What is a Harem?
The term ‘Harem’ has been widely misunderstood within society with regard to its true and intended purpose in conjunction with its assumed meaning. Simply put, a Harem – a term taken from the Arabic translation of ‘Forbidden’ is an area or location in which men are forbidden from entering; this institution was first mentioned within the Islamic text of the Koran.
What is the Purpose of a Harem?
The usage of a Harem is considered to be of the utmost importance within Islamic culture. Due to the fact that men and women who follow the Islamic faith will typically remain separate from one another – unless the couple is married – this separation undertaken by Islamic men and women is believed to serve the following purposes:
A Harem provides a place for women and children to reside within which men are not permitted to enter; this is believed to provide a certain sense of comfort and ease with regard to spiritual activities
A Harem allows women of the Islamic faith to congregate without the presence of men; the notion of temptation through an inter-gender gathering is quite prevalent with regard to a bulk of religious texts and theology – a Harem allows for the congregation of women to be undertaken that is absent of potential temptation.
The History of a Harem
Amongst the most famous and noteworthy Harems, possibly the most recognized as the Seraglio – or Harem – that resided within the Topkapi Palace of the Ottoman Empire; the Ottoman Empire has become what is known as modern-day Turkey. The Seraglio provided a haven, which was regarded as a Harem in which the many wives of the Sultans were able to congregate; men were not permitted entry into this Harem. The Harem of Topkapi Palace may have contributed to a wide variety of misconceptions undertaken within modernity with regard to the true nature of a Harem; the Seraglio Harem merely served as a location in which women and children resided:
A Harem serves to provide an area of spiritual peace and serenity; the notion of sexuality or physicality typically will not exist within a Harem.
Many individuals confuse the congregation of many women within a centralized location to serve as a meeting place or courting area with regard to Islamic royalty and their respective wives and concubines; however, this is not the case – in contrast, a Harem serves as an area that provides relief from inter-gender interaction.