Prostitutes had to wear hijab 7000 years ago
Reader comment on item: The Burqa Wars
Submitted by n.krishna (India), Dec 5, 2006 at 02:59
The veil is a symbol of prostitution sanctioned by a religion some 7000 years back. To know more we have to travel back in time to Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia refers to area covered by the present day Iraq, eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwest Iran. This area is on the basins of Euphrates and Tigris rivers and is known as the "Cradle of Civilization", since it was here that the first literate communities developed. By 6000 B.C. Mesopotamia had been settled, a process of urbanization evolved and Sumerian civilization took root. Sumer was a collection of city-states around the Lower Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now southern Iraq. Sumerians who are the ancient inhabitants of what is now Iraq is credited with inventing the cuneiform writing. The urban civilization of Mesopotamia dates back to 5,000 BC.
The Sumerians were highly innovative people. Sumerian legacies include writing, irrigation, the wheel, astronomy, and literature. Sumerians were the first people known to have devised a scheme of writing, which were pictograms on clay tablets, and gradually created cuneiform writing. Mesopotamian cuneiform became the lingua franca of trade and international diplomacy. Sumerian cosmology, ethics, theology, even educational methods, passed into other societies throughout the ancient Near East. Sumerian writings passed down the centuries to leave an indelible impression on the modern world, on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, on the first chapters of Genesis.
The idea of a paradise, a garden of the gods, began with the Sumerians. Another legacy was the recording of literature. The most famous Sumerian epic is the epic of Gilgamesh who was king of the city-state of Uruk in 2700 B.C. A highly developed sense of religion dating back to 5000 B.C existed in Mesopotamia. Babylon, a town to the north, had a ruler, King Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.), who wrote legal code known as "The Code of Hammurabi". The Code of Hammurabi was early Sumerian law codes, .18th century B.C and reveals the principle of retaliation "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" that has found its way to the Koran.
Slaves were used in temples, in public buildings, and in the homes of private individuals. Most temple slaves were women who did domestic chores. 365-day calendar began as early as 4,228 BC. Positional notation is developed in Mesopotamia by the Sumerians. Unlike most other common numeration systems, the Sumerian system has a base of 60 instead of 10; this sexagesimal system using the cuneiform symbols continues in use throughout Mesopotamia and the astronomers continue to use it and we, today, have 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour; 60 arc seconds in an arc minute; 60 arc minutes in an arc degree. Sumerian civilization was among the oldest urban civilizations on the planet. In Sumer the first attempts at writing emerged to produce the first detailed records, written or carved in stone.
Mesopotamian religion is the oldest religion recorded. Mesopotamians believed that the world was a flat disc, surrounded by a huge, holed space, and above that, is the heaven. They also believed that water was everywhere, the top, bottom and sides, and that the universe was born from this enormous sea. Mesopotamian religion was highly polytheistic which means that the people believed in many gods. If someone was sick they prayed to the gods so that person would recover. As mentioned above, the Mesopotamian doctors were not medically advanced, so instead people asked help from the gods. Huge temples in a pyramid shape were built to worship the gods. The Mesopotamians believed their kings and queens were descended from the city gods but, unlike the ancient Egyptians, they never believed their kings were actually gods.
In the temple of Bel at Babylon, and probably in most of the other temples both there and elsewhere throughout the country, a great festival was celebrated once in the course of each year. We know little of the ceremonies with which these festivals were accompanied; but we may presume from the analogy of other nations that there were magnificent processions on these occasions, accompanied probably with music and dancing. The images of the gods were perhaps exhibited either on frames or on sacred vehicles. Numerous victims were sacrificed; and at Babylon it was customary to burn on the great altar in the precinct of Bel a thousand talents' weight of frankincense. The priests no doubt wore their most splendid dresses; the multitude was in holiday costume; the city was given up to merry-making. Everywhere banquets were held. In the palace the king entertained his lords; in private houses there was dancing and revelling. Wine was freely drunk; passion was excited; and the day, it must be feared, too often terminated in wild orgies, wherein the sanctions of religion were claimed for the free indulgence of the worst sensual appetites. In the temples of one deity excesses of this description, instead of being confined to rare occasions, the free indulgence of the worst sensual appetites seem to have been of every-day occurrence in the temples of one deity.
Each woman was required once in her life to visit the temple of Beltis, and probably in most of the other temples throughout the country and there remain till some stranger cast money in her lap and took her away with him. The women seat themselves within the holy enclosure with veil about their heads and the strangers pass along them to make their choice. A woman who has once taken her seat is not allowed to return home till one of the strangers throws a silver coin into her lap, and takes her with him beyond the holy ground. When he throws the coin, he says these words—'The goddess Mylitta (Beltis) prosper thee.' The silver coin may be of any size; it cannot be refused; for that is forbidden by the law, since once thrown it is sacred. The woman goes with the first man who throws her money, and rejects no one. When she has gone with him, and so satisfied the goddess, she returns home; and from that time forth no gift, however great, will prevail with her. Such of the women as are tall and beautiful are soon released; but others, who are ugly, have to stay a long time before they can fulfill the law. Some have to wait even three or four years in the precinct.
Prostitutes dedicated to the fertility Goddess were working at the Temples of the fertility Goddess in Canaan. There were also male priests wearing woman's clothes in these Temples. Priestesses working as prostitutes, and homosexual males were present in the Temples in Sumer. These prostitutes had to cover their heads. It is known also that in the earlier periods there were whores among the Jews who were having sexual intercourse in the name of God. That is why God in Deuteronomy 23:17 orders: "There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel." There is another order from God in Deuteronomy 23:18: "You shall not bring the hire of a whore....into the house of the Lord your God." These Jewish prostitutes used to cover their faces and their bodies with a veil. Veil originated for women in Sumer and it was their compulsory duty to have "sex" to worship the mother goddess. One can see same tradition of prostituting for goddess- in Greeks and Romans and for this the women have to take veil and thus one can understand the use of veil by women.
Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".
Reader comments (71) on this item
Comment on this item
Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes