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The Star of Shemesh
|Moses of Gan-Shalom|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Asura||At least 4 million|
|Biladia||Up to 500,000|
(Seipher-Hattoroth · Seipher-Hattekhasim)
(Kamar · Parshanoth · Yissumim)
|Mashahith, various vernacular dialects|
Mashahism (Mashahith: מָשֲׁהוּתְֿ måšăhī́ṯ) is a henotheistic religion and ritual tradition originating and largely concentrated in the area of modern Hipasia, practised almost exclusively by the Mashahi people and thus referred to as an ethnic religion. The religion is held to have been promulgated by the prophet Moses of Gan-Shalom, though major elements of the belief are common to a number of peoples of Arabekh. The religion became prominent in the region during the mid-first millennium BCE but in the third century CE the Hawid Empire invaded and conquered the Mashahim. They and their religion in particular were suppressed, and many fled outside the empire, particularly to the Fiorentine Empire and thence to other parts of Asura. From then until the nineteenth century Mashahism continued to be practised mainly by the distinct diaspora communities, to more or less free extents. Two texts make up the core canon of Mashahism, typically called the Book of Teachings and the Book of Rituals. These are supplemented by three exegetical texts, collectively called the Writings. The nature of the Mashahi diaspora makes accurate measurements of the number of Mashahi practitioners difficult, but most estimates fall in the range of twelve to fifteen million people, with eight million in the Kingdom of Hipasia.
Mashahism is believed to stem from a particularly heterodox form of Lisanic paganism which emphasised the god of the sun, Shemesh (or another name from Proto-Mimmic *śamš-) above all the rest, to the extent that the religion began to resemble monotheism rather than polytheism. Some scholars have suggested that this can be partly attributed to the influence of Alydianism, thus explaining why Autochthonous Mashahism, confined to Arabekh, retains a more polytheistic aspect. Most, however, believe that this centralisation of the pantheon predates the Great Exile and thus Alydianism. Despite the centrality of Shemesh, Mashahism embraces the existence of other deities, typically referred to as סֳגֿוּדֿיִםְ så̆ḡūḏī́m or Seghudhim. However, these occupy lesser positions than Shemesh and are often thought of as spirits of nature or avatars of Shemesh depending on the denomination rather than deities equal to Shemesh.
Followers of Mashahism, particularly in the diaspora, have faced hostility throughout much of history, frequently extending to violence. The divided nature of the diaspora left it powerless to defend against organised acts of violence, and so from the nineteenth century calls for a state for the Mashahim grew. In 1900 the Kingdom of Hipasia was created as a state for the Mashahi people. Given the close connection between the people and the religion, the involvement of the faith of Mashahism in the government was and is fairly substantial. The monarch of Hipasia is officially the spiritual leader of all Mashahim, regardless of denomination, although some branches reject this as being heterodox. The largest branch of the religion of Conservative Mashahism, followed by Liberal Mashahism, Orthodox Mashahism and Autochtonous Mashahism. Other minor branches exist, such as Unitarian Mashahism which rejects or downplays the existence of the Seghudhim. The majority of adherents outside Hipasia reside in Asura, with some in other parts of Arabekh and marginal communities on other continents.
Shemesh (שֶמֶשְ) is the central figure in Mashahism, generally referred to as male. Shemesh was originally interpreted as a sun god, whose home was the sun itself, and although the sun is no longer personified in this literal way solar imagery remains prevalent in Mashahism. The primary religious symbol, despite having the name Star of Shemesh (כּוֹכַֿבְ־שֶמֶשְ), depicts a sun with eight rays.
Shemesh is held to be the originator of the universe and the creator of everything within it. Shemesh is both omnipresent and omnipotent, but the failings of humanity led him to turn away from intervening in mortal affairs. Redemption is achieved individually, when a person living a life in obeisance to the Seven Eternal Virtues is allowed to break free from a cycle of rebirth and become a Seghudh or immortal spirit. These virtues are:
- Piety (כִּיבּוּדְֿ kibbūḏ); most denominations do not consider this to mean an unwavering obedience to Shemesh, but rather an acceptance of divine power in general. For this reason, Mashahism is non-proselytising.
- Compassion (חֶמְלָה ħemlå); treating ones fellows in a spirit of kindness and fraternity.
- Harmony (אִיזוּןְ ʔīzūn); maintaining stability within one's community. This has often been taken to include a respect for social hierarchies, an interpretation which is downplayed in liberal denominations.
- Ethic (מוּסָרְ mūsår); acting for the betterment of society in a way exemplary to others.
- Charity (צְדָֿקָה çəḏåqå); caring for those of lesser means than oneself and preserving their wellbeing.
- Culture (תַּרְבּוּתְֿ tarbūṯ); advancing the artistic pursuits.
- Wisdom (חָכְֿמָה ħåḵmå); advancing the intellectual pursuits. Also taken to include well-considered judgements and the correct administration of justice.
Each of the virtues leads to the next, culminating in Hasgadhah (הַסְגָּדָֿה), the passage from the mortal world to the immortal, when a human soul becomes a Seghudh. This sequence has led to the number eight becoming important in Mashahism, and the letter ח which represents the numeral eight is a common part of religious art.
Moses of Gan-Shalom
Role in Hipasian government