"You'll find that the Zakarumites have the persistence of zombies, but without the charisma."— Hratli(src)
The Order of Zakarum, otherwise known as the "Zakarum Church" and "Religion of the Light," is a religious order on Sanctuary. It is dedicated to the worship of the Light and its tenets, but often, its faith has led to fanaticism.
"Who, living today, does not know of the Zakarum faith? Who has not seen its loyalists preaching of the inner Light or of the founder, Akarat, from the cobblestone streets of Westmarch to the winding bazaars of Caldeum? Dear reader, in the last few centuries, this organization has impacted the world in fundamental and far-reaching ways. This is remarkable because the order began as nothing more than a humble group of ascetics. In time, these believers gained the power to forge nations and raise emperors to the throne."— Deckard Cain(src)
Zakarum has its origins in Akarat, an ascetic who claimed to have been visited by the angel Yaerius, who revealed to him the teachings of what would form the basis of Zakarum. These teachings stressed the necessity of resisting all things evil, and embracing, with total devotion, the Light. The angel appointed Akarat to be the prophet of these new teachings, and bade him take the word to the people of all lands.
Deckard Cain had his own views on this event however. In his mind, what Akarat had really seen was an echo of sorts of Uldyssian's final sacrifice, an act that some mystics have been reported to have seen. He believed this act echoed throughout space and time, and can only be seen by those deep in meditation. Thus, Cain believed that Akarat had witnessed the phenomenon himself and interpreted it as the being Yaerius, "Yaerius" translating as "son of light" in his own language. Whatever the truth of the matter, Akarat now had the fundamental belief that humans were powerful vessels of light, and that all should seek their "inner light" in order to live good lives.
Akarat's philosophy spoke directly to the common man, and the people of Kurast embraced it. They sent disciples throughout Kehjistan to spread the word and Akarat went himself, spreading the Word through Kehjistan's ancient cities. Over time, a number of disciples flocked to Akarat's side. In reality, Akarat never set out to create an organized religion, but simply wanted to spread word of the wonderous things he had seen so that people could live with goodness in their hearts. At some point (accounts vary on the date), Akarat disappeared into the jungles of Kehjistan, content that he had spread his word to as many people as he could. He was never seen again.
Over the following years, Akarat's ideals were carried on and preached in the streets of Kehjistan's cities by a devout few. Akarat had never given a name to his beliefs, for he had never intended them to become an actual institution. But nonetheless, the term "Zakarum" came into use in this period, a term used to describe those who followed the ideals of Zakara, or "inner Light." With the use of such a name, it was clear that the followers of Zakarum were becoming an organized group.
During the 11th century, the Horadrim were engaged in a hunt for the Prime Evils, who had been banished to the mortal realm in the Dark Exile. With the capture of Mephisto and the binding of the Lord of Hatred in a soulstone, the Horadrim turned to the Zakarum believers, who were at that time, still a small and humble order. Tal Rasha, who had an affinity with the faith's monks, believed that they were the only individuals who could be trusted with guarding the soulstone and entrusted it to them. As the Horadrim continued their hunt for the Primes, the Zakarumites set about building a temple in which they could safeguard Mephisto's soulstone. It was in the jungles of Kurast that they thus founded what would be known as Travincal. This humble place of worship would later grow into a massive temple city at the heart of eastern civilization.
Thus, Zakarum grew even more. Popular religious leaders soon sprung up, endorsed by the new church, and within half a century Zakarum was the dominant order of faith and binding political force in the East. As the religion of Zakarum took hold in the East, they encountered many enclaves of demonic followers. Some of these were fully corrupted, and easily identified, but many were under subtle demonic influence, and appeared to be noble and good. With this, the Zakarum codified their beliefs and created a religious hierarchy composed of differing offices.
During the mid-twelfth century, after the Church of Zakarum had gained prominence in the East, the Church decreed that the visions of Akarat would be spread throughout the known world in order to redeem the masses. Thus, the Church selected a group of its most charismatic and devoted priests and sent them on a mission to proselytize the people of the West.
Unfortunately, the Church had not prepared these men for the rigors of travel nor the hazards of the world. The priests who survived their missions recounted tales of harsh weather, inadequate supplies, attacks from bandits and even encounters with horrible monsters. To ensure the success of future missions, the Church set about training holy warriors, Paladins, to accompany and safeguard their missionaries. In practice, these "Protectors of the Word" proved to be more successful at converting the native peoples than the Priests that they were assigned to defend. Impressing the locals with daring deeds, powerful weapons, and martial prowess was far more convincing than the condemnations of a soft-spoken monk. However, once the Word had been spread to every major city of the West, the "Protectors of the Word" faded from public view.
Some decades later, Paladins were again called into service. During the height of the Time of Troubles, the Church commenced a second campaign of conversion. This time, however, the inconvincible were deemed evil. The Zakarum Inquisition spread through the lands like a tempest, laying waste to all suspected of demonic possession or corruption. Leading this crusade was a new generation of Paladins, known as the "Hand of Zakarum." These cavaliers of righteousness swept through the lands, expunging the taint of demonic contamination wherever they found it.
In the midst of this bloody crusade, a rebellion arose within the ranks of the Paladins of Zakarum. The rebels condemned the methods of the Inquisition, proclaiming that the new Order of Paladins should protect the innocent, and that the evil corruption was rooted in their forebear's failure. They resolved to fight the true source of corruption, the Prime Evils. And so, these rebellious Paladins left their Zakarum brethren and ventured west.
With the end of these crusades, Zakarum had spread to almost every corner of the world, with few regions untouched by its influence.
Following the capture of Mephisto, his soulstone was buried deep beneath the Temple of Light. There, Mephisto spread his influence all over the Zakarum ranks. He forced them to create the Compelling Orb, with which he spread his influence all over Kurast. The only one to resist his corruption was the contemporary Que-Hegan, Khalim. Mephisto therefore ordered his followers to brutally murder Khalim, dismembering him and scattering his parts all over Kurast.
Mephisto then ordered the High Council to shatter his Soulstone. Six shards of the Soulstone were driven into the left palms of the High Council Priests. The seventh and largest shard was driven into Sankekur, who would become the living embodiment of Mephisto, warped into an approximation of his master's true visage. Mephisto used his newfound followers to procure him power and nourishment in the form of human sacrifices.
Soon, Mephisto sent his favoured lackey, Archbishop Lazarus, to the forests of Westmarch in order to free Diablo in Tristram. The Temple of Zakarum lost its former glory and the Temple of Light was soon renamed the Blackened Temple. Hordes of fanatic Zakarumites still run havoc in the once glittering streets of Travincal, terrorizing the natives.
"Zakarum has fallen to disgrace....What faith can save us now? It is the end of the world, can't you see that?!"— Brother Malachi the Healer(src)
The revelations of Mephisto's corruption nearly destroyed the faith. The church moved its headquarters from Kurast to the Saldencal in Caldeum. Under the leadership of a new Que-Hegan, Dirae, the Zakarum faithful began nursing their wounds and mending their reputation. Of note, the Zakarum faithful in Westmarch further distanced themselves from their eastern breathren, hastening a process that had been going on for some time. The church had always held great sway in Westmarch, but with the revelations of Mephisto's corruption, Zakarum lost any influence over the affairs of state in the country.
After the death of Hakan I, Emperor of Kehjistan, the Zakarum priests were forced to find a new heir to the throne. Through a series of elaborate rituals (possibly a spectacle for the sake of appearances), they determined an impoverished infant in the north was Hakan I's spiritual successor. After the priests' rituals were complete, they employed the Iron Wolves, to retrieve the child. They dubbed him Hakan II and installed him on the throne despite his scant years. Caldeum immediately fell into decline.
Over two decades later, Zakarum is still recovering from the effects of Mephisto's corruption and the actions of the heroes that defeated the Lord of Hatred. The Zakarum remains an intolerant organization and remains based in Caldeum, where it quarrels with the city's mage class.
"It impresses me that someone with your intelligence continues to adhere to their religion when it has been so thoroughly discredited."— Abd al-Hazir to a Crusader(src)
The Zakarum Church was a hierarchal body, composed of differing offices. The highest authority was that of the Que-Hegan. Under this figure, attendant archbishops of the High Council were tasked with administering the various territories under Zakarum control.
The Church also maintained arms militant. The Church had twelve Grand Inquisitors originally to detect corruption within the populace. The number of inquisitors increased as the influence of the Prime Evils spread. Eventually, the priesthood itself took on the role of judge and jury, and sent out the Zakarum Zealots to play the role of executioner to any who were considered corrupted. Additionally, the Church possessed at least two Paladin orders—the Protectors of the Word and the Hand of Zakarum. The former has long been defunct, while the latter collapsed under the weight of the Zakarum's corruption.
A test had to be taken to become a priest of the faith. This test could be taken as early as the age of fourteen. Followers of the faith can make the "sign of the Light" in the air.
Looking at available sources, Zakarum's tenets can be summarized as such:
- The Light exists in everyone, regardless of race, religion, or social status (the most basic tenet of the faith).
- Embrace the Light with total devotion.
- Trust in the glory of the Light, for its authority supersedes all power in the mortal world.
- Resist all things evil.
- The faith of Zakarum is possibly based on the Catholic Church of the 15th century.
- The appearance of an angel to the first member of the faith parallels several real-world religions, such as Islam and Mormonism.
- The "sign of the Light" may be similar to making the shape of a cross on one's chest by Christians.
- In Diablo and Diablo II, the symbol of Zakarum faith was an archetypical Christian cross; for Diablo III, it has been altered to resemble a Greek letter Psi (Ψ). According to Bashiok, this was done for the sake of worldbuilding, to make the world more unique rather than relying on real-world imagery.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Book of Tyrael
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Zakarum Zealot, The Arreat Summit. Accessed on 2013-09-27
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Book of Cain
- ↑ 2014-03-11, The History Behind the Crusade. Diablo Fans, accessed on 2014-06-30
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Paladin History. The Arreat Summit. Accessed on 2013-09-27
- ↑ Diablo III, The History of Westmarch
- ↑ Diablo III, An Abridged History of Caldeum
- ↑ 2013-09-27, Crusader and the Templar. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2013-09-27
- ↑ Writings of Abd al-Hazir: Caldeum
- ↑ Zakarum Priest, Arreat Summit. Accessed on 2013-09-27
- ↑ 2013-09-25, Crusader and the Templar. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2013-09-25
- ↑ Paladin Combat. The Arreat Summit. Accessed on 2013-09-27
- ↑ The Black Road
- ↑ 2014-03-10, CRUSADER LORE AND HISTORY Q&A. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2014-06-30
- ↑ Paladin Defense, The Arreat Summit. Accessed on 2013-09-27
- ↑ 2010-10-13, Should Diablo III Have Pentagrams?. Diablo II.net, accessed on 2016-01-14