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see MandaeansMandaeans
or Mandeans
, a small religious sect who maintain an ancient belief resembling that of Gnosticism and that of the Parsis. They are also known as Christians of St. John, Nasoraeans, Sabians, and Subbi.
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In a way that might not have been expected, distinction here derives from an implicit proximity of Sabianism to Islam, expressed in the poem's emphasis on Sabian belief in the oneness of God.
(47) By saying that Ibrahim's God (ilahuhu) took him away, these lines at once affirm the commensurability of Sabianism and Islam and their difference; "his God" rather than simply "God" (allah) distances al-Sharif al-Radl from Ibrahim's religious experience, while the implication that Ibrahim's God is identical with him "who created you from clay, then decreed a term [for you]" has the opposite effect.
If Sabianism in tenth-century Baghdad was a robust tradition that presented itself to Muslims as religiously distinct, what did this Sabian distinctiveness entail?
Chwolsohn's groundbreaking work on Sabians and Sabianism, which collected the sources on Harranians and Sabians in Islamic society and sought to reconstruct the pagan Harranian religion, a number of scholars have weighed in on the question of just who these tenacious pagans were and what exactly they believed.
Most importantly, they were more often meant to represent who Ibrahim was as a Sabian, not what Sabianism was.
(106) Al-Qahir justified his actions by commissioning a fatwa that labeled Sabianism as infidelity (kufr).