DAWIT WORKU KIDANE, THE ETHICS OF ZÄR’A YA’ƏQOB. A Reply to the Historical and Religious Violence in the Seventeenth Century Ethiopia
Zär’a Ya’əqob (1599-1699) was born in Aksum, Ethiopia. His Treatise is filled with a critique of what he perceives as man-made religious laws. His ethics put reason at the centre of every investigation and makes it the measure of the validity of any doctrine or belief. For him the light of reason is the decisive and powerful way to discover the truth. In his judgement, the religions of his time falsely preach that each of their tenets alone are the right and true ones, and base their beliefs as much on revelation as on reason. He underlines, however, on the singularity of truth: “As my faith seems true to me so does the other believe that his religion is true to him. But truth is only one”. He raised questions like: “If God is their Creator why did the nature of human beings become so corrupted?” “Why is God silent while men do evil in His name, persecute their neighbours, and kill their brothers?” These interrogatives demonstrate his intention to look for a response to the ethical question: “What constitutes a complete, meaningful and ethical life?” Zär’a Ya’əqob’s call is that people may return to the original purity of religion and the acceptance of nature as created by God; hence his ethical principle: the goodness of the created nature. His ethics propagate non-violence and hold a moral guideline in seeking to live in harmony with creation because both creation and its Creator are good.
Dawit Worku KIDANE did his undergraduate philosophical and theological studies at the Capuchin Franciscan Institute of Philosophy and Theology (CFIPT), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 1999 he obtained his Licentiate Degree in Philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He taught philosophy at the CFIPT, in Benin and in South Africa. With the present thesis he obtained his Doctorate degree from the abovementioned University in 2012.
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