SABIANS . The Sabians (as-Sabi'un) who are first mentioned in the
See also:Koran (ii . 59, V . 73, xxii . 17) were a semi-Christian
See also:sect of Babylonia, the Elkesaites, closely resembling the
See also:Mandaeans or so-called " Christians of St
See also:John the Baptist," but not identical with them . Their name is probably derived from theAramaic ass, a dialectical
See also:form of yus, and signifies " those who
See also:wash themselves "; the
See also:term al-mughtasila, which is sometimes applied to them by Arab writers, has the same meaning, and they were also known as huepol3a rncrai . How Mahomet understood the In the 18th century there was discovered in one of the catacombs of Rome an inscription containing the words " qui et Filius diceris et
See also:Pater inveniris." This can only have come from a Sabellian . 2 Whether
See also:Sabellius himself ever visited the East is unknown . term " Sabians " is uncertain, but he mentions them together with the Jews and Christians . The older
See also:Mahommedan theologians were agreed that they possessed a written
See also:revelation and were entitled accordingly to enjoy a toleration not granted to mere
See also:heathen . Curiously enough, the name " Sabian " was used by the Meccanidolaters to denote Mahomet himself andhis Moslem converts, apparently on account of the frequent ceremonial ablutions which formed a striking feature of the new religion . From these true Sabians the pseudo-Sabians of Ilarran (Carrhae) in
See also:Mesopotamia must be carefully distinguished .
In A.D . 830 the
See also:Caliph Ma'mun, while marching against theByzantines, received a deputation of the inhabitants of IJarran . Astonished by the sight of their long hair and extraordinary
See also:costume, he inquired what religion they professed, and getting no satisfactory answer threatened to exterminate them, unless by the
See also:time of his return from the war they should have embraced either
See also:Islam or one of the creeds tolerated in the Koran . Consequently, acting on the advice of a Mahbmmedan jurist, the IJarranians declared themselves to be " Sabians," a name which shielded them from persecution in virtue of its Koranic authority and was so vague that it enabled them to maintain their
See also:ancient beliefs undisturbed . There is no doubt as to the general nature of the religious beliefs and practices which they sought to
See also:mask . Since the epoch of
See also:Alexander the
See also:Great }Arran had been a famous centre of
See also:pagan and Hellenistic culture; its
See also:people were "Syrian heathens,
See also:star-worshippers versed in
See also:astrology and magic . In their temples the planetary
See also:powers were propitiated by
See also:blood-offerings, and it is probable that human victims were occasionally sacrificed even as
See also:late as the 9th century of our era . The more enlightened IJarranians, however, adopted a religious philosophy strongly tinged with Neoplatonic and Christian elements . They produced a brilliant succession of eminent scholars and scientists who transmitted to the Moslems the results of Babylonian
See also:civilization and Greek learning, and their influence at the
See also:court of Baghdad secured more or less toleration for Sabianism, although in the reign of Harlin al-Rashid the IJarranians had already found it necessary to establish a fund by means of which the conscientious scruples of Moslem officials might be overcome . Accounts of these false Sabians reached the West through
See also:Maimonides, and then through Arabic
See also:sources, Iong before it was understood that the name in this application was only a disguise . Hence the utmost confusion prevailed in all
See also:European accounts of them till Chwolsohn published in 1856 his Ssabier and der Ssabismus, in which the authorities for the
See also:history and belief of the IJarranians in the
See also:middle ages are collected and discussed . See also " Nouveaux documents pour !'etude de la religion
See also:des Harraniens," by Dozy and De
See also:Goeje, in the Actes of the
See also:Oriental congress, ii .
281 f . (
See also:Leiden, 1885) . (R . A .
SABELLIUS (fl. 230)
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