The prophet Mani, an Arsacid Persian by birth,was born 216 AD in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism. Mani claimed to be the Paraclete of the Truth, and the continuation of the teachings of Jesus.
Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. Through an ongoing process which takes place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of matter, through spiritual evolution and returned to the world of light, from where it originates. Manichaeism claimed to present the complete version of teachings that were corrupted and misinterpreted by the followers of its predecessors Adam, Zoroaster, Buddha and Jesus.
Manichaeism was quickly successful and spread far through the Aramaic-Syriac speaking regions. It thrived between the third and seventh centuries or the age of spirituality and at its height was one of the most widespread religions in the world. Manichaean churches and scriptures existed as far east as China and as far west as the Roman Empire.
Manichaeism was the main rival to the religion of Christianity and survived longer in the east than in the west. It appears to have finally faded away after the 14th century in southern China during the Ming Dynasty. While most of Manichaeism’s original writings have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived.