Azhar Book

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The Azhar Book is a text in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert.

Dune[edit]

Appendix II: The Religion of Dune in the novel Dune refers to The Azhar Book as "that bibliographic marvel that preserves the great secrets of the most ancient faiths," and notes that it predates The Orange Catholic Bible, the key religious text of the Dune universe which "contains elements of most ancient religions.".[1] The creation of The Azhar Book is also attributed to the Bene Gesserit.[2]

The appendix subsequently quotes Paul "Muad'Dib" Atreides, and references his words back to ancient texts using, The Azhar Book:

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.)

In Dune, Lady Jessica examines the manual included in a Fremen desert survival kit on Arrakis:

The glowing tab of the Fremkit manual between them on the tent floor caught her eye. She lifted it, glanced at the flyleaf, reading: "Manual of 'The Friendly Desert,' the place full of life. Here are the ayat and burhan of Life. Believe, and al-Lat shall never burn you."
It reads like The Azhar Book, she thought, recalling her studies of the Great Secrets. Has a Manipulator of Religions been on Arrakis?

The Bene Gesserit practice "religious engineering" through a faction called the Missionaria Protectiva, which spreads contrived myths, prophecies and superstition on primitive worlds so that the Sisterhood may later exploit those regions.[3] It is later confirmed that the Fremen religion has been thus influenced.

Children of Dune[edit]

In Children of Dune, Leto II quotes from "the Bene Gesserit Azhar Book" when discussing with Ghanima their suspicions about their aunt Alia:

It is with reason and terrible experience that we call the pre-born Abomination. For who knows what lost and damned persona out of our evil past may take over the living flesh?

Leto later notes that "the watering-place of St. Thomas ... was preserved in the Orange Catholic Bible and the Azhar Book..." The Azhar Book is also quoted via epigraph:

The one-eyed view of our universe says you must not look far afield for problems. Such problems may never arrive. Instead, tend to the wolf within your fences. The packs ranging outside may not even exist.
— The Azhar Book; Shamra I:4

Prequels[edit]

The Azhar Book is also referenced in the prequel trilogies Legends of Dune and Prelude to Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

In Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, Norma Cenva notes the following regarding the Sorceresses of Rossak, the Butlerian Jihad-era predecessors of the Bene Gesserit:

Her gaze settled on a fibersheet notebook resting on a worktable. The thick book had a maroon cover with indecipherable lettering as arcane as the mathematical notations Norma had developed. Once, eavesdropping on the Sorceresses and their intricate plans, Norma heard them refer to their private language as "Azhar."

Margot Fenring also reads the title page of a Fremkit manual in Dune: House Harkonnen:

"This is like the Azhar Book," Margot exclaimed, surprised to see an edition adapted to Fremen ways. "Our Book of Great Secrets."

In Dune: House Corrino, to keep her writings secret from her husband, Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, the Bene Gesserit Lady Anirul keeps a journal "in the impenetrable code language of the Bene Gesserit, the long-forgotten tongue used in the ancient Azhar Book." Later it is noted that "a copy of the Azhar Book, the Bene Gesserit volume of secrets written in a long-forgotten language" is on display in the Ishaq Hall of Magnificent Documents on Kaitain.

Epigraphs[edit]

The Azhar Book is also quoted in epigraphs in the Prelude to Dune series. Though the authors have stated that Frank Herbert left behind unused epigraphs which they later used in their prequels and sequels,[4] it is unknown which of these (if any) are from those notes.

  • The basic rule is this: Never support weakness; always support strength. — The Bene Gesserit Azhar Book, Compilation of Great Secrets (Dune: House Atreides)[5]
  • Before us, all methods of learning were tainted by instinct. Before us, instinct-ridden researchers possessed a limited attention span — often no longer than a single lifetime. Projects stretching across fifty or more generations never occurred to them. The concept of total muscle/nerve training had not entered their awareness. We learned how to learn. — Bene Gesserit Azhar Book (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • How to define the Kwisatz Haderach? The male who is everywhere simultaneously, the only man who can truly become the greatest human of all of us, mingling masculine and feminine ancestry with inseparable power. — Bene Gesserit Azhar Book (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • The less we know, the longer the explanation. — Bene Gesserit Azhar Book (renegade copy) (Dune: House Corrino)
  • One cannot hide from history... or from human nature. — Bene Gesserit Azhar Book (Dune: House Corrino)
  • There are no facts — only observational postulates in an endlessly regenerative hodgepodge of predictions. Consensus reality requires a fixed frame of reference. In a multilevel, infinite universe, there can be no fixity; thus, no absolute consensus reality. In a relativistic universe, it appears impossible to test the reliability of any expert by requiring him to agree with another expert. Both can be correct, each in his own inertial system. — Bene Gesserit Azhar Book (Dune: House Corrino)
  • Many creatures bear the outward form of a man, but do not be fooled by appearances. Not all such life-forms can be considered human. — Bene Gesserit Azhar Book (Dune: House Corrino)
  • The search for an ultimate, unifying explanation for all things is a fruitless endeavor, a step in the wrong direction. This is why, in a universe of chaos, we must constantly adapt. — Bene Gesserit Azhar Book (Dune: House Corrino)
  • All proofs inevitably lead to propositions that have no proof. All things are known because we want to believe in them. — Bene Gesserit Azhar Book (Dune: House Corrino)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Herbert, Frank. Dune, Terminology of the Imperium (Orange Catholic Bible)
  2. ^ Herbert, F. Dune, Appendix II: The Religion of Dune. "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 prana-bindu 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..."
  3. ^ Dune, Terminology of the Imperium (Missionaria Protectiva)
  4. ^ Dune 7 Blog ~ DuneNovels.com Archived 2006-09-04 at the Wayback Machine. "Frank Herbert wrote a detailed outline for 'Dune 7' and he left extensive 'Dune 7 notes,' as well as stored boxes of his descriptions, epigraphs, chapters, character backgrounds, historical notes — over a thousand pages worth."
  5. ^ This epigraph first appears in Heretics of Dune, though it is not sourced to the Azhar Book.