Kuzirism (Kụziiri, "taught" or "instructed") is a monotheistic religious ideology which encompasses a series philosophical, economical, and sociopolitical ideals as well as articulated by the Iwe ti Iwo, the religious text revered by its adherents as the word of God as transmitted by Oba Ewuare, the former ruler of the Benin Empire and founder of the religion. Because of the wide-reaching teachings of Kurizism, the religion is often considered to be more than a typical faith, but a way of life which touches upon all aspects of an adherent's livelihood. The faith teaches that god, known as Oghodua, created man with an inescapable desire to learn and expand his understanding of the universe and its inner-workings, a desire driven by the fact that Oghodua hid himself within the mechanics of the universe. Oghodua promised to reveal himself to his followers and humanity as a whole once they discovered all there was to know about the universe, and could definitively prove that Oghodua was their god, upon which all of humanity would be blessed in his presence and follow him into the afterlife.
Unlike the majority of existing religions, Kuzirism is built around research of nature, the scientific method, and knowledge of fundamental truths given through an understanding of physics and biology, with logic and rationality serving as the bedrocks of the religion rather than faith and superstition. Adherents are expected to study their world and always seek to expand their minds through their understanding of the sciences, and strive for degrees in engineering, mathematics, medicine, and so on. Questioning the mechanics of the universe to gain a better understanding of its creation and maintenance to get closer to the god who made it is considered the epitome of a member of Kuzirism, and the faith has routinely produced scientists and philosophers who believe their calling was to enlighten humanity on the nature of god by teaching them the sciences as they understand them.
Though scientific understanding is a major part of the religion, because of the resources required to fuel such extensive research and teaching works, strong and stable societies are paramount to the religion's goals. Oghodua requires that humanity multiply and expand their numbers for their investigation of the secrets left for them by him will require them to go well beyond the bounds of their world and too others as they "forever peel back the layers of the universe" seeking God within. Thus, large families and social harmony are considered paramount aspects of the faith, and a strong social hierarchy to maintain that order a requirement as well. A religiously-imposed caste system thus grew out of need to ensure that all members of society who could no contribute directly to work of research, could still contribute to society while not wondering aimlessly seeking their own way in life. Kuzirism is the official religion of Benin, where the religion originated and spread out from in 1415.
The three core beliefs of Kuzirism are the unity of God, unity of faith, and unity of humanity. The idea is that God reveals his will through prophets from time to time, or "enlightens" some to become great leaders, generals, or thinkers, to help humanity along in searching for him through nature and science. The common belief is that as humans are a spiritual species, religion provides the order that no human government can rival, and that religion is thus the source of all order in the human world, with the source of its power coming from God.
The god of Kuzirism, Oghodua, is the supreme deity of the religion and the creator of the universe according to the faith. According to the religion, Oghodua created the universe for no other reason that he was intrigued by the idea of knowledge, and wished to observe the universe and record its actions and behavior, and experiment with its lifeforms. Because his observation invoke what can best be likened to as the core values of the scientific method, to systematically observe, measure, and experiment, Oghodua was by all means the first to "acquire knowledge and put it use", the father of all those engaged in scientific learning. Oghodua is effectively the patron of science and knowledge in the Kuzir religion. As the father of reason and intellectual understanding, Oghodua set forth the concepts that would become central themes in Kuzirism. For the Kuzir, all evidence they currently possess simply points to an intelligent creator who made the universe. In Kuzirism, God is spirit creature, an invisible being on a separate plane of existence, and because of this, god must be worshiped in spirit and not with idols or carvings as is common within other faiths and religions.
The Kuzir do not believe that Oghodua causes evil, nor is he required to stop it. In the same manner that he gave mankind great potential to understanding the intricacies of the cosmos, that potential could be used for many malicious deeds which laid beyond the original intentions Oghodua had for humanity. The idea that Oghodua would be responsible for the actions of all humans he gifted with free will is regarded as outrageous with Kuzir circles, and the concept that god himself would strike humans with suffering and disease flies in the face of his benevolence. It is also deemed to be the height of foolishness that god must intervene in all human affairs as if humans were not capable of caring for themselves with the resources so generously given to them by Oghodua. If Oghodua did intervene in human affairs, then humans would only complain that he gives them no freedom to make their own mistakes, and simply infantilizes them. Thus, as rational individuals, Kuzir are expected to learn from their actions and the mistakes of others, as well as work to avoid bringing harm to themselves and their fellow believers.
The oluko are the clergy for the religion, and wield vast political, financial, and intellectual authority. The ruling body of the theocratic empire, the oluko are responsible for guiding the affairs of state and religion within Benin as well as any other Kuzir polities wherever they may be found. The clergy is led by the Oba of Benin, who is the head of the entire Kuzir religion, with the first leader of Kuzirism being Oba Ewuare in 1415. Unique for a priesthood, the oluko serve as state bureaucrats, intellectuals, and preachers all at once, as their role is not only to preach and teach the religion of Kuzirism, but to serve as the administrators of Kuzir nations as well as the educators and scientific leaders of those nations as well, making their role in society one of great prestige. All members of the Kuzir clergy are either born into their position to oluko priesthood members, or those who joined during their early education at an esuku, and later joined the caste formally as acolytes and then as full-fledged priests of the clergy.
The clergy is a rigid hierarchical organization with the Oba at the top, and the acolytes of the clergy at the bottom. Given the logic-driven bent to the faith, all members of the oluko are literal and highly educated by the standards of the modern world. All go through a formal education process at an esuku, which is a Kuzir place of worship which also doubles as a monastery for the clergy's members and aspiring students. The priesthood is effectively divided into two sections, the Daris and the Eyin. The daris are those who have attained a full education in a particular scientific field, and have also undergone and completed their theologian training. They serve as the priests and scientists of the faith, and direct the religion as a whole. The second group is are the eyin, who serve as the "rank-and-file" members of clergy, filling roles as government officials, teachers, monks, and missionaries. All Kuzir accepted into the clergy start off in the eyin as acolytes, where they train themselves in the faith and select a branch of the eyin they wish to serve in.
At the top of the hierarchy is the Dari Council and the Alafojusi. The Dari Council is made up of nineteen members, each representing one of the fifteen branches of the clergy, as well as two additional members who serve as the heads of the dari and eyin sections. Heading the council is the Gadari, who serves as the effective administrator of the oluko and sits on the council as a full member. His responsibility is that of managing the priesthood on the Oba's behalf, and effectively runs the oluko as its de facto leader. The Alafojusi is the Kuzir Inquisition, responsible for maintaining the religious purity of the faith as well as dealing with any apostates and heretics who may attempt to subvert the faithful adherents of Kuzirism. All members of the Alafojusi are handpicked from the ranks of the Benin Imperial Army, with all personnel trained in espionage and interrogation. Given the theocratic state of Benin, the Alafojusi also doubles as the empire's secret police.
The Kuzir teachings after an afterlife are very liberal compared to those of most other religions. Within Kuzirism, God rewards faithful adherents with the decision of an afterlife in the spirit realm, or reincarnation as any form of life on earth. Those who choose reincarnation after death can reincarnate as either a man, woman, or animals both big and small, or even a tree if they are so inclined. However, if they reincarnate as humans, they must live through that life until death whilst upholding the doctrines of Kuzirism. However, those seeking a life in the spirit realm get to bask in the knowledge and purity of God for all eternity, but are not permitted to interact with humanity so that they do not spoil the search for God. Those in the afterlife may return to fleshly form and they too are held to the same standards as their reincarnated peers. However, they are blocked from their knowledge of the afterlife so as to prevent them from disrupting the Great Search that God has placed before humanity.
Punishment after death is very simple within the religion. Death is deemed the end of all things for all life within Kuzir ideology. One who knew what was right and wrong as a Kuzir, and chose to act contrary to those beliefs, will not be reincarnated or allowed into the spirit realm. Instead, they remain dead for all eternity as their fitting punishment, as it would be beyond the perfect logic of Oghodua to punish someone with pain and suffering for all eternity. As for those who died before they were able to come to an understanding of God and his will, they are given another chance by him to become adherents of Kuzirism, but if they refuse, then they are permitted to remain in death forever. They will continue to be reincarnated until they have been contacted by a Kuzir directly and given the chance to convert. Kuzir believe that they are responsible for ensuring that all people are converted, as they do not know who was brought back to life, and are guilty themselves if they cannot perform their task adequately.
The doctrines of Kuzirism, known as the Mojuto Otito, or "Core Truths", serve as the basis of the religion's teachings and ideology. Everything else within the faith hinge upon the Mojuto Otito, and adherence to the faith requires adherence to these core values. The core doctrines of the faith are Unity, Rationality, Merit, and Integrity. Kuzir are expected to be united in both mind and body, mind representing their faith and the body representing their society; they must be rational beings well-versed in the scientific teachings given to them by the clergy; they are expected to have earned their keep through hard work and determination rather than by handouts; and they must be of sound mind and ethics among themselves when pursuing the hidden knowledge of Oghodua.
Of great importance to the Kuzir is that of unity, the most important core aspect of the religion. The Kuzir believe in the unity of the "body" and of the "mind". The body is Kuzir faith is the faith and its adherents, while the mind would be the ideology upon which the faith is built. Apostasy and heresy are deemed intolerable crimes that strike at the very heart of the faith and its unity, breaking down the ability of the Kuzir to stand as one and search for God within nature. In much the same way an army without organization and clear leadership cannot succeed in battle and is doomed to failure, the Kuzir believe that no faith without a strong leadership and organization will ultimately collapse in on itself. Unity of thought and purpose is deemed a vital part of one's faith as without unity, there can be no united faith through which the truths and teachings of Oghodua can be promulgated to his followers. If the faith is to survive, then the followers must not taint their religion with foreign religious concepts or intermarriage into non-Kuzir societies, who will naturally seek to promote their own views and ideologies.
Because of the religion's commitment to order and organization, Kuzirism requires an organized social system in which all members of the faith are given the opportunity to contribute equally. The caste system was introduced at the onset of the faith's creation, given that it was not just a religion but a way of life, and served as a national polity as well. There exist the clergy, the warriors, the merchants, the artisans, and the commoners or laborers. At the top of the chain are the clergy, which is responsible for teaching and leading the rest of the faith. All are required to possess a degree in fundamental science or applied science, such as mathematics, astronomy, medicine, biology, or botany. The head of the faith, the Oba, is required to have obtained two of these degrees before being considered for the position. Warriors are those who have taken on the role of protector of the faith. All warriors take on the sword as a permanent way of life, and their families are forever attached to that way of life as well.
Merchants are those who enrich the faith and manage the wealth of a faith, providing jobs to adherents as well as managing industries across the nation. They are free to pursue whatever means to increase the wealth of society, with the concept of free enterprise and a laissez-faire outlook on economics held dear by the members of the caste. Artisans are on the next part of the chain, as the skilled laborers and creators of goods on an individual level, as well as small business owners and the providers for the bulk of local employment. They are seconded by the laborers or commoners, who fill in all cheap or unskilled labor, as well as the bulk of manpower for all parts of the faith's industries. All members of the faith are held as equally valuable to God, as they are all responsible for the unity that is made possible with a common ideology (the mind) and a common society (the body), which sees all move out of self-interest to maintain the unity that allows for them to grow in wealth, joy, and power.
The Kuzir believe that Oghodua gifted upon mankind his insatiable appetite for knowledge and understanding of the world around him, that appetite driven by the innate understanding that within nature is hidden the knowledge of God. The faith teaches that the human mind was a gift from Oghodua he wished humans to use to the full, and to learn all of the secrets he hid away within the plants, the animals, the stars, and the earth, all as a way of showing humanity his power and control over the universe. Because of these beliefs, the Kuzir believe that anything humans do not understand is but another secret waiting to be revealed by adherents as another gem from Oghodua. Rational minds are required for a rational understanding of the unknown, and thus superstition is widely condemned and regarded as taboo. The idea that an the unknown could be credited to some spiritistic beings or unknown forces is regarded as unacceptable within the religion, and that god was wise enough to provide a veritable method to understand the operations of an object rather than leave it to unknown creatures toying with humans.
Logic and reason are expected from all servants of Oghodua, who is a "god of reason and understanding, not given to the proclivities of riddles and omens". The most revered members of society are in fact the most learned, who are deemed the closest to god for their greater understanding of his ways. Oghodua provides humanity with answers for all his methods of controlling the mechanics of the universe, all that can be understood by his followers as a means of understanding his own nature and power. In this way, Kuzirism does not rely upon faith but fact, and all that is unknown to adherents is simply deemed as another truth waiting to be discovered. Science and religion thus mesh extremely well within Kuzir ideology, ensuring that no matter how much is discovered about mankind and the universe through enhanced scientific understanding, all simply reinforce the faith of its adherents as yet another loving provision and show of godly power by Oghodua.
As with any intellectually-driven field, merit and distinction sit at the core of Kuzirism. All members of the Kuzir clergy, known as the Oluko, are all holders of a scientific degree as is required of them. The belief within the religion is that one should be an expert in a natural science if they are to teach it to their peers within the faith. Simply being devoted to the religion and knowing something that can be taught to others within the religion, are regarded as two separate and distinct concepts. To teach a subject and be ignorant of that subject, is deemed to be one of the greatest sins outside of apostasy and heresy. Kuzirism is a religion about knowledge and empirically-driven faith, and lack the credentials required to spread that faith is without any form of redemption. All Kuzir are to possess some form of education, as Oghodua wishes his worshipers to be armed with the intellectual capacity needed to understand and learn from his ways and gifts within the sciences and nature itself.
An important aspect of this core doctrine with Kuzirism is that of individual self-refinement, which helps to improve one's ability to excel where merit is required. The development of human capital, that is, the development of one's intellectual and financial capabilities, is deemed a worthy pursuit as it fuels the ability of the faith to expand its aims to reveal more secrets on the nature of God. The more one was able to refine their mental and physical capacities, the more they could contribute to Kuzirism as a whole, increasing the ability of the religion of growth an refine itself. An ignorant population can only act in ignorance, while an educated population may act based on an educated understanding of an situation. Merit means first and foremost one's qualifications and worthiness in gaining a station of importance. As Kuzirism is geared toward the discovery of all that which God has made secret, it is expected of Kuzir to do their part in advancing their personal capacities to contribute to the search for God, as only the most educated and most well-equipped can contribute to the aims of the faith in any meaningful capacity.
Integrity within the faith is of paramount importance, as a faith which is divided can never stand against an enemy force or strive toward a single goal, that being the discovery of the nature of God. All Kuzir are expected to treat one another with fairness and civility, though such a stance is not required to be extended to other groups. As a community stands best united, the same is expected, required, of all Kuzir. Oghodua requires his worshipers to work together to search for him, for after they find him, all humanity will be united in worship of him, unified in thought and deed. Thus, integrity within Kuzirism is simply an acceptance of the future order of things, meaning that Kuzir must work together as a precursor to the eventual outcome to the Kuzir eschatology.