Who were the assassins?
1.First, about 90% of Muslims are Sunni and approximately 10% are Shia.It is the great division in Islam.
2.In 680 at the Battle of Karbala, Hussein, grand-son of Muhammad and son of Ali and of Fatima,who was the daughter of Muhammad, was decapitated by the soldiers of Yazid I, the Omayyad caliph, because he had refused to recognize him as caliph.That is the beginning of Shia Islam.
The two types of Shias
There are the Twelver Shias, who are the majority,and the Sevener or Ismaili Shias.They were once one group, with the same religious leader, the imam,a descendant of Muhammad, till 765,with the death of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq .
Twelver Shias say the real heir to the Imamate was the youngest son of the late imam, Musa al-Kazim, but the Ismailis say it was Ismail, the eldest son.They divided over that detail.
Who are the Twelver Shias?
For the Twelver Shias who form the majority of Shias, the Twelfth Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (born about 868), a descendant of Muhammad and of Ali, was hidden in a well in Iraq in 874 when he was about 7 years old.It is that:
1.He either fell there.
2.Or he was hidden there by his mother
3.Anyway he has never seen again.
The 12th Imam is still alive
He is almost 1,200 years old
That is to say that he is hiding,and alive,ready to return to guide the community today.This is called the Great Occultation, which will terminate when the hidden imam comes back to establish justice and peace.
The Ismaili Nizarites
This is the Shia group established by Hassan-i Sabbah,they were known as cold-blooded terrorists and were called assasins.They were like the Kharijites, the first Muslim terrorists.
“The Kharijites,the First Muslim Terrorists in History,who killed Ali,the Fourth Caliph”
About the word “assassin”
There is the Arabic word “hashishin”, that is to say, those who consume hashish, a drug.It is said that is why they were called assasins,they consummed hashish,but the evidence is that this is an error.
According to the texts that have survived the library in Alamut in Iran, their main fortress and the center of the sect, Sabbah liked to call his followers Assassiyun, “those who are faithful to the Assas,” the “foundation” of the Islamic faith.
Who was Hasan-i Sabbah (circa 1036-1124)?
He was called “The Old Man of the Mountain”,and he was the founder of the State of Alamut and of the assasins / Ismaili Nizarites.
Hasan-i Sabbah, was born into a Shiite family in Qom (in Persia)
He studied at the Dar al-Hikma, the House of Wisdom, which was the largest center for the study of Islam and other subjects in the Muslim world. Sabbah benefited greatly from his trip to Égypt.The House of Wisdom was founded by Caliph Al-Hakim, the crazy caliph.
“Al-Hakim, the Caliph who destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepucre in Jerusalem in 1009, the holiest of Christian”
Hasan-i Sabbah and his secret society
1.The Nizarites were Ismaili Shias and as with several other secret societies, the real story is mixed with folklore and myth.
2.Sabbah attracted thousands of disciples.
3.Their center was the fortress of Alamut, Iran, taken in 1090.Alamut means “eagle’s nest”.
The Alamut library contained many books on various subjects such as science, philosophy, religion, etc.When the Mongols invaded Alamut, they were surprised by how many books and scientific instruments they found. But they also destroyed most of the library and for this reason we do not know much about their ideas.
5.Those known as assasins existed in Iran from 1090-1257 and in Syria till even later.
A terrorist group that carried out numerous assassinations
They became friends of their victims, and assasinated them publicly in front of everyone, in the courtyard, in the mosque, or in the public square of the city.
Their first victim was the brilliant vizier Nizam al-Mulk (1018-1092) of the Seljuk Sultan, a famous figure in the history of the Middle East, who was against Sabbah.
Upon the death of Sabbah in 1124 the group had murdered 50 people,they had killed:
Sunni religious leaders, Abbasid and Seljuk princes, governors, judges, diplomats, nobles.
The assassinations continued after the death of Sabbah
1.In 1130 they killed caliph al-Amir
2.They killed the emir of Aleppo and Mosul in 1126.
3.The third successor killed another caliph, a sultan, and several officials.
4.They also killed Christian leaders, killing Count Raymond II of Tripoli, Syria (not Tripoli, Libya)
5.And in 1192 they killed Conrad of Montferrat, king of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem
6.The 1175 they made two assassination attempts on the life of Saladin, the assassin went so close that wounds were inflicted on Saladin.
The tale by Marco Polo about the assasins
In the West, the great explorer is Marco Polo (1254-1324), the man who saw Italy, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, China, Indonesia and India. He spent about 20 years outside his native Venice, mostly in China under Emperor Kublai Khan and in the largest empire in the world.
He returned to Venice in 1295, later fought against Genoa, and was taken prisoner.In his cell he dictated to Rustichello of Pisa the story of his travels,which beame a book. He tells stories he heard about the assasins,that:
1.The assassins used a drug that inspired them to kill and kill.
2.Their leader was a man called the “Old Man of the Mountain.”
3.The assasins were told that if they were killed and had killed they would go to heaven and have beautiful women.It is written in the Koran that those who kill and die for Allah go straight to heaven and get women.
“The Religious Motivation for Suicide Bombers”
The legend of the three friends
The legend says Sabbah had attended the University of Nichapur with Omar Khayyam (1048-1131), the Persian astronomer-poet, and atheist. Another of his schoolmates was Nizam al-Mulk (1018-1092) who later became prime minister / vizier of the Seljuk Sultan. Those three made a pact, if one of them, any one, climbed up the ladder of sucess, he would help the others.
The story is false because vizier Nizam al-Mulk was 30 years older than Khayyam and 40 years more than Sabbah.The ruins of Alamut,in Iran
The two divisions of the assasins
There were those who lived in Iran,in Alamut, south-west of the Caspian Sea, and those who lived in Syria.Those of Syria were ruled by delegates sent by the lord of Alamut. The most famous of them was Rashid ad -Din Sinan.
Rashid ad-Din Sinan (1135-1192)
1.He was a leader of the Ismaili Nizarite sect and assumed the title of “Old Man of the Mountain.”
2.He was the leader of the assassins in Syria.
3.Saladin (1138-1193), as a result of assassination attempts against him by the assasins, decided to lay siege to his fortress in 1176, but he gave up after concluding a pact with the assassins,the content of which remains secret. It is said that Rashid ad-Din Sinan sent a letter to Saladin’s uncle informing him that his whole family would be killed if Saladin did not abandon the siege.
The end of the assasins in Iran and their survival in Syria
Genghis Khan (1162-1227) was a Mongol who founded an immense empire. In 1257 his descendant Hulagu Khan conquered the fortress of Alamut and other fortress of the assassins in Iran.Their library was destroyed but the assassins of Syria came under the protection of the Mamelukes of Egypt,who used them as murderers and they existed until the fourteenth century.
In 1258 the Mongol army under Hulagu Khan, with a million soldiers conquered Baghdad, the center of the Muslim world. The Mongols killed a million people and captured the caliph. There was the belief that there would be a curse if the blood of the Caliph was spilled on the ground.
So the Mongols, to avoid that, put the caliph under a carpet and the carpet was rolled around him.And then horses walked on the carpet till he died.