The Sirdabi Caliphate is one of the preeminent powers of the lands surrounding the Adelantean Sea, encompassing numerous provinces and emirates spanning Near Ruleska and northern Idiri. It represents the community of the Azadi faithful, united under the rulership of the caliph who is considered the successor to the Prophet Azad. Perhaps the most cultured society in the known world, the Sirdabi Caliphate is renowned for its poetry, literature, and calligraphic art in addition to its faith.
The Sirdabi Caliphate was founded by the tribal peoples of Rahoum who had come to accept both the spiritual and secular leadership first of the Prophet Azad and then of his successors. Formerly a land of numerous small tribal nations, Rahoum gradually became united in the Azadi faith under the leadership of the Prophet, whose vision of a community of the faithful living in accordance with the Song of God had largely come to fruition by his death in the year 52 BD. Although the leadership of the community was disputed after his passing, leading to a series of small-scale conflicts known as the Women's War, eventually a settlement was reached in which Alaman bin Darush, the prophet's brother-in-law, was unanimously chosen as the leader of the new Sirdabi Caliphate.
As time went on the Sirdabi people spread out across the entire Idiri and Ruleskan portions of the Adelantean basin, seeking to bring the whole world into the chorus of the Song of God and to help each people to discover the unique expressions of the Song native to their land, which would in turn increase the faithful's own understanding of the fullness of the Song. While often combined with more secular aims such as expansion of territory, the chastisement of old enemies, or the pursuit of new economic opportunities, nevertheless the fervent sincerity of the Sirdabi's faith led numerous lands to quickly fall under their dominion through both military conquest and propagation of Azadi worship itself.
Though beset by numerous troubles both internal and external, and confronted with the rising power of other lands in Ruvera and beyond, the Sirdabi Caliphate remains a powerful player on the world stage and still boasts a flourishing culture of the arts and sciences that is among the most vibrant in Avaria.
The name of the caliphate was drawn from the Sirdab, the lovely garden shrine near the center of Rahoum which had been the center of pagan worship and pilgrimage for time out of mind. Much honored and beloved, the importance of the shrine had already led many in Rahoum to refer to their homeland as the Land of the Sirdab, and when the Verses of Oneness were revealed to Azad in his meditations there the Sirdab assumed the utmost importance to the new Azadi faith as well. The Sirdab was later the site at which the successor to the Prophet, the Caliph of the faithful, was elected by the Azadi community, and the new capital of the caliphate was built up around it. The formerly disparate tribes of Ruleska came to collectively call themselves Sirdabi, as most peoples of Rahoumi heritage continue to do today.
The Sirdabi Caliphate is made up of the heartland of Rahoum and its nine provinces, along with two emirates that operate with some degree of independence but ultimately owe allegiance to Sirdab.
- Rahoum, the Sirdabi heartland, land of vast deserts and rugged coasts, home to numerous nomadic tribes as well as the great capital city of the caliphate.
- Marzum, a narrow strip of high mountains and fertile coastal plains overlooking the Sea of Salaah.
- Saramat, the mountainous border province that has long been on the front lines of conflict between Sirdab and the Kalentoi Empire.
- Irzal, a former great empire and still the source of much learning, as well as insurrection and intrigue.
- Raziya, gateway to the Idiri continent and home to the great port metropolis of Omrazir.
- Zalawi, a powerhouse of maritime commerce on the eastern coast of Idiri, and the source of the caliphate's finest iron.
- Amunat, another great kingdom of ancient times, still renowned for the piety and pride of its people who call the River Tamarat their mother.
- Ifru, a province reliant on the fruits of trade through the eastern Hazari Desert, and otherwise considered something of a backwater of the caliphate.
- Tessere, a land of harsh deserts and temperate shores, and the original homeland of the people whose name it derives from.
- The Emirate of Eladje, a withdrawn and somewhat mysterious land centered upon the large freshwater lake called Mir Eladje.
- The Emirate of Koumbasi, a wealthy nation of northwestern Idiri, as rich in the learning of its universities as it is in gold from the trade routes it controls.
The caliph is the supreme political and spiritual leader of the Sirdabi Caliphate, being the successor of the Prophet Azad and therefore the leader of the whole community of the Azadi faithful. In some eras the caliph has been a man of significant power and wisdom, respected or occasionally feared by all; while in others he has been little more than a figurehead, as more forceful and ruthless personalities in the court manage to wield power from behind the scenes. Generally the state of affairs lies somewhere in between, with subordinate officials possessing extensive power but still following the dictates of the caliph as he chooses to make them.
The position of the caliph is not a hereditary one, as according to early Sirdabi tradition he is supposed to be elected by a special council who choose from a pool of candidates deemed suitable. Suitability is meant to be determined by such considerations as age, wisdom, piety, dignity of demeanor, and adherence to the key virtues of Azadi, irrespective of social station. In practice, however, the caliph tends to be drawn from a few ascendant families, though these have not remained constant through the entire history of the caliphate. Due to the intense intrigue and ambition which the appointment of a new caliph tends to generate, assassination, usurpation, and the violent overthrow of entire regimes have more than occasionally been involved in the process. Given that the Kalentoi Empire generally operates much the same way, this is not viewed as anything exceptional by their chief rivals, although each regularly maneuvers to take advantage of the internal unrest suffered by the other at such times.
The bureacracy beneath the caliph has tended towards stability even as the caliphs themselves come and go. It consists of three divisions or divans: the divan of the chancery, responsible for producing official documents and correspondence; the divan of the treasury, responsible for supervising the assessment, collection, and expenditure of the caliphate's revenues; and the divan of military records, responsible for keeping the accounts and records of the caliphal armies. Each divan is led by a vizier. Above all of these lesser viziers, and acting as the head of the caliphal administration overall, is the grand vizier. There is also a court chamberlain, or hajib, who controls access to the caliph and is in charge of courtly affairs, including acting as a master of ceremonies for court functions. Both the grand vizier and the hajib may hold significant power, and there is often a rivalry between them as to who is the preeminent government functionary.
This organizational scheme is mirrored in each of the caliphate's provinces, where the bey, or governor, of the province acts as the caliph's local representative and heads up his own court. The complexity, luxury, and influence of these provincial courts vary from one place to another. In provinces such as Raziya or Irzal, the provincial court is only slightly less splendid than the caliph's own, while those of Saramat or Ifru are considerably less grand and more utilitarian.