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Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

Masiyaf is a town of central Syria on the eastern side of the Jabal al-Nusairia, situated at 33 miles to the east of Baniyas and 28 miles to the east of Hammah. The word masiyaf is derived from the second form verb sayyafa means to pass the summer. The pronunciation and orthography of the name varies between the form, Masyad, Masyaf, Mayat, Masyath, Masyab, Masyah and Messiat. The stronghold of Masiyaf lies to the northeast of the settlement, at the foot of the Jabal al-Bahra. It was an Arab citadel, perched on a rocky limestone block. Like an impregnable fort of Alamut, Masiyaf was atop a projecting, almost perpendicular rock. It was the chief among the Ismaili castles, a veritable eagle's nest, perched on a scarcely accessible peak, and commanding a desolate ravine. The Syrian Ismailis obtained its possession in 535/1140. It must be known that during his last visit to Syria on November 2, 2001, the Present Imam through the applause and cheers of thousand, walked through the streets of Masiyaf to the top of its citadel.

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