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Mixed Canonicity
This article or section refers to elements from both Original Dune and Expanded Dune.

"What sort of God would promise us land like this?"
―Zensunni lament
"Home can be anywhere, for it is part of one's self"
―Zensunni saying

Rogue Zensunni -Fanart

Zensunni was a religious belief system prominent with many cultures spread across the Known Universe, especially those descended from disadvantaged and enslaved peoples.


Little is known of the evolution of the Zensunni faith. What is beyond doubt is that the Zensunni belief was an amalgamation of two ancient religions: Sunni Islam and Zen Buddhism.

They were followers of a schismatic sect that broke away from the teachings of Maometh (the so-called "Third Muhammed") about 1381 BG. The Zensunni religion is noted chiefly for its emphasis on the mystical and a reversion to "the ways of the fathers." Most scholars name Ali Ben Ohashi as leader of the original schism but there is some evidence that Ohashi may have been merely the male spokesman for his second wife, Nisai.[1]


Expanded Dune
This article or section refers to elements from Expanded Dune.

By the end of the Old Empire and the start of the Time of Titans Zensunnis thought the war was the prophesied Kralizec, the End of the Universe, and they refused to battle. Instead they retreated to distant isolated planets. Yet that struggle had not ended according to the prophecy: the human race had survived the Thinking Machines.

They had become a prominent belief system among many human cultures among the stars. However, the refusal of the Zensunni spiritual leaders to engage in active resistance against the enemies of free humanity resulted in a broad and angry backlash. Thus, for thousands of years practitioners of Zensunni, and its sibling faith Zenshiite, were persecuted and enslaved by humans, as well as by Titans and Thinking Machines.

As a result of being enslaved, Bel Moulay inspired the first revolt in Starda, which was in turn crushed by Lord Niko Bludd and the Dragoon guards. Aliid, a young slave who was torn from his parents, vowed for revenge. He was able to receive it decades after the first revolt. Aliid had planned a revolt while the nobles of the planet were celebrating. He managed to acquire an ancient lasgun. Tio Holtzman planned to protect himself from the revolt using one of his inventions, the Holtzman shield. Aliid intended to personally assassinate Holtzman. When the Savant saw the laser, he knew exactly what would happen, but Aliid did not. The whole city of Starda was vaporized by the sub-atomic explosion that is caused by a lasgun firing upon a shield.

Later, the Zensunni predisposition was manipulated by the Bene Gesserit, via their Missionaria Protectiva arm and Panoplia Propheticus strategy, for their own political objectives. One of the most prominent homes of Zensunni beliefs, Arrakis, was of particular interest in this regard. The exclusivity of the critical Spice Melange on the planet made the resident Fremen, staunch followers of Zensunni, of natural interest to the Bene Gesserit.

The emergence of the powerful Paul Atreides, and his adoption of Fremen ways, gave Zensunni beliefs a dramatic new popularity. After his ascension to Emperor Paul embarked on a ferocious jihad that brought great violence and turmoil. The stark contrast of these actions vis-à-vis pacifist Zensunni beliefs was not lost on some of the faithful.

Core Beliefs[]

As a faith, Zensunni has the following core tenets:

  • Belief in one, all-powerful Buddallah, whose word is rendered by prophets;
  • Aversion to violence, unless it is for self-protection and no other options remain;
  • Belief in mystical interpretations of God's will.

See also[]


  1. Dune, Termiology of the Imperium, page 345

Behind the Scenes[]

The persecution or enslavement of the Wandering Zensunni by the League of Nobles and the Thinking Machines was specifically created in the prequel novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. References to harassment and persecution are found in Frank Herbert's Dune novels.