Bookmark and Share

Open the online Arabic language course

Index / Religions / Historical /
Arabic: sābi' (sing.), sābi'ūn (pl.), 'as-sābi'a (collective)
Other spelling: Sabians

An unidentified religious group, mentioned by Islam as one of three tolerated religions, part of the Ahl al-Kitab.
The Sabaeans are mentioned 3 times in the Koran, each time almost with similar descriptions. In addition the one below, also 5:73 and 22:17.
Koran sura 2: The Cow
59 Verily, whether it be of those who believe, or those who are Jews or Christians or Sabaeans, whosoever believe in God and the last day and act aright, they have their reward at their Lordís hand, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.
It may be derived that the Sabaeans share with Islam, Christianity and Judaism the belief in one God and a day of judgment. From this kinship, it may be suggested that the Sabaeans is one of the Abrahamic religions.
The actual Arabic writing deviates twices from normal writing. First there is a small 'alif following the s, then the hamza is written without a hamza-carrier.
The most accepted understanding of who the Sabaeans were, is to place them with the Mandeans, a Gnostic religion linked to John the Baptist. The word may well be linked with Hebrew and can be translated into Baptists, then relating to the central rituals of the Mandeans.
alth and even if Zoroastrians are mentioned in the Koran (22:17 (as Magians), it is still possible that Sabians refer to them.
The Harrians of northern Mesopotamia claimed to be the Sabians.
Sometimes proposed as an alernative, Sabians may have referred to the people of Sheba, located to modern Yemen. The arguments against this is the difference in spelling. Koran sura 34 is named for the Shebans. Their land is in Arabic written "sabā", while the Sabians is written "sābi'ūn", i.e. two different types of 's'. Though such a difference may appear minimal to non-Arabic speakers, it was not so among Arabs.

By Tore Kjeilen