The faith of the Qhur, in all its glorious transgressions.
The original Qhur hailed from the Kingdom of Ammon (Ammun), and are referred to in the Torah as the Ammonites (modern Ammunij, Ammunim). They were not monotheists per se, but neither were they polytheists in the sense of allowing multiple gods. Instead, they followed three of the old Canaanite gods in a trinity: Ēl or Moloch (modern Il, Malk; Malk is more often used for the Abrahamic god) the all-father, Asherah (Asharah) the all-mother, and Yārēah (Yariaj) the moon god; the last of these was the patron god of Amon, often referred to as Yareah Attar in combination with the Aramaic name of the Arabian fertility god, or even Yareah Ashtart in reference to his “female” side. As was customary in Canaan, followers of the gods put up asherah poles to indicate places of divinity. The Ammonites also apparently believed in a group of beings known as the Ēlohim (modern Ilahim), the nameless and numberless “children of El” who inhabited the wild spaces of the world, and against whom Yareah would protect his particular people. His protection was needed for more than supernatural means; for centuries the Kingdom of Ammon had an on-again off-again rivalry with the Kingdoms of Judea and Israel, who spoke a language so similar to Ammonitic they might as well have been dialects but were very specific in their worship of a single deity, and who insisted on cutting down the asherah poles when they could find them (something the Ammonites came to resent very much).
The symbol of the kingdom–and by extension the religion–was a waxing crescent moon in northern-hemisphere style, white against a dark background. There was no holy book in the same manner as the Israelites, but there was a book called the Sassaha or Commandments which outlined the laws, customs, and required rituals for the people of Amon.
Gnostics & Docetics
Christianity was introduced to the area in the early First Century CE, and continued to play a major part in the lives of the Ammonites for centuries to come–not least because, in their zeal to get back at their old rivals and keep the priesthood relatively firmly implanted, they created their own version. Jesus was naturally the Messiah, not just for the Jews but for the entire world, and he was most certainly the son of God. But the priests and preachers saw and opportunity to rely on writings that would maintain their own positions–and some of their beliefs–without going too far off-course. Thus were the Gospels (liqajim) of the Qhurite New Testament (Kithab Hammalk) arranged:
- The Gospel of Peter: believed to be the writings of Saint Peter himself (although there is much doubt as to the historical accuracy of this, and most find it more likely that it was derived from a series of oral Proto-gospels), the Gospel of Peter provides the fundamental base for Qhuric Heterodoxy. In many particulars it does not much defer from the life and times of Jesus as detailed in the other Gospels; in others, however, it is most explicitly different, for example placing the blame for the Crucifixion on Herod and the Jews rather than on Pontius Pilate. It also contains elements considered docetic (believing Christ was a divine being wearing human form), something very much in line with traditions about Yariaj.
- The Gospel of James: technically an proevangelion or “infancy gospel” (relating to the early life of Jesus and before that point), the Gospel of James was quite popular across the Mediterranean from its supposed conception around 145 CE for several centuries to follow. It talks among other things about the miraculous birth of the Virgin Mary and the miracles she wrought as a child, the fact that Joseph had several other children before marrying her, that Jesus was born in a cave, and that apparently there were virgin priestesses in the Temple of Jerusalem–impossible under Judaic law, but a point of comparison for the Qhur, who seem to have had temple prostitutes in a manner similar to that practiced in Mesopotamia (one of the many things disliked about them by the Israelites).
- The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: another proevangelion, possibly from the 80s CE. This treats Jesus as something of a trickster-figure, killing and resurrecting playmates and making clay birds come alive and teaching his teachers.
To this there was one final book added, the Gospel of Emer, apocryphal to the extreme and probably written in the early 3rd Century but interesting for retelling the events of Jesus’ life with reference to the exploits of Yariaj, in effect combining the two figures together.
On the Subject of Sainthood
The original conceptualisation of sainthood in the Church was merely one who had arrived in Heaven, and could be literally anyone at all so long as they’d been generally good and pious. This concept was pleasing to the Qhur, who already had similar ideas about the Iluhim. The new qudhishim and qudhishut (singular qadhish and qudhishah) started springing up everywhere, one’s ancestors finally joining the ranks of the iluhim and speaking with God himself. (Nobody, not in any way or at any time in history, could persuade the people of Amon to part with their iluhim.) After a time, of course, there came to be three ranks of saint. The qudhishim were now the gold-plated model, those who had actively performed miracles in their lifetimes. Most folks were now merely among the maburrakhim and maburrakhut, the “blessed ones” who had seen Heaven but were unlikely to do much in the way of intervention for their families except on general terms. And there was a special term, borrowed from Koine Greek, to refer to monastic saints–the husiahim (singular husiuh), from ‘όσιος.
The old asherah poles, once discredited as a sign of pagan ritual, were gradually reintroduced as upside-down crosses–not least because of their additional connection to St. Peter. People could pray at these crosses not only to St. Peter, but to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God (and, by extension, the incarnation of Asharah on Earth) and Yariaj-as-Jesus (Yishuha) as well. Worship of Malk tended to occur more in churches, which were of the old style (in catacombs or houses buried in the rocks) to avoid attracting the attention of their more orthodox brethren.
None of these features–the pagan leftovers, the heretical Bible, the insistence on following their own patriarch instead of the Emperor–much endeared these misbegotten wretches to the Byzantines, who did their best to scourge them of their ridiculous religion. And so it was that there was a very, very brief period of fighting, where the remaining Ammonites either chose to adopt a less heretical faith and be assimilated, or to stand by their old (new) God and die. In the end, assimilation won the day, and the last few supporters were sent packing southward to the Gulf of Aqaba, a relatively small distance compared to their Jewish cousins but one felt all the more deeply because of it. (After all, home was just that close…)
During this time up stepped a man known as Nathan bin Shim-Yajil (Nathan Ben Shem-Jael), who took charge of those sent away and sought to ally his people with the various Arabs living in the area. A mixture of urbanites and farmers with a handful of priests, they settled the outskirts of the city and down along the coast, intermingling (but rarely intermarrying) with the Arabs already living there. Many chose to follow Muhammad in his conquests, although they were placed alongside their cousins who had remained in Jordan while doing so…
There is no Patriarch of the Qhuric Heterodoxy, no Pope either; the highest rank one may attain within their church is Bishop (Shamir, shumirim). The current Bishop is Yugah Shamir XII, formerly Yugah bin Yusip-Kinnur.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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