Mark of Aazidaarini
|Book of the Layansaa|
Azdarin is a monotheistic, quasi-shamanistic religion based on the teachings of the seeress Amsalech. Azdarin teaches that the supreme deity, Gedayo's, nature is the primordial water of the world and is therefore alien to the corporeal and material experiences of mankind yet molding them as the tides mold the earth. Through death, all men will be cast into the spiritual oceans of Gedayo and to survive they must practice the tashbith, the clinging on to truth. The spirits of those who do not practice the tashbith will be destroyed completely or wash ashore again to be reborn. The scriptures are called the Layansaa, literally “the unforgettable”, because the truths which are taught in Azdarin are the only things which can be carried into the next life to protect man’s fragile souls from the immense depths of Gedayo’s existence. Those who cling to the truth, the adherents of Azdarin, call themselves “those who hold to the holy truths”, but are more often called Yen or Azdarists.
The Yen believe that Azdarin has been revealed to many people throughout history and has always been an available truth to all mankind, though it was only accepted during the time of the Prophet Mubashir.
Azdarin was recorded during the reign of Mubashir by his priestess, Amsalech. It was originally a form of ceremonial godship centered around the person of Mubashir, whose status as Prophet constituted a permanent and formalized tabanaa, which developed into a more complex religious tradition as the Almurid Caliphate rapidly expanded.
The two primary denominations of Azdarin are the Sahb and the ‘Iifae, which fundamentally disagree on the nature of Gedayo and therefore their ceremonial relationship with water. The Sahb believe that the oceanic presence of Gedayo, and therefore the mundane presence of water, pulls spiritual energy into itself. The Sahb, who are also called Zaytiin, use oil instead of water in rituals, especially those involving the forehead, since using water might suck out the soul and weaken the adherents. They hold that the process of mesida'ami, or drowning, must be resisted since immersion in Gedayo has been preordained. Alternatively, the ‘Iifae, who are also called the Manque, believe that water pushes against the soiled spirits of the world and that the objective of Azdarin is to be immersed in Gedayo after countless deaths and rebirths according to the fidelity with which an adherent observes and pursues tashbith. The ‘Iifae are the larger denomination, mostly living in coastal communities around the world.
- 1 Tashbith
- 2 Acts of worship
- 3 Society
- 4 History
- 5 Denominations
- 6 Population
- 7 See also
The “tashbith” are the fundamental truths, which, when fully accepted and practiced, can be carried into the afterlife as a safeguard against the perilous journey into Gedayo’s spirit or as a way to be joined with Gedayo’s spirit in some sects. The essential beliefs necessary for tashbith are that there is only one supreme deity, that Mubashir was that deity's prophet, that there are angels and saints, that the Layansaa is infallible, that the afterlife described in the Layansaa is real, and that the dangers of mesida'ami which a soul encounters in the afterlife can be guarded against only through the tashbith. The tashbith, beyond encompassing these beliefs, includes a number of virtues, practices, rituals, laws, and recited zimharē.
Acts of worship
Communication with Gedayo is extremely difficult, but prayer is an important fixture of Azdarin. There are two kinds of prayers, some are made to angelic intermediaries or saints who can communicate with Gedayo on the behalf of the petitioner. From most small or personal issues, these prayers, the Earida, are used. The less common, formal prayers are called Yusrikh, are must be made by a large group of Yen since they attempt to draw Gedayo’s attention directly. Yusrikh are sometimes made by the whole congregation of a temple or at some public event, but the more common Yusrikh are the Tasarakh Almatbuea which are standardized, printed booklets of prayers that many people can undertake separately and simultaneously. There are many version of the Tasarakh Almatbuea, but all Yen sects have a set of objectives to achieve through prayer. For example, there is a prayer for good harvests, for just rulers, and a prayer against hurricanes, which people often say to contribute to the general needs of the Yen community.
The pouring out of water or other liquids is an essential practice of Azdarin since it represents the blessing that God pours out onto the earth. Different liquids are used for different rituals and are thought to have specific results; sects have competing opinions on which liquids should be used. Oil, milk, wine, and honey are often used as offerings, but water is most common. Basins of water are therefore important fixtures in Yen architecture. Fonts or bowls of water are made available to guests at their departure, the guests each dip their fingers or cup their hands into the water and then shake or spill a small amount off onto the ground. Public fountains are sometimes used in the same way or even simply spitting on the ground if a meeting takes place away from a ready source of water. All of these actions bring good luck and small blessings.
Unlike other traditions with similar practices, it is not thought in Azdarin that God consumes or is even aware of the offering. The Yen libation is purely representative of the spiritual world and the Yen believe that imitating the spiritual world in the physical world aligns them and naturally brings about greater movements in both. When a Yen spills out water, the same action occurs in the spiritual world as well, building momentum in a cyclical loop. When something good happens, it is especially important to follow the libation rituals, since even better things will happen. Likewise, however, it can be important to stop a libation ritual when something bad happens. The most poignant example of the latter is the spilling of blood, which begets more spilling of blood. Because of this, there are two weeks every year--one in spring and one in autumn--during which the spilling of blood is prohibited called the “tawaquf”. Prisoners may not be executed, punishments involving the letting of blood are forbidden, and surgeries must not cut anyone open (unless they are already bleeding) during that period. Tawaquf brings peace and an end to violence, it was first practiced by Mesfin to stop violence amongst his own followers.
Immersing oneself in water is considered an extremely powerful and dangerous act, which can bring one into close proximity to God. Because of the mixed nature of immersion, the Yen public generally has avoided baths while the priesthood had long constructed and maintained pools for bathing in. When facing an important decision--one important enough to risk great damage to ones soul--Yen will sometimes go to the priestly baths and make their decision after spending some time in the water. Mesfin famously spent an entire week submerged in the Tafet River before launching his holy war of conquest. This week, which is called Almaghmura, is celebrated annually by the Yen and this is the time considered safest to bathe completely. The most cautious Yen will still avoid submersion during Almaghmura and will instead dip their feet in pans of water.
The paranoia the surrounds submersion has also resulted in a cultural phobia of the sea, which is why all of the great Yen states have depended on third parties to conduct their trade by sea. During wartime, sailors would wear special amulets of driftwood inlaid with precious metals to keep their souls from being born out to sea with their bodies. There are many stories of sailors, lost at sea, who are kept afloat entirely by these amulets and are eventually led to shore by them.
Tabanaa is instance of becoming like God which manifests itself in many ways. A common example of the Tabanaa is the holy war waged by Mesfin and his successors. The holy wars were exceptionally swift, brutal, and chaotic, which Mesfin sanctioned as the literal manifestation of God on their behalf. Tabanaa is also sometimes used in a more personal approach, when one’s life is thrown into chaos, it is the touch of God, especially when that chaos is caused by flooding.
The monsoon season in equatorial Scipia, typically July and August, is a period of special reverence since it signifies the coming of God. There is both the Tabanaa in the skies, which represents a similar state in the metaphysical realm, and the heightened occurrence of flooding (physical Tabanaa) during the rainy season. This season, called Rih Musmia, varies from year to year, but there is a schedule printed annually in the Tasarakh Almatbuea of various sects. The Yen look for confusion of the spirit during Rih Musmia, sometimes experiencing instant clarity from overturned assumptions and misunderstanding, but other times there is a storm that inhibits the progress of the soul.
The pilgrammage to Nutum Inyaru, known as Wahad, takes place annually during the seasonal Tuluran monsoon. It is believed that all true Yen must visit Nutum Inyrau at least once their live's and experience the presence of their ancestors and Mesfin. The Legend of Nutum Inyaru tells of Mesfin being taken by the Seer, Amsalech, to the tallest point of the rocky formation and receiving God's command.
For generation's since, Yen from all over the world have taken long pilgrimages to the formation and have been divined by Seer's within its rock-hewn mosque. Thousands and sometimes millions gather at the holy site every year, praying at it's base and seeking the waters of Nutum Inyaru's caves. Often, thousands will make the climb over a period of weeks and present offerings when they reach the mosque. Very few actually reach the top and those that do achieve Tabanaa by touching the Sword of Thunder, sometimes adopting the namesake of Mesfin.
The other significant events during Wahad include immersing oneself in the waters of nearby Lake Eghezlek'azu, or sometimes the Tafet River(though often deemed too dangerous in monsoon) mostly partaken by 'lifae Yen. The 'lifae usually gather to play music, chant and swim, many 'lifae will bring their children to be baptized as well. Sahb Yen usually meditate and pray within large tents, holding traditional ceremonies of oil libation. Most will dance, doing the traditional Tuluran hopping dance and chant. Other's will bring their traditions from their own homelands. Finally, there is the Nutum Inyaru marathon, where Yen who choose to will run to the nearest town and back, then begin a hike to the rock-hewn Mosque. On the last days of Wahad, large groups will gather as close they can to Nutum Inyaru and engage in chanting meditation before they leave home.
The community of believers is called Almujmaea, the pooling. There are several institutions designed to ensure that the community is ready for the afterlife. The most revered member of the community is female seer who, after the fashion of Amsalech, helps guide the spiritual community. The seer is called "almudafaq", the receiver, and they perform most of the public rituals, counsel their community, and sometimes prophesy. Almudafaq do not, however instruct children or study with adults, that duty is only performed by men. The community of educated men, which is called the Dhabil, was traditionally composed of all of the literate men in a Yen community, but after the industrial era, it has been limited to men who have attended a Yen school. The Dhabil is responsible for overseeing the Mahak, the primary teacher of the adults and the Qadib, the primary instructor of the children.
The Mahak selects which adults will be allowed to go to a Yen school. Every Mahak may send a child to a school, larger communities are expected to send many children and to pay a fee for every additional child that they send. This ensures an adequate supply of educated men who will return to become part of the Dhabil.
In the later half of Mesfin's rule, he had developed disdain for war after seeing the blood of the dead pooled at the Battle of Nagmi. Mesfin, having personally participated in the battle, was remorseful over its brutality and gained an epiphany. Mesfin ultimately decided war was an evil that was no longer justified in the name Gedayo. He sought answers and approval from Gedayo, but without Amsalech, who had passed away, his thread to Gedayo was lost. Resigning from his rule, Mesfin therefore took a pilgrimage into nature to seek answers, as Amsalech advised him earlier in life in the event of her passing.
During his journey, Mesfin met a Goat Herder who had guessed his identity but was indifferent to his status. The herder was named Amde, and had lived as a hermit for 30 years before Mesfin found him. Mesfin, intrigued, was invited into the Amde's home. There Mesfin and the Goat Herder had Baobab tea, khat, and, afterwards, hashish. Mesfin lived and worked with the herder, while spending days in secluded meditation.
This was called Masebi, and by the end Mesfin had received Gedayo's sign. In a thunderous applause, Gedayo let Mesfin know his word: Peace, and commanded that now as a holy man he must lay down his sword and reform his kingdom into an era of enlightenment.
Today Masebi, which means "to think" in Tewanya, is a tradition and state in Sahb Azdarin. Traditionally, as a holiday, Sahb celebrate Masebi in April, with a festival dedicated to games and familial gathering. For much of the celebration it is customary to fast, then the next morning after heavy celebration, which varies from region to region, Sahb normally chew on khat throughout the day in social gatherings, by evening baobab tea is prepared and hashish is shared. It is typical for people to exchange food-gifts as well, such as fruits, spices, or coffee.
As a state, when one claims they are in Masebi, they are essentially an ascetic, following the example of Mesfin late in his life. They typically live in separate Masebi orders in Sahb temples. They are, in many regions, the source of Sahb elite scholarship, taking the title of 'asabi', and are charged with collecting innumerable pieces of Yen literature.
Mesfin was the adopted son to Chief Nahom of the Gombakori people. When Mesfin was 16, Nahom was killed in raid from the northern badlands tribes. Mesfin's betrothed love, Tsega, was also abducted and sold into slavery, as well as many more of his clan's people. Meanwhile, a reclusive pygmy Seeress from the south who wandered the land, later to be known as Amsalech, received a vision from from God which commanded her to go north and guide Mesfin. Amsalech had been a mystic hermit searching for Gedayo in the natural world. When she had received Gedayo's command after years of faithful meditation, Amsalech followed it unquestionably.
March forth to Sosfariyya and guide Mesfin, for he is my chosen king, and you are his thread to me.— God to Amsalech, Scipture of Layansaa
When she found Mesfin, he was leading the remnants of his people south to settle among the Zustrumic ruins. Amsalech told Mesfin that he was the the Chosen King and convinced him to hike to the peak of Nutum Inyaru. Mesfin meditated with Amsalech atop the rocky formation until the monsoon winds roared in. Mesfin is thought to have raised his sword high in the air, and that god divined it with a lightning bolt, receiving the Mark of Aazdarini. Having survived the encounter, Mesfin drove the sword into the rock and was then God's messenger, proclaiming the land as his. Quickly, Mesfin marched his people across Sosfariyya to consolidate power and eventually north, when Mesfin began amassing an army of freed slaves, as he prohibited the practice.
Those who did not bend to the rule of Mesfin as the Chosen King was ultimately conquered through warfare. The Warrior-King amassed a large sum of victories, with his empire taking his army to edges of the known land. Mesfin’s followers believed him to be a messenger and god-king, taking after the local Gombakori god Aazidaarini, from which the word Azdarin derives, the authoritative god of thunder, dance, justice, strength and lightning. This was emblematic of Mesfin’s prowess as a warrior and authoritative virility as a ruler.
Almurid Caliphate (985-1045)
After Mesfin’s death in 985, his empire was swiftly disassembled into competing factions, especially between the ‘Iifae and the Sahb, the former having a strong presence in the wealthiest coastal cities and the latter dominating the inland grasslands. The Sahbs organized more swiftly under the new leadership of several of Mesfin’s favorite military commanders and launched a mission to purge the Manque. After they had occupied the coastal region, they began a short campaign to reconstitute Mesfin’s empire, which was relatively easy since they held the allegiance of many commanders in the smaller successor states.
The Caliphate was declared in 993, after the occupation of Qarst when the novitiate of the Mahlul Malhi ejected their Mufti because he refused to recognize Nāranj as the true successor to Mesfin. Because the Caliphate was declared by the murids, the novices of the priesthood, Nāranj called his dynasty Almurid, the dynasty of the novices.
Nāranj made several important changes to the religious laws of the Caliphate that allowed it to expand much faster than previously. First, Nāranj ended forced conversions in favor of this dhima, the religious tax on infidels. This allowed the to more swiftly occupy territory than Mesfin had, who had primarily gone in search of converts with territory as a secondary objective. Secondly, Nāranj decriminalized the ‘iifae heresy in exchange for their support in naval operations since recruiting sailors had been extremely difficult before. Third, Nāranj universally abolished slavery for all Yen and allowed slaves to be instantly freed if they converted to Azdarin. Able to quickly occupy territory, having opened up sea lanes, and with an army filled with recently emancipated slaves, Nāranj began the second Great Tabanaa.
The Almurid Caliphate exploded across northern Scipia and Nāranj’s children successfully prosecuted campaigns across the Gombakor mountains and into Ezpanna and Al’zir Jafat.
Classical Era (1045-1250)
After the decline of Almurids, the Azdarin community was never again reunified on such a great scale. There were other, later caliphates such as the Caliphate of Alba, which were great empires in their own right, but the status of Caliph gradually declined into a cultural and religious status, rather than a political one. While this greatly impeded the ability of Yen states to prosecute wars of religion, it caused a blooming of the arts and sciences throughout the Yen world.
Modern Era (1800-Present)
Starting in the 19th century, the continued decline of the Thraysian Empire and the formation of the Empire of Tulura greatly changed the legitimacy structure of Northern Scipia. The need for a unified Yen front to resist incursions of foreign invaders was greatly diminished while simultaneously, none of the native Scipian powers held the status of caliphate. Because of these factors, and the changes later wrought by the wars between Tulura, the Hellenes, and the Empire of Heaven, the nineteenth century is considered to be the end of the Yen classical period, though historians have variously observed the downfall of the Hailu Caliphate or the occupation of Qarst as potential ends to the period.
The major tariqas of the 'Iifae denomination include Hashdiyyah, Zubayriyyah, Ishraqiyyah, and Ash'ariyyah.
Zubayriyyah is a tariqa or school of Yen jurisprudence, theology, and practice that was founded by the 'Iifae saint and mystic, Abu Walid Daoud ibn Lahan az-Zubayri, following his flight from the Ruzmid Sultanate. Ibn Lahan, more commonly called the Sheikh Ayjtahat al-Riyah (Wind-Blown Master), taught that the zimharē possess both exoteric and esoteric meanings, and that their genuine power resided in the esoteric meanings. Zubayriyyah is an ecstatic school, emphasizing frenzy, fasting, music, dance, careful imbibing of libations and intoxicants, recitation of zimharē, and drowning as a means by which temporary and communal tabanaa might be achieved. It was also highly accessible, incorporating a wide variety of local saints, deities, and spirits as temenaa. It is said to have influenced other ecstatic schools, most especially its seminal work "The Converse of the Birds", as well as nascent religious movements in Zanzali and Pulau Keramat.
Hashdiyyah is a Yen tariqa of the ‘Iifae denomination, founded by the 11th century judge and mystic Izz ad-Din al-Hashdi that emphasizes the attainment of ecstatic tabanaa through asceticism, prayer, dance, music, and the use of hashish or khat.
The major tariqas of the Sahb denomination include Hibaliyyah, Khalwatiyyah, Ghadiriyyah, Judhuriyyah, Afaniyyah, and Shaykhatiyyah.
Afaniyyah was founded by the Bemirimitran mystic Ando Antsa Ray as a sub-branch of the Khalwati tariqa. It developed as a religious philosophy of nonviolent resistance against Mutulese colonialism, emphasizing periodic retreats and nonviolence while prohibiting the spilling of blood or taking of life in all circumstances.
Distribution of Yen by nation
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