Iraq is known for its rich tribal groups and diverse religious practices across the country. A minority of them practice a religion called Sabaean-Mandaeans, which consists of a monotheistic religion that’s neither Muslim, Christian, or Jewish located in southern Iraq. Ginza Rabba, their holy book, meaning ‘Great Treasury’ in Aramaic is believed by the followers to be the initial guidance from God to Adam.
The minority is believed to be one of the oldest religions in the world going way back to over 2,000 years ago, predating Christianity. Sabaean-Mandaeans venerate John the Baptist who used to perform religious rituals through the use of water, which is considered to be the ‘essence of life’. Therefore, the particular use of flowing water is used for various activities in their life, especially their religious affairs as it is integral for marriage, food preparation and even their daily prayers which they offer 3 times a day. Due to this, they live in the proximity to rivers, a tradition practiced by John the Baptist and passed down from him onto his followers for multiple generations.
The followers of the faith can be distinguished by their full white robes, white turbans for men and white headscarves for women.
Photography credits: Council of Sabaean-Mandaeans Affairs