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From the prologue of Dune (1984 movie)

The Butlerian Jihad, also called Manion Butler's Jihad, Serena Butler's Jihad or the Holy Jihad during the time of the Jihad itself, or the Great Revolt or Machine Crusade later on, was two generations of chaos (200 BG - 108 BG). The god of machine-logic was overthrown among the masses and a new concept was raised:

"Man may not be replaced."

Those two generations of violence were a thalamic pause for all humankind. Men looked at their gods and their rituals and saw that both were filled with that most terrible of all equations: fear over ambition.

Hesitantly, the leaders of religions whose followers had spilled the blood of billions began meeting to exchange views. It was a move encouraged by the Spacing Guild, which was beginning to build its monopoly over all interstellar travel, and by the Bene Gesserit who were banding the sorceresses.[1]

Lead-up to The Butlerian Jihad[]

The cause of the Jihad can be traced back to the decision by Omnius to push the centuries-old stand-off against the League of Nobles to a heightened level. There had been a standoff for several centuries, with Omnius attacking League every few decades. (By the time of the attack on Salusa Secundus, the last attack was 100 years ago.) However, the Titans were dissatisfied with this situation: They still despised the free humans and longed for revenge upon them. Barbarossa made a bet with Omnius: A duel Cymek vs. robot ensued, Barbarossa won, and Omnius agreed to start a war.

A cymek

The first assault was launched on Salusa Secundus, with Cymeks spearheading the forces, but they were beaten, when Xavier Harkonnen realized the invaders' goal and positioned his troops accordingly. The second attack, on Giedi Prime, was executed with brute force and proved to be successful.

During the conflict on Giedi Prime, Serena Butler, the pregnant daughter of the League of Nobles leader Manion Butler, was captured by Omnius and enslaved on Earth in the service of Erasmus. Meanwhile, Erasmus had put a sort of experimental bet with Omnius concerning the predictability of humans: Erasmus proposed Omnius to randomly select some loyal trustees, and himself would demonstrate that he could turn them against the Thinking Machines; this would prove Erasmus' claim that even the reliable of humans are unpredictable and cannot be trusted.

Erasmus thenceforth, in order to prove his points and win the wager, and always with the consent of Omnius who watched the procedures of the experiment, started to spread rumors among the trustees on Earth about an instigation. Iblis Ginjo was a receiver of such messages and consulted Cogitor Eklo about its origins. Eklo told him that if someone would proceed to such a movement, the best way would be to unite the people under the concept of a "holy war".

Charismatic Ginjo reconsidered his role in the enslavement and embraced the concept, ignorant of the originator of those messages. He started to spread seed of rebellion and secretly igniting boiling restlessness across the planet. When Serena Butler's child was killed by Erasmus, the simmering resentment of the human slaves boiled over and begun a planet-wide rebellion against the machines. During the conflict she escaped, along with rebelled Vorian Atreides and Ginjo.

Upon returning to Salusa Secundus, the capital world of the League of Nobles, Serena's plight enraged the League and triggered a major retaliatory offensive against the Synchronized Worlds of the thinking machines, thus beginning the Jihad, in 201 BG. However, Omnius, convinced that Erasmus was right that humans can't be trusted, responded. His retaliation resulted soon in the genocide of all slaves and trustees that lived on Earth and was ready to expand this policy to all the Synchronized Worlds. Meanwhile, the League was led to the decision of an atomic assault against Earth, which was now devoid of life.

The War[]

Omnius Prime was transferred to Corrin, while a copy of the Earth-Omnius (captured by Atreides during the battle of Earth) was held in Zimia and provided inside information to the Jihadi intelligence. Backed with the guidance of Vorian, who knew and understood how machines think, the Jihad selected their moves and tactics carefully, managing to 'fool' the machines with trickery.

First repercussions[]

Serena blessing jihadi soldiers before battle

The first organized attack of the Army of the Jihad was early on the war on a Synchronized World of Bela Tegeuse. The skirmish was inconclusive and their forces retreated. Later Omnius sent once more a heavy fleet to Salusa Secundus which was repelled.

The next major event was if 195 BG when the Army of the Jihad attempted to liberate the Synchronized World Honru. The Jihad fleet witnessed suicide robot ships massacring over 500,000 free humans.

The machines responded with assaults against Ellram which they conquered (189 BG), and Peridot Colony (188 BG). In that battle the Army of the Jihad drove back the machines but the colony settlements were ultimately destroyed. Soon thereafter, Jihadi enthusiast soldiers proceeded on their own to an independent and fateful attack against Corrin.

About 184 BG, the machines started to adapt to human trickery and the Earth-Omnius held captive by the League became an outdated source of intelligence. 5 Unallied Planets, including Tyndall and Bellos, were conquered by Omnius, to be used as bases of operations for their expansion.

The League responds[]

Erasmus with a Cymek, probably a Titan

On response, Vorian Atreides guessed how Omnius moved and comprehended his pattern. He proposed that the Army of the Jihad should defend the Unallied Planets as well as League Worlds; Tyndall was liberated the following years. The Army of the Jihad also moved to defend the Unallied Planet IV Anbus, inhabited by the reluctant pacifist Zensunnis. An assault against Poritrin was repelled thanks to trickery conceived by Vorian; the rebellion of Ix ended when Jool Noret successfully destroyed the Omnius incarnation of the planet. The Titan Hecate returned and contacted Ginjo, and provided the Jihad with a valuable 'secret weapon'.

The contributions of Vorian Atreides were significant, since he used his programming skills to lure or fool the machines. He then decided to corrupt the Earth-Omnius copy and with it, eight Synchronized Worlds were infected before his plan was stopped by Erasmus. That way however helped the Titans to take Bela Tegeuse who rebelled against Omnius, and their neo-cymek followers, posing thence, a new flow in the war.

The war took an unexpected turn when the Ivory Tower Cogitors proposed to Omnius to mutually end the aggressions. Serena Butler however did not agree and went as an ambassador to Corrin. Serena demanded not only a truce, but also the liberation of all human slaves, to which Omnius did not agree, and voided his agreement. Serena was self-sacrificially killed during that mission creating thus a martyr of her. It was during that time when VenKee Enterprizes decided to donate the new spacefolding technology to the military of the Jihad.

The major event of the following years had been the Omnius Scourge that eradicated 1/10 of the universal human population, an idea conceived by traitor Yorek Thurr. Omnius planned for a final strike against humanity and prepared an extermination fleet, gathering all his forces from the Synchronized World on Corrin to hit Salusa Secundus.

The end of the Jihad[]

His plan was detected by Quentin Butler who informed the League and Vorian Atreides proposed a desperate measure, the Great Purge. While Omnius' planets were undefended and his forces en route to Salusa, the planet was evacuated; Purge fleet would visit each machine world and launch pulse-atomics, obliterating machines and human slaves alike.

All forces converged above Corrin. Being unable to do the final strike, the human forces blockaded the planet with the help of a scrambler network of satellites set around the planet. Omnius considered trapped and the Grand Patriarch Xander Boro-Ginjo declared the end of the Jihad.

The destruction of the thinking machines was at the Battle of Corrin, freeing mankind from the threat that they had originally created. Following this, the leader of the Jihad, Faykan Butler, then renamed his royal house, House Corrino, and crowned himself the first Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe. The Emperors of the Empire of a Million Worlds were all of House Corrino for the next 10,000 years, until the ascension of Paul Atreides to the Golden Lion Throne.


Viceroy Manion Butler retired from his office, Serena Butler was voted as interim Viceroy for the rest of the war. The leaders of the Jihad were the Grand Patriarch Ginjo and High Priestess Serena Butler.

Although the Jihad could not be supported by the Unallied Worlds, an important contribution was when the Jihad was joined by Ginaz mercenaries 192 BG.

Ginjo founded the Jipol, assigning his trustee, Yorek Thurr as leader. Eventually seven League representatives who were political rivals of Iblis Ginjo were captured by Jipol. Ginjo also founded the Seraphim order to protect the High Priestess who suffered several assassination attempts. In 187 BG Ginjo also proposed a Jihad Council as a governing body to runs the war to administer both Jipol and the Army of the Jihad affairs. Medical issues were concerns of the Jihad Medical Commission.

VenKee Enterprises gained much profit from the war since a lot of the war materials and supplies were transported by their merchant ships. When Norma Cenva came up with the spacefolding technology, Serena Butler preassured Aurelius Venport to donate the technology to the Jihad. Although Venport realised the financial setbacks, he accepted, asking the technology to remain his property after the War.


The war was named a Jihad although it was not explicitly based on Islam or any other particular religion. Rather, it was an attempt to unite all humans spiritually and politically. It was considered holy, as the struggle between Life/Humanity and the 'demonic' machines. The dead soldiers were considered martyrs and believed to enter some Heaven. Manion Butler the Innocent was the first martyr and sanctified, with altars and relics dedicated to him. Meanwhile Ginjo used to inspire the populace claiming that the War, as well as the ultimate victory of humanity, had been prophecized by ancient texts.

Omnius, demanded from Erasmus to try and understand the concept of religion on humans in order to understand the situation better but he didn't go much further to help.

During the final days of the Jihad, Serena was made a saint and one of the Three Martyrs. Religious individuals prayed to them and hoped they would send their angels to protect them. This led to the phenomenon of the Martyrists - fanatics devoted to the Three Martyrs, that wanted simply to destroy machinery at every cost. They proved valuable manning the ships for the Great Purge, since the spacefolding technology used posed serious dangers and was in a percentage suicidal. A portion of the Martyrists evolved into the Cult of Serena.


By 108 BG, the Jihad itself had finished with the complete destruction of all intelligent machines that were originally built by humans throughout the worlds, but it proved to have many profound impacts on the socio-political and technological development of humanity throughout the new empires that emerged,

The most dramatic long-lasting result was the ensuing commandment from the Orange Catholic Bible held sway to humans against the creation of machines which bore the human mind's exact image: Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind, after the destruction of the man-made intelligent machines throughout the human worlds, owning a computer beyond a certain intelligence limit you could immediately be put to death.

This lack of thinking technology created a severe gap in humanity's quality of life, revolving around a need for humans to perform complex logical computations and calculations. This gap led to the creation of the mentat order (which would be later outlawed by Leto Atreides in an attempt to realize the Golden Path strategy), the Bene Gesserit, and the Spacing Guild. Non-thinking machines, however, were still utilized. As centuries passed, two fringe worlds, Ix and Tlulax, brought technological heights of the Ixians and the Tlulaxa. Ixians specialized in the creation of non-thinking mechanical devices; while biological technology was provided by the Tlulaxa to replace the mechanical thinking technology used prior to the Jihad.

Aside from the long-lasting effects of the Jihad, the belief in the spiritual divinity of humankind was renewed and strengthened as a component of the Jihad, specifically in contrast to the "evil Thinking Machines".

The last major impact of the Jihad was the rise of a new system, a feudal-arranged galactic order that lasted for several thousand more years, mostly under the rule of House Corrino before the ascension of House Atreides and the rise of God Emperor Leto Atreides II. This order, known as the Imperium, was comprised of several new and powerful groups, including the Spacing Guild, the Bene Gesserit, CHOAM, the Landsraad, and the Great Houses, most notably House Corrino, House Atreides and House Harkonnen, to name a few.

Final Struggle and Unity with Machines[]

Over 15,000 years later; after The Scattering initiated by the God Emperor, man-kind subtly began to re-allow thinking machines back into human life. No-Ships, with Ixian navigation devices, were used by mankind to thrust outward from the Old Empire into uncharted galaxies. These navigation devices were largely able to replace Guild Navigators to some degree. Later, the Ixians were able to perfect the navigation device completely, and rendered the Navigators obsolete. However, the Ixians were still well aware of the fear that man-kind had of Thinking Machines, and called the stewarding devices, 'mathematical compilers'.

As the end of the age occurred with the unfolding of Kralizec, man-kind was forced again to confront not only Thinking Machines, but their same reborn leaders, Omnius and Erasmus, on the Machine planet capital of Synchrony. Omnius had not progressed at all in thinking, and still wanted to genocidally eliminate human-kind. Erasmus had evolved, however, and greatly admired mankind, and had learned from them.

Kralizec unfolded, and Omnius was banished to another universe by the Oracle of Time/Norma Cenva. In a final showdown in the heart of the reborn Thinking Machine Empire, the Ultimate Kwisatz Haderach was revealed, a ghola of Duncan Idaho. Erasmus gave Duncan the Evermind codes to all Machines in the Known Universe, and then peacefully died. Idaho then announced that the Butlerian Jihad ban on Machines had gone too far, that man and machine must unite, and work cooperatively in the future.

Ten years later, man and machine worked together in complete harmony throughout the Universe. Machines worked to repair the damage they did during the battles of Kralizec, and man no longer feared them, as Duncan held the key to balancing the future of the two. On Synchrony this was especially true, as a reborn ghola of Serena Butler herself, now lived side by side with Thinking Machines, in peace and harmony.


Behind the Scenes[]

In his six original Dune novels Frank Herbert mentions few details of the Butlerian Jihad. The lesson taken by the human descendents of this war is that mankind's laziness and ingenuity can be its downfall.

It is worth noting that in Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson denote this ban starting before the Jihad began, as a result of the rise of the Thinking Machines.

A subtle justification for the Butlerian Jihad is also found in Frank Herbert's original novels, specifically Heidegger's thesis that the use of technology trains humans to think like machines. The problem is that machines are deterministic; thus, training people to be machines is self-limiting. Herbert seemed to think that to be human is to be essentially 'open-ended', capable of undiscovered, indeterminate evolution, both personally and as a species.

Such subtlety might seem irreconcilable with the version presented in the prequels. If humanity overthrew the machine because the machines were trying eradicate them, then they did not do so because machines were limiting humanity - all thematic elements of the jihad, and its parallels to the limits Paul sets for himself and all mankind by relying on prescience, become meaningless.


  1. Dune, Appendix II, page 326