I suggest you memorize it...
Appendix II: The Religion of Dune
Before the coming of Muad'Dib, the Fremen of Arrakis practiced a religion
whose roots in the Maometh Saari are there for any scholar to see. Many have
traced the extensive borrowings from other religions. The most common example is
the Hymn to Water, a direct copy from the Orange Catholic Liturgical Manual,
calling for rain clouds which Arrakis had never seen. But there are more
profound points of accord between the Kitab al-Ibar of the Fremen and the
teachings of Bible, Ilm, and Fiqh.
Any comparison of the religious beliefs dominant in the Imperium up to the
time of Muad'Dib must start with the major forces which shaped those beliefs:
1. The followers of the Fourteen Sages, whose Book was the Orange Catholic
Bible, and whose views are expressed in the Commentaries and other literature
produced by the Commission of Ecumenical Translators. (C.E.T.);
2. The Bene Gesserit, who privately denied they were a religious order, but
who operated behind an almost impenetrable screen of ritual mysticism, and whose
training, whose symbolism, organization, and internal teaching methods were
almost wholly religious;
3. The agnostic ruling class (including the Guild) for whom religion was a
kind of puppet show to amuse the populace and keep it docile, and who believed
essentially that all phenomena -- even religious phenomena -- could be reduced
to mechanical explanations;
4. The so-called Ancient Teachings -- including those preserved by the
Zensunni Wanderers from the first, second, and third Islamic movements; the
Navachristianity of Chusuk, the Buddislamic Variants of the types dominant at
Lankiveil and Sikun, the Blend Books of the Mahayana Lankavatara, the Zen
Hekiganshu of III Delta Pavonis, the Tawrah and Talmudic Zabur surviving on
Salusa Secundus, the pervasive Obeah Ritual, the Muadh Quran with its pure Ilm
and Fiqh preserved among the pundi rice farmers of Caladan, the Hindu
outcroppings found all through the universe in little pockets of insulated
pyons, and finally, the Butlerian Jihad.
There is a fifth force which shaped religious belief, but its effect is so
universal and profound that it deserves to stand alone.
This is, of course, space travel -- and in any discussion of religion, it
deserves to be written thus:
Mankind's movement through deep space placed a unique stamp on religion
during the one hundred and ten centuries that preceded the Butlerian Jihad. To
begin with, early space travel, although widespread, was largely unregulated,
slow, and uncertain, and, before the Guild monopoly, was accomplished by a
hodgepodge of methods. The first space experiences, poorly communicated and
subject to extreme distortion, were a wild inducement to mystical speculation.
Immediately, space gave a different flavor and sense to ideas of Creation.
That difference is seen even in the highest religious achievements of the
period. All through religion, the feeling of the sacred was touched by anarchy
from the outer dark.
It was as though Jupiter in all his descendant forms retreated into the
maternal darkness to be superseded by a female immanence filled with ambiguity
and with a face of many terrors.
The ancient formulae intertwined, tangled together as they were fitted to
the needs of new conquests and new heraldic symbols. It was a time of struggle
between beast-demons on the one side and the old prayers and invocations on the
There was never a clear decision.
During this period, it was said that Genesis was reinterpreted, permitting
God to say:
"Increase and multiply, and fill the universe, and subdue it, and rule over
all manner of strange beasts and living creatures in the infinite airs, on the
infinite earths and beneath them."
It was a time of sorceresses whose powers were real. The measure of them is
seen in the fact they never boasted how they grasped the firebrand.
Then came the Butlerian Jihad -- two generations of chaos. The god of
machine-logic was overthrown among the masses and a new concept was raised:
"Man may not be replaced."
Those two generations of violence were a thalamic pause for all humankind.
Men looked at their gods and their rituals and saw that both were filled with
that most terrible of all equations: fear over ambition.
Hesitantly, the leaders of religions whose followers had spilled the blood
of billions began meeting to exchange views. It was a move encouraged by the
Spacing Guild, which was beginning to build its monopoly over all interstellar
travel, and by the Bene Gesserit who were banding the sorceresses.
Out of those first ecumenical meetings came two major developments:
1. The realization that all religions had at least one common commandment:
"Thou shall not disfigure the soul."
2. The Commission of Ecumenical Translators.
C.E.T. convened on a neutral island of Old Earth, spawning ground of the
mother religions. They met "in the common belief that there exists a Divine
Essence in the universe." Every faith with more than a million followers was
represented, and they reached a surprisingly immediate agreement on the
statement of their common goal:
"We are here to remove a primary weapon from the hands of disputant
religions. That weapon -- the claim to possession of the one and only
Jubilation at this "sign of profound accord" proved premature. For more than
a standard year, that statement was the only announcement from C.E.T. Men spoke
bitterly of the delay. Troubadours composed witty, biting songs about the one
hundred and twenty-one "Old Cranks" as the C.E.T. delegates came to be called.
(The name arose from a ribald joke which played on the C.E.T. initials and
called the delegates "Cranks-Effing-Turners.") One of the songs, "Brown Repose,"
has undergone periodic revival and is popular even today:
Brown repose -- and
In all of those
Cranks! All those Cranks!
So laze -- so laze
Through all your days.
Time has toll'd for
Occasional rumors leaked out of the C.E.T. sessions. It was said they were
comparing texts and, irresponsibly, the texts were named. Such rumors inevitably
provoked anti-ecumenism riots and, of course, inspired new witticisms.
Two years passed . . . three years.
The Commissioners, nine of their original number having died and been
replaced, paused to observe formal installation of the replacements and
announced they were laboring to produce one book, weeding out "all the
pathological symptoms" of the religious past.
"We are producing an instrument of Love to be played in all ways," they
Many consider it odd that this statement provoked the worst outbreaks of
violence against ecumenism. Twenty delegates were recalled by their
congregations. One committed suicide by stealing a space frigate and diving it
into the sun.
Historians estimate the riots took eighty million lives. That works out to
about six thousand for each world then in the Landsraad League. Considering the
unrest of the time, this may not be an excessive estimate, although any pretense
to real accuracy in the figure must be just that -- pretense. Communication
between worlds was at one of its lowest ebbs.
The troubadours, quite naturally, had a field day. A popular musical comedy
of the period had one of the C.E.T. delegates sitting on a white sand beach
beneath a palm tree singing:
"For God, woman and the splendor of love
We dally here sans fears or cares.
Troubadour! Troubadour, sing another melody
For God, Woman and the splendor of love!"
Riots and comedy are but symptoms of the times, profoundly revealing. They
betray the psychological tone, the deep uncertainties . . . and the striving for
something better, plus the fear that nothing would come of it all.
The major dams against anarchy in these times were the embryo Guild, the
Bene Gesserit and the Landsraad, which continued its 2,000-year record of
meeting in spite of the severest obstacles. The Guild's part appears clear: they
gave free transport for all Landsraad and C.E.T. business. The Bene Gesserit
role is more obscure. Certainly, this is the time in which they consolidated
their hold upon the sorceresses, explored the subtle narcotics, developed pranabindu
training and conceived the Missionaria Protectiva, that black arm of
superstition. But it is also the period that saw the composing of the Litany
against Fear and the assembly of the Azhar Book, that bibliographic marvel that
preserves the great secrets of the most ancient faiths.
Ingsley's comment is perhaps the only one possible:
"Those were times of deep paradox."
For almost seven years, then, C.E.T. labored. And as their seventh
anniversary approached, they prepared the human universe for a momentous
announcement. On that seventh anniversary, they unveiled the Orange Catholic
"Here is a work with dignity and meaning," they said. "Here is a way to make
humanity aware of itself as a total creation of God."
The men of C.E.T. were likened to archeologists of ideas, inspired by God in
the grandeur of rediscovery. It was said they had brought to light "the vitality
of great ideals overlaid by the deposits of centuries," that they had "sharpened
the moral imperatives that come out of a religious conscience."
With the O.C. Bible, C.E.T. presented the Liturgical Manual and the
Commentaries -- in many respects a more remarkable work, not only because of its
brevity (less than half the size of the O.C. Bible), but also because of its
candor and blend of self-pity and self-righteousness.
The beginning is an obvious appeal to the agnostic rulers.
"Men, finding no answers to the sunnan [the ten thousand religious questions
from the Shari-ah] now apply their own reasoning. All men seek to be
enlightened. Religion is but the most ancient and honorable way in which men
have striven to make sense out of God's universe. Scientists seek the lawfulness
of events. It is the task of Religion to fit man into this lawfulness."
In their conclusion, though, the Commentaries set a harsh tone that very
likely foretold their fate.
"Much that was called religion has carried an unconscious attitude of
hostility toward life. True religion must teach that life is filled with joys
pleasing to the eye of God, that knowledge without action is empty. All men must
see that the teaching of religion by rules and rote is largely a hoax. The
proper teaching is recognized with ease. You can know it without fail because it
awakens within you that sensation which tells you this is something you've
There was an odd sense of calm as the presses and shigawire imprinters
rolled and the O.C. Bible spread out through the worlds. Some interpreted this
as a sign from God, an omen of unity.
But even the C.E.T. delegates betrayed the fiction of that calm as they
returned to their respective congregations. Eighteen of them were lynched within
two months. Fifty-three recanted within the year.
The O.C. Bible was denounced as a work produced by "the hubris of reason."
It was said that its pages were filled with a seductive interest in logic.
Revisions that catered to popular bigotry began appearing. These revisions
leaned on accepted symbolisms (Cross, Crescent, Feather Rattle, the Twelve
Saints, the thin Buddha, and the like) and it soon became apparent that the
ancient superstitions and beliefs had not been absorbed by the new ecumenism.
Halloway's label for C.E.T.'s seven-year effort -- "Galactophasic
Determinism" -- was snapped up by eager billions who interpreted the initials
G.D. as "God-Damned."
C.E.T. Chairman Toure Bomoko, an Ulema of the Zensunnis and one of the
fourteen delegates who never recanted ("The Fourteen Sages" of popular history),
appeared to admit finally the C.E.T. had erred.
"We shouldn't have tried to create new symbols," he said. "We should've
realized we weren't supposed to introduce uncertainties into accepted belief,
that we weren't supposed to stir up curiosity about God. We are daily confronted
by the terrifying instability of all things human, yet we permit our religions
to grow more rigid and controlled, more conforming and oppressive. What is this
shadow across the highway of Divine Command? It is a warning that institutions
endure, that symbols endure when their meaning is lost, that there is no summa
of all attainable knowledge."
The bitter double edge in this "admission" did not escape Bomoko's critics
and he was forced soon afterward to flee into exile, his life dependent upon the
Guild's pledge of secrecy. He reportedly died on Tupile, honored and beloved,
his last words: "Religion must remain an outlet for people who say to
themselves, 'I am not the kind of person I want to be.' It must never sink into
an assemblage of the self-satisfied."
It is pleasant to think that Bomoko understood the prophecy in his words:
"Institutions endure." Ninety generations later, the O.C. Bible and the
Commentaries permeated the religious universe.
When Paul-Muad'Dib stood with his right hand on the rock shrine enclosing
his father's skull (the right hand of the blessed, not the left hand of the
damned) he quoted word for word from "Bomoko's Legacy" --
"You who have defeated us say to yourselves that Babylon is fallen and its
works have been overturned. I say to you still that man remains on trial, each
man in his own dock. Each man is a little war."
The Fremen said of Muad'Dib that he was like Abu Zide whose frigate defied
the Guild and rode one day 'there' and back. 'There' used in this way translates
directly from the Fremen mythology as the land of the ruh-spirit, the alam almithal
where all limitations are removed.
The parallel between this and the Kwisatz Haderach is readily seen. The
Kwisatz Haderach that the Sisterhood sought through its breeding program was
interpreted as "The shortening of the way" or "The one who can be two places
But both of these interpretations can be shown to stem directly from the
Commentaries: "When law and religious duty are one, your selfdom encloses the
Of himself, Muad'Dib said: "I am a net in the sea of time, free to sweep
future and past. I am a moving membrane from whom no possibility can escape."
These thoughts are all one and the same and they harken to 22 Kalima in the
O.C. Bible where it says: "Whether a thought is spoken or not it is a real thing
and has powers of reality."
It is when we get into Muad'Dib's own commentaries in "The Pillars of the
Universe" as interpreted by his holy men, the Qizara Tafwid, that we see his
real debt to C.E.T. and Fremen-Zensunni.
Muad'Dib: "Law and duty are one; so be it. But remember these limitations --
Thus are you never fully self-conscious. Thus do you remain immersed in the
communal tau. Thus are you always less than an individual."
O.C. Bible: Identical wording. (61 Revelations.)
Muad'Dib: "Religion often partakes of the myth of progress that shields us
from the terrors of an uncertain future."
C.E.T. Commentaries: Identical wording. (The Azhar Book traces this
statement to the first century religious writer, Neshou; through a paraphrase.)
Muad'Dib: "If a child, an untrained person, an ignorant person, or an insane
person incites trouble, it is the fault of authority for not predicting and
preventing that trouble. "
O.C. Bible: "Any sin can be ascribed, at least in part, to a natural bad
tendency that is an extenuating circumstance acceptable to God." (The Azhar Book
traces this to the ancient Semitic Tawra.)
Muad'Dib: "Reach forth thy hand and eat what God has provided thee; and when
thou are replenished, praise the Lord."
O.C. Bible: a paraphrase with identical meaning. (The Azhar Book traces this
in slightly different form to First Islam.)
Muad'Dib: "Kindness is the beginning of cruelty."
Fremen Kitab al-Ibar: "The weight of a kindly God is a fearful thing. Did
not God give us the burning sun (Al-Lat)? Did not God give us the Mothers of
Moisture (Reverend Mothers)? Did not God give us Shaitan (Iblis, Satan)? From
Shaitan did we not get the hurtfulness of speed?"
(This is the source of the Fremen saying: "Speed comes from Shaitan."
Consider: for every one hundred calories of heat generated by exercise [speed]
the body evaporates about six ounces of perspiration. The Fremen word for
perspiration is bakka or tears and, in one pronunciation, translates: "The life
essence that Shaitan squeezes from your soul.")
Muad'Dib's arrival is called "religiously timely" by Koneywell, but timing
had little to do with it. As Muad'Dib himself said: "I am here; so . . . "
It is, however, vital to an understanding of Muad'Dib's religious impact
that you never lose sight of one fact: the Fremen were a desert people whose
entire ancestry was accustomed to hostile landscapes. Mysticism isn't difficult
when you survive each second by surmounting open hostility. "You are there -- so
. . . "
With such a tradition, suffering is accepted -- perhaps as unconscious
punishment, but accepted. And it's well to note that Fremen ritual gives almost
complete freedom from guilt feelings. This isn't necessarily because their law
and religion were identical, making disobedience a sin. It's likely closer to
the mark to say they cleansed themselves of guilt easily because their everyday
existence required brutal judgments (often deadly) which in a softer land would
burden men with unbearable guilt.
This is likely one of the roots of Fremen emphasis on superstition
(disregarding the Missionaria Protectiva's ministrations). What matter that
whistling sands are an omen? What matter that you must make the sign of the fist
when first you see First Moon? A man's flesh is his own and his water belongs to
the tribe -- and the mystery of life isn't a problem to solve but a reality to
experience. Omens help you remember this. And because you are here, because you
have the religion, victory cannot evade you in the end.
As the Bene Gesserit taught for centuries, long before they ran afoul of the
"When religion and politics ride the same cart, when that cart is driven by
a living holy man (baraka), nothing can stand in their path."