Thursday, October 13, 2005

Who are the Mandeans?

Mandeanism is a religion that was practiced by approximately 30,000 Iraqis before the American invasion.

It is a monotheistic religion in the same mode as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, subscribing to one God, and shares many of the same prophets. However, the Mandeans honour particularly John the Baptist whom they recognized as the Messiah. Their holy book is the Ginza Raba (the Great Treasure), which is different from the Talmud, Koran or Bible, though it contains some similar items.

Mandeanism in Aramaic means Knowledge, or in Greek, Gnosis. As a Gnostic religion, the believers are encouraged to find the truth within themselves, rather than believing what other people say, regardless of their status or rank in the society.

The Mandeans originally settled in the Iraqi area of Nasiriya. Under Saddam Hussein’s secular regime, they were accorded some protection. Since the American invasion, with Islamist authorities on the ascendancy, that secular protection has long since been gone, with both extremist Sunni and Shiite Muslims demanding they convert. Many were kidnapped, murdered or tortured to force the conversion.

They bemoaned their current lack of protection under the American installed government. Today there are less than half of their original population, with 13,000 only remaining in Iraq. Most of the rest have fled to Syria, another Baathist regime.

Thanks, George Bush, for putting the Mandeans where they are now. But can’t you speak to your God, whom you talk to regularly, to help the Mandeans?

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