The Mandaeans are a religious sect of great antiquity that still exists in limited numbers in the border territories of southern Iraq and Iran . Neither Christian , Moslem, Jewish nor Zoroasterism, the Mandaean religion contains a variety of ancient elements that attest to their antiquity. Adherents to the faith can be found in the cities and villages in the lands of the lower Euphrates , the lower Tigris , the rivers that surround the Shatt-al-Arab, and in the adjacent Iranian Province of Khuzistan (once called Arabistan).
Their religion is a proto-religion in which they descended from Adam who was the first to receive the religious instructions of the Mandaeans. Their last great teacher and healer was John the Baptist. The origins of both the people and of the religion are one of the continuing mysteries of Mandaean research.
Other names used for the Mandaeans
Christians of Saint John
It was through the Portuguese monks that the name Christians of Saint John or Chrsitiani S. Ioannis . The first time this term is used is in a report dated 1555 written by the Portuguese monks of Ormuz. Upon seeing their baptismal rites and hearing the stories of John the Baptist, the Portuguese called the Mandaeans "Christians of St. John" or Christiani di San Giovanni. Assuming that these people were simply the last remnants of John the Baptist followers and that they simply had not heard the word of Jesus, the monks decided all the Mandaeans needed was a little prodding to become good Catholicss.
We first seee this term in the the writings of Muhammad ' ibn Ishaq 'ibn 'al-Nadim (died 995 AD). 'Ibn al-Nadim wrote about a baptizing sect that he calls Sabat al-bata'ih—the Sabians of the Marshs. He also calls them informally al- Mughasilah "the Baptists" or "ones who wash themselves".