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Laws of the Loregiver
I will quote almost straight out of the Fortunes and Fates book for Al-Qadim, p. 14 to 19, but with significant additions.
What are the Laws of the Loregiver?
Written in legendary times by the Loregiver, also known as The Maiden of Beauty, desired by Men, Gods and Genies (see the legend), the Law was found in a cave in the desert by the man who became the First Caliph. The obvious clarity and wisdom of the Law (and the desperate chaos of the time) convinced all to accept the guidance of the Law, and so Zakhara became the Land of Fate.
The Laws of the Loregiver are not actual laws, but rather an ethical code, a kind of constitution that all local laws must obey. They are very loose and seemingly chaotic, but this has time and again proved valuable, as they are able to change with the times and are easily accepted by all cultures. In many cases, local custom is much more specific and to the point than the rather vague Law.
Under the Laws of the Loregiver, all actions are divided into five different types. These are Forbidden Acts, Discouraged Acts, Tolerated Acts, Encouraged Acts, and Required Acts. There are also a host of customs and special cases. Judgment is passed by an appointed judge, a qadi.
These acts are vile and despicable, unlawful, and to be hindered and punished at every turn. People who engage in Forbidden Acts are not to be considered Enlightened. In many cases, Fate herself seems to mark such vile individuals with the Evil Eye.
The punishment for forbidden acts is almost always death, or enslavement if it seems possible that the criminal will reform.
Violating The Dead
The living and the dead should not intermingle. Mostly, willful eating of sentient flesh. This also applies to human sacrifice, animating the flesh of the dead, necrophilia, and other violations of the sanctity of death. The flesh (containing the waters of life) is sacred; bones are not. Animating skeletons, talismans made out of the finger-bones of defeated enemies, robbing graves where the interred have rotted down to bare bone, these are not prohibited acts.
In many cases, undead can be said to violate this stricture by their very existence, but ancestor-worship, hama (spirit-birds) and avenging revenants are tolerated. Some cultures refuse to recognize the sentience of others to avoid this stricture.
Murder of the Innocent.
This does not include killing resisting opponents in war, duels or even brawls. Ambush is murder if done against an individual, but quite all right in a skirmish or battle, or even against a declared enemy. Al-badia tend to define murder more broadly, punishing any violent action, while the al-hadar don't consider killing in raids to be murder. Holy slayers consider their slayings to be encouraged acts, but most people don't agree.
The rape of a virgin, faithful traditional wife or pregnant woman is considered Murder of the Innocent (actually, murder of innocence in this case). Less respectable women gain less protection from the Law.
Spreading the belief that no Gods, Fate or higher power and purpose exist. Monopolizing bakara for personal or institutional use. Harming the greater supernatural patters upon which the world depends. Does not include iconoclasm or the defaming of specific cults.
Harming or hindering people engaged in encouraged or, most especially, required acts. Banditry against pilgrims. Harming mosques or holy sites (haram). Harming the praying or missionaries. Forceful conversion of the faithful to unenlightened ways. Demanding intolerance from your subordinates. Stealing or embezzling taxes and state funds.
Threatening the Grand Caliph, his court, or the magnificent lands entrusted to his rule.
Stealing a man's livelihood or cheating him of the bulk of his belongings, so that he is reduced to poverty and cannot fulfill his social obligations. This also is seen differently, the al-hadar claiming that removing a man's freedom is the worst sin, but stealing everything except a single camel or horse is acceptable. Cheating in trade is as bad as stealing. Al-badia, however, figure that reducing a man's wealth so that he can no longer maintain his social position is malicious theft. But the al-badia adhere to the proverb; a fool and his money will soon part, conning somebody is not nearly as bad as stealing.
Breaking a solemn oath or promise sworn before Allah. Violating one of the core customs; the salt bond, prayer, respect for a mosque and so on. Taking advantage of the helpless or those dependent upon you (the handicapped, fools, children, wives, elderly, slaves). Incest. Some consider adultery to fall in this category. Speaking the truth is not required in all cases; unless you have eaten salt or sworn by the name of Fate, you are not bound by Sacred Trust.
A quadi can impose slavery as punishment, and the unenlightened can be enslaved to be educated and for the protection of civilized society. Many al-badia interpret the "protection" part to imply that barbarians can be enslaved to insure a supply of slaves for essential needs of society.
Destroying the means of securing a livelihood. Destroying great works of art. Encouraging the spread of desolation. Arson. Destruction of farmland or pasture. Permanently poisoning wells. Negligence leading to the collapse of buildings, in which tenants are killed.
These actions impoverish all the world. Destroying property is actually worse than stealing it, especially to the al-hadar. Stolen property can be reclaimed, but "What has died has passed". Destruction of property is also a crime against the state, reducing the combined wealth of the nation of Islam, while stealing is just redistribution of wealth. Small-scale destruction is of course only discouraged, and an expected part of raiding and warfare (it is hard to capture a castle without harming it), but willful destruction is still a major sin, even on a small scale. Kids are often scared with this Law when they break things, but it really does not apply to them.
You may not destroy even your own property, for who knows what Fate had intended it for the future. Far better to give it away as charity. Slaves are considered property, and are protected by this Law. The willful harming of slaves (even your own slaves) is a major sin. Disciplining them is not.
Naturally, it is permitted to tear down something in order to rebuild it in a new way. The prohibition refers to willful destruction without justification. Actually, very few are ever prosecuted for this sin except as a political trial, because the Law is so vague. It is used to justify rebellion against rulers who harm society.
Some pantheist claim debauchery is willful destruction, where a man consumes more than he could possibly claim to need. Most other al-badia vehemently oppose this view.
Discouraged actions are willful and wrong, but are not the sign of savagery and evil that forbidden acts are. Punishments can often be severe, but no real stigma applies to such actions, and if you get away with it, you might even be idolized.
Discouraged acts are punishable by a variety of cruel and disgraceful means, including branding, severing body parts, torture, lashing, imprisonment, enslavement, public humiliation, fines, loss of property or status, or any "poetic justice" the qadi can invent. Execution is not an option, though enough torture can lead to death.
Stealing what the victim can afford to loose. Any theft that does not require the victim to reduce his station. Honorable raiding is actually a tolerated act among the al-hadar.
Causing bodily harm to others, especially if they had surrendered or were unresisting. Violent theft and robbery. Wounds caused in combat qualify only if they are crippling.
Manslaughter, Justifiable Killing
This is mainly killing in battle, but family feuds and vigilante actions can often qualify as well. Killing in a duel or other fair combat is always considered manslaughter, as well as accidental killing, after all we have no Fate but the Fate which we are given.
The giving of gifts is appreciated and even expected, even to qadi or other officials. Every man is expected to give what he can afford. Bribery is giving gifts that are out of proportion, or offering gifts in secret, for illegitimate services. The poor often protest and try to bring charges of bribery on qadi who judge against them, but if they were favored by Fate, they would not be poor, and could offer suitable gifts themselves.
Behaving is a way that risks the safety of the general populace; galloping on city streets, summoning supernatural creatures near people's homes, wild use of weapons or spells near the innocent. Again, a certain amount of risk is acceptable, as long as you were favored by Fate, so that nothing went wrong.
Fraud, Slander and Bearing False Witness. Lying with the intent to cause harm to another, impersonating an official, slander to discredit another and besmirch his honor, impersonating a free man (if you are a slave) or an enlightened (if you are not). Lying under oath is covered by Violating a Sacred Trust, but judicial oaths are not very common.
These are serious offenses in the Land of Fate. The Law sets humiliating but not too serious punishments for these crimes, such as the Law that a man impersonating another must wear the impersonated person's clothes, backwards, for a month. Tradition demands that besmirched family honor is avenged. A qadi will often declare the murder of a slanderer to be justifiable murder. If you are accused of slander, it is wise to get the case judged by a qadi before someone takes the Law in his own hands.
Revolting against or otherwise threatening local authority or the deputized of the Great Caliph. This is a lesser sin according to the Law, but most local rulers still pass very harsh punishments for those who are convicted. In many cases, revolutionaries who are captured are considered to have threatened the security of all of Zakhara, and so are tried for High Treason. On the other hand, successful revolutionaries often become public heroes and rulers in their won right, like the Sultan of Tajar.
Preventing others from engaging in tolerated actions. Demanding intolerance from your subordinates is actually Persecution of the Faithful. Forcing others to perform encouraged or required acts (such as tax enforcement) is in itself a tolerated act.
Disturbing the Peace
Public drunkenness, lewdness and undisciplined behavior is unlawful. Pantheists, and some others, consider women seen in public without a veil (or chador, in some cases) to break this Law. Public celebrations where all are admitted, on the other hand, are considered charity. Private celebrations beyond your means and obnoxious luxury (such as fine horses or clothes) can be considered treason, as it challenges the local social order. Moslem cities have a curfew from midnight till an hour before dawn. During this time, the faithful are expected to be at home, sleeping. Anyone found on the streets will be arrested, and bright light or loud noise indoors also violates this Law.
Many cities have a "budayeen", or red-lights district, that is not considered part of the city proper and where this Law is not enforced.
Breaking Local Customs
This applies to a wide variety of more or less strange local customs. The mention of local customs in the Law is interesting, because it prohibits local customs from declaring various actions to be forbidden. Punishments can still be quite severe, however.
Many places have local customs that seem strange or even mad to foreigners, but rebelling against such strictures is discouraged by the Law, so the faithful should accept the Fate which they are given. And remember, while the custom might say you are to be buried alive with your dead wife, it does not prevent you from trying to escape from the tomb afterwards.
These are the "basic rights" of the enlightened, neither sinful nor virtuous, but all part of what is considered normal human behavior.
Making a Profit
Loans with interest, trade, employment with a salary, renting and selling, all are tolerated parts of daily life. This also includes the collection of tolls, duties and tariffs.
Worship of one's God in an open mosque
You may worship any god, even one not locally recognized as enlightened. This is a point of contention mainly in the Pantheon Lands, the pantheists maintain no open mosques, claiming that all their mosques are sacred specifically to their five deities in unison. Sometimes, foreign traders maintain their own small shrines in the foreigner's quarters of pantheon cities.
Public debate and the spreading of news (including advertisements), as long as it is not willfully untruthful or slanderous. Public expression of joy are permitted, including smoking and drinking, but not to excess. Some consider drinking to be discouraged, while others consider all public display of emotion shameful.
Most pleasing to enlightened Ins and Gods, these are the basic virtues of Zakharan society.
Worship of Enlightened Gods
Worship brings fortune, not only to you, but to all the land. Developing your own spiritual growth, through Magic, Fu and Fortune. Missionary work and diplomacy among the unenlightened. Waging holy war. Encouraging devotion among marginal believers.
Enforcing the Law
Persecuting those performing forbidden acts, leading those who commit discouraged acts back to the straight and narrow, encouraging truth and judging wisely.
Tolerance of Others
Live and let live. Don't force your opinions or customs on others.
Fasting during Ramadan, observing the sanctity of the weekly Yasad (holy day). Praying three times per day. Observing the Sabbath. These are universal customs throughout the Land of Fate. A host of local and seasonal holy days are also observed, the most important of which is the Grand Caliph's birthday.
Support the Great Caliph and his appointed deputies by paying taxes to support the state and military. Notice that this is not a required act, but tax enforcement is a tolerated act, so the tax man can still come after you. The legal ground for taxation of the faithful is weak, however. The unenlightened must pay a special tax to live in Moslem cities, but are not required to perform civic duty or be a part of the city militia.
The al-hadar almost never pay taxes, though they often have to pay tolls. They perform their civic duty themselves by fighting for the faith.
These are tenets so basic, so natural and self-evident, that most Zakharans would never question them. Refusing to live according to these laws is grounds for punishment and exile, even if you are not enlightened yourself.
Belief in a greater force, be it Fate personified as Allah, a God, or any philosophical path that does not deny a greater purpose.
Take care of your fellow man. Receive guests with open arms, and give freely to those of lesser means. All people bow to the rules of hospitality and charity. One tenth of your income should be given as alms to the poor, and you should harbor a guest for three nights.
The first tennet is given lip service by the al-badia, who often give some alms and give away their old clothes, leftover food and so on to the beggars of the city, but hospitality in a city applies only among friends and relatives.
Among the al-hadar, hospitality is a matter of survival; when lost in the desert, hospitality can be a matter of life and death, and nobody can afford a reputation of poor hospitality. Charity, on the other hand, is seen as the duty of the chieftain to care even for the poor in the tribe, in return for their undying devotion. Alms as such are not given, except perhaps when visiting haram.
Obedience to the proclamations of the Grand Caliph. Based on the saying of the first caliph: "I am the Lion of the Faith". This is not an actual part of the Law, and can be disputed.
Caring for and upholding the responsibilities of your position in society. Taking care of your dependents, children, wives, closest friends, family and clan. Defending the Land of Fate against invasion. This duty sometimes requires that you perform discouraged acts, and can be used as justification for such, but never allows forbidden acts.
A holy site (feng shui site, node, cairn) in Zakhara is known as a haram. They can take many forms, but most are rebuilt as temples or hermitages over time. These sites posses bakara (Arabian for chi), a mystic property akin to fortune and spiritual force. Travelers seek to visit as many of these haram as possible during a journey, in the hopes that some of the bakara will rub off on them, which it often does in the form of extra experience points. Attuning to and monopolizing such as site is considered blasphemy, a forbidden act.
The greatest haram is the Golden Mosque in Huzuz. Once in your life, you should visit Golden Huzuz, the Gem of Zakhara, and pray in the Golden Mosque, thus bringing bakara back with you to your kinsmen at home. In practice, only the leading people in society and the very devout are expected to make the pilgrimage themselves, but many others make a pilgrimage "in proxy", sending a donation or token along with another pilgrim. Pilgrims can often support their pilgrimage from such donations.
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