Faisal stares at the Baron for a few seconds, sleepiness and shock making an intelligible response difficult.
Rite of Purity? Why would Hakim Teasen-rretyn care about the ritual?
“Forgive me Sahib, be welcome in my home. I completed the isha-salaam only an hour ago, but I am always pleased to speak with your honoured personage.
“The Rites of Purity are a means for the faithful to prepare themselves for a major undertaking or quest in the service of The Eternal Light. The rituals are clearly prescribed in The Karain, the Holy Book of Forms. There are small variations, but the Rites encompass two basic Forms; Wudhu and Tazkiah.
“Wudhu is a simple purification, used by the faithful to prepare for major festivals, such as the Solstice Triumphant or the Solstice Unconquered. Some of the very faithful cleanse themselves by Wudhu for major personal events, such as birth celebrations, weddings, or funeral processions. And some heathens who have recognized the Ascendance of The One True Light choose to undergo Wudhu to symbolically cleanse away the taint of false beliefs.
“Wudhu consists of a day of fasting and prayer before the Eternal Flame of The Sarenrae. It is usually performed in a shrine without attendants, although for more important occasions, one of the Dawnblessed may attend the Salah. After the fajr-salaam on the second morning, the supplicant passes both hands through the Sacred Flame to complete the cleansing.
“Tazkiah is a much more intense and involved Rite, and is necessary only for those faithful about to undertake the most sacred or dangerous of tasks. Dawnbrethern undergo Tazkiah when they take their place in The Order, as do Feda-ghazi such as myself. Those who commit a Transgression of Faith may choose to undergo Greater Cleansing to beg Forgiveness of The Glorious Redeemer. And any who seek a great boon or special status with The Order will often be expected to undergo Tazkiah before the Dawnbrethern will grant the request.
“Tazkiah begins with one thousand hours of fasting and prayer, during which only purified water and specially prepared bread may be consumed. Once this preparatory vigil is complete, if the supplicant, or Tahir, is able to continue the Cleansing, the next step is fasting and praying for one hundred hours in the desert, under the harsh Purifying Rays of The Sarenrae. If this ordeal is completed, the Tahir is bathed in the Sacred Waters for one thousand seconds during which the Dawnbrethren perform various rituals. Directly from the bathing, the Tahir must walk through the Cleansing Flames. If The Light of Eternal Wisdom has deemed the Tahir worthy of the duty or request, the Flames will cause no harm. However, if found unworthy, the Tahir will bear the scars of Her Displeasure for the remainder of their life. A worthy Tahir is then granted the right to bear the Khimaar, a brand such as mine, although many choose something less prominent, and they are considered Cleansed and ready to undertake their role, depending on the reason for the Rite.”
Faisal notes the strange look on Talreth’s face, and misinterprets its meaning.
“Fear not, Sahib. You have always honoured The Righteous Light of Purity amongst your heathen beliefs, and She would welcome your conversion to The One True Path without the requirement of Wudhu. Although, if you wish to undertake Lesser Cleansing, I would be pleased to guide you. I have no doubt that you would comport yourself admirably through the ordeal. There is certainly no need for you to subject yourself to Tazkiah for something as simple as atonement for false idolatry.”
As Faisal finishes, Talreth is already contemplating details, “… forty-one and two-thirds days plus 4 days and 4 hours … roughly forty-six days. Hmmm, does anyone in Firenze even know how to make the bread?”
Faisal looks slightly confused at Talreth’s persistence on the unnecessary ritual, but shrugs in response. “It is simple unleavened bread, easy to make for even unskilled hands, provided one has the proper ingredients. Beedlenut bark and horfarah mushrooms are difficult to find even in Qadira. And you may know them by different names, if they even grow in this cold climate.”
Talreth nods absently and thinks for a moment. “For the Tazkiah, you mentioned, ‘If The Light of Eternal Wisdom has deemed the Tahir worthy of the duty or request’. Does one state publicly the goal of the Rite or is this between the Tahir and The Dawnflower?”
Faisal opens his mouth to quickly answer, but pauses in thought. After a few moments, he shrugs again.
“I have never witnessed Tazkiah without the Dawnblessed accounting the purpose of the Rite to all. After all, it is their spiritual guidance that determines if a Greater Cleansing is even necessary. But I recall nothing in The Karain that specifies any public knowledge of the goal of the Rite. The Book of Forms contains prayers that may be made specific to the Rite’s purpose during the bathing and approach to the Cleansing Fire, but the basic Forms are the only true requirement. The Holy Text is clear that The Great Guiding Light is the sole Arbiter of the Rite, and if She is not satisfied, the Flames of Cleansing will Maim rather than Purify.
“But again, Wise Hakim, there can be no need of the Greater Cleansing in your Acceptance of The Truth. Performance of Wudhu would be more than sufficient. Perhaps we should seek out Dawnsister Scarlet in the morning and have her wisdom set your mind to rest on the matter?”
Talreth walks back to his chambers later, lost in thought…
I suppose a ring of sustenance is cheating.