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StarWombat
11-24-2014, 06:46 AM
I'm writing a fantasy novel loosely based on the fall of the Roman Empire. The new religion that's sprung up, instead of christianity, is an organized solar religion, at least in this draft, but I'm thinking of changing its tone and spirit. And something I'm seriously considering as an example is Islam.

But I have a few questions. Not so much about the religion itself, I suppose? But about how people look at it or think of its doctrines. The most important one is... how important to Islam, as in, how central to it, is the doctrine that Muhammad (pbuh) (is that right?) is the last of the prophets? Would a hereditary position of 'prophet' be acceptable, or should I stick to a holy book collecting one single teacher's writings that then form the core of the religion? Wow, that question got confused.

How heirarchical was the medieval Muslim religion? Christianity became highly heirarchical very quickly as it spread throughout the Roman Empire, and the Catholic Church organization (and the Eastern Orthodox Church) grew to duplicate the structures of the late roman empire in a lot of ways. Dioceses,etc. Was there anything similar or attempts to institute something similar, or was Islam under the Mohammad and the first caliphs a very flat organizational chart, religiously?

King Neptune
11-24-2014, 06:04 PM
I'm writing a fantasy novel loosely based on the fall of the Roman Empire. The new religion that's sprung up, instead of christianity, is an organized solar religion, at least in this draft, but I'm thinking of changing its tone and spirit. And something I'm seriously considering as an example is Islam.

Before Christianity took hold there were a fair number of religions that were widespread. Zoroastrianism and its offshoot Mithraism are solar based and have all the theology that one might want. I think there's more to work with there than in Islam.


But I have a few questions. Not so much about the religion itself, I suppose? But about how people look at it or think of its doctrines. The most important one is... how important to Islam, as in, how central to it, is the doctrine that Muhammad (pbuh) (is that right?) is the last of the prophets? Would a hereditary position of 'prophet' be acceptable, or should I stick to a holy book collecting one single teacher's writings that then form the core of the religion? Wow, that question got confused.

A complete answer would taken a few thousand pages. I would suggest that you start by reading the Koran and a couple of good histories of Islam from Mohammed through maybe 1200 CE. The Koran is central, but it has been interpreted as people wanted. Initially Mohammed's relatives took leadership, but there were disagreements.


How heirarchical was the medieval Muslim religion? Christianity became highly heirarchical very quickly as it spread throughout the Roman Empire, and the Catholic Church organization (and the Eastern Orthodox Church) grew to duplicate the structures of the late roman empire in a lot of ways. Dioceses,etc. Was there anything similar or attempts to institute something similar, or was Islam under the Mohammad and the first caliphs a very flat organizational chart, religiously?

There is no clergy in Islam, or there wasn't supposed to be any, but things don't always work out as intended. Initially, Islam had a flat organizational chart, but changed over time. You should do some reading of the history to get an idea of it.

snafu1056
11-24-2014, 11:58 PM
There isn't much central structure, but localized hierarchies have developed over time. Imams, mullahs, shaykhs, ulama, are all types of holy/learned men in Islam. You also have high ranking holy men like ayatollahs and shaykhs al-Islam, but it depends on the place and sect. Ayatollahs I believe are specific to Shi'ite Iran, for example.

But I agree with high highness King Neptune. There are probably better models for fake religions. Zoroastrianism is a good pick. Even more obscure (and extinct) is Manichaeism, which was all about the eternal battle of light vs dark forces. I could even tell you the structure of that religion. The head of the religion was called the Imamate, who was believed to be the reincarnation of Mani, the founder (headquarted in Baghdad I believe). Manichaean priests were called mojaks, monks were called olkans and ardawans, devout Manichaeans were called Perfect Ones, and ordinary Manichaeans were Hearers. Manichaeans prayed 4 times a day facing the sun and fasted twice a week. They didn't eat meat, kill (even animals), steal, fornicate, marry, practice magic, or do manual labor. They had monasteries and holy texts. They believed that all physical matter was evil and had particles of holy light trapped in it. Their goal was to free the trapped light by their pious actions and usher in a new age of light. See? It even sounds made up.