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The Matres also killed the elder Tleilaxu Master, Tylwyth Waff, as he was on Rakis when they attacked the planet with ultra-destructive Obliterator weapons. This caused widespread revulsion amongst the surviving Tleilaxu, as they considered the sandworms of Dune to contain an essence of the God Emperor, their Prophet.

https://dune.fandom.com/wiki/Bene_Tleilax

I remember the Tleilaxu have always been plotting against Paul and the God Emperor. When and why did they come around and begin to worship them?

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  • 1
    They didn't worship him, they considered him a prophet of God as is stated in the quote.
    – Paulie_D
    Nov 20 at 14:01
  • @Paulie_D At least they began to sympathize with him.
    – Kinzle B
    Nov 20 at 15:30
  • It's revealed later that, and excuse me if I get my cultural reference wrong here, that the Tleilaxu were a form of Moslem society. In no way would they consider Leto to be God.
    – Paulie_D
    Nov 20 at 15:38
  • @Paulie_D - Their religion was based on the Zensunni and Zensufi beliefs. Their God (capital G) would be the same one worshipped by Christians and Muslims alike.
    – Valorum
    Nov 20 at 16:26
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The Tleilaxu don't worship Leto II, they view him as a prophet of their God, the same monotheistic Abrahamic deity worshipped by the bulk of present-day humanity.

They had waited millennia for this time, his people. Waff savored the moment now. All through the bad times of the Prophet Leto II (not God Emperor but God’s Messenger), all through the Famines and the Scattering, through every painful defeat at the hands of lesser creatures, through all of those agonies the Tleilaxu had built their patient forces for this moment.

We have come to our moment, O Prophet!

Heretics of Dune

As to when, it seems likely that they came to this belief sometime during his elongated reign. We don't get any more info in the books (since the first Bene Tleilax Master that we get to spend any time with is after Leto's death) but we do know that he had extensive dealings with them, more than sufficient for them to observe his ability to determine the future.

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  • The Tleilaxu attempted to assassinate Leto with Face Dancers shortly before his actual death, I don't think they considered him a prophet, or at least not "God's Messenger", during that time - consider the reverence they paid to the sandworms and the horror they had of them being harmed post-Scattering simply because they contained pearls of his consciousness versus their attempts on Leto's life.
    – Shamshiel
    Nov 20 at 17:25
  • @Shamshiel - That he is God's messenger doesn't seem to have prevented them from trying to kill him. This is, it seems, a land of contradiction
    – Valorum
    Nov 20 at 17:37
  • 1
    I'm saying I don't think they considered him God's Messenger at the time for that reason. Some later event must have persuaded them. Leto also mentions that the Tleiaxu tried to deceive him with a Duncan ghola, which doesn't make sense if they believed that at the time. Of course, a doomed assassination plot doesn't make much sense either - especially because Leto suggests they he very well might simply annihilate all them all in response. Perhaps the severe punishment that followed is that convinced them, or some event in the Famine Times or Scattering.
    – Shamshiel
    Nov 20 at 21:05
  • 1
    @Shamshiel I'd speculate some historical revisionism by the Tleilaxu. They failed, he didn't die he divided into sand trout and ultimately the new worm population. If you can't beat him make him a prophet instead. And instead of antagonizing the Emperor they were part of the cosmic God's plan all along for the prophet - which has to feel better than considering their role to be political scheming. By analogy the Roman Empire / Pontius Pilate ceased to be the direct enemy of Jesus when Romans were converting despite the many Jewish messiahs being rooted in rebellion against the Roman Empire. Nov 20 at 22:39
  • @lucasbachmann: I take your point, but your analogy is a little strange since there's no evidence that Jesus as Messiah was revolting against the Roman Empire: even from a secular point of view it does not appear that was what he intended at all, it seems to be rather than the Jewish priestly class were his enemies that perceived him as a rebel and tried to kill him repeatedly until they were able to corner Pilate into permitting a legal execution. Certainly there were earlier and later 'political' Messiahs, though, culminating in the destruction of Judea.
    – Shamshiel
    Nov 21 at 21:38
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I'd speculate that somehow Leto II managed to influence the Tleilaxu to have the desired belief. Note the Tleilaxu are secret zensufi fanatics. And that Leto II will have his own prescience and a complete understanding of the Bene Gesserit Missionaria Protectiva policy.

"Enter no conflict against fanatics unless you can defuse them. Oppose a religion with another religion only if your proofs (miracles) are irrefutable or if you can mesh in a way that the fanatics accept you as god-inspired. This has long been the barrier to science assuming a mantle of divine revelation. Science is so obviously man-made. Fanatics (and many are fanatic on one subject or another) must know where you stand, but more important, must recognize who whispers in your ear." -Missionaria Protectiva, Primary Teaching (Chapterhouse Dune)

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