The history of Ird-H-Tech-1 diverges from ours in 760 ACE with the invention of the first printing press in Córdoba, then the capital of the Emirate of Cordoba. In the middle of a war for survival, the innovative Emir Abd ar-Rahman I became a patron of the new press, using it to quickly print propaganda to woo educated men among the Abbasid armies then besieging him - and then to tell tales of his eventual victories. The press soon spread through Cordoba and beyond, with the Abbasid court at Baghdad deliberately encouraging the use of printing presses and the written word to make sure that the intellectual splendor of their scholars surpassed that of their enemies in Spain.
(Notably the press was rejected by ar-Rahman's enemies in the Christian marches to the north, and their Frankish kin beyond that, who argued that it was simply a tool for spreading pagan nonsense - eventually this policy would be reversed, but not for some centuries...)
Over the centuries that followed, the spread of printing helped speed the spread of literacy as a growing Muslim world became a busy world of science, commerce, and development. No one invention began the modern world - but any good student of history on Ird can name some. The growth of universities like Cordoba's, given their freedom by emir's decree, that would eventually come to dominate Ird's world of the mind. The textile mills of Baghdad, first powered by water, then by burning petroleum to meet growing demand. The gunpowder weapons that broke the Mongols in eastern Persia (the Green Horde would wind up riding north and west, covering Christian Europe in pyramids of skulls), the new ship designs that discovered Talentis to the west...
There were grim moments - the horrors of the Industrial Revolution, the long fight to end Firanji slavery, the nuclear conflict between Persia and China five hundred years ago, the bloody totalitarian movements that rose from the ashes of that war that had to be overthrown in their turn, but overall the history of Ird has been a positive one. The average Irdian lives in a utopia by modern standards, and even centuries ago they lived far better than the people of Earth-Prime.
Two hundred years ago, after a Sofalan rocketcrew made First Contact with the Farsiders, the United Ird government made contact with the Lor Republic and a century later (after a long probationary period) became a member nation of that august body. Isolated in its own part of the galaxy, Ird maintained much of its own culture even as it assimilated into the broader world of Galactic Civilization. The Faith has spread throughout space too, and a growing stream of pilgrims has come from across the galaxy to the Emirate of Mecca, the holiest place on the planet and in the galaxy for billions of Irdians both in our Solar System and beyond. With diseases solved, aging slowed, and the
Then the Communion destroyed Lor-Van. While a united Grue Unity and Stellar Khanate were able to destroy the cybernetic horror from beyond the stars, the devastated Republic fractured along sectional, sectarian, and species lines, planet turning against planet and brother turning against sister. Ird was no exception; and in the last few months, war has come to a planet that has known nothing but peace for two hundred years.
The conflict is roughly as follows - the Jamahiriya, a revolutionary movement that has swept much of both northern and southern Talentis, argues that Ird must take a leadership role in a New Republic, a militarist one that sets aside the soft weakness and democratic sentimentality that destroyed their predecessor. (The movement is part of a larger revolution ongoing inside what had once been the Lor Republic) Their counterparts, the Umma, argue for a traditional approach - maintaining the values of freedom and democracy (and the Faith!) that has dominated Ird society for centuries. The war has not gone well - the Umma's belief in peace did indeed leave them underprepared for the surprise offensives launched by the forces of Talentis, and the forces of the Jamahiriya occupy key points across the planet. But numbers will tell against the would-be revolutionaries if the war drags on - unless they can convince the population of Ird that the loss of freedom is well worth the increase in security.
Ird has the technology of your typical Lor-friendly culture. In space they have warp drives and interstellar travel, and they use standard Lor ion engines for in-system travel. The world is tied together by the "Djinn Web" and has been for some centuries; a Swedish innkeeper in the remotest parts of Firanj, trying to figure out how she can get enough tourists this year to keep her family comfortable despite the war, has access to the same galactic database that Amir Al-Darsah (the de jure commander of the Jamahiriya's forces in the Solar System) does from his wartime capital of Lenape in northeastern Talentis. For what were once religious reasons that are now largely custom, the planet has few teleportation networks for a Lor planet and most travel is carried out by pre-programmed autocar.
Until the outbreak of the war, disease, starvation, and poverty were largely unheard of thanks to general economic prosperity brought by technological development and a cultural tradition of charity. This has made the horrors brought by the conflict, especially the horrific fire-bombing of Nihon's largest city Tokyo, especially heart-wrenching for the people of Ird. Even today, away from the frontlines, most people live much healthier, much longer lives than the average citizen of Earth-Prime.
Ird cities build upwards on the Lor model, with many citizens living in vast arcologies that stretch over a mile high. A craze for traditional architecture some years ago means that many buildings look "Islamic" to Earth-Prime eyes, glittering minaret towers and great domes tower high over a green landscape. These days, in Talentis, those cities are liable to be occupied by power-armored troops whipped up in a revolutionary fervor, with the green flag of the revolution displayed in most public settings and on every comm-screen.
A long-united Lor member world, racism, sexism, and other 'isms' are long in Ird's past - mostly. (The current conflict is genuinely ideological and economic) .While culture is Muslim, many people are not particularly religious - though open atheism is rather gauche even in the Jamahiriya. Plenty of people read about the life of the Prophet and his successors in school, pay their zakat tax, and eat at night during Ramadan largely because it's what their parents did.
The various nations of Ird are all constitutional monarchies - with the exception of the revolutionary Jamahiriya, for all that revolutionary leader al-Darsah certainly conducts himself like the emir among emirs.
Firanj, the largest non-Muslim nation on Ird, is also its poorest - but even Firanj is a society that would look utopian to the average citizen of Earth-Prime. In addition to their home nation (called "The Holy Roman Empire" by its citizens), Firanjians live throughout the world, many of them descendants of slaves. Open prejudice is rare and discrimination illegal - and encountering aliens has certainly helped deflect any lingering bad feelings towards Firanjians. Indeed, sometimes the problem is that they are embraced _too_ much by Ird culture - every Firanji who grew up outside their own nation has probably been asked at least once to show off his "badass Viking moves", or has had to sit through yet another 3-D about ancient Benedictine wizards with hardly any Firanjians in the cast.
Firanj is neutral in the war, like Hui Dynasty China - for now. Lenape, in eastern Talentis, is the center of the Jamahiriya war effort - founded as it was by the descendants of slaves hundred of years ago, it has one of the larger Firanj populations on this continent.
Ird is in the middle of a civilization-level civil war waged with Lor-level technology - a frightening thought to any knowledgeable visitor. Neither side has made use of weapons of mass destruction; Ird has bitter memories of the consequences of nuclear war etched into its soul, and anti-matter bombs would surely do far worse damage! But as battle rage in orbital space and indeed across the Solar System, the death toll continues to rise. Ird has relatively few superhumans - they have the mentants and low-level mutants one would expect from a Lor planet, but they have not yet discovered the superhero. They have, however, discovered nanotech infiltration, armor-burning plasma rifles, hypersonic bombers, orbital laser bombardment - and these are weapons in the hands of even mid-level military forces!
DImensional travelers are advised to be cautious - both the Umma and the Jamahiriyia are fearful of subversion and desperate for help against their rivals, and would likely interrogate any unknown aliens or mutants as either suspected spies or valuable tools in a planet-threatening war. Either side might be interested in negotiating with visitors from other dimensions (especially mighty superhumans!), but the other side would likely retaliate to avoid further devastation.
Ird has few languages in common with Earth-Prime - Galstandar, Lor, and other Galactic languages are the same, speakers of Classical Arabic, Latin, or Greek, can make themselves heard with an accent (and regular Arabic with an even stronger, often incomprehensible accent), but others will be in serious trouble. Luckily Lor-style universal translators are easy to come by - in the middle of a war, you do not want to look like an outlander.
Edited by Avenger Assembled