving fore and the nucleus of Rastafarian he prophesy the crowning of Empire Haile Selassie, whom was crowned king of king and lords of lord in Ethiopia; the year was 1930. I said this all to let you know that the people back then in Jamaican were of Christian belief before the acceptance of this new found way of life this is why they to this day use bible scriptures and teachings of Christianity to validate there belief. Just do some more research

  23. Wait… they got a city named after their concept of Sin, Babylon?. Wouldnt that be like if the capital of Italy was called Sodomia?.

  24. "Ras" is the Arabic word for: head , there are several african countries who use some Arabic vocabulary in their languages , mainly Hausa and Swahili.

  25. I'm from the caribbean. Rasta seems to confuse many…
    Some rastas treat it as a religion and believe helasi was God etc.
    Others are just spiritual: they really follow a holistic lifestyle and stay away from Babylon
    Others dont either follow it as a religion or a holistic way of life but just follow the lifestyle.. Minus being close to the earth etc. Many many people here grow dreads but are very much involved in Babylon activities and eat meat.

  26. I've pondered the Rastafarians and think that it has many roots.
    1: Shivite Hindu. A lot of Indians were taken by the British as workers and settled all over the British Caribean, including Jamaicans. Sadhus who worship Shiva came on the boats too. These century-old aesthetics grow matted locks. They smoke cannabinoids, which they call "Ganja" after the Ganges river, the term rastas use for marijuana. They renounce materialism and earthly pleasures.
    2: Jews. There are Jews, including Chasidic Jews, in Jamaica. The Rastafarians reference the Old Testament a lot more than the new one. They compare themselves to the Jews taken into slavery from Zion, so to them, Africa is Zion, and every place they have been taken to is Babylon. Ultra-orthodox Jews (who do live in Jamaica) wear "Earlocks" which sounds like, and sometimes looks like, dreadlocks. The old testament speaks of the prophet Samual and of Sampson, who both derived power from never cutting their hair, which Rastafarians also believe about themselves. Do I have to point out the Jewishness of the idea that one ought to return to "Zion" if one can?"
    3) West Africa: Rastafarians use the word "Ire" to mean "cool." this is a direct translation from the Yoruba of West Africa (not
    Ethiopia.) Yoruba spirituality has spread everywhere the slave trade went, and they believe in "Hot gods" and "Cool gods" and value a "cool head."
    4 & 5) And then, there are the Ethiopian and Christian influences mentioned, of course. Jamaica is a very multi-cultural society, and it is from that mix that this religion sprung.

  27. There also in other surrounding countries like st.lucia or Dominica.
    All together they say there's 700thousand.
    Highest estimate is 1 million but idk About that one

  28. I'll be honest with you man I'm an ethiopian orthodox Christian Rastafarians and gives a lot of props to the Ethiopian orthodox church but they are not Christians, their theology and traditions are different .,and although there are some rastas in the church I go to that's not where their religion comes from if you want to call it a religion e . I am an orthodox Christian in so are many Coptic othodox christians I go to Coptic churches as well but I'm Ethiopian orthodox Christian and to be honest the rastafarian religion .

  29. One of the more accurate videos about Rastafari in circulation. With a few minor discrepencies. Thanks for the share. If one's are interested check out RastafariGroundation.org

  30. You didn't really mention their homophobia. Which if you know the history makes sense for them culturally, but is still something worth mentioning.

  31. In the mid 1990's I distinctly recall a brethren on radio pleading to his fellow brethrens, to stop perpetuating wrong information about "what is now called Jamaica culture."  He explained that before, we did not know any better but as knowledge increase it was time to change.

    That appeal still stands.  Knowledge has increased triplefold since 1996.  Please do take time to study.  Do not perpetuate the same misinformation to another generation.  Same for many pastors.

    Rasta "is" a "conciousness in progress" that has morphed and become "stuck in various modes" of "different entities interpretations"…it has become everything to many, except becoming what it is.

    Because I was there and conscious enough in the 60's, 70's, 80's.  I know, "rasta was ment to be a spiritually liberating process for aboriginals who had been wronged."
    Our "true" liberation was then ment to help other peoples…and the planet.

    From it's inception, there were those who saw "our (original aboriginal) liberation" coming and set out to infiltrate and orchastrate what "rasta" is and is not, to this day.

    Many of us are off our own path.

    What was ment to be the "truth" (rasta) of an "aboriginal people" has become an  "orchastrated offshoot brand"
    of another (or other) "brand (s)."

    All aboriginals were not bought over on slave ships to the Americas.  Many of us were already here with what is termed, woolly hair and negroid features. 

    Haile Sellassie (or any other persons god) is not the god of aboriginals.
    Ones god, goddess self is the reflection in the mirror (that some have been taught to hate) awaiting "true" illumination of the whole and real self.

    Enough is enough.  Stop leading another generation astray with "man made interpreted belief systems of rasta" and teach them to seek truth within themselves through discipline, humility and study, of all scriptures, aka, all written words…not just the bible.

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