17 August 2010

Mandaens in Struggle for Existence

Mandaeans in struggle for existence (Asia Times, 18 August 2010)

Mandaeans are followers of John the Baptist and moved from the Holy Land to the expanses of today's southern Iraq and southwest Iran around the second century AD. Their religious origins are thought to have been drawn independently of Christianity and may even be older. They are monotheists - thought to be the oldest in the Middle East - believing in a single god.

Mandaeans are also Gnostics, believing in mysticism and a heightened role of the natural world. Very little has been recorded of the Mandaean religion and traditions and in principle people cannot convert to, or leave, the religion. They speak their own language and have quietly been struggling to keep their customs alive for almost 2,000 years.


Today, only about 5,000 Mandaeans remain in Iraq, with about 70,000 spread across 22 countries from Europe to Australia and the United States, with the vast majority in Damascus. Many now fear for the future of their religion. "In around 30 years I believe there will be no Mandaean religion left. Because of the war we have been thrown to the four corners of the world,” said Youseff, (the name is changed to protect his identity), an elderly man.
Link: Mandaeans in struggle for existence (Asia Times, 18 August 2010)

See also: Mandaeism (Wikipedia)