A fascinating in-depth analysis of the Muslim-ness of Dune

Originally published at: A fascinating in-depth analysis of the Muslim-ness of Dune | Boing Boing


Probably because I was fairly young when I read it, it took me surprisingly long to realize that spice is oil. And Dune is about what happened to the traditional Arab societies when oil suddenly made the ground beneath them very valuable to others.


Literally inspired by a book about Muslim warlords.


On Friday I watched the movie and enjoyed it. I could go on in detail about what aspects of it i liked and disliked, but i feel like that would be overly indulgent in the cinephile in me. Though to stay on topic i did find the Muslimness of the movie interesting, and its definitely showcased more of it compared to Lynch’s version (though i did wish to see more of it).



(Read the book, seen the movie, posted all the memes, made costumes, never made that connection)


I read Dune when I was much younger, recently reread it, and am moving on to the sequels.

Both these articles seem great and I look forward to reading them whenever I get far enough into the series that I’m not worried about spoilers. I’ve noticed a lot of lazy discourse flying around online recently calling it imperialist/racist/orientalist because of some of the obvious features of the story. Even from the first novel the situation is obvliously more complex, but again this requires closer attention than most people seem ready to give.

For example, one might be put off by the “Orange Catholic Bible” being the predominant religious text, at least among the Houses, but we learn in an Appendix that this is not in any meaningful sense a Christian text but rather the secularized wisdom of all the world’s religions as produced by the Commission of Ecumenical Translators. This idea could be critiqued in turn but many don’t get that far…


Sabers of Paradise is a great book and really helped my appreciation of Dune, although the print-on-demand version has a pretty poor selection of maps and – if we can excuse general ignorance about Transcaucasia – and I think we can excuse general ignorance about Transcaucasia – here’s one place detailed maps would really have helped.


This tiimeline states

1 AG

  • The Spacing Guild is formed and establishes monopoly on space travel and banking, establishing more uniform and orderly interstellar travel and finance, as well as the imposing of the restrictions of the Guild Peace.
  • The CHOAM (Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles) is founded. Arrakis becomes the most important planet in the Known Universe, due to the Spice.

10190-10191 AG

  • House Atreides moves from Caladan to Arrakis. It is attacked there by House Harkonnen. Leto I dies, Paul and Jessica go into the deep desert.
  • Birth of Alia Atreides.

Things don’t suddenly happen in the dune universe.





okay. now somebody do the worms

( ummm… capitalism. no ummm… time itself. ummm… okay. ive got nothing. )


that is a dense, heady read.

it took part of my morning and a flight home from LA to get maybe halfway through it, but i’m heartened to read that the criticisms leveled against the books are too quick and not as informed. it’s SUPER interesting to get a Muslim perspective on them. i always had the perception that the Fremen and their societies and religion were the real heroes, being in tune with the desert and its ecology as they were, so that’s nice to have some affirmation there.


The dangers of nature and the power that comes from having adapted to the unique challenges of one’s homeland through the centuries and millennia?

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If we imagine that Paul is T.E. Lawrence and the Battle of Arrakeen is the Battle of Aquaba then I guess the worms would be Arabian horses and/or camels?

Me neither. Makes perfect sense.

I had to read at least three of the books, and watch the Children of Dune SciFi channel series at least three times before I finally saw the vast amount of sexism lying at the heart of the stories.

I always assumed this too; but it has been pointed out that Indonesia was a Muslim region literally colonised for actual spice.

There’s a shorter piece from Ali Karjoo-Ravary that covers some of the same points.

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I’m afraid I don’t know how to say, “My BF sent me these,” in Fremen.


You can tell, by The Laws of Batman, that this (Baron Harkonen’s) is a house of evil
Dune (2000)


Why does no one ever talk about this?

Because it’s pretty transparently bullshit. Mélange is better translated as mixture rather than variety. Variety is, unsurprisingly enough, variété.

To think Frank Herbert tried this convoluted word play (also not a pun!) is ludicrous. If anything, he looked at his spice cupboard and noticed that several boxes said mélange d’épices


But melange is a prequisite for all commerce in the galaxy. THAT is why it is an easy stand-in for oil.


megacamelus maybe? :slight_smile: