Capital world of the Stellar Umma

Medina ::
Image from Steve Bowers
Medina and its moon Rabat

Medina Data Panel

StarHip 39330
RA8h 02h 27.12
Dec-46, 20, 12.72
Distance from Sol118 ly
Luminosity1.1 sol
Colonised1639 AT
TypeEogaian terraformed to Neogaian
Current Capital CityQawwali
MoonRabat, Radius 504km, period 8.8 days

Following the Great Expulsion, more than a billion refugees from the Community of Islamic States were relocated to the Moon, habitats in Mars orbit and to sympathetic habitats in geostationary orbit. To augment these habitats numerous massive inflatable Bigelow-type habitats were rapidly constructed. Agents of the Earth Goddess Herself constructed the first of these habitats, but extreme crowding made it necessary for several more habitats to be constructed by their own efforts.

During the long Dark Age these habitats were strengthened and rebuilt and became the heartland of Orbital Islam, a mercantile polity which became an important factor in the foundation of the First Federation. Many attempts were made to return to the surface of Earth at this time, but all were unsuccessful; at this time GAIA admitted no tourists at all, making pilgrimage impossible. In the rotating microworlds of Orbital Islam the new consensus known as Islamic Unity emerged from endless debate, and a new, more inclusive expression of the worship of Allah became ascendant.

Thanks to the economic success of the First Federation and several technological advances, the launch of numerous large-scale colonisation projects became possible at this time. During the seventeenth century a.t. the Islamic Unity embarked on such a project, sending large numbers of ships to three systems in the Puppis and Canis Major regions, and with them many millions of Islamic Unity colonists on a migration, or hejira, to the stars.

Medina, An Earth-sized terrestrial world 118 light years from Sol, had already been reached by an Islamic Unity craft in 1639, and the long slow process of terraformation was already under way. Using newly developed chaos management techniques the climate of this world was tamed, producing a world with a warm, dry environment at most latitudes, invoking the warm climate of the ancient heartland of the lost Islamic states on Earth. A small number of so-called Watchers, the transapient Faithful AIs who had accompanied the hejira from Solsys, set themselves up as environmental regulators, and began to develop a fascination with the mathematical representation of the processes of the Universe. Two million colonists arrived during the mass migration to Medina, and began to build a number of populous cities on the coast of the Qalb Sea.

The early centuries of the Medina colony were heady days full of promise and possibilities, although life could be tough in the half-finished and crowded cities and on the barren surface of the planet. At first the atmosphere of this world could not support human life without breathing equipment, and some sections of the population adopted mild genetic tweaking to adapt them to the harsh conditions. After several hundred years had passed the air was finally suitable to be breathed by unmodified humans, and the tweaks were forced to readjust to the new, Earth-like conditions. However a large proportion of these reverted tweaks remained open to self-modification biotechnology, and certain cities and nation-states on Medina had quite large populations of modified humans and with them, began to develop biotech industries.

These cities, particularly New Doha, have retained a long tradition of genetic engineering and a respectable tweak population.

With a fairly large initial influx of colonists, the population of Medina grew rapidly, and soon there were many populous cities on this world. Together with the nearby systems of Yathrib, Zamzam and Jeddah, Medina became the core of the Stellar Umma, a predominantly Islamic empire. These four systems shared the title of capital world for a few centuries, before Medina became ascendant in the twenty first century A.T.. At this time the Stellar Umma began to expand rapidly outwards towards the Gum Nebula and, eventually, beyond. Tensions between isolationist factions and dynamic, expansionist groups led the a schism in 2676, and Medina was left as capital of the Core worlds only, with the outer regions breaking away and developing a new empire with its own invented language, Umma of the Shell.


Medina has increasingly become a centre for a Neo-sufic mystical tradition of Islam, and particularly important is the mystical cosmology that has developed there. On the edge of the HIP 39330 system is a modular telescope connected to the Argus Array, and many transapient Watchers have dedicated their existence to interpreting the data obtained from these powerful instruments. Applying a mystical viewpoint to this wealth of astronomical data, the Neo-sufic Watchers and their followers have developed a complex and esoteric interpretation of the cosmos. There are interesting parallels between the Neo-sufic cosmologies and those proposed by sephirotic hermeneutics, and there are some indications that the two traditions were linked in far antiquity.

Also important in Neo-sufism are the Six Subtleties, or Realities of the Heart. These are known as Nafs (The Soul or Psyche), Qalb (the spiritual Heart) and Ruh,(the Spirit itself), and the higher organs of spiritual perception, Sirr (the secret inner consciousness), Kafi (the Arcane, or seat of perception of the Manifest Absolute), and Akhfa (the most Arcane, the innermost consciousness and the Ultimate Unseen). Together with the concept of the Imaginal World, these form the basis of esoteric thought and belief at the heart of Neo-sufism in Medina.

The Absurdist War

During the ninth millennium, the Merdre, a clade of gas giant adapted bioborgs arrived in the Medina System, and became established in the large ringed giant Khartoum. This giant had previously been exploited only lightly by helium miners, but now became the home to millions of radically adapted Merdre borgs. These extremophiles were not Islamic, but followers of a bizarre Absurdist religion, with a deliberately obscure creed, which was not only inconsistent over time, but also varied at random from individual to individual. This randomness of belief caused the behaviour of the Absurdist Merdre to become unpredictable, and often dangerous. In 8890 a faction of Absurdists launched a ridiculous attack on Medina itself, swooping down onto the planet in helium-fusion driven ships and causing random swathes of damage. The Medinans retaliated by attacking the giant world of Khartoum itself, causing considerable damage to the floating Merdre cities in the planet's atmosphere, much to the surprise of the majority of the extremophile population, most of whom were unaware of the reasons for the war. In fact there were none that made any rational sense - nevertheless after the retaliation certain Absurdist factions continued to make ill-judged and random attacks at non-strategic targets, and eventually the majority of the Merdre population was expelled from the system. A small proportion remained, and has become famously converted to the local Islamic faith.

Masjid, Medina
Image from Steve Bowers
The great Masjid, Qawwali, built from translucent diamondoid before the world was terraformed. On the roof of this building a pointer always indicates the direction of Earth and the lost Kaaba. The pointer itself represents the qiblah for the world of Medina, and salat is said facing towards this pointer.

Medina Today

Medina has over time become a cosmopolitan world, with immigrant populations belonging to many religions and clades as well as from the Islamic worlds. Medina has a large population of followers of the Universalist religion, Buddhists, Christians, and Sophists from the neighbouring Sophic League Empire. At various times over the history of the Umma the Sophics have proposed a union or federation between the two empires; both have a strong spiritual tradition, and over time both have become increasingly tolerant and eclectic. But to date this has not happened.

The Umma have become very involved in a range of scientific pursuits and projects such as the Argus Array, studies of Hildemar's Knots and the various Garden Worlds, and have launched a number of long range exploration expeditions/probes, including some to the Carina Rush and towards various distant globular clusters.

The NoCoZo also has strong presence in this system, with several large habitats in the Medina/Rabat Lagrange points. A strong mercantile tradition in the Umma volume has allowed NoCoZo corporations to become established in many locations.

A flourishing biotech industry can be found on this world, mostly centred around New Dora; but the technology is almost exclusively used for practical purposes such as adapting colonist to hostile or exotic environments. In general Medinan biotechnicians forego the use of modification simply for cosmetic or other 'frivolous' purposes. In this respect they have much in common with the Terran Federation (which also has a significant Muslim population). Both Umma biotechnicians and those from the Terran Federation prefer to 'find the best solution for a problem and stick with it' over constant useless experimentation that usually only produces vulgar variability.

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Text by Steve Bowers

Initially published on 23 January 2009.