The harem is a part of the house that is specifically reserved for the family and is a forbidden place for adult men except the host or close relative. Harem departs from a social system that carries out a strict division between the world of men and the world of women. Harems are usually found in the homes of upper-class people and become a meeting place for upper-class women. Although often identified with the lifestyle of the sultan, the existence of the harem (with all its types and terms) has existed in pre-Islamic times. Harem can also be used to refer to the wives or concubines of a man who practices polygamy. Although women are seen as inappropriate to interfere in political affairs in a society that adheres to the strict division of the world between men and women (because the political and government spheres are seen as men's territory), in practice, the harem becomes an important part that becomes the center of political activity for women. women in their role in moving the government from behind the curtain. In the context of the palace, the harem became a very large institution inhabited from hundreds to thousands of people with a very complex hierarchy like a small town. Close relatives of the ruler; mothers, wives, concubines, sisters, or daughters are usually at the top of the harem hierarchy.
In the West, harems are closely associated with imaginative images of the glamorous sexual life of the sultans. This is reflected in several works by medieval Western painters on harems. Confinement, male superiority, weakness and the low position of women are also one of the images that are often associated with harems. Even so, many of these perceptions depart from the interpretations of Western society groups who tend to be foreign to the culture of separating the worlds of men and women, so that they do not get a complete or even wrong picture. Harem comes from the Arabic word: (ḥarīm) which has the same root as the word ام (ḥarām), which means 'forbidden', can also refer to something sacred which is forbidden for anyone to enter it. Harem which is part of a special house for families or women has several other terms in various cultures. In the Ottoman period, the part of the house reserved exclusively for families was the haremlik and men who were not close relatives were forbidden to enter it. On the other hand, the part of the house that is used to receive guests and the general public is the salamlik (which is taken from the word 'salam').
In Java, the institution most similar to a harem is the keputren.
In the South Asian region, the area for families and women is the zenana, while the part of the house for guests and the public is the mardana. In Persian, the private part of the house is called Andaruni and the public and external part is Biruni. In Russia, a special section for women in the palace was called terem. In ancient Greece, the part of the house dedicated to families and women was called gynaikeion (γυναικεῖον) or gynaikōnitis (γυναικωνῖτις), while the part for men or general was called andrōn (ἀνδρών) or andrōnitis (ἀνδρωνῖτις). In Korea, the part of the house for men is called Saranchae (사랑채) and for women it is called Anche (안채) or Anbang (안방). In Java, the institution most similar to a harem is the keputren. The existence of a harem appears in a society that performs a strict separation between the worlds of men and women. All problems related to the general public, such as the economy and government, are seen as the domain of men. On the other hand, everything related to the family belongs to women. Women are seen as inappropriate to meddle in the affairs of the outside world openly and vice versa, so women will often stay at home and be secluded. Under these circumstances, a private space for women is a necessity. The harem was formed as a place for women who were confined to move freely without being seen from foreign men and the outside world in general. Although in the West the term harem is closely associated with Muslim society, especially with the lives of the sultans, the existence of the harem or the custom of seclusion of women has existed for thousands of years before the Prophet Muhammad was born.
39;s lives. The women should not be seen in public.
This tradition has existed and was carried out by the upper classes of Iraq, the Byzantines, the Ancient Greeks, and the Persians. The custom of seclusion of women was common in Ancient Near Eastern society, especially in a society that allowed polygamy. In pre-Islamic Assyrian, Persian, and Egyptian times, each palace had a harem area where the female relatives of the ruler lived, along with court ladies and eunuchs. Contemporary Byzantine sources describe the social mores that governed women's lives. The women should not be seen in public. They were guarded by eunuchs and could only leave the house with a veil and with their companions. Some of these are influenced by Persian customs. This custom of seclusion of women in practice cannot be carried out by all levels of society. This is because working class women often handle jobs that require them to interact with foreign men. Women contributed to economic life by becoming nurses, healers, bath guards, and entertainers. Seclusion of women is carried out by the upper middle class because of their strong financial situation, so women do not need to intervene to work and earn money. This makes the custom of seclusion of women as a symbol of the high status and degree of the family. In some areas, such as in the Arabian Peninsula, this custom is also practiced in the lower classes of society, but in general, this practice tends to be unrealistically applied in people with weak financial circumstances. In Assyria, harem rules were established through palace edicts. The women of the palace lived in seclusion, guarded by eunuchs, and all members of the harem would travel together with the king. Various rules were set to keep women away from politics and government affairs.
There is no evidence that the practice of seclusion was practiced among the early Iranians, but they began to practice it after the conquest of the region. According to Greek historians, the Mede nobles had at least five wives who were guarded by eunuchs. Greek historians note that during the Achaemenid Empire, the ruler had several wives and a large number of concubines. The empress or main spouse, usually the mother of the crown prince, became the head of the palace household. He has his own residence and monthly income, as well as many servants. The other three groups of women who were also in the harem were the wives of the other rulers, the princesses, and the concubines. The Achaemenid harem served as a model for later Persian empires and the system tends not to change much. In the Sasanian era, which was later imitated by the Safavid and Qajar Empires, the woman who held the highest rank did not have to be the main wife of the emperor or king, but could also be her sister or daughter. Among other Persian rulers, Khosrau (Kisra) II was known for his splendor in terms of hedonism. He searched his territory for the most beautiful girls and according to the news, 3,000 of them were put into his harem. This practice was widely condemned, but Khosrau himself stated that every year he had sent his wife, Shirin, to bid the girls leave the harem with a dowry for their own marriage, but they refused because they were comfortable with the splendor of the palace. Early Muslim society was not so strict in separating the worlds of men and women, although on the other hand the act of ikhtilat (mixing of men and women) was also seen as inappropriate.
39;ab and Khaulah bint Azwar.
Women usually play an active role in world affairs outside the family, as men are also used to intervene in domestic matters. Congregations of men and women have always been present at the mosque since the early days of Islam in Medina and they are only separated in terms of placement (male congregation in front and female at the back), but without physical barriers between them. Some women also took part in the battlefield, starting as rescue workers and medics to directly holding weapons, as did Nusaibah bint Ka'ab and Khaulah bint Azwar. Even the widow of the Prophet Muhammad, Aisyah, became a commander in the Jamal War with Talhah bin Ubaidillah and Zubair bin Awwam. This did not change much until the time of Khulafaur Rashidin and the Umayyad Caliphate. In the Qur'an itself, a practice that resembles female seclusion is textually required only for the wives of the Prophet. After the death of Umayyad, the reins of power of the Islamic world shifted to the hands of the Abbasid dynasty. Prior to 1258, this dynasty was often centered in the region of Mesopotamia which was once the territory of the Persian dynasties, so the area has a strong Persian culture. It was during this time of the Abbasid Caliphate that the separation between the male and female worlds became clearer and harems began to be formally institutionalized in Muslim society.
In the context of the palace, the harem became a residence for hundreds to thousands of people.
Historians believe that the custom of seclusion of women in Muslim societies was derived from Byzantine and Persian cultures. From a religious point of view, the command in the Qur'an for the wives of the Prophet to stay at home was then seen as a model and role model for Muslim women in general. According to Eleanor Domato, seclusion of women has religious and cultural foundations. After the death of the Abbasids, many Muslim dynasties practiced a similar practice. Although it is very close to women and all their knick-knacks, actually a harem is not properly called a "women's room" because the host and his sons also live in it. Even so, the picture is also not entirely wrong because the harem is a place for upper class women to hold meetings and mingle with each other, considering that in this culture, public spaces tend to be dominated by men. The harem becomes the residence of the host and his family which usually consists of the host's spouse (wife or concubine), parents, and their children. Foreign men are not allowed to enter it except in very special circumstances. The harem itself is designed to be a closed part of the house that cannot be seen from the outside. In the context of the palace, the harem became a residence for hundreds to thousands of people. One of the misconceptions is that every woman in a harem automatically has sexual contact with the ruler.
Wives and concubines were only one group that inhabited the harem along with other groups. Behind the invisible walls of the harem, the occupants formed a large, complex, and orderly hierarchy. Broadly speaking, the inhabitants are divided into two major groups: first: the ruler, his family, and relatives; second: the servants. The royal family consisted of the ruler and those who had blood relations with him (mother and children), as well as the ruling spouses who could be wives or concubines. In the harem system, the harem leader can be considered the first lady in the modern context. The party who was usually at the top of the harem hierarchy was the queen mother. The queen mother was responsible for managing all the affairs of the harem or palace household. Marriage, including the marriage of the ruler himself, also became one of the important duties of the queen mother, even including the selection of concubines for the ruler. This contradicts the common view that the ruler has absolute sexual access to any woman he wishes. Marriage, including the selection of concubines, becomes an inseparable part of family and household affairs so that this problem becomes the domain of women. While ideally women should stay away from politics, in practice, family and government affairs are intertwined. Women who have high position and power in the harem will often try to boost the status of their family of origin. Noble families who have done great service to the ruler or have great influence in the country can usually negotiate politically by asking the ruler to marry their daughter, hoping that the next heir to the throne will have a kinship with them.
With interrelated circumstances, the involvement of women in political and government affairs is unavoidable, even if it is not done openly. The role of the queen mother in politics reaches its peak when her son, who is the ruler, is seen as not or has not been able to govern, such as because it is still considered too early or incompetent. in Chinese history. Cixi is one of the figures who can represent this phenomenon, while Kösem Sultan is the best example in this case in Ottoman history. When the position of queen mother is vacant, the position of harem leader can be delegated to a ruling spouse, sister, or daughter, depending on the laws in force in each region. In the Mughal Empire, the title for the first lady and head of the harem was padsyah begum, and this title could be carried by the emperor's mother, wife, sister, or daughter. In some cultures, the mother of the ruler was not the only elder in the palace harem. In the Mughal harem, the widows of the former ruler, aunts and grandmothers, and stepmothers also lived together in the harem.
In the Joseon period, the king's consort could continue to live in the harem after being widowed and becoming queen mother, whether or not the next ruler was a descendant. When this new king also died, she would become the old queen mother, a position above the queen mother, and become the head of the harem. The concubine of the previous king could stay in the palace harem if she became the mother of the next king. In Ottoman custom, the widows of the previous sultan would leave the main palace and live in another palace, also being able to remarry if they had no sons. When a sultan dies and his mother is still alive, his mother will leave the old palace, as happened with Safiye Sultan, the mother of Sultan Mehmed III. Even so, Kösem Sultan remained in the main palace after the death of his son, Sultan Ibrahim, but later died in a dispute with his son-in-law, Turhan Hatice, who was the new queen mother. In a harem system, usually the male ruler has more than one partner, either a wife or a concubine, and one of them can be the leader of the harem. These wives and concubines were distinguished by rank and rank according to their respective rules, but usually the ruling spouse who was the mother of the eldest son had special status and attention, although she did not always officially occupy the rank of consort or main spouse of ruler.