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
Player Information
History and Legends
Society and Culture
World
Contacts
News
News

Religion

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.

The Tablets

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:

  1. I am Shaliq, and thou shalt bear witness to my creation. There is no other god but me.
    This rule establishes the primacy of Shaliq as the creator of all that is. She is a jealous god, and permits the worship of no other but herself.
  2. The Calipha is first among my servants
    This law establishes the Calipha as the first among the servants of Shaliq, and guarantees her primacy among men. It is widely understood that the covenant between the first Calipha and Shaliq allows for the world to exist so long as the Calipha and her people follow the conditions set out by Shaliq.
  3. All who worship Shaliq shall be thy sisters
    This commandment, according to commentary, is most important in providing scope for the others: in general, injunctions are only relevant towards other followers of Shaliq. Note that "sisters" is not exclusive to women--men are expected to keep to this commandment.
  4. Thou shalt bow down to worship me before breaking thy fast and before taking to rest
    Typically, citizens of Shalazar pray before eating their first meal, and before sleeping. There are those (principally among the Yildun) who believe that this means 'at dawn' and 'at dusk'--but that means waking every day before dawn, which is not popular among less rigorous believers.
  5. Thou shalt not suffer thy sister to go without lodging, nor without bread nor salt nor water
    This commandment requires hospitality to be shown to fellow worshippers: if requested, and a guest holds no malice in their heart, hospitality demands that a guest be allowed food and shelter for three days. Note that there are many exceptions to this tradition--for instance, strangers may be 'shown hospitality' by pointing them towards the nearest inn; innkeepers may fulfill the 'bread and salt' requirement by providing a very small piece of salted bread--and obviously they may charge for the room. On the other hand, strict adherents of Shaliqar will always offer hospitality, as liberally as may be required.
  6. Thou shalt not steal
    Just what it sounds like.
  7. Thou shalt not have knowledge of the creations thy have named
  8. Thou shalt not have knowledge of the servants I created before thee
  9. Thou shalt not know thy sister's husband
    These three commandments speak to the sexual mores of the Shaliqar faith--they are the three primary commandments, although there are more strictures included in the Theopneustic Tomes. Principally, they forbid any congress with animals ('the creations thy have named') and the Djinn ('servants I created before thee').
    The last of these is a restriction against adultery, and applies to men as well as women. Relations are permitted between married couples, or between concubines--but not outside of these pairings. A man sleeping with another man's wife (or vice versa) can be stoned to death. Sex outside of marriage is frowned upon but usually in direct proportion to the devoutness of the individuals or their families. It is not punishable by stoning, but is not encouraged. (cf. the Concept of Purity)
    The first of these laws is not trivial--a common punishment inflicted by wizards is to turn a man or woman into an animal--where they will be untouchable by their husband or partner, and yet remain married.
  10. Thou shalt not murder
    This commandment is the most hotly debated of any, because while all murder involves killing, not all killing is murder. Most specifically, deaths caused in acts of war, deaths arising out of formal duels, and the deaths of infidels are not considered murder.
  11. Thou shalt not exalt thyself by reason of thy worth, and thou shalt give to those without thy fortune
    The followers of Shaliq are required to be humble--although of all the commandments, this is the one most likely to be taken with a grain of salt. However, all followers tithe 10% of their earnings, each year, to the church, or give directly to the poor.
  12. Thou shalt not consort with demons
  13. Thou shalt not raise up the spirits of the dead
    These commandments forbid consorting with demons (who have been cast out by Shaliq), and with the spirits of the dead (that being the domain of Shaliq only). The punishment for practice of demonology or necromancy is normally burning.

The Theopneustic Tomes

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

The Council of Elders are responsible for rulings on religious interpretation. For more information, see the page on The Council.

The Concept of Purity

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.

Stricter Observances

"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.