The Iraqi Mandaean religion may be facing extinction due to recent religious persecutions.
More than 60,000 Mandaeans were in Iraq in the early 1990s, but only about 5,000 to 7,000 remain.
The Mandaeans are related to the Gnostics who practiced baptism when Jesus walked the earth. They are sometimes referred to as Sabians and sometimes St. John Christians. However, they have their own sacred writings and regard Jesus as a perverter of their religion. A large number now live in Australia. Historically they have made a living as silversmiths and come from southern marsh area of Iraq, although Mandaeans have had large population groups in several areas of Iraq. Their knowlege of astrology is similar to the Magi, they eat ritual meals for the benefit of the deceased, pray three times a day towards the north, and recognize light spirits but not dark spirits. They are believed to have originated in Jordan, then traveled west after the fall of Jerusalem.