|The City of Shalazar | Society and Social Roles | Religion | Law and Justice | Council of Elders | The Status of Men | The Great Families | Government and Military | Trade and Economy | Prices | Health | Transport and Communications|
Shalazar is the city of the Calipha, the anointed one of Shaliq, who sees all and knows all. Religion forms an important part of the everyday life of the people of Shalazar, from the morning ablutions to the calls to prayer that ring out three times daily.
The worship of Shaliq is at once simple and complex-daily worship does not get in the way of the day-to-day life of the common people, beyond simple requirements of fealty, prayer, and commandments. However, those entrusted with holy obligations-the Calipha, priestesses, Justices, and most of those in formal governmental roles-find themselves intimately involved with religious obligations on a regular basis. Houses, buildings, and markets must be blessed; the seasons must be properly greeted; harvests must be celebrated. In particular, feast days are declared with the passing of each season, the end of which is not on a set date, but rather determined by the Royal Astrologer.
Key elements of the religion of Shalazar include the Tablets given to the first Calipha upon the founding of the city; the Theopneustic Tomes, storehouses of the knowledge of scholars; the Council of Elders, five priestesses elected from the ranks of the Great Temple; and the Concept of Purity, one of the main tenets of the Shaliqar religion, although not directly stated in the Tablets themselves.
Gifts from Shaliq at the very founding of Shalazar, the tablets are the very heart of the religion of Shalazar. They form the basis of all other theological debate within Shaliqar philosophy, and are the main rules known by the majority of the citizenry. They are:
Unlike the relatively concise tablets, the Theopneustic Tomes can take up bookshelves. It is into these books that the wisest commentaries of the prophets, the histories of the priestesses, and the worlds of the Caliphas are recorded. Instructions for ceremonies and feast days, daily prayers, and everyday ritual are debated at great length.
Not every scholar is included in the Theopneustic Tomes-indeed, having even a line of one's words included is considered to be a great honour, and a form of immortality in and of itself. Although obviously far fewer men have made contributions than women, they are not excluded, and the words of monks and histories of generals feature in several passages. Most religious figures, however, consider inclusion in these texts as the pinnacle of their careers-sadly, most occur posthumously.
Anything included in the tomes are considered to be 'theopneustic'-that is to say, inspired directly by the spirit of Shaliq, and unequivocal truth. The fact that some of these 'truths' seem contradictory fuels much of the debate within the religion, a matter of both conflict and renewal.
The scribes of Shalazar, mostly men, are kept busy in the copying of these texts, which currently fill anywhere between seventeen and thirty volumes, depending on size and quality of illustration. Because of this, there are many different editions of the Tomes throughout Shalazar-it is said that the Ash-Kenz have a complete set, but that seems unlikely even for their mighty library. Certainly the definitive text is kept within the Great Temple.
The Council of Elders are responsible for rulings on religious interpretation. For more information, see the page on The Council.
Though not specifically mentioned within the Tablets, the concept of purity runs strong within the Shaliqar faith. In many ways, the religion of Shaliq is based upon individual achievement-the concept of sin, for instance, is based purely upon the deeds performed by an individual.
However, along side this tendency is a strong ascriptive streak, with certain elements of an individual considered to be ritually 'impure.' Most of these impurities are considered to derive from Omar's original betrayal of Shaliq to the adversary. Thus, men may not become priests, may not sit upon the Throne, and endure the various social restrictions set upon them. Similarly, as it was sexual desire through which the Adversary tempted Omar, virginity is prized as a token of purity. For this reason, priestesses remain celibate, and adultery is frowned upon.
The degree to which purity is valued varies with the strength of religious fervor in each individual. The devout Yildun, for instance, practice strict cleansing rituals within their family, cast out any committing adultery, and of course insist upon celibacy for each member of their clan who joins the Temple. On the other hand, the Hadar are more willing to turn a blind eye to purity, though they will remain harsh towards any who break the covenants upon the Tablets.
"Perhaps obediance to Shaliq has become more perfect: this no man can know. But I do know that over the course of my lifetime, it has become more difficult."
-the diaries of Dun al Jerezad, nee Ash-Kenz
During the reign of Calipha Rasheeda, the Yildun gained significant influence in Shalazar society, and with the ascension of Amlatta to the throne, their interpretation of religious scripture has become more pronounced. Where in the past there was open religious debate between those who would interpret the Theopneustic tomes more strictly and those who were more flexible, now these discussions rarely occur in public. Certainly the more 'moderate' of the Elders are rare in their open rebuke of the Yildun, although what is said among nobles and the wealthy within the domains of the Great Families may be more forthright.
The public consequence of this tightening of thought has been a sort of low-grade repression. No man nor woman will admit in public to not waking before dawn, at least temporarily, to give praise to Shaliq. Those who know of the 'moral transgressions' may report them to the religious authorities, and are sometimes rewarded: the perpetrators, if such a charge is verified, are always punished.
Relations between the sexes are more restricted: Men or women who have sex outside the bounds of marriage or concubinage are likely to be punished severely if discovered: publicly flogged or branded. Illegitimate children can be taken away from a woman and placed in the care of the Order of Kal'Nayak: for this reason many women finding themselves in a 'difficult situation' take it upon themselves to find a husband as soon as reasonably possible, and many a disreputable match has been made under such conditions.
The public expression of heretical views is now much more strictly limited, and the common man is (at least outwardly) much more devout than at any point in the history of Shalazar.