Ismal

Islam

In 590 AD, the powers of Heaven were very pleased with their with their work on Earth. The new Aluminat faith was sweeping across the nations of Europe and converting all who stood against it. However, the demonic forces of the Pale were gaining ground in other areas, and the Aluminat was unlikely to reach the 'Holy Land' and the Ottoman Empire and conquer its most powerful theological opponents (The Ottomans and the Yehudic Israelites) for quite some time. This bothered the powers of Order, so they decided to introduce another prophet to the lands of Araby. While it was a great success, it was also their greatest failure.

They inspired a young man called Ish'Mael in much the same way as they had inspired Justas. Ish'Mael proved a very able and capable prophet and his charismatic personality proved just as compelling as Justas before him. However, he didn't preach Justas' words. The powers of Heaven recognized that they would have to find a new way to bring the peoples of Araby to the cause of order. Aluminat faith was established as a western decadence. The powers of Heaven had been considering the the Aluminat faith since Justas began preaching, and they decided to take the opportunity to fix a few of the 'problems' they felt it had developed. They decided the new religion should be a little clearer and more ordered than before. It was a sign of the corruption that was tarnishing the Angels.

Ish'Mael's words spread across the Empire, and quickly converted much of the Arabian lands. Eventually, the new religion of 'Ismal' (literally 'the purity that was spoken through Ish'Mael') found itself face to face with the forces of the Aluminat. The powers of Heaven thought such a meeting would go well. After all, both sides had been given essentially the same teachings. They would sit down in an orderly way and work out how to combine the words of Justas and Ish'Mael into one great new faith. They could not have been more wrong. The two forces focused only on their differences and began hostilities that would last hundreds of years. The Pale Court laughed… but not for long.

The divisions in Heaven began to open in the lower planes too (as above, so below). In Heaven, the new faith revitalized many of the tarnished Angels. The Arabian Angels formed their own court in the heavens and were far less corrupt than their western counterparts; so much so that many untarnished Angels have sided with the Arabian court for the short term. In the lower planes, things became a little messier. A new Caliphate of the Djinn appeared and quickly carved out a niche for itself. These Djinn and Efreet were a new form of demon and their powers of 'wishcraft' made them dangerous opponents. There are few alliances in the lower planes but, after a few initial battles, a form of détente was reached. However, the Courts of Darkness seek only power and none are happy to share it in the long term.

Ismal, like the Aluminat faith, is based on the teachings of a prophet. Like Justas, Ish’Mael taught his faithful to live with order in their minds and hearts as a way to find inner peace. In Ismal, the faithful refer to the force of order as 'Allah', and they anthropomorphosise the concept in their teachings far more than in Aluminat lore. The word actually means 'God', so it is never written down or spoken without a brief prayer (in Arabic 'there is no God but the peace of Allah'), which reminds the faithful they serve order not a deity. As Ismal confers a lot more personality to the force of order many Aluminat believe that those who follow Ismal perform the heresy of worshiping a God. Missionaries translated the most popular creed of Ismal ('there is no God but Allah') correctly, but failed to understand the meaning of the statement. There is nothing to worship, but the force of Allah.

Ish’Mael didn’t need to decide on ten commandments, he was given five 'pillars' by the angels upon which to base his faith. These pillars form the basis of Ismal and are similar to, but not the same as, the pillars of Islam. The first pillar is Iman (Faith). It teaches that faith and order, and not the worship of a God, should be the basis of life. The second pillar is Salah (Prayer). The faithful of Ismal must pray at five specifi c times of day, facing towards the Holy city of Mecca. This is not just an act of faith. Prayer is a way of structuring the day, dividing it into segments and ordering the lives of the faithful. The third pillar is Zakah (Financial obligation). It is the duty of the faithful to support their church and, through the church's charitable works, their fellow man. While this is a very laudable tradition, it is easily the one most open to corruption. The fourth pillar is Sawm (Fasting). Each of the faithful must observe certain times of fasting and denial. In this way the faithful are tested and can prove they do not fall to Chaos as soon as they miss a meal or suffer hardship. It also serves as a reminder that the only thing they truly need is order. The final pillar is Hajj (Pilgrimage). Every follower of Ismal must remember and cherish the origins and holy places of their religion. Each one of the faithful must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his life.

There is one particular facet of Islam that is the same in Ismal. It is that the faithful should learn the old tongue, so that they can read the prophet’s original words for themselves without the luxury of a translation. This has preserved a certain 'purity' in the holy works of Ismal, which the Aluminat faith has lacked. Too many people have translated and reinterpreted the words of Justas over the centuries, not so the words of Ish'Mael.