Vashti Laurel Elevation Ceremony
Kris Kinder – 2022
Researched and Written by Saito Takauji
Edits by Mistress Diacbha the Weaver and TRM Logan and Ylva
This ceremony is written to be a plausible ‘graduation’ of a student from their Alim or Alimah – the teacher of Islamic religion and law that a student would seek. This graduation is ‘plausible’ rather than ‘fully documented’ because “…the educational credentials within the domain of ‘ ulūm al-naqlī were acquired not by a diploma certifying a completed course of study, but by acquisition of a series of personal certifications of ‘permission’ to transmit and to teach specific texts and knowledge learned at the feet of particular scholars.” [i]
The ceremony thus represents a compilation of those certifications into one moment, suitable for a Laurel of the Society but not necessarily a 1:1 representation of a documentable period experience. All choices made in the ceremony were made in that spirit.
Holger Daun and Reza Arjmand, Handbook of Islamic Education, Springer International Publishing AG (2018)
Dr. Mustafa Khattab, The Clear Quran, Quran.com (accessed November 2022). Cited as ‘Quran’.
Adel Abdul-Aziz Algeriani and Mawloud Mohadi, The House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikmah) and its Civilizational Impact on Islamic Libraries: A Historical Perspective, 8 Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 5 (September 2017)
Vashti al-Ashariyah Laurel Elevation Ceremony
KING: A wise teacher has said: “Inquire knowledge, and impart it to the people.” [ii]
QUEEN: The same teacher has said: “…all those in heavens and on Earth, even ants on their hills and fish in their water, call down blessings upon those who instruct others in beneficial knowledge.” [iii]
KING: Herald, call forth our Ulama and Aalimath, the transmitters of wisdom and law, so that we might seek their counsel. Call the House of Wisdom to us.
HERALD: The Sultan and Sultana call before them their House of Wisdom[iv], the Laurels of Calontir.
THE LAURELS process into court.
QUEEN: Here are those who have sought the two kinds of knowledge: al-aqliyah, and al-naqliyah.
KING: We have heard that there is one you judge your equal in knowledge, wisdom, and attainment. Is this true?
DIACHBHA: Yes, your Majesties. My apprentice Vashti al-Ashariyah has learned by my side these past years. She has sought knowledge through weaving, merchanting, teaching, and research[v], and excelled in them all. She has served Your House of Wisdom in translating and authoring great knowledge.
QUEEN: As is tradition, we do not create scholars—we recognize those who have become scholars. [vi] Is Vashti al- Ashariyah a scholar of true wisdom?
DIACHBHA: She is.
KING: Has she received certification in the required texts and expounded law and research to the people?
DIACHBHA: She has.
QUEEN: And is she ready to assume the duties, as well as the privileges, of her station?
DIACHBHA: If she is to be my equal and peer, I can no longer speak for what she will do. You must ask her on her own, free from my influence.
KING: Then call her to us, that we may ask her.
HERALD: The Sultan and Sultana call before them Vashti al- Ashariyah, student to Diachbha al-Hayik, who was student to Dejaniera of the Thousand Hearts.
VASHTI enters, with attendants as desired. Attendants peel off at the edge of the seats, while Vashti continues. Diachbha intercepts her.
DIACHBHA: Until now, we have taken these steps together. We have been one another’s comfort and learned together as Teacher, Student, and Friends. While friendship is unending, these next steps you must take on your own. But know that on the other side I will welcome you as a peer of the Order. I now hold in trust for you this belt of kinship, so that it may be passed to your students as a token of your linage and our lasting bond.
VASHTI: I have sat at your side and learned of wisdom, research, and the responsibilities of an Alimah of Calontir. Now I will stand at your side and as part of this Order, in Service to Their Majesties. For it is said “And if you are told to rise, then do so,” [vii] and that those gifted in knowledge will be raised in rank. But there is no rank to which I can be raised that is higher than your friend; may we learn from one another for years to come.
DIACHBHA: You are released, and called. Go, for this is the day truthfulness shall profit the truthful. [viii]
VASHTI approaches the throne, but remains standing.
KING: You stand before us a candidate for admission to our House of Wisdom, the highest appointment of a scholar. Are you willing to accept the responsibilities, as well as the privileges, of this appointment?
VASHTI: I am.
QUEEN: Then hear of those responsibilities from those with words to speak. Those of the throne, of bravery, of service, of defense, of learning, and finally the words of the people.
KING: Mistress Diachbha, call those who will give Vashti their wisdom before her advancement.
DIACHBHA: To speak for those who have served as Sultan and Sultana beneath the Falcon’s wings, I call Her Highness Xoraxsne Artsuni
ROYAL PEER: SPEAKS
DIACHBHA: To speak for the brave, those who stand on the field like Ali with Zulfiqar, I call Sir Uldin of Ravenscroft.
DIACHBHA: To speak for those equally brave fighters of Sulb Sayf, I call Master Alan of Darkdale
DIACHBHA: To speak for the servants, without whom the halls would fall into disrepair and the fires be untended, I call Mistress Regula Alicia la Placida.
DIACHBHA: To speak for the House of Wisdom and those you will stand beside, I call Mistress Marcella the Unknown
DIACHBHA: And to speak for those of the people, who you will guide and serve and never forget in all your exaltation, I call Lady Rolanda de Lyndhurst
QUEEN: Vashti al- Ashariyah, Lily and Swan, you have heard the words of your Peers and the People. Is it still your will to bind yourself to them, and stand in our House of Wisdom?
VASHTI: It is.
KING: Then kneel, and be made a Laurel.
VASHTI KNEELS ON THE CUSHIONS.
KING: Reject all evil, and you will have grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks. [ix]
KING PLACES HIS SCEPTER ON VASHTI’S SHOULDER.
KING: May your skills be ever increased in service to Crown and Kingdom.
QUEEN: Encourage good, forbid evil, and believe in the people. [x]
QUEEN PLACES HER SCEPTER ON VASHTI’S SHOULDER.
QUEEN: May your gentle demeanor serve always as an example of courtesy to all who would observe you.
KING AND QUEEN CROSS THEIR SCEPTERS ON VASHTI’S HEAD.
CROWN (TOGETHER): And may your spirit ever follow the goals your heart sets before you.
KING: Now hear the oath you will swear. And know that you do not swear it only to us. You swear it to the Crown, to the people, and yourself; and none shall judge you well if it is taken lightly or broken.
HERALD, VASHTI, and CROWN: Recites the Fealty Oath.
QUEEN: Those who labor in the House of Wisdom are marked by three symbols. A coat, a belt, and a hat.
KING: But remember that these are symbols not just of your rank, but beacons for those in need to find you. Are there those who will garb Alimah Vashti as befits her station?
DIACHBHA: There are.
MEDALLION GIFTER: SPEAKS
HAT GIVER: SPEAKS
QUEEN: In the name of the wisdom, justice, and mercy, it is done.
KING: Calontir, your newest Laurel.
HERALD: READS THE SCROLL.
[i] Holger Daun and Reza Arjmand, Handbook of Islamic Education, Springer International Publishing AG (2018). Hereinafter ‘Islamic Education’.
[ii] Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 108.
[iii] Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74
[iv] Adel Abdul-Aziz Algeriani and Mawloud Mohadi, The House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikmah) and its Civilizational Impact on Islamic Libraries: A Historical Perspective, 8 Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 5 (September 2017).
[v] “Four major approaches to education and knowledge acquisition include: (1) Constructive approach, which is using rules of logics and qiyās (analogical deductive reasoning) aims to attain human knowledge; (2) Theological approach which is based on kalām (dialectical theology) aims to decipher the divine knowledge as well as mundane one; (3) Philosophical approach which is inspired and informed by the Neo-Platonist movement and Peripatetic Islamic philosophy in which knowledge is attained through the process of wham (estimation) and using the active intelligence to achieve the unknowns through the known premises; and (4) Mystical/theosophical approach which argues for the notion of knowledge by presence.” Islamic Education.
[vi] Traditionally, the granting of a teaching license was not a matter of the State but of the individual teacher with whom the student had studied. “Against arguments of this nature, Huff (2003: 78) notes a merit in ijāzah system, notably albeit highly personalistic ‘neither the state, the sultan, nor the caliph had any influence over the recognition of educational competence.’” Islamic Education, Section: Ijazah: Methods of Authorization and Assessment in Islamic Education. This tradition has been modified to fit within SCA standards.
[vii] Quran 58:11 (adapted).
[viii] Quran 5:119 (adapted).
[ix] Quran 2:256 (adapted).
[x] Quran 3:110 (adapted).