Mandaeans are a closed ethno-religious community, practicing Mandaeism, which is a monotheistic Gnostic religion (Aramaic manda means ‘knowledge’, as does Greek gnosis) with a strongly dualistic worldview. Its adherents revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Noah, Shem, Aram and especially John the Baptist.
Mandaeans believe the World of Light is ruled by a heavenly being, known by many names, such as “Life,” “Lord of Greatness,” “Great Mind,” or “King of Light”. This being is so great, vast, and incomprehensible that no words can fully depict how awesome Life is. It is believed that an innumerable number of beings, manifested from the light, surround Life and perform cultic acts of worship to praise and honor this great being.
Baptisms are a central theme in Mandaeanism, believed to be necessary for the redemption of the soul. Mandaeans do not perform a single baptism, as in religions such as Christianity; rather, they view baptisms as a ritualistic act capable of bringing the soul closer to salvation. Therefore, Mandaeans get baptized repeatedly during their lives. John the Baptist is a key figure for the Mandaeans; they consider him to have been a Mandaean. John is referred to as the greatest and final teacher.