Hasan bin Sabbah was born in a Shiite family on 428/1034 at Qumm. His father, Ali bin Muhammad bin Jafar bin al-Hussain bin Muhammad bin al-Sabbah al-Himyari, a Kufan of Yamenite origin was a learned scholar. From early age he acquired the rudiments of formal education from his father at home. When he was still a child, his father moved to Ray and it was there that Hasan bin Sabbah pursued his religious education. In his autobiography, entitled 'Sar Guzasht-i Sayyidna' (Incidents in the life of our Lord), he tells his own story that, 'From the days of my boyhood, from the age of seven, I felt a love for the various branches of learning and wished to become a religious scholar; until the age of seventeen I was a seeker and searcher for knowledge, but kept to the Twelver faith of my father.'Hasan bin Sabbah was an intelligent and proficient in geometry and astronomy. He learnt the Ismaili doctrines from a Fatimid dai, Amir Dharrab, who expounded him the doctrine of the Ismailis. Soon he was reading Ismaili literature, which so stirred him that when he became dangerously ill, he began to fear that he might die without knowing the truth. When he recovered, he approached an Ismaili for further clarification of the doctrines. Convinced that Ismailism represented ultimate reality, he embraced Ismailism at the age of 35 years in 464/1071 and afterwards, he came into contact with a Fatimid dai Abdul Malik bin Attash in Ispahan.

Hasan bin Sabbah writes in 'Sar Guzasht-i Sayyidna' that, 'In the year 464/1071 Abdul Malik bin Attash, who at that time was the dai in Iraq, came to Ray. I met with his approval, and he made me a deputy dai and indicated that I should go to His Majesty in Egypt, who at that time was al-Mustansir. In the year 469/1077, I went to Ispahan on my way to Egypt. I finally arrived in Egypt in the year 471/1078.' In sum, Hasan moved from Ray to Ispahan in 467/1074. Later on, when al-Muayyad was the chief dai at Cairo in 469/1077, he set out from Ispahan for Egypt. He travelled at first to northern Azerbaijan, thence to Mayyafariqin, where he held religious deliberations with the Sunni theologians and denied the right of Sunni muftis to interpret religion, that being the prerogative of the Imam. As a result, he was expelled by the town's Sunni qadi. He proceeded to Mosul, Rahba and Damascus. He sailed through Beirut, Sidon, Tyre, Acre, Caesarea and finally reached Cairo in 471/1078. Imam al-Mustansir gave him audience and honoured him. Hasan asked him as to who would be the Imam after him. Al-Mustansir replied that it would be his son Nizar. He is reported to have stayed 18 months in Cairo, enjoying the patronage and favour of his master. He also learnt latest tactics of the dawa in Dar al-Hikmah, which was in those days the biggest learning centre of Islam. Hasan, thus profited much by his journey to Egypt. It is possible that he had a meeting also with al- Nizar in Cairo. Laurence Lockhart writes in 'Hasan-i Sabbah and the Assassins' (BSOAS, vol. v, 1928, p. 677) that, 'Hasan was well received at Cairo, and was treated with marked favour by the Fatimid Caliph al-Mustansir. It is said by some writers that Hasan received so many benefits at the hands of the Caliph that the courtiers became jealous, and eventually forced him to leave the country.' Badr al-Jamali, the Fatimid vizir however was the foremost to breed suspicion, when he knew that Hasan was the supporter of al-Nizar bin al- Mustansir, therefore he got Hasan imprisoned in the fortress of Dumyat. The strong walls of the fortress collapsed one day, enabling him to escape. He boarded a vessel at Alexandria with a group of Franks for western waters, but the stormy winds tossed his vessel on the shores of Syria and he alighted at the port of Acre. Then onwards, he toured many cities; studied the economic, social and religious conditions of the people. He reached Ispahan in 473/1081 and began to propagate Ismaili faith in Yazd and Kirman for a while. He spent three months in Khuzistan before proceeding to Damghan, where he stayed about three years.

There was plenty of mission activity, pervasive throughout its length and breath in Iran under the control of Abdul Malik bin Attash. In about 480/1088, Hasan bin Sabbah seems to have chosen the remote castle of Alamut in Daylam as the base of his mission. He sent from Damghan, and later, from Shahriyarkuh, a number of trained dais, including Ismail Qazwini, Muhammad Jamal Radi and Kiya Abul Kassim Larijani to different districts around Alamut valley to convert the local inhabitants. Hasan, at length was appointed a dai of Daylam. In the meantime, the Seljukid vizir, Nizam al-Mulk (408-485/1018-1092), a well known implacable foe had ordered Abu Muslim, the governor of Ray to arrest him. Hasan however managed to proceed to Daylam in hiding. He then reached Qazwin (also called Qasbin or Qashwin) , and inspected the fort of Alamut in Rudhbar. He remained in worship within the fortress, and also converted the local people. He took possession of the fortress of Alamut in 483/1090 and established an independent Nizari Ismaili state.

Ismaili History 602 - The fortress of Alamut

The Justanid dynasty of Daylam was founded in 189/805, and one of its rulers, called Wahsudan bin Marzuban (d. 251/865) is reported to have built the fortress of Alamut in 246/860. The tradition in this context has it that once the ruler, while on hunting had followed a manned eagle which alighted on the rock. The king saw the strategic value of the location and built a fort on the top of a high piercing rock and was named aluh amut, which in the Daylami dialect, derived from aluh (eagle) and amut (nest), i.e., 'eagle's nest' as the eagle, instead of following the birds, had built its nest on that location. According to 'Sar Guzasht-i Sayyidna', the term 'Alamut' is aluh amut i.e., the eagle's nest, and an eagle had its nest there. Ibn Athir (d. 630/1234) relates another tradition in his 'Kamil fi't Tarikh' (Beirut, 1975, 10th vol., p. 110) that the eagle had taught and guided the king to this location, therefore, it was named talim al-aqab (the teaching or guidance of an eagle), whose rendering into Daylami dialect is aluh amut. The word aluh means 'eagle' and amutis derived from amukhat means 'teaching'. The people of Qazwin called it aqab amukhat (the teaching of eagle). Thus, the term aluh amut(or aqab amukhat) later on became known as Alamut. The Iranian historians have drawn attention to the curious fact that, if one gives to each letter in the full name of Aluh Amut, its numberical value in Arabic, the sum total amounts to 483, which represents the year in which Hasan bin Sabbah obtained possession of Alamut.Afterwards, the Musafirid dynasty, also known as Sallarids or Kangarids (304-483/916-1090) founded by Muhammad bin Musafir (304-330/916- 941), who ruled from the fortress of Shamiran in the district of Tarum at Daylam and Azerbaijan. Later on, Mahdi bin Khusaro Firuz, known as Siyahchashm, retained the occupation of Alamut in his hands. He was however defeated by the Musafirid ruler, Ibn Musafir in 316/928 and henceforward, there is no historical indication about the fate of Alamut following the death of Ibn Musafir in 319/931. It must be noted on this juncture that most of the sources write that Mahdi bin Khusaro Firuz had embraced Ismailism, which is quite an erroneous view. He had however espoused the dotrines of the Qarmatians, not that of Ismailis.

When Hasan bin Sabbah arrived in Iran from Egypt, the fortress of Alamut was in possession of an Alid, called Hussain Mahdi, who had it as a fief from the Seljuq sultan Malikshah. Hasan Mahdi was a descendant of Hasan bin Ali al-Utrush (d. 304/916), one of the Alid rulers of Tabaristan, also known as al-Nasir li'l-Haq, who had established a separate Zaidi community in the Caspian Sea. It is related that a dai Hussain Qaini, working under Hasan bin Sabbah had created his friendship with Hussain Mahdi. The Ismaili dais also converted a bulk of the people around the territory, and became powerful to some extent. These Ismailis also began to come in the fortress. Knowing this, Hussain Mahdi expelled them and closed its doors. Finally, Hussain Mahdi was compelled to open the doors owing to the multitude of Ismailis in the vicinity.

Hasan bin Sabbah moved to Ashkawar and then Anjirud, adjacent to Alamut, and on Wednesday, the 6th Rajab, 483/September 4, 1090, he steathily entered the castle of Alamut. He lodged there for a while in disguise, calling himself Dihkhuda and did not reveal his identity to Hussain Mahdi, but as the days rolled away, the latter noticed that he was no longer obeyed, that there was another master in Alamut. The bulk of Alamut's garrison and a large number of the inhabitants had embraced Ismailism, making Hussain Mahdi powerless to defend himself or make their expulsion, but himself eventually left the fortress. Thus, Alamut was occupied without any massacre and was taken to be known as Daru'l Hijra (place of refuge) for the Ismailis in a congenial atmosphere.

Ata Malik Juvaini (1226-1283) had seen the fortress of Alamut when it was being shattered in 654/1256. He writes in 'Tarikh-i Jhangusha'(tr. John A. Boyle, Cambridge, 1958, p. 719) that, 'Alamut is a mountain which resembles a kneeling camel with its neck resting on the ground.' It was situated in Daylam about 35 km. north-west of Qazwin in the region of Rudhbar. It was physically a large towering rock, with steep slopes hardly negotiable on most sides, but with a considerable expanse at its top where extensive building could be done. Situated in mountainous terrain, it approaches could be guarded with relative ease. Its present location lies about 100 k.m. north-west of Tehran, and situated in the high peak of Elburz mountain. Alburz generally was pronounced as Elburz, is the name given to great mountain range, dividing the high plateau of Iran from the low lands of Caspian Sea. The original Iranian word Alburz is derived from two Zand words, signifying the high mountain. The fortress of Alamut is 600 feet high, 450 feet long and 30 to 125 feet wide and is partly encompassed by the towering Elburz range. The rock of Alamut is known at present as Qal'ai Guzur Khan.

Hasan bin Sabbah's immediate concerns, however, were to refortify Alamut, provide for it food and water supply, construct cisterns and store-rooms for provisions, irrigate the field in the vally, acquire adjacent castles, erect forts at strategic points, institute economic and social reforms, unite the Ismailis by bonds of fraternity, and make every Ismaili feel himself a responsible member of the community and inseparable from it.

Ismaili History 603 - The origin of the Seljuqs

The Seljuqs were the ruling military family of the Oghuz Turkoman tribes, which ruled over wide territories in Central and Nearer Asia from 11th to 13th century. Among them, the following dynasties were sprouted:- The Great Seljuqs (429-552/1038-1157), the Seljuqs of Iraq (511-590/1118-1194), the Seljuqs of Kirman (433-582/1041-1186), the Seljuqs of Syria (471-511/1078-1117) and the Seljuqs of Asia Minor (571-702/1077-1302). The Seljuq had originated as chieftains of nomadic bands in Central Asian steppes, and appeared first in Transoxiana and Khorasan in the 5th/11th century. Mahmud Kashghari writes in 'Diwan lughat al-Turk' (comp. 466/1074) that, 'The leading tribe of the Oghuz, from whom the Seljuq rulers sprang, was Qiniq. The Seljuq family belonged to the Qiniq.' Another report indicates that the progenitor of the Seljuq family was a certain Duqaq, which in Turkish language means 'iron bow', a man of resources, discernment and competence, who alongwith his son Seljuq, served Yabghu. Eventually, Yabghu became jealous of Seljuq's power, and the latter was forced to flee with his flocks to Jand. In the last decade of the 10th century, the Seljuq family embraced Islam, and then turned to raiding against the pagan Turks. Some Russian scholars have expressed an opinion that the Seljuq family accepted Islam through Christianity, because of the Biblical names of his sons, Mikail, Musa and Israil. Over the next decades, Musa, Mikail and Arslan Israil, the three sons of Seljuq moved southwards for pasture for their herbs. Soon afterwards, Mikail's two sons, Chaghri Beg and Tughril Beg occupied Khorasan in 431/1040, and extended their influence in Iran, and founded rule of the Great Seljuqs. Henceforward, the Seljuq chiefs became the territorial rulers instead of a wandering band. Tughril Beg was the founder of the Seljuq rule, who adopted title ofSultan al-Muazzam (an exalted ruler). The Abbasids of Baghdad recognised the Seljuq rule in 447/1055. Tughril Beg was succeeded by Alp Arslan, the son of Chaghri Beg in 455/1063. He was also succeeded by his son, Malikshah (d. 485/1092), the contemporary of Hasan bin Sabbah.

Ismaili History 604 - Seljuqid operations against Alamut

When the news of Alamut fallen to Hasan bin Sabbah reached to the court of the Seljuq sultan Malikshah (455-485/1063-1092) and his vizir Nizam al-Mulk (408-485/1018-1092), they became highly perturbed, and began to hatch animosity against Hasan bin Sabbah. Malikshah held a series of meetings with his courtiers, and sent his deputation to Alamut, insisting Hasan bin Sabbah to confess the supremacy of the Seljuqids. Hasan bin Sabbah received the deputation with consideration and when they glorified the power and pomp of Malikshah and asked him to accept their supremacy, he told to them, 'We cannot obey the orders of others except our Imam. The material glory of the kings cannot impress us.' The deputation left Alamut of no avail, and at that time, Hasan bin Sabbah told to them last words, 'Tell to your king to let us live at our cell in peace. We will be compelled to take arms if we are teased. The army of Malikshah has no spirit to fight with our warriors, who do not give importance to this little span of life.' Thus, Malikshah and his vizir did not dare to attack on Alamut for two years.
Soon, Alamut came to be raided by the Seljuq forces under the command of the nearest military officer, and the governor of Rudhbar district, called Turun Tash. Von Hammer (1774-1856) writes in 'History of the Assassins' (London, 1935, p. 78) that, 'No sooner had Hasan Sabbah obtained possession of the castle of Alamut, and before he had provided it with magazines, than an amir (Turun Tash) on whom the sultan had conferred the fief of the district of Rudhbar, cut off all access and supplies.' Since the stronghold could not be reduced by storm, the amir Turun Tash besieged it, devastated the fields and butchered the Ismaili converts. Within Alamut, the supplies and provisions were inadequate, its occupants were reduced to great distress, suggesting to abandon the fortress. There were some who looked upon it as a great hardship, thinking that they were being thrust into the very jaws of death. Hasan, however, persuaded the garrisons to continue resisting, declaring to have received an express and special message of Imam Mustansir billah from Cairo, who promised and portended them good fortune, and this is the cause that Alamut is also called Baldat al-Iqbal (the city of good fortune). Surrounded by a thick mist of disappointing circumstances, Hasan's eyes could yet perceive a ray of hope. Turun Tash directed many serious raids but shortly died. The starving garrisons, however, held out and the siege was broken. This was the first inimical operation against the Ismailis.

Malikshah, on getting the news of the rout of Turun Tash's armies completely lost his balance. In 484/1091, he visited Baghdad, which was his second visit after 479/1087, where he discussed with the Abbasids the measures of extermination of the Ismailis. He was bent upon striking the Ismailis at their very existence. His vizir Nizam al-Mulk, an ardent and ruthless enemy of the Ismailis, infused him to dispatch two big armies, one to Rudhbar, and the other to Kohistan. Thus, Malikshah made a determined effort to root out the Ismailis and launched an expedition early in 485/1092.

In the meantime, the vizir Nizam al-Mulk began to incite the people and employed the pens of theologians against Hasan bin Sabbah and his followers. He compiled 'Siyasat-nama' (Book of the art of Politics), showing the strong anti-Shiite tendencies. Besides being what its title says, is also a valuable, though biased source for studying the history and doctrines of the Ismailis. Indeed the Shiite resentment was the principal cause of Nizam al-Mulk's murder in 485/1092. 'It is said' writes Ibn Khallikan in his 'Wafayat al-A'yan'(1st vol., p. 415) 'that the assassin was suborned against him by Malikshah, who was fatigued to see him live so long, and coveted the numerous fiefs which he held in his possession.' Ibn Khallikan also writes that, 'The assassination of Nizam al-Mulk has been attributed also to Taj al-Mulk Abul Ghanaim al-Marzuban bin Khusaro Firuz, surnamed Ibn Darest; he was an enemy of the vizir and in high favour with his sovereign Malikshah, who, on the death of Nizam al-Mulk, appointed him to fill the place of vizir.'

The Rudhbar expedition, led by Arslan Tash, reached Alamut in Jumada I, 485 and had a siege for four months. At the time, Hasan bin Sabbah had with him only 70 men with little provisions, and was on the verge of being defeated; when a seasonable succour of 300 men from Qazwin enabled him to make a successful sally. It was dai Didar Abu Ali Ardistani, who brought 300 men in Qazwin, who threw themselves into Alamut, bringing adequate supplies. The reinforced garrison routed the besiegers in a nocturnal assault on their camps at the end of Shaban, 485/October, 1092, forcing them to withdraw from Alamut. It must be known that the Seljuqs forces were well equipped with skilled veterans, while Alamut had recruited those young fidais who were not yet experts in warfare. Neither in respect of number, nor in that of strength and skill, were the Ismailis a match for their enemy. It indeed kindled the flame of enthusiasm that glowed hidden in the hearts of Hasan's followers. The spirit of deep-rooted faith and the directions of Hasan bin Sabbah, provided them a resistible fillip before such large hosts. Thus, the designs of their enemy were frustrated. This operation against Alamut dealt on the one hand a smashing blow to the Seljuqs, while on the other, it strengthened the root of Ismailism at Alamut. It is also said that Arslan Tash continued the siege for four months and did not see any Ismaili resident of the fortress at all except one day when his army sighted on the top of the fortress a man clad in white clothes, who watched the army for a while and disappeared.

On other hand, the Kohistan expedition under Qizil Sariq had concentrated to capture the Ismaili castle of Dara. Malikshah died shortly afterwards at the end of 485/1092, about 35 days after the murder of Nizam al-Mulk; resulting the pending Seljuq plans for further expeditions abandoned. At the same time, the expedition of Kohistan, which had absolutely failed to capture Dara, withdrew in the field.

Upon Malikshah's death, the Seljuq empire was thrown into civil war and internal wrangles, which lasted for more than a decade, marked by disunity among Malikshah's sons. The most prominent one was the eldest son Barkiyaruq, while Malikshah's four years old son Mahmud had immediately been proclaimed as sultan. Barkiyaruq was taken to Ray where he was also placed on the throne. Mahmud died in 487/1095, and the Abbasids recognized the rule of Barkiyaruq, whose seat of power was in Western Iran and Iraq. He fought a series of indecisive battles with his half-brother Muhammad Tapar, who acquired much help from his brother Sanjar, the ruler of Khorasan and Turkistan since 490/1097. The intestine Seljuq quarrels gave the Ismailis a respite to make Alamut as impregnable as possible. Hasan bin Sabbah strengthened the fortifications and built up a great store of provisions. He held a number of fortresses in Daylam besides Alamut and controlled a group of towns and castles in Kohistan extending north and south over 200 miles. The Ismailis occupied the fortresses of Mansurakuh and Mihrin to the north of Damghan, and Ustavand in the district of Damawand. They also took possession of one of the most important strongholds, Girdkuh in Qumis. Girdkuh, the old Diz Gunbadan (the domed fort) and its district was very fertile, known as Mansurabad. In 489/1096, the fortress of Lamasar was conquered under the command of Kiya Buzrug Ummid.

It is a point worth consideration that 'Kitab al-Naqd' by Nasiruddin Abdul Rashid al-Jalil, speaking of the radical situation after the death of Malikshah in Ispahan that the manaqib-khwans, a group of Shiite singers who extolled the virtues of Ali and his descendants in the streets. To counterbalance the manaqib-khwans' influence, the Sunnite regime employed fada'il-khwans (singers of virtues), who exalted the virtues of Abu Bakr and Umar and insulted the Shiites. This created religious agitations in the Seljuqid empire.

According to 'Seljuk-nama' (Tehran, 1953, p. 41), which was compiled in 580/1184 by Zahiruddin Nishapuri, 'In 486/1093, the people of Ispahan apparently moved by a rumour that a certain Ismaili couple had been luring passers-by into their house and torturing them to death, rounded up all the Ismaili suspects and threw them alive into a large bondfire in the middle of the town.' There are few other incidents that had been curiously coloured against the Ismailis in the Seljuqid sources. Carole Hillenbrand writes in 'The Power Struggle between the Saljuqs and the Ismailis of Alamut' that, 'The Sunni sources of the 6th/12th and 7th/13th centuries generally try to inflate the Saljuq achievement against the Ismailis of Alamut. This is especially the case with sultan Muhammad.' (cf. 'Mediaeval Ismaili History and Thought' ed. Farhad Daftary, New York, 1966, p. 216)

The sources at our disposal suggest that the sons of Malikshah, with the exception of Muhammad did not like to continue fighting with the Ismailis, but were compelled to do that in order to avoid the accusation of being conciliatory to the Ismailis. When Barkiyaruq bin Malikshah ascended in 487/1095, he did not show any enthusiasm for fighting with the Ismailis. On one occasion in 493/1100, when Barkiyaruq was fighting with his brother, he is said to have recruited 5000 Ismaili warriors into his army. The mob and the theologians accused Barkiyaruq of favouring the Ismailis, therefore he purged them from his forces, and at the end of his reign, he evoked harrowing persecution. In 494/1101, Barkiyaruq in Western Iran and Sanjar in Khorasan came to an agreement to regard the Ismailis as a threat to Seljuq power, and to act against them. He died in 498/1105 and Muhammad Tapar became the undisputed sultan, and Sanjar remained at Balkh as his viceroy in the east. With the advent of Muhammad, the dynastic disputes ended and the Seljuqs made greater headway against the Ismailis. He turned fiercely towards the Ismailis in 500/1107 to capture the fort of Shahdiz, lying on a mountain about 8 km. to the south of Ispahan, the capital of the Seljuq empire. In 494/1101, dai Ahmad bin Abdul Malik bin Attash had occupied the fort of Shahdiz and converted 30,000 persons in Ispahan, and made Shahdiz as the Ismaili mission centre for Fars as Alamut was the centre in Khorasan. When the fort of Shahdiz was stormed, the Ismailis were massacred mercilessly. He held out with about 80 men in what remained standing of the largely demolished fortress Shahdiz, who fought bravely and were killed. His wife, decked in jewels leaped over the wall to death, but did not submit. Dai Ahmad bin Abdul Malik was taken prisoner and paraded through the streets of Ispahan. He was mocked, pelted with stones and flayed alive. His son was also scourged to death. Another Ismaili fort, named Khanlanjan, about 30 k.m. south of Ispahan was also razed by the Seljuqs.

In 501/1108, Sultan Muhammad sent a military expedition to Alamut under the direction of his vizir, Ahmad bin Nizam al-Mulk. The fortress of Alamut was stormed, but the attack fissiled out and could not attain its end. But sultan Muhammad continued to be inimical to Ismailis. According to Bernard Lewis in 'The Assassins' (London, 1967, p. 56), 'The capture of Alamut by direct assault was clearly impossible. The sultan therefore tried another method - a war of attrition which, it was hoped, would weaken the Ismailis to the point where they could no longer resist attack.' In 503/1109, the reduction of Alamut, therefore, was charged to Anushtagin Shirgir, the then governor of Sawa. He destroyed the crops in Rudhbar and besieged the fort of Lamasar and other castles for eight consecutive years. He also laid a siege over Alamut, inflicted a severe hardship on the Ismailis, forcing Hasan bin Sabbah and many others to send their wives and daughters to Girdkuh, where they were to earn their keep by spinning. He never saw them again, nor did he thereafter permit women to enter the castle. Hasan bin Sabbah had to ration the food among his men to a bread and three fresh walnuts for each person. Anushtagin Shirgir got regular reinforcement from the Seljuqid amirs of various districts. In 511/1118, when Anushtagin reared mangonels and was on the verge of reducing Alamut, whose garrison was almost exhausted by bombardment, and the provision was about to dwindle in three days, the news at once arrived of the death of sultan Muhammad. Hence, the Seljuq armies were obliged to lift the siege and left Rudhbar, paying no attention to Anushtagin's pleas to fight longer. He was also obliged to abandon his siege of Alamut, and lost many men while retreating. The Ismailis came into possession of all the supplies left behind by the Seljuq armies. Bundari compiled 'Zubdatu'n Nasrah wa Nakhbatu'l Usrah' (ed. M.T. Houtsma, Leiden, 1889) in 623/1226 and writes that the Seljuqid vizir Qiwamuddin Nasir al-Dargazini, a secret Ismaili, may have played a seminal role in preventing the Seljuqid victory and in procuring the withdrawal of Anushtagin Shirgir's army from Rudhbar.

Sultan Muhammad's death was followed by another period of internal disputes in the Seljuqid empire, which provided the Ismailis a respite to recover from the severe blows and hardships inflicted upon them during last eight years. Sultan Muhammad was succeeded by his son Mahmud in Ispahan, who ruled for 14 years (511-525/1118-1131) over western Iran. He had to face with other claimants for the throne. In time, three other sons of sultan Muhammad, viz. Tughril II (526-529/1132-1134), Masud (529-547/1134-1152) and Suleman Shah (555-556/1160-1161), as well as several of his grandsons, succeeded to the sultanate in the west. Mahmud's uncle Sanjar, who controlled the eastern provinces since 490/1097, now became generally accepted as the head of the Seljuq family. In this capacity, Sanjar exercised a decisive role in settling the succession disputes. At the outset, Mahmud had to face an invasion by Sanjar, who defeated Mahmud at Sawa. But in the ensuing truce, Sanjar made Mahmud his heir, while taking from him important territories in northern Iran, Sanjar continued to dominate these territories. Meanwhile, Mahmud's brother Tughril rebelled and occupied Gilan and Qazwin.

As the power of Alamut increased, the hostility of the Seljuqs augmented in virulence, therefore, Sanjar also continued to follow footprints of his predecessors. He dispatched troops against them in Kohistan and himself moved against Alamut with a strong force. Hasan bin Sabbah tried sundry times to dissuade the sultan from his designs with much persuasion, appealing for peace, but all in vain. The menace and insolence of the Seljuqs forced Hasan bin Sabbah to order one of his fidais to fix a dagger on the side of the sultan's bed with a note around its hilt, which reads: 'Let it not deceive you that I lie far from you on the rock of Alamut, because those whom you have chosen for your service are at my command and obey my direction. One who could fix this poniard in your bed could also have planted it in your heart. But I saw in you a good man and have spared you. So let this be a warning to you.' The sultan took fright having filled with great awe. He ordered the raising of the siege, and desisted from his inimical designs and concluded a pact of peace with Hasan bin Sabbah in 516/1123, recognizing an independent state of the Nizari Ismailis, and concluding to Hasan the right of collecting revenues of Qumis and its dependencies. It also granted to the Ismailis the right to levy toll on the caravans of traders passing beneath Girdkuh. Other terms of the treaty were that the Ismailis should not build new castles; should not any more buy armaments and should not enlist any new convert to their faith after the date of signing the treaty.


Ismaili History 605 - Ismaili Mission in Syria

Salamia, the city of Syria had been an original plant for Ismaili mission since pre-Fatimid period. During the Fatimid Caliphate, the Ismaili mission remained active in Syria. Later on, the Syrian Ismailis accepted the Imamate of al-Nizar during Alamut rule. Al-Hakim al-Munajjim Asad bin Kassim al-Ajami, the physician astrologer was the first Nizari dai to have come from Alamut to Aleppo. Bernard Lewis writes in 'A History of the Crusades' (ed. Kenneth M. Setton, London, 1st vol., p. 111) that, 'The leaders (chief dais) as far as they are known to us were all Persians, sent from Alamut and operating under the orders of al-Hasan ibn-as-Sabbah and his successors.'
Al-Munajjim was able to generate his friendship with the Seljuq ruler Ridwan bin Tutus, who allowed the propagation of the Nizari Ismailis in Aleppo. A few years earlier in 490/1097, the Fatimid vizir al-Afdal had sent a messenger to Ridwan with lavish gifts and an offer to provision, equip, and enlarge his army if he would change allegiance from the Sunnite Abbasid caliph in Baghdad to the Shiite Fatimid caliph of Egypt. Robert W. Crawford writes in 'Ridwan the Maligned' (London, 1960, p. 138) that, 'Ridwan accepted in principle and the khutba was changed in Aleppo on Friday, August 18, 1097, and was read in the name of al-Musta'li of Egypt followed by the names of al-Afdal and Ridwan.' He however recognised the suzerainty of the Fatimids only for four weeks. Soon afterwards, he permitted the Nizari Ismaili dais to use Aleppo as base for their activities, and also helped them to build a mission house (darul dawa). In sum, Ridwan had not scrupled to proclaim Fatimid allegiance for a short time when it suited him. In the lax religious atmosphere of the time, he had no hesitation in supporting the Ismailis when it seemed expedient. Another tradition relates that dai al-Munajjim had embraced Ismailism in Aleppo, where he recited the khutba of the Imams of Alamut. He however died in 496/1103.

The next dai in succession was Abu Tahir al-Saigh, the goldsmith; who had been deputed from Alamut in the time of dai al-Munajjim. He also cemented close ties with Ridwan, and helped him during the Crusades. He captured the fort of Afamiya in south of Aleppo on 24th Jamada I, 499/February 3, 1106, whose Arab chief, Khalaf bin Mulaib al-Ashhabi (1089-1106) had seized the town from Ridwan on 8th Zilkada, 489/October 28, 1096. Afamiya was the first Nizari Ismaili stronghold in Syria, but was short-lived. In 500/1106, a certain Musbih bin Mulaib urged Tancred (d. 506/1112), the Frankish prince of Antioch, to seize the fort of Afamiya. Tancred had already occupied the surrounding districts, therefore, he marched thither, encamped before the town and blockaded it. He lifted his initial siege in return of a tribute from the Ismailis. Tancred returned and forced Afamiya to surrender on 13th Muharram, 500/September 14, 1106. Abu Tahir and a number of his associates managed to ransom themselves from captivity and returned to Aleppo. This was most probably the first encounter between the Ismailis of Syria and the Crusaders. In 504/1110, the Ismailis lost Kafarlatha to Tancred, in the Jabal as-Summaq. In Aleppo, Abu Tahir was in search of suitable stronghold. In 505/1111, Mawdud, the Seljuq ruler of Mosul came with his army to fight the Crusaders, Ridwan closed the gates of Aleppo, and the armed groups of the Ismailis rallied to Ridwan's side. Ridwan however, seems to have retracted from his pro-Ismaili position in his final years. In 505/1111, an unsuccessful attempt on the life of a certain Abu Harb Isa bin Zaid, a wealthy merchant and the enemy of the Ismailis from Transoxiana, led to a popular outburst against the Ismailis, which Ridwan was obliged to condone. Ridwan died in 507/1113, and was succeeded by his 16 years son, Alp Arslan. He was yet immature, and became a tool of the enemies of the Ismailis. The fortune of the Ismailis ran on reverse side. He massacred the Ismailis, in which dai Abu Tahir and his son, dai Ismail, brother of al-Munajjim and some 200 Ismailis were killed. Thus, the early period of the Ismaili activities in Syria badly suffered due to the failure to secure a firm foothold in the country. Very soon, they won large converts in Jabal as-Summaq, the Jazr and the territory of the Banu Ulaym, between Shayzar and Sarmin. They however retained their influence and procured friendly relations with Najamuddin Ilghazi, the Artuqid ruler of Mardin and Mayyafariqin, who also occupied Aleppo in 512/1118. In 514/1120, the Ismailis became capable in demanding a small castle, Qalat al-Sharif from Ilghazi. He, unwilling to cede it to him and afraid to refuse, resorted to the subterfuge of having it hastily demolished, and then pretending to have ordered this just previously. The Ismaili influence in Aleppo seems to have ceased in 517/1124, when Balak, the nephew of Ilghazi, arrested the local sub-ordinate dais of the new chief dai, Bahram. He also caused the expulsion of the Ismailis, and sold their properties.

The upper part of Mesopotamia, known as al-Jazirah was a big province, divided into three districts, viz. Diyar Rabiah, Diyar Mudar and Diyar Bakr (diyar pl. of dar means habitation). Amid (the Amida of the Roman) on the upper course of Tigris was the chief city of Dayar Bakr, where many Ismailis resided. In 518/1124, the inhabitants of Amid in Diyar Bakr launched massacres of the Ismailis and devastated their properties.

Abu Tahir was succeeded by another Iranian dai, Bahram for Syria, who made Damascus as an Ismaili centre in place of Aleppo in 520/1126. He kept his mission activities privily from beginning, and created friendship with the chief of Damascus, Zahiruddin Atabeg Tughtigin and his vizir Abu Ali Tahir bin Sa'd al-Mazdaqani. He also started the dawa in Aleppo, and made close contact with the new governor, Ilghazi. Damascus was threatened by the Franks in 520/1126 and was in need of reinforcements. There were no better fighters than the Ismailis, hence Tughtigin engaged them during the Crusades. Ibn Qalanisi (d. 555/1160) writes in 'Tarikh-i Dimashq' (tr. H.A.R. Gibb, London, 1932, p. 179) that, 'He (Bahram) lived in extreme concealment and secrecy, and continually disguised himself, so that he moved from city to city and castle to castle without anyone being aware of his identity, until he appeared in Damascus.' Thus, after restoration of peace, Bahram entered Damascus along with the credentials of Najamuddin Ilghazi. He was received with honour and given protection, and soon acquired a position of power in the city. He also sought to obtain a castle which he could fortify as a stronghold, and Tughtigin ceded him the frontier fortress of Baniyas. Even in the city itself the Ismailis received a building to use as a 'house of propaganda' (dar al-dawa). When he had established himself in Baniyas, he rebuilt and fortified the castle, and embarked on a course of his mission in the surrounding region. He dispatched his dais in all directions, who attracted a great multitude of the people. The Wadi al-Taym, in the region of Hasbayya to the north of Baniyas and on the western side of Mount Hermon, offered a fertile milieu for the promulgation of Ismailism. Inhabited thickly by Druzes and Nusairis, this region attracted the attention of Bahram. In 522/1128, he set out from Baniyas with Ismaili forces to take possession of Wadi al-Taym. He however had to face the challenge of Dahhak bin Jandal, the head of Wadi al-Taym; who engaged him in a fierce battle and caused the death of Bahram in 522/1128.

The next who followed Bahram was dai Ismail (d. 524/1129) in Syria, who pursued the same course and retained the possession of the fort of Baniyas. He also maintained close relation with Tughtigin, who died at the end of 522/1128. Abu Sa'id Buri, the son and successor of Tughtigin, known as Taj al-Mulk and Majd ad-din was however the bitterest foe of the Ismailis, and had ordered for their massacre on 17th Ramdan, 523/September 4, 1129. The number of the Ismailis executed in this outbreak is put at 6,000 by Ibn Athir (d. 630/1234), 10,000 by Ibn Jawzi (d. 597/1200), and 20,000 by the author of 'Bustan al-Jami.' Ismail surrendered the fortress of Baniyas to the Franks, who were advancing on Damascus, and fled with his associates to the Frankish regions. Fearing reprisals, Buri never left the palace unless mailed and with a heavy guards. Buri became the victim of the two Ismaili fidais, who came from Alamut and secretly joined the team of his guards and struck him with a sword on 5th Jamada II, 525/May 7, 1131 at the gate of his palace in the citadel of Damascus. Wounded in neck and hip, Buri lingered on and died a year later in 526/1132. Ismail also died in 524/1130 in exile among the Franks.

The above details suggest that the Nizari Ismailis used to be the victims of their enemies from time to time in Syria. Despite the repressions and debacles, the Ismailis' fortune continued to rise in Syria during the turbulent years. After the last massacre of Buri, they however did not loose courage, but failed to recover their position in Damascus. In sum, the endeavour to win strongholds falls into three main campaigns. The first, conducted from Aleppo and directed by Abu Tahir, was concentrated on Jabal as-Summaq and ended with the death of Abu Tahir in 507/1113. The second, conducted from Damascus by Bahram and Ismail, was aimed at Baniyas and the Wadi al- Taym, and ended in failure in 524/1130. The third, conducted from an unknown base by a number of chiefs between 527/1132 and 546/1151, in winning a group of strongholds in the Jabal al-Bahra. In 527/1132-3, the fort of Qadmus in Jabal Bahra was purchased from Saiful Mulk bin Amrun. Soon afterwards, Musa bin Saiful Mulk sold Kahf to the Ismailis. In 531/1136, the Frankish occupants of the fortress of Khariba were driven out by the local Ismailis. In 535/1140 the most important stronghold of Masiyaf came to their hands, by killing Sunqur, who occupied it on behalf of the Banu Munqidh of Shayzar.

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 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 north-east 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 leadership of Ismaili dawa at length came to the potential hand of Rashiduddin Sinan, during whose time the Ismailism spread by leaps and bounds throughout its length and breath, and we shall revert to this subject later.

Ismaili History 606 - Ismaili Mission in Gujrat, India

The mission in Gujrat goes back to the period of Jaylam bin Shayban, who had established a Fatimid rule in Multan and extended his influence as far as Gujrat, whose informations are scant. Later on, in 461/1068, Ahmad bin Mukarram, the second ruler of the Sulayhid dynasty in Yamen, had written a letter to Imam al-Mustansir in Cairo, when there was certain missionary activities in Gujrat. He reported in his letter that the envoys of the dai of India had brought him a letter, asking that permission be granted to them to pass through verbal propaganda to the use of force. It indicates that there were preparations for a rising on the western coast of India, presumably in Gujrat, ruled by the then Hindu Chalukya dynasty and establish there a Fatimid enclave. It however appears that there had been no such operation in Gujrat.
In 943, Mulraja I (960-995), Chalukya prince of Kalyani founded an independent dynasty, known as Chalukya of Anahilapataka or the Solanki dynasty. He is famous for building the great temple of Rudramahalya at Sidhpur. He was succeeded by his son Chamundaraja, and he in turn was succeeded by his son Vallbaraja, who died after a short reign of six months. His son Durlabharaja (1009-1021) ruled for 12 years and was succeeded by his nephew Bhima I, who is well known in the annals of Gujrat. It was Mehmud of Ghazna who plundered the temple of Somnath in 416/1026 during the reign of Bhima I. Mehmud killed the people at large number who happened to come in his passages and destroyed their fortifications and smashed idols in pieces. The temple of Somnath was built upon 56 pillars of teakwood coated with lead. The principal idol itself was in a chamber. According to Ibn Athir (1st vol., p. 97), 'Mehmud seized it, part of it he burnt, and part of it he carried away with him to Ghazna, where he made it a step at the entrance of the grand mosque.' Gold and jewels worth 2 million dinars, and the stone phallic emblem of the god were transported to Ghazna, and the number of the slain exceeded fifty thousand. During the fierce operations of Mehmud, Bhima I had fled from his kingdom and sought refuge in Kutchh. After the departure of Mehmud, Bhima I recovered his country and rebuilt the temple of Somnath. He died in 1063 and was succeeded by his third son Karna I, who had subdued the Kolis and Bhils in his dominions. His successor was Jaysinha, surnamed Sidhraja, who ascended in 1094 as the 7th ruler of the Solanki dynasty. He was one of the most remarkable kings of Gujrat, who inflicted a crushing defeat on the ruler of Malwa and annexed it to his dominions, and assumed the title of 'King of Avanti'. He was a just, kind and sagacious ruler and extended his patronage to learned men. It is said that Pir Satgur, a famous Ismaili dai had arrived in Gujrat during his period. Hemacandra Suri (1088-1172) was a contemporary Jain sage and a prolific writer, who had rapidly acquired a great reputation for learning and was much patronaged by Jaysinha Sidhraja and his successor, but he did not mention any missionary activity of Pir Satgur in Gujrat. The most important account mostly gleaned from the ginans and the traditional materials, tracing the advent of Pir Satgur in the reign of Jaysinha Sidhraja (1094-1143). Accordingly, he is said to have come to India from Setar Depa via the city of Bhildi and proceeded to Patan in Gujrat.

Pir Nuruddin, who assumed the title, Satgur (true master) or Satgur Nur (light of the true master), had made a large proselytism at Patan in Gujrat among the low castes of Kharwa, Kanbi and Kori. He cultivated the seeds of proselytism entirely with peaceful penetration, and there is no instance where force was employed. Pir Satgur gained success by adapting himself to the local cultural conditions and by leading a simple and pious life. It must be borne in mind that the new converts recognized Islam through Ismailism in early stage in the name of Satpanth (true path). Hence, he had planted the seeds of the Satpanth Ismailism in India, which was a quietistic, meditative and mystically oriented in the embryonic stage.

The historicity of Pir Satgur is blanketed mistily in tales and miracles in florid and bombastic style absolutely bereft of historical value. He is however said to have betrothed to the daughter of king Surchand, the chief of Navsari, and nothing else is known for historical purpose. We may safely conclude that the prime objective of his preaching was the conversion of Hindu rather than the attraction of Muslims to the Ismaili fold. The narratives of later sources provide some divergent account of the period of mission he represented in Gujrat. The weakness of the later sources, indicating however, a remote possibility, not a strong one, that he was sent by Imam Mustansir (d. 487/1095) from Cairo. Some placed his period much later during the time of Imam Hasan Ala Zikrihi's Salam (d. 561/1166) from Alamut. According to the ginans (hymns), he came from Daylam, an epithet of Iran. It is however, much nearer to reasonable possibility that he had arrived in Gujrat when dai Abdul Malik bin Attash (d. after 494/1101), was active in Ismaili mission in central and western regions of Iran, with a headquarters at Ispahan. The tombstone of the shrine of Pir Satgur, the oldest monument of the Khoja Ismailis in India, located at Navsari, near Surat, places his death on 487/1095. It is also possible to draw an inference on this juncture that Pir Shams (d. 757/1356) arrived in Uchh Sharif almost in 727/1328, and he writes in his one ginan (no. 64:2) that he reached there about 240 years after the death of Pir Satgur, and therefore, it is almost in conformity with the date inscribed on the tombstone.

It is worth stressing on this juncture that the Sanskrit (Sanskrta, i.e. prepared, refined or cultivated), a classical literary language of India, came into existence probably with the outset of the Christian era. It is a scholarly language with a status similar to that of Latin in medieval Europe. It is an old Indo-Aryan tongue from which the Prakrit evolved during 11th century. The Prakrit is the mother of Marathi, Hindi and Gujrati languages. In its early stage, the Gujrati was known as an apbrunsh (corrupted) dialect during 12th century, representing an original imprint of the Prakrit. After having different transformations, the present Gujrati evolved with its full swing during the 14th century. Keeping all this in mind, it is safe to conclude that the language of Gujrati was yet in the cradle in a crude form during the period of Pir Satgur. It is therefore deserves notice that the extant Gujrati ginans attributed to Pir Satgur are the later compositions, reflecting modernity in its style.

Pir Satgur is said to have emphasized the new adherents on the practice of tithe, or religious dues; the observation of religious ethics and attendance in religious assembly. He did not introduce new rites, and as a result, no peculiar religious lodge was erected. The practice of zikr was however remained into practice as the milestone of the Satpanth. The new converts thus became known as the Khojasfor the first time.

Let us pause for a moment to examine the origin of the word khoja. The new converts became known as khoja - a title firstly came to be originated during the time of Pir Satgur. Sayed Imam Shah (d. 926/1520) describes in his 'Moman Chetamani' (no. 198-199) that, 'Pir Satgur Nur had converted them, and consigned a path to be protected. He made them Khojas after conversion, and gave the essence of the path. The Satpanth started since then with a practice of tithe.' Thus, it is not difficult to determine with exactitude that the term khoja came to be known from the time of Pir Satgur.

The word khoja is supposed to have derived from koh-cha means 'small mountain', and later on, it was changed to kauja or kohja. This derivation is almost irrelevant, rather not convincing. Most of the modern scholars however hazard an opinion that it is a corrupt form of khwaja (lord or master), which also seems incorrect. It must be borne in mind that Sayed Imam Shah used both the word khoja in 'Moman Chetamanni' (stanza 199) and khwaja (stanza 122) as well, where the question of the corruption itself becomes annuled, and therefore, the modern theory suggesting its root from khwaja seems almost doubtful. It should also be known that the Ismaili Pirs in India had never introduced any foreign terminology during the early stage of conversion. The above assumption seems to have grown in Sind, where the Iranian terminologies were in vogue in the Sindhi language. In Sind, the word khoja is also pronounced with the corresponding prevalent word khwaja, and it has probably constrained the scholars to attest its derivation from khwaja.

The early extant records indicate that the term khoja stands in its original form without being corrupted. An inscription, for instance, is discovered at Patan, Gujrat by Col. Tod, vide his 'Travels in Western India' (p. 506), belonging to the year 662/1264. This inscription is found in the temple of Harsata, which was originally a mosque in the time of Arjundeva (1262-1274), the second king of Vaghela line of the Solanki dynasty of Anhilvad. It reads that a ship-owner, called Khoja Abu Ibrahim had donated a piece of land, an oil-mill and two shops; and from its income, a mosque had been built. Khoja Abu Ibrahim was an Indian and living in Hormuz in Iranian Gulf. From this antique record, it is difficult to surmise that the above inscribed term khoja should have been khwaja prior to the period of 662/1264. While examining further earliest records, it is known that Kiya Buzrug Ummid (d. 532/1138), the second ruler of Alamut had dispatched his envoy, called Khoja Muhammad Nassihi Shahrastani to the Seljuq court, where he had been murdered in 523/1129. The later records suggest that Pir Mashaikh (d. 1108/1697) compiled about 16 books in 1092/1680, in which he has also used the term khoja like Sayed Imam Shah. Virji Premji Parpiya had translated one of the Persian manuscript of his forefather, called Khoja Ibaloo (d. 1208/1794), entitled 'Khoja Iblani Vansh'nu Vratant' (Bombay, 1917), who begins the account of his forebear, called Khoja Bhaloo (d. 1016/1607) during the time of Pir Dadu (d. 1005/1596). It also contains frequent usage of the term khoja. Captain Alexandar Hamlet reports in 1140/1728 that the wealth of a certain merchant, called Khoja Muhammad Hirji of Bombay was more than that of East India Company. The balance of argument tends to sound that the khoja is an unswerving word since its origin without being adulterated even in later period.

The khoja is a Hindi word, its verb being khoj, means to search. According to 'Encyclopaedia Asiatica' (Delhi, 1982, 5th vol., p. 564), the Hindi word khoja means information or search. The Persian prof. Kassim Sumar Thariani of Elphinstone College of Bombay, also ruled out its origin from khwaja, and writes that, Khoja is a word derived from Hindi word khoj means to dig out, or search in such a sense that it turns to mean, one who is engrossed in search of truth in religion.' (cf. 'Khoja Gnanti'nu Gorav' by V.N. Hooda, Bombay, 1927, p. 118)

The local low castes were simply converted in the time of Pir Satgur without being loaded with rituals, and after their admission they were consigned the Sufic practice of zikr, for which they were mastered in their former cults; and were instructed to 'get absorbed' (kho'ja!) in deep contemplation. This phrase purporting kho'ja (get absorbed) gradually became a significant phrase among the absorptive initiates, rather it became a distinctive title, or identification among local people. In sum, the new converts first embraced Ismaili faith, and then became khoja (the absorptive ones), which also sounds the notion of 'Moman Chetamanni' (stanza 198-199) of Sayed Imam Shah.

Ismaili History 607 - Death of Hasan bin Sabbah

Hasan bin Sabbah is one of those few great leaders, who are very rarely born in the world. By virtue of his exemplary character, he could establish the Ismaili state amidst the teeth of very bitterest opposition and harsh theological storms. He was a great military leader, organizer and a devoted missionary. He had a rare ability to keep his mind fixed steadily on the distance horizon, and at the same time concentrated his whole effort on what was practically possible. In chastity and integrity, Hasan bin Sabbah was as firm as a mountain. He had a penetrating and analytical mind. Force of character, prodigious capacity for hard work and concentrated effort and firm and patient adherence to the religion distinguished him from his contemporaries. When he decided to accomplish something, he seldom gave up its pursuit and waited patiently, perhaps for years. Hasan bin Sabbah was ambitious, but it was not personal ambition. He fought for his faith not for own sake. In his administrative framework, he was seen a creative, bold, courageous and of strong nerves. Dr. Farhad Daftary writes in 'The Ismailis, their History and Doctrines' (London, 1990, pp. 366-7) that: 'Hasan-i Sabbah was indeed a remarkable man. An organizer and a political strategist of unrivalled capability, he was at the same time a thinker and writer who led an ascetic life. Several examples of his asceticism and harshness have been cited by our Persian historians. He was evidently equally strict with friend and foe, and highly uncompromising in his austere and Islamic life style which he imposed on the Nizari community, especially in Rudhbar. In particular, he insisted on the observance of the Islamic religious duty of amr bil ma'ruf va nahy az munkar(commanding the good and prohibiting the evil). During all the years spent at Alamut, Hasan evidently never descended from the castle, and he is said to have left his living quarter only twice to mount the roof-top. During that period, nobody drank wine openly in Alamut, and the playing of musical instruments was also forbidden. Hasan sent his wife and daughters to Girdkuh where they earned a simple life by spinning, never having them returned to Alamut. He also had both his sons, Ustad Husayn and Muhammad, executed. Muhammad's guilt was wine-drinking, while Ustad Husayn had been suspected of complicity in the murder of the dai Husayn Qaini in Quhistan.'Giving an example of Hasan's strictness against music, Charles E. Nowell writes in 'The Old Man of the Mountain' that, 'A man who frivolously disturbed the puritan austerity of Alamut with flute-playing was expelled from the fortress for ever.' (cf. 'Speculum', vol. xxii, no. 4, 1947, p. 502). He left no male issue behind him, the two sons he had, as referred to above, having been sentenced to death. Juvaini (p. 680) writes that, 'Hasan bin Sabbah used to point out to the execution of both his sons as a reason against any one's imagining that he had conducted propaganda on their behalf and had had that object in mind.' According to 'Unity and Variety in Muslim Civilization' (ed. by G.E. Von Grunebaum, New York, 1956), 'The severity of Hasan-i Sabbah against the peccadolloes of his sons is a proof of the moral discipline which reigned at Alamut.' He had numerous opportunities to arrogate the powers of religious leadership to himself, but he always made himself sub-servient to the cause of the Imam. Once his few followers wrote up a genealogy for him in the usual elegant style, he, according to Marshall Hodgson in 'The Order of Assassins' (Netherland, 1955, p. 51), 'said to have thrown it into the water, remarking that he would rather be the Imam's favoured servant than his degenerate son.' E.G. Browne also writes in 'A Literary History of Persia' (London, 1964, 2nd vol., p. 20) that Hasan had said, 'I would rather be the Imam's chosen servant than his unworthy son.' In view of Jorunn J. Buckley, 'Hasan's followers were called the party of the truthful, adhering to Hasan's total authority as supereme teacher. Of course, this party's real leader was the Imam, hidden to mortal eyes. Hasan did not try to be recognized as the Imam, rather, his role was that of the hujja, who, as noted, demanded full obedience in the occultation period.' (vide 'Stvdia Islamica,' Paris, LX, 1984, p. 141)

. 'The use of wine was strickly forbidden to the Ismailis,' writes John Malcolm in 'The History of Persia' (London, 1815, 1st vol., p. 401)) 'and they were enjoyed the most temperate and abstenious habits.' Sayed Amir Ali also writes in 'The Spirit of Islam' (London, 1955, p. 340) that, 'Hasan bin Sabbah himself was a strict observer of all the precepts of religion, and would not allow drunkeness or dancing or music within the circuit of his rule.'

According to 'Jamiut Tawarikh' (p.134), 'The rest of the time until his death, Hasan bin Sabbah passed inside the house, where he lived; he was occupied with reading books, committing the words of dawa to writing, and administrating the affairs of his realm, and he lived an ascetic, abstemious and pious life.'

Hasan bin Sabbah took up his residence in the tower of Alamut. His quarters were a bedroom and library. It is said that only two times during his residence did he find time to emerge from his modest lodgings into the open air. Yet it was here, in his modest quarters that he supervised the stern training of his ardent young fidais. Coarsely attired, consuming simple fare, abjuring wine under penalty of death, devoting their lives to the acquisition of the physical and intellectual skills needed for the accomplishment of their missions, these fidais were intensely loyal to him.

Hasan bin Sabbah fell ill in the month of Rabi II, 518/May, 1124. When he felt that the shadows of death were closing upon him, he summoned his lieutenant at Lamasar, Kiya Buzrug Ummid, and designated him as the next ruler of the Nizari Ismaili State. He also appointed three seniors for assisting Kiya Buzrug until such time as the Imam himself came to head his realm. These advisors were Didar Abu Ali Ardistani, Hasan Adam Qasrani and Kiya Ba Jafar (d. 519/1125). Hasan bin Sabbah died towards the end of Rabi II, 518/middle of June, 1124 at the age of 90 years, and ruled the Alamut and other fortresses for 35 years.

Ismaili History 608 - The Doctrines of Talim

It appears that the early Nizari Ismailis showed a particular interest in the doctrine of the Imamate and concentrated their doctrinal investigations. Thus, Hasan bin Sabbah broached the doctrine of talim (authoritative teaching) to the Ismailis. The Sunni observers developed a distinct impression that the Ismailis of Alamut reflected a 'new teaching' (al-dawa al-jadida). The new teaching of talimdid not however, entail the formulation of any sect of new doctrines, it was, rather, the reformulation of the fundamental principle of Shia Islam embodied in the doctrine of ilm imparted by Imam Jafar Sadik. Ibn Tughri Birdi (d. 874/1470) writes in his 'al-Nujum al- Zahira fi Muluk Misr wa al-Qahira' (Cairo, 1929, 4th vol., p. 77) that, 'During the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt, al-Muizz and later, al- Mustansir had utilized the principle of talim to the fullest extent.'
Hasan bin Sabbah, thus did not originate the doctrine of talim, but elaborated and interpreted the doctrine of ilm of Shia Islam abreast of the time. According to 'The Cambridge History of Iran' (ed. by J.A. Boyle, Cambridge, 1968, 5th vol., p. 433), 'But observers got the impression that there was a 'new teaching' associated with the movement which could be contrasted with the old and thus would not be surprising. If there was, however, it was not a wholly new system but a new emphasis and development of a doctrine of long standing among Ismailis and indeed among Shiis generally: the doctrine of talim, authoritative teaching.' According to Marshall Hodgson, 'It was this doctrine of talim which was especially developed by Hasan-i Sabbah; he turned it into a sharp intellectual tool in keeping with his whole life and demeanor.' (op. cit., p. 53)

Hasan bin Sabbah compiled a theological treatise in this context, entitled 'Fusul-i Arba'a' (the Four Chapters), which was an Ismaili thesis and in its fully developed form, the doctrine of talim was expounded by him in an Iranian essay. Several writers have mentioned, notably summarized by Shaharistani. In the doctrine of talim, Hasan bin Sabbah consistently emphasized the role of the Imam, with the Prophet having been a link in the logical chain from God to Imam. It became so central to the Ismailis thought that its followers in Khorasan came to be known as the Talimiyya. Many Sunni writers assailed the doctrine of talim in view of their own sense of propriety in opprobrious words. The Abbasids also reacted and hired the famous theologian, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111), who tried to refute it in his 'Kitab fada'ih al-Batiniyya wa fada'il al-Mustazhiriyya' and other treatises. According to Wilferd Madelung in 'Religious Trends in Early Islamic Iran' (New York, 1988, p. 102), 'In itself Hasan-i Sabbah's teaching was hardly a radical challenge to Islam. Like Fatimid Ismailism, he insisted on the validity and strict application of the Sharia.'

Ismaili History 609 - The Ismaili fidais

The history of the Ismailis of Alamut has been always grossly misunderstood in a hideous form. Most unfortunately, it is exactly about this period that we possess almost no genuine Ismaili sources. Most of the extant sources have come down to us from the aggressive camps, who based their informations from the illusive bits and shreds. They seem to take informations on its face-value without trying to verify the truth thereof. But history, as distinct from fiction, proves otherwise. Our earliest source, for instance, is the bitterly anti-Ismaili text of Juvaini, who is responsible to distort the genuine Ismaili traditions. Unfortunately, the scholars follow the stories designed by Juvaini without closely realizing his inimical attitude towards the Ismailis. W.Ivanow (1886-1970) writes in 'Alamut and Lamasar' (Tehran, 1960, p. 26) that, 'There are scholars who are perfectly satisfied with what he (Juvaini) says, showing their utter ignorance.'

One of the allegations on the Ismailis is the character of the fidais (the devotees), the self-sacrificing warriors; who had been spoken in spreading terrorism by daggers, and are termed Assassins by the Western authorities of Crusades period. When the Crusades spoke of the Assassins, they originally referred to the Syrian Ismailis. Later, the term was also commonly affixed with the Iranian Ismailis by European travellers and chroniclers. According to W.Ivanow, 'This subject has been as much hackneyed and surrounded by legends or fairy tales, as almost everything in connection with Ismailism.' (Ibid. p. 21)

Hasan bin Sabbah hated war and avoided commotion that would rob of him of peace and disturb his life of seclusion. He objected unnecessary sheding of blood, but his sworn enemies hurled in the fire of war, so that they might thereby obtain and retain their power and kingdom. Thus, Hasan bin Sabbah resorted to removing the root causes and killing the germs of mischief that infected the selfish rulers. He killed few of them and saved the Muslims from fighting, which was necessary and justifiable. The Ismaili fidais did not kill anyone out of hatred or rancour but out of desire to save a number of Muslims who would otherwise have been skinned alive. Bosworth writes in 'The Islamic Dynasties' (cf. Islamic Survey, series no. 5, Edinburgh, 1967, p. 128) that, 'The Ismailis played a significant role in three-cornered struggle with the Franks and the Sunni Muslims. Since the Ismailis were comparatively few in number, assassination of prominent people often served as a substitute for direct military action.'

We must not lose sight of the fact that the enemies of the Ismailis did not like an independent Nizari Ismaili state and reacted violently to it. They launched attacks one after another with vast overwhelming forces, accompanied by destruction of crops, cutting of fruit trees and other wrecking tools to damage the economy of the Ismailis. The general picture emerging from it suggests that the Ismailis were comparatively less to meet the danger hovering upon them, therefore, an armed unit of the fidai warriors seems to have been trained, who adopted an upheaval method of guerilla warfare for defensive purpose. Some scholars regard the Ismaili struggle a revolt, but it was positively a struggle for survival. It was a technique of the limited warriors to force the gigantic and colossal military machine to turn back by spreading awful milieu in their camps, which has been woven inimically in fictions. W.Ivanow writes, 'In proper perspective, fidaism was a local form of guerilla warfare, ... it would be decidedly idiotic and dishonest to see in it something like the most prominent organic feature of the Nizari Ismaili doctrine, as is done by some ignorant but pretentious scholars.' (Ibid. p. 21) W.Montgomery Watt in his 'Islam and the Integration of Society' (London, 1961, p. 69) and Edward Mortimer in 'Faith and Power' (London, 1982, p. 48) also admit that the method of the fidais was no other than that of the guerilla warfare. Bernard Lewis writes in 'The Assassins' (London, 1967, p. 130) that, 'Hasan found a new way, by which a small force, disciplined and devoted, could strike effectively against the overwhelmingly superior army.' Guerilla warfare is an irregular unit of fighters, not so popular in those days, therefore, the misnomer, Assassins to the Ismailis in the Western sources became an easy coinage. This method however is very common in modern age, which is also termed as terrorism by the westeners.

Ismaili History 610 - Genesis of the word 'Assassin'

The Nizari Ismailis, an seminal branch of Shia Islam, are designated with a misnomer, Assassins in mediaeval Europe. This is an abusive term that had been given a wide currency by the Crusaders and their occidental chroniclers, who had first come into contact with the Syrian Ismailis in the Near East during the early decades of the 12th century. Charles E. Nowell writes in 'The Old Man of the Mountain'that, 'In the early years of the twelfth century, as the Christians spread their conquests in the holy land and Syria, they made the acquaintance of the Ismailis. Many of their historians had something to say about the sect, and what they gave was usually a mixture of information and misinformation' (cf. Speculum, vol. xxii, no. 4, 1947, p. 503).
The Ismailis were not a band of terrorists, but their fighting against their oppressors was a struggle for survival. Mediaeval Europeans, who remained absolutely ignorant of Muslim beliefs and practices, had transmitted a number of tales, and produced a perverted image of the Ismailis. Rene Dussaud writes in 'Histoire et Religion des Nosaires' (Paris, 1900) that, 'One of the very few Europeans who have appreciated the good points of this remarkable sect and who is of opinion that the judgements pronounced by western scholars are marked by an excessive severity. It is certainly wrong to confound as do the Musulman doctors, in one common reprobation. And the Old Man of the Mountain himself was not so black as it is custom to paint him.' In more recent times, too, many western scholars have continued to apply the ill-conceived term Assassins to the Nizari Ismailis without being aware of its etymology or dubious origin. Paul E. Walker makes his comments in his 'Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary' (London, 1996, p. 1) that, 'Until recently, however, the Ismailis were studied and judged almost exclusively on the basis of the evidence collected or fabricated by their enemies, including the bulk of the medieval Sunni heresiographers and polemicists who were hostile towards the Shi'is in general and the Ismailis among them in particular. These Sunni authors in fact treated Shi'ite interpretations of Islam as expressions of heterodoxy or even heresy. As a result, a `black legend' was gradually developed and put into circulation in the Muslim world to discredit the Ismailis and their interpretations of Islam. The Christian Crusaders and their occidental chroniclers who remained almost completely ignorant of Islam and its internal divisions, disseminated their own myths of the Ismailis, which came to be accepted in the West as true descriptions of Ismaili teachings and practices. Modern orientalists, too, have studied the Ismailis on the basis of hostile Sunni sources and the fanciful occidental accounts of medieval times. Thus, legends and misconceptions have continued to surround the Ismailis through the twentieth century.'

Benjamin of Tudela, the Spanish Rabbi of 12th century, who was the first European traveller to approach the frontiers of China (between 1159 and 1173). He is one of the early Europeans to have written about the Ismailis. He visited Syria in 562/1167, and described in his 'The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela' (tr. by Marcus N. Adler, London, 1907) the Syrian Ismailis under the term of Hashishin. Next extant description is found in a diplomatic report of 570/1175 of Burchard, an envoy sent to Egypt and Syria by the Roman emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (1152-1190), in which he has used the word Heyssessini (in Roman, segnors de montana) for the Ismailis of Syria. William (1130-1185), archbishop of Tyre, is the first historian of the Crusades to have described the Ismailis of Syria in 581/1186 with the name Assissini in his 'History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea' (tr. by Babcock and Krey, New York, 1943, 2nd vol., p. 390), but also admits that he does not know the origin of this name, and by no means states that it was unknown to the Muslims. The German historian, Arnold of Lubeck (d. 610/1212) used for the Ismailis of Syria the term Heissessin in his 'Chronica Slavorum' (1869, 21st. vol., p. 240). James of Vitry, the Bishop of Acre (from 1216 to 1228), was perhaps the best informed occidental observer of Muslim affairs after William of Tyre. He produced his 'Secret Societies of the Middle Ages' (London, 1846), wherein he applied the term Assasini for the Syrian Ismailis. William of Rubruck (1215-1295), who had completed his visit of China in 653/1255, seems to have been amongst the first Europeans to have designated the Iranian Ismailis as Axasins and Hacsasins, hitherto used only for the Syrian Ismailis. The eminent French chronicler, Jean de Joinville (1224-1317) produced a most valuable 'Histoire de Saint Louis', (comp. 1305) relates the Syrian Ismaili ambassadors, who had come to see King Louis IX (1226-1270) at Acre. Joinville referred to the term Assacis for the Ismailis. Marco Polo (1254-1324) has also used the word Ashishin in his travelogue.

Different etymologies of the modern word Assassins are given in the occidental sources, such as Accini, Arsasini, Assassi, Assassini, Assessini, Assessini, Assissini, Heyssessini etc. Thomas Hyde in 'Veterum Persasrum Religionis Historia' (Oxford, 1700, p. 493) opines that the word Assassin must be the word hassas, derived from the root hassa, meaning, to kill or exterminate. This opinion was followed by Menage and Falconet. De Volney also adopted this etymology in his 'Voyage en Egypte et en Syrie' (1st. vol., p. 404) without citing any evidence. Historian Abul Fida (d. 732/1331) writes that Masiyaf, a town that was the headquarters of the Syrian Ismailis, is situated on a mountain, called Jabal Assikkin (Jabal al-Sikkin). The word sikkin means knife or dagger, and the name of this mountain may thus mean, 'the mountain of the knife.' This seems to be some analogy of the coinage of the above westeners, reflecting the view in Falconet's 'Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions' (17th vol., p. 163); who called it, la montagne du Poigard (mountain of the dagger). Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838) however suggests that sekkin in this case is the name of a man, so that we should translate it 'the Sekkin's Mountain' (la montagne de Sekkin). Michel Sabbagh of Acre suggests the origin of al-Sisani. Instead of al-Sisani, the word often used is al-Sasani, means 'the family of Sasan.' This term is used by the Arabs to indicate an adventurer. Simon Assemani (1752-1821), the professor of oriental languages in Padua, used the word Assissana in his 'Giornale dell' Italiana Letteratura' (1806, pp. 241-262), and according to him, it is a corrupt form of Assissani in connection with the Arabic word assissath (al-sisa), meaning rock or fortress, and as such, Assissani (al-sisani) refers to one who dwells in a rocky fortress.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the name Assassin received a good deal of attention from western scholars, who threw a flood of theories to explain its origin and significance. The mystery was finally seems to have solved by Silvestre de Sacy, who discovered that the word Assassin was Hashishiyya, i.e., the users of hashish.

The Muslims, having exhausted all their resources of condemnation, now restored to designate the Syrian Ismailis by different religious terms, such as Batiniyya and the Talimiyya. The Ismailis were also branded as Malahida (or Mulhidun) by their sworn enemies. Much less frequently, the Ismailis of Syria were called by other abusive term, such as Hashishiyya, i.e., the users of hashish. It seems that the oppressors had foiled in their attempt to extirpate the Ismailis and eventually made a last vehement strike upon them.

The earliest reported application of the term Hashishiyya to the Ismailis occurs in the anti-Ismaili polemical epistle issued in 517/1123 by the then Fatimid regime in Cairo on behalf of the caliph al-Amir (d. 524/1130), entitled 'Iqa Sawa'iqa al-irgham'. This epistle contains the term Hashishiyya for the Syrian Nizari Ismailis for two times, vide pp. 27 and 32. It must be known that the well- known event of qiyama celebrated at Alamut in 559/1164 became a main tool of the enemies of the Ismailis to discredit them. The orthodox Muslims waged a bitter propaganda, and uttered all the prevalent abusive terms for them. The dead term Hashishiyya once again was given a life, and it came to be used almost for the first time in the Seljuqid literatures. The earliest known Seljuqid chronicle is 'Nusratu'l Fatrah wa Usratu'l Fatrah' (comp. 578/1183) by Imadudin Muhammad al-Katib Ispahani (d. 597/1201), which is now extant only in an abridged version compiled by Fateh Ali bin Muhammad al-Bundari in 623/1226, entitled 'Zubdatu'n Nasrah wa Nakhbatu'l Usrah' (pp. 169, 195). Imadudin begins his chronicle from 485/1092, and did not put his work into its final form until 578/1183 when he had already been in Syria for 15 years. He seems first Seljuqid writer to have used the term, Hashishiyya for the Syrian Ismailis. Ibn Muyassar (d. 677/1278) simply states in his 'Tarikh-i Misr' (p. 102) that in Syria, the Ismailis are called Hashishiyya, in Alamut; they are known as Batiniyya and Malahida; in Khorasan as Talimiyya. Abu Shama (d. 665/1267) also used Hashishiyya for the Syrian Ismailis in his 'Kitab al-Rawdatayn fi Akhbar al-Dawlatayn' (1st. vol., pp. 240 and 258). Ibn Khaldun (d. 808/1406) writing after 13th century, mentions in 'Muqaddima' (1st. vol., p. 143) that the Ismailis of Syria, once called as al-Hashishiyya al-Ismailiyya, were known in his time as the Fidawiyya. All this sounds from the extant sources that the term Hashishiyya was commonly applied for the Syrian Ismailis between 11th and 12th centuries by the Muslims, and were ceased to be used since 13th century.

It however must bear in mind that Juvaini and Rashiduddin do not use the term Hashishiyya for the Ismailis of Iran, as the term was not prevalent during their time in Iran. W. Madelung has however recently discovered in his 'Arabic Texts Concerning the History of the Zaydi Imams of Tabaristan, Daylaman and Gilan' (Beirut, 1987, pp. 146 & 329) that the Ismailis of Iran too were named Hashishiyya in some contemporary Zaidi sources compiled in the Arabic language at the Caspian region during the first half of the 13th century. The Zaidi Shiites were the closest rivals of the Ismailis in northern Iran and had prolonged military confrontations with them in the Caspian region, had launched their own anti-Ismaili literary campaign. This tends to reveal that these Arabian sources had referred to the Iranian Ismailis under the misnomer prevalent in their region for the Syrian Ismailis.

Hashish or Hashisha is the Arabic word for hemp, which is latinized cannabis sativa. Its variety is Indian hemp or Cannabis Indica, have been known and used in the Near East since ancient times as a drug with intoxicating effects. The earliest express mention of the word hashish contained in 'at-Tadhkirah fi'l Khilaf' by Abu Ishaq ash-Shirazi (d. 476/1083). The use of hashish grew in Syria, Egypt and other Muslim countries during 12th and 13th centuries among the inferior strata of society. Numerous tracts were compiled by Muslim authors, describing that the use of hashish would effect on the users' morality and religion. Consequently, the users of hashishqualified for a inferior social and moral status, similarly to that of a mulhida, or heretic in religion. Neither the Ismailis of Syria nor the contemporary non-Ismaili Muslim texts, which were rigorous towards the Ismailis, ever attested to the use of hashish among the Nizari Ismailis.

Hashish, a narcotic drug was a common usage in the Sufic orbits in Damascus since 11th century, and they were subjected to the hatred of the theologians. Franz Rosenthal writes in 'The Herb: Hashish versus Medieval Muslim Society' (Leiden, 1971, p. 53) that, 'The use of hashish by Sufi fraternities and their presumably large role in the spread of hashish use can be accepted as a fact in view of all the later evidence pointing in this direction.' The Sufi initiates were called Hashishiyya, and it was commonly known among them as Hashish al-Fuqara (the herb of the faqirs). Among them, the other titles for hashish were 'digester of food' (hadim al-aqwat), 'rouser of thought' (baithat al-fikr), 'queen of insanity' (sultanat al-junun), 'the green one' (al-akhdar), 'daughter of cannabis' (ibnat al- qunbus) etc.

Nuruddin Ali bin al-Jazzar writes in his 'Qam al-Washin fi dhamm al-barrashin' (comp. before 991/1583) that the accursed hashish 'was originated by some group around the five hundreds' (ahdathaha ba'd fi'ah fi nahw qarn al-khams mi'ah). According to Franz Rosenthal, 'The word fi'ah (group) is used here for the sake of the rhyme and thus may very well mean Sufis, rather than sectarians or soldiers.' (Ibid. pp. 53-4) Thus, it seems possible that hashish had been discovered around 500/1106 by the wandering Sufis, who qualified the title of mulhida, or heretic in religion, and the term Hashishiyya became a common abuse in the society. Az-Zarkashi (745-794/1344-1392) in 'Zahr al-arish fi ahkam al-hashish' and al-Ukbari (d. 690/1291) in 'Kitab as-Sawanih' however write that it was believed that a Sufi Shaikh Hyder (d. 618/1221), the founder of Hyderi Sufi Order, discovered hashish in the province of Nishabur around the year 550/1155. This seems almost imponderable version. Franz Rosenthal writes to this effect that, 'The use of the drug became common among Haydar's followers only years after his death. Therefore, the Khurasanians ascribed the introduction of the drug to him who was completely innocent of it.' (Ibid. p. 45) Others also connected the introduction of hashish with a certain Sufi Ahmad as-Sawaja. In sum, hashishseems to have been discovered by the Sufis around 500/1106, but its propaganda to use and the special way of preparing it to use was introduced by the followers of Shaikh Hyder after his death. The Turkish poet, Fuzuli (885-963/1480-1556) writes in his poem, 'Layla Megnun' (p. 167) that, 'Hashish can claim to be the friend of dervishes and to be available in the corner of every mosque and among all kinds of scholars.' Hashish also enjoyed particular favour in the Sufic poems, such as Ibn Kathir (13th vol., p. 314) quotes the following verses:-

Hashish contains the meaning of my desire.

You dear people of intelligence and understanding.

They have declared it forbidden without any justification on the basis of reason and tradition.

Declaring forbidden what is not forbidden is forbidden.

Al-Badri quotes a poem of a certain Muhammad bin Makki bin Ali bin al-Hussain al-Mashhadi, which reads:-

The use of hashish is censured by all silly persons, weak of mind, insensitive,

To the censure coming from stupid and envious individuals.

Share hashish with a goodly young man firm.

In the preservation of friendship and appointments.

Is it not a relaxation for the mind? Thus enjoy

It, all you sensible men!

Consequently, the Sufis using hashish had been rigorously condemned. Ibn ash-Shihnah (d. 815/1412) composed a couple of verses that:-

I am surprised to find a Shaikh who commands people to be pious.

But himself never heeds the Merciful One or shows piety towards Him.

He considers it permissible to eat hashish as well as usury. And (says that) he who studies truly the Sahih (Bukhari) is a heretic.

The Muslim jurists also condemned the use of hashish and demanded severe punishment, declaring it dangerous to Islam and society. Gradually, the word Hashishiyya became an abusive term mostly in Syria. One who was hated, he was branded as Hashishiyya in the society, and thus, the Syrian Ismailis were also lebelled with the same misnomer by their enemies.

Running parallel with this, it is worth keeping in mind that the Syrian Ismailis too called themselves as al-sufat (the pure, or sincere), resembling the term sufi. According to 'Bustan al-Jami' (comp. 561/1165), the Ismailis in Syria called themselves as al-Sufat. Ibn al-Azim (d. 660/1262) however writes in his 'Zubdat al-Halab' (comp. 641/1243) that a faction of the Syrian Ismailis at Jabal as-Summuq called themselves al-Sufat. Both Ismailism and Sufism are similar in a way, but it should be known that, Every Ismaili is a Sufi, but no every Sufi is an Ismaili. Ismailism is an esoteric tariqah as well as a social system with its own rules and characteristics, while Sufism is an individual concern. The Ismailis however never allowed themselves to be submerged totally into the general esoteric medley, and their form of Shiite Sufism remained quite distinctive from other mystical orders of Islam. The Ismailis were the main target of the Sunni Muslims, who used all misnomers and abusive words to discredit them. Incorporating the Ismailis with the Sufis due to their potential affinity, the Sunni Muslims and others had designated the Ismailis too with the same term. Franz Rosenthal writes, 'It is worthy of note that attacks on the Ismailiyah accusing them of being hashish eaters were apparently not made very often, although this would have been an effective verbal slur.' (op. cit., p. 43) Paul Johnson writes in his 'Civilizations of the Holy Land' (London, 1979, p. 211) that, 'Much nonsense has been written about this sect, which had nothing to do with hashish.' Curiously enough, the term seems to have become so specific for the Syrian Ismailis that the Sufi circles using hashish had been ignored to be designated alike. After the schism of Nizari and Musta'lian, the influence of the Musta'lians in Syria was less than the Nizaris, and therefore, the Musta'lian faction also shifted this misnomer on the rival group. It is not surprising that when people cannot find the solution of a difficulty in the natural manner, they concoct a supernatural explanation, just as when they like or dislike a thing, they go to extremes, invent and contrive superstitious tales and give vent to credulous stories tinged with different misnomers.

The Musta'lian group was designated by the Nizari Ismailis in Syria as Jamat al-Amiriyya, and the latter were lebelled by the former as Jamat al-Hashishiyya as the Musta'lian group did not like that the rival group be known as Jamat al-Nizaria. Soon afterwards, the Musta'lian group disappeared almost from Syria in 524/1130, but they left behind the name Hashishiyya in their sources, and thus, it became a general usage for the Nizari Ismailis in Syria since 517/1123.

The occidental chroniclers, travellers and envoys to the Latin East borrowed the term Hashishiyya for the Ismailis of Syria, whom they pronounced as Hashishin, Heyssessini or Haisasins. Silvestre de Sacy delivered a lecture entitled 'Memoirs on the Dynasty of the Assassins and the origin of their name' on May 19, 1809 in the Institute of France, which was a landmark in the relative study. In addition to the few oriental sources published or referred by previous scholars, de Sacy was able to draw on the rich Paris collection of Arabic manuscripts, and states that, 'Nor should there be any doubt, in my opinion, that the word hashishi, plural hashishin, is the origin of the corruption heissessini, assassini, and assissini. It should not surprise us that the Arabic shin was transcribed by all our writers who used the Latin language by an s, and in the Greek historians by a sigma. They had no choice. It should, moreover be observed that the shin is pronounced less strongly than ch in French. What can rightly be asked is the reason why the Ismailis or Batinis were called Hashishis.'

After picking up the word Hashishiyya for the Syrian Ismailis, the Crusaders attested further fabrications. The daring behavior of the Ismaili fidais, who usually carried their mission - a struggle for survival, had exceedingly impressed the Crusaders, who would rarely endanger their own lives for other than worldly rewards. The Crusaders failed to compete with the valour of the Ismaili fidais, therefore, they propagated that they were using hashish before fighting, but they forgot to understand that the drunkenness caused by hashish merely consists of a kind of quiet ecstasy, rather than a vehemence apt to fire the courage to undertake and carry out daring and dangerous missions. Franz Rosenthal writes in 'The Herb: Hashish versus Medieval Muslim Society' (Leiden, 1971, pp. 42-3) that, 'It has been pointed out that hashish does not have the properties that would ordinarily make it a serviceable stimulant for anyone being sent on a dangerous mission of assassination.' The editors of 'Encyclopaedia Britannica' write in 'The Arabs' (New York, 1978, p. 94) that, 'Stories of the terrorists' use of hashish before setting out to commit murder and face martyrdom are doubtful.' Bosworth also writes in 'The Islamic Dynasties' (cf. Islamic Survey, series no. 5, Edinburgh, 1967, p. 128) that, 'The story related by Marco Polo and others, that hallucinatory drugs were used to stimulate the assassins to bolder efforts is unconfirmed in any of the genuine Ismaili sources.' The Muslim authors, unlike the western authors, did not fantasize about the real spirit of sacrifice of the fidais in defending their faith around aggressive milieu. Instead of knowing their struggle, they branded them with the then prevalent abusive term, Hashishiyya. Hence, the misnomer Hashishiyya, picked up by the Crusaders in the beginning of the second half of the 12th century, mainly through oral channels, came to be pronounced as Hashishin, Heyssessini or Haisasins. It further underwent corruptions, and evolved as Axasin, Accini, Assassini, Assacis, Ashishin, Assassini, and finally resulted the modern genesis of the English word, Assassin. It later was coloured by spurious and extravagant fables, smacking exaggeration in western popular lore and literature.

It deserves notice, however, that Henry, Count of Champagne (d. 593/1197) had visited the Syrian Ismaili territories in 590/1194, where he had personally alleged to have witnessed the falling down of the two Ismaili fidais from a lofty turret upon the signal of the Ismaili leader to demonstrate an example of obedience. This event became famous in the occidental sources bluntly by the end of 13th century without perception of the spirit of sacrifice of the fidais. Thus, in the West, the Ismailis have been the subjects of several hotchpotch of legends, and were portraited in different terms, so as to designate them ultimately as Assassins. Farhad Daftary writes in'The Assassin Legends' (London, 1994, p. 84) that, 'In sum, mediaeval Europeans learned very little about Islam and Muslims, and their less informed knowledge of the Ismailis found expression in a few superficial observations and erroneous perceptions scattered in Crusader histories and other occidental sources.'

Ismaili History 611 - The Legend of Paradise

Examining a critical and analytical approach of the sources, it is almost possible to clarify that the fortress of Alamut was situated in rocky and infertile region, and its physical condition during occupation was very much rough and coarse. It was embosomed with swamps and muddy tracts, accounting unhealthy atmosphere. Hasan bin Sabbah immediately embarked on the task of renovating the castle, which was in great need of repairs, improving its fortifications, storage facilities and water supply sources. He also improved and extended the system of irrigation and cultivation of crops in the Alamut, where many trees were planted. Thus, a fertile spot emerged out, tending an eye-catching scene in the barren ranges of Elburz mountain. The fertile tracts of the valley radically began to appear as if an oasis in the desert.
Whenever, the Alamut was threatened, the enemies had to come from Ispahan to Rudhbar after passing through the tedious and barren regions, and pitched their camps at the pastures of Alamut. While retreating, the frustrated forces took their revenge by mutilating and cutting down the luxuriant crops and devastated the smiling fields in order to quench the thirst of hatred and passion. Their temper was also crystallized into romantic stories. Firstly, it was rumoured that the valley of Alamut had been transformed into the gardens of paradise, but it proved an ineffectual among the local people. Instead, the enemies contrived another florid story that so called paradise existed inside the fortress. Since it was difficult to ascertain the story by the local people, it received a less credence in some quarters, whose bits and shreds were sorted out by the later writers to embellish a tale in exaggeration. Thus, the failure to eliminate the Ismailis, begot in its turn the idea of myths and tales. Round a trafling thing has thus grown up a crop of fables, making it a curious hodgepodge. According to 'Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics' (London, 1958, 2nd vol., p. 140), 'Hasan bin Sabbah caused the land surrounding his fortress to be carefully cultivated, and this may have led to the legend of paradise.' It was the Venetian traveller Marco Polo (1254-1324) to have heard from the villagers and narrated in his book. He was accompanied by his father and uncle and embarked on his journey to the court of Kubilai Khan (1260-1294). Macro Polo started from Acre in 1271, and passed through Iran in 1272, about 15 years after the reduction of Alamut when it was almost a heap of ruins. He committed his itinerary to writing through a scribe in 1298 and related what he had heard in Iran concerning the tale of paradise in Alamut. His ridiculous account however cannot be credible. It is inferred that he would have never crossed near the ruins of Alamut, and the description of the castle in Marco Polo's book was either the stronghold of Girdkuh near Damghan, which was finally surrendered to the Mongols in 1270, about two years before he crossed Khorasan into northern Afghanistan; or, more probably, some fortress in eastern Kohistan. There he evidently had seen a ruined castle of the Ismailis. His itinerary however did not take him to Alamut, which appears to be the castle alluded to in his account. He had heard from some local informants, which he admits in the beginning, and therefore, his account is admittedly not based on personal observation. It also cannot be denied that Marco Polo's account bears a distinctly occidental imprint, reflecting the influences of different reports which are ultimately traceable to Burchard of Strassburg, Arnold of Lubeck and James of Vitry. It is therefore possible that Marco Polo had knowingly conflated the information he had acquired some 30 years earlier in Iran, with the legends then prevalent in Europe for the Ismailis of Syria. All this sounds to the conclusion that Marco Polo could not have heard his account in its entirety from his informants in Iran.

Marco Polo applied the term Ashishin (or Assassin) for the Ismailis. It has been asserted that the term Assassin had originally acquired currency in Crusader circles in reference to the Ismailis of Syria, and it was neither originated or prevalent in Iran, and therefore, Marco Polo could not have heard the term Assassins from his informants in Iran. His curious application of the title of Old Man of the Mountain (Vetus de Mountain, or Viel de la Montaigne) to the ruler of Alamut; also suggests a doubtful description. This title has been coined by the Crusaders for the chief of the Ismailis of Syria, and it was never in usage among the Ismailis of Iran. It is therefore, safe to infer that Marco Polo would have never heard the title of Old Man of the Mountain in Iran, but he used in the light of the then informations prevalent in Europe for the Syrian Ismailis. It will be interesting on this juncture to quote the description of Marco Polo about the secret garden of paradise. He narrates:-

'So he had fashioned it after the description that Mahomet gave of his paradise, to wit, that it should be a beautiful garden running with conduits of wine and milk and honey and water, and full of lovely women for the delectation of all its inmates..He kept at his court a number of the youths of the country, from 12 to 20 years of age, such as had a taste for soldiering, and to these he used to tell tales about paradise, just as Mahomet had be wont to do, and they believed in him just as the Saracens believe in Mahomet.. The prince would then ask whence he came, and he would reply that he came from paradise! and that it was exactly such as Mahomet had described it in the law.'

It is important to bear in mind that it was the tendency of the occidental sources to propagate that the Holy Koran was not a heavenly revealed book, but it was designed by the Prophet Muhammad, and whatever the misconception of Islam was popular in Europe at that time, is evidently echoing in the narration of Marco Polo. It gives further gravity to the conclusion that Marco Polo could not have heard such tendency from his Iranian informants. Peter de Venerable (1094-1156) had the Holy Koran translated for the first time from Arabic into Latin. Peter de Cluny (d. 551/1156) and Robert of Ketton also produced the Latin translation of Holy Koran in 538/1143, and it was followed by the translation of Mark of Toledo (1190-1200) under the title of 'Alcorani Machomati Liber.' Joinville and Pedro de Alfonso and other followed them in the 12th century, had dwelled polemically on the hedonistic delights of the Islamic garden of paradise.Pedro de Alfonso's account became much popular, and was treated, according to 'Islam and the West' (Edinburg, 1960, p. 148) by Norman Daniel, 'the standard mediaeval version of the Quran's promised paradise, that is, a garden of delights, the flowing waters, the mild air in which neither heat nor cold could afflict, the shady trees, the fruits, the many-coloured silken clothing and the palaces of precious stones and metals, the milk and wine served in gold and silver vessels by angels, saying, `eat and drink in joy'; and beautiful virgins, `untouched by men or demons'.' Norman Daniel also adds, 'In spite of the enormous influence of the 'Liber Scalae', it must be said that the Quran itself was the chief source of the picture of the Islamic paradise familiar to so many mediaeval writers.' (Ibid.)

The most famous writers in Europe who produced a colourful tale of the Islamic garden of paradise were Pedro de Alfonso, San Pedro, Marino Sanudo, Varagine, Higden, Simon Simeon, Ricoldo da Monte Croce, William of Tripoli, John Mandeville, Jacques de Vitry, Alan of Lille, Sigebert, Guido, etc. In time, the European conceptions of the Islamic paradise, based on the Koranic description in a literal sense, were incorporated into the alleged paradise of Alamut, culminating in Marco Polo's detailed account to this effect. Norman Daniel further writes, 'It must be said that it was usual for Christians to allow themselves a rather purple rendering of the gardens and precious metals of paradise, though usually not of the virgins so beloved of later romanticism.' (Ibid.) Farhad Daftary also writes in 'The Assassin Legends' (London, 1994, p. 116) that, 'And this garden, not found in any earlier European source before Marco Polo, was essentially modelled on the Quranic description of paradise then available.'

Thus, Marco Polo enhanced a further lease of life to the anti-Ismaili propaganda in Europe. Later on, the account of Friar Odoric of Pordenous (d. 731/1331), who visited China during 1323-27, is perhaps the earliest occidental account of the Ismailis, based entirely on Marco Polo, on his homeland journey to Italy in 1328. Odoric passed through the Caspian coast land in northern Iran, and heard there about the Ismailis, but his description almost resembles the account of Marco Polo. Charles E. Nowell writes in 'The Old Man of the Mountain' (cf. Speculum, Mass., October, 1947, vol., 12, no. 4, pp. 517-8) that, 'It is easy to understand how some parts of the Marco-Odoric legend were started. Various eastern historians say that the original Old Man, Hasan Sabbah, for purely economic and strategic reasons, had conduits built and encouraged planting around Alamut. This give rise to the stories of the garden and the fountains of wine, milk and honey.'

Mirza Muhammad Saeed Dehlvi writes in 'Mazhab aur Batini Talim' (Lahore, 1935, pp.296-7) that, 'Whenever, the villagers looked the view of the beautiful gardens, green fields and heaths from the surrounding walls of Alamut, they thought it a model of a paradise of the Nizari Ismailis on the ranges of mountain. It is possible that the legend of paradise must have been originated by the illiterate and narrow-minded villagers from whom Marco Polo had heard and recorded it during his journey.' It is also a striking feature that not a single Muslim source, notably Ata Malik Juvaini had ever mentioned about the legend of paradise, who was very aggressive in his narratives and was in search of such stories against the Ismailis. Marshall Hodgson writes in the 'The Order of the Assassins' (Netherland, 1955, p.135) that, 'Juvaini, when investigating the history of Alamut on the spot after its fall did not look for such a garden as Polo heard tell of.' Farhad Daftary also writes in 'The Assassin Legends' (London, 1994, pp. 114-5) that, 'The watchful Juwayni, who visited Alamut in 1256 shortly before that fortress was partially demolished by the Mongols, did not find any sign of Marco Polo's garden there; nor is the existence of any such Ismaili garden in Persia attested by Rashid al-Din or any other Muslim source. However, Juwayni was greatly impressed by the water conduits, cisterns and storage facilities which he did find at Alamut.'

The modern scholars express great doubts as to the historicity of the stories of paradise narrated by Marco Polo. Carl Brockelmann writes in 'History of the Islamic Peoples' (London, 1959, p. 179) that, 'What the Venetian world traveller Marco Polo reported, who some two hundred years later (1271 or 1272) passed through the territory of Alamut, may be mere a legend.' Dr. Abbas Hamadani writes in 'The Fatimids' (Karachi 1962, pp. 50-51) that, 'A myth was circulated in much later times to the effect that Hasan used to give hashish, an intoxicating drug, to his followers, and in their state of unconsciousness they were transferred to a false paradise. The legend of paradise was circulated by the European traveller Marco Polo, and it is obviously false.' Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi writes in 'Iran - Royalty, Religion and Revolution' (Canberra, 1980, p. 72) that, 'The romantic stories of the order of assassins and of the Old Man of the Mountain are familiar to Western readers through the pages of Marco Polo, but the legends surrounding events in Alamut, although fascinating, are far from truth.' According to 'The Arabs' (by the editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, New York, 1978, p. 94) that, 'Stories of the terrorists' use of hashish before setting out to commit murder and face martyrdom are doubtful, and there is no Ismaili source to confirm tales of an artificial paradise into which drugged members were taken as a foretaste of eternal bliss.' Duncan Forbes also writes in 'The Heart of Iran' (London, 1963, p. 29) that, 'It is difficult to believe that the Alamut valley, austere and rocky as it is today, ever contained the delicate gardens described in the Middle Ages.' Lastly, in falsifying the tale of paradise, William Marsdon writes in 'The Travels of Marco Polo' (London, 1818, p. 117) that, 'We may affect to smile at his (Macro Polo's) credulity.'

It must be borne in mind that a less informed Ismaili historian, called Dehkhoda Abdul Malik bin Ali, who was appointed the commander of the fortress, later on became known as the Maimundiz in Rabi I, 520/April, 1126; gives few important details under the year 536/1142, as cited by Rashiduddin's 'Jamiut Tawarikh' (ed. B. Karimi, Tehran, 1959, pp. 149-163), and Abul Kassim Kashani's 'Zubdat al-Tawarikh' (ed. M.T. Danishpazhuh, 1964, pp. 171-4) that the Khurramiya, a sect of the Kaysania, had greatly borrowed the teachings of the Mazdakites and Zoroastrians. To sum up, by Khurramiya one means the whole wide movement which operated through out Iran, with a possible focus in Azerbaijan and Tabaristan. The very meaning of Khurramiya appears uncertain to the authors dealing with it. It is usually related to the meaning of the Iranian term khurram (joyful, delightful or pleasing), so as to stigmatise the movement as 'licentious' and justify its dependence on Mazdakism, which was considered as too tolerant from the point of view of ethics. This dependence, however, was occasionally related to Mazdak's wife, Khurrama, held to have given her name to Mazdak's followers after his death. There is also a geographical explanation of the name from a village, called khurram, which is the least likely interpretation.

It appears that most of the followers of Khurramiya espoused Ismailism in Jabal al-Badain at Azerbaijan, and asserted that: 'this is the true faith, we accept it.' Hasan bin Sabbah deputed Dehkhoda Kaykhosrow, who had formerly belonged to them; to teach them the true Ismaili doctrines. When the latter died in Muharram, 513/May, 1119, his sons Abul Ala and Yousuf took his place as their dais. Both were greedy of wealth and power, and in pursuit, they neglected their newly faith of Ismailism. Hasan bin Sabbah exhorted and warned them, but to no avail. After Hasan bin Sabbah's death in 518/1124, a weaver named Budayl arose among them, and renounced Ismaili faith. He taught his followers that: 'The law of the Shariah is only for those adhering to the exterior of religion. There is no reality to what is declared lawful or forbidden in religion. Prayers and fasting must therefore be abandoned.' Curiously, Budayl also taught them that: 'Women were the water of the house. Dowry and marriage contract had no meaning. Daughters were lawful for their fathers and brothers.'Hence, they thought all forbidden things licit, and believed that the paradise and hell were on earth and that every one who recognizes the divinity of Abul Ala and Yousuf would return to earth in human shape, while those failing to do so would return in the form of wild beasts. In sum, these were the people whose doctrines consisted in rolling up the carpet of obligations of the Shariah, so as to render men free to follow all their pleasures and passions in permitting freedom of sextual relations and declaring as permitted all sorts of things prohibited by the religious laws.

When these became erroneously known publicly as the teachings of Hasan bin Sabbah, the Ismailis seized some of the heretics. Abul Ala and Yousuf then were apprehended on 9th Rabi II, 537/October 31, 1142 during the period of Imam al-Mohtadi, and were scourged to death. Within a year, the rest of the heretics were searched and executed.

It would be therefore, absurd to believe that the doctrines of the Khurramiya sect, whose one group embraced Ismailism and then reverted to their former cults; may be attributed to the teachings of Hasan bin Sabbah. It is a landmark point worth consideration that the aggressive sources have blindly mixed up the doctrines of the Khurrarmiya sect with the teachings of the Ismailis and their baseless and capricious narratives were used to discredit the Ismailis.

Ismaili History 612 - Kiya Buzrug Ummid

The word kiya means lord or ruler, as he was the second hujjat and ruler after Hasan bin Sabbah, who most probably was born in 455/1062 in the peasant family of Rudhbar. He passed most of his childhood in Rudhbar in cultivation of the land of his father. He was not, however, related by marriage to the local Caspian rulers, as is mentioned in few sources. In reality, it was a sister of a Zaidi ruler of Daylam, called Kiya Buzrug al-Da'i ila'l-Haq bin al-Hadi (d. 551/1156); and not Kiya Buzrug Ummid's sister, who is recorded as being the wife of Hazarasf bin Fakhr ad-Dawla Namavar, the Baduspanid ruler of Rustamdar and Ruyan. The latter's son Kayka'us (d. 560/1164), who adhered to Zaidism and ruled for 37 years, was the sworn enemy of the Ismailis. Hazarasf's grandson, Hazarasf bin Shahrnush (d. 586/1190), however, procured close relation with the Ismailis. It must also be remembered that a certain Kiya Buzrug, and not Kiya Buzrug Ummid, had married a daughter of Shah Ghazi Rustam bin Ala ad-Dawla Ali, who later became the Bawandid ruler of Mazandaran and Gilan between 534/1140 and 558/1163. The Bawandid was an Iranian dynasty who reigned from 45/665 to 750/1349. Shah Ghazi Rustam was an enemy of the Ismailis, and fought with them on numerous occasions with the help of the Seljuqids. His daughter was however married to the Baduspanid ruler, Shahrnush bin Hazarasf bin Namavar, who cemented cordial relations with the Ismailis.

Kiya Buzrug Ummid had been a handsome young page, whom Hasan bin Sabbah had converted before almost 480/1087. He played a leading role during the possession of Alamut in 483/1090. He was an outstanding organizer, talented dai and an able administrator. Hasan bin Sabbah had sent him with a troop to conquer the fortress of Lamasar in 489/1095. He thus defeated a certain Rasmasuj and took possession of Lamasar, also known as Rudhbar-i Alamut.

According to 'Jamiut Tawarikh' (pp. 27-8), 'The fort of Lamasar was situated on a rotten hill, with a few decayed houses on it, with no vegetation nearby. The climate of the place was very hot. Kiya Buzrug Ummid fortified the castle and cut the rocks to build a canal from a point on the Nine-rud, two and a half farsakhs away, which could supply water to the fort. The fort was thus irrigated. Water reservoirs were made and trees were planted and the fort began to look a royal rest house (khushk) in a garden. It was put in charge of Kiya Buzrug Ummid.' Since then, he controlled the affairs of Lamasar till the death of Hasan bin Sabbah, and thereafter, he was summoned in Alamut to take charge of the Nizari Ismaili state in accordance with the orders of the Imam.

Kiya Buzrug was confronted with the animosity of the local amirs as soon as he assumed the power. In 518/1124, some 700 innocent Ismailis had been butchered mercilessly near the Postern gate (bab as-sirr) at Amid (the Roman Amida) in Diyar Bakr.

It appears that sultan Sanjar had refrained from launching further operations, possibly due to his pact with Alamut. When Alamut came to be governed by Kiya Buzrug, sultan Sanjar took militant stance to test the capabality of the new leadership of the Ismailis. In 520/1126, he sent a large army at the command of his vizir against Turaythith in Kohistan, as well as Bayhaq and Tarz in the district of Nishapur, with orders to massacre the local Ismailis and sack their properties. This expedition sent from Khorasan had been fissiled of no result. The expedition sent in the same year by sultan Muhammad to Rudhbar at the command of Asil, the nephew of Anushtagin Shirgar was repulsed by the Ismaili warriors. Another Seljuq attack in the same year was also foiled by the Ismailis of Rudhbar, who captured one of the enemy's amirs, Tamurtughan. He was taken prisoner to Alamut for some months. Tamurtughan was however released upon the request of sultan Sanjar.

During the rule of Kiya Buzrug, several other fortresses were seized, including Mansura and others in Taliqan, while a few castles were built, such as Sa'adatkuh and Mansura in 521/1127.

In 523/1129, the sultan Muhammad entered into peace negotiations with the Ismailis, and for this purpose, he invited Alamut to send an envoy to Ispahan. Kiya Buzrug dispatched Khoja Muhammad Nassihi Shahrastani. But the discussions proved abortive as the Ismaili emissary and his colleagues had been killed by some of the town people while they were leaving the Seljuq court. The sultan disclaimed the responsibility, also rejecting to punish the assassins. Thus, the Ismaili forces, in reprisal attacked Qazwin, killing 400 persons and taking away much booty.

Sultan Muhammad executed another unsuccessful raid at Alamut district, while an army was also sent from Iraq in 525/1131 against Lamasar with 30,000 soldiers, but of no avail. Meanwhile, Sultan Muhammad died and his army retreated, and after that the fortress of Lamasar was never invaded.

By the end of Kiya Buzrug's reign, the Ismailis had clearly established an independent state of their own. This state primarily consisted of two areas in Iran, namely Rudhbar and a large tract of Kohistan, as well as the southern part of the Jabal Bahra in Syria. At the same time, there were non-Ismailis, including Sunnis, Ithna Asharis, Zaidis and Nusairis living in the areas dominated by the Ismailis. The Nizari state had its own mint as an accepted territorial rule. Kiya Buzrug's adoption of the role of a territorial ruler and his acceptance by others as such, are strikingly demonstrated by the flight to Alamut in 530/1136 with his followers of a certain Seljuq amir Yaranqush, an old enemy of the Ismailis. He was dislodged from his iqta (an administrative grant of land) by Khwarazmshah and took refuge at Alamut. According to 'Jamiut Tawarikh' (p. 142), the Shah asked for his surrender, arguing that he had been a friend of the Ismailis, while Yaranqush had been their enemy. Kiya Buzrug refused to deliver him to Khwarazmshah, saying: 'I cannot reckon as an enemy anyone who places himself under my protection.' This reflects indeed a chivalrous and greatness of Kiya Buzrug.

Kiya Buzrug Ummid excelled in his works that Hasan bin Sabbah had reposed in him. He died on 26th Jumada I, 532/February 9, 1138 after ruling for 14 years, and was buried next to the tomb of Hasan bin Sabbah. He was succeeded as the third ruler by his son Muhammad bin Kiya, whom he designated only three days before his death according to the order of the Imam. According to 'Rawzatus-Safa' (4th vol., p. 78) that, 'The enemies of Kiya Buzrug became joyful and insolent, but they were made soon to realize that their hopes were vain.'

Ismaili History 613 - Muhammad bin Kiya Buzrug Ummid

Muhammad bin Kiya Buzrug was born in 490/1097 probably in the fortress of Lamasar. He was given training by his father, and proved an able and competent administrator. He was assisted by his one young brother Kiya Ali, who led many expeditions and died in 538/1144. In the early part of Muhammad bin Kiya's reign, the area under the control of Alamut was extended in Daylam and Gilan, where several new castles were taken or constructed, such as Sa'adatkuh, Mubarakkuh and Firuzkuh. These castles were acquired chiefly through the efforts of an Ismaili commander, called Kiya Muhammad bin Ali Khusaro Firuz. The Ismailis are also reported to have extended their mission to Georgia, and penetrated their influence in an entirely new region, Ghor (also called Ghoristan), to the east of Kohistan, between Ghazna and Herat in central Afghanistan, around 550/1155 during the period of the Ghorid ruler Alauddin (544-556/1149-1161). His son and successor Saifuddin Muhammad (d. 558/1163) was a deadly enemy of the Ismailis, and conducted a massacre of the Ismaili dais and the new converts in 557/1162 at Ghor. Henceforward, it became a tradition of the Ghorids to hunt and kill the Ismailis in Afghanistan and India. Ghiasuddin (d. 599/1203), the nephew of Alauddin ascended the throne, who appointed his brother, Muhammad to the government of Ghazna with a title of Shihabuddin. After the death of Ghiasuddin, his brother Shihabuddin Muhammad rose to the power, assuming the title of Muizzuddin instead of Shihabuddin, who made several military operations in India.
Meanwhile, the northern Iranian Ismailis were confronted with Shah Ghazi Rustam bin Ala ad-Dawla Ali (534-558/1140-1163), the Bawandid ruler of Mazandaran and Gilan. It is recounted that Shah Girdbazu, the son of Shah Ghazi, was sent to Khorasan to serve at the court of Sanjar, but he had been killed by the Ismailis in 537/1142, and in another attempt, Shah Ghazi himself was rescued. The sources at our disposal admit that the Bawandid ruler Shah Ghazi shook his hand with the Seljuqs and fought the Ismailis on numerous occasions, and also invaded Alamut, which remained foiled all the times. He however seized the castles of Mihrin and Mansurakuh from the Ismailis in Qummis. On one occasion, Shah Ghazi attacked on the Ismaili inhabitants of Rudhbar and devastated their properties. He had reportedly killed a large number of the Ismailis and erected towers of their heads.

In 535/1141, the Ismailis are said to have killed their deadly enemy Jawhar, the Seljuqid commander in Sanjar's camp in Khorasan. Abbas, the Seljuq amir of Ray, had slaughtered a large number of the Ismailis in reprisal. He also raided the Ismaili localities near Alamut. His terrible operations remained continued, therefore, the Ismailis sent an emissary to sultan Sanjar in 541/1146, asking his invervention in this context. It appears that Abbas did not refrained from his hostalities despite several attempts of Sanjar. He was however killed on his way to Baghdad, and the Seljuqs sent his head to Alamut.

The Seljuqid sultan Sanjar once arrived in Ray, where he had been misinformed the doctrines of the Ismailis. He sent his messenger to Alamut to know the creeds of the Ismailis. The Ismailis gave a reply to the messenger that, 'It is our principle to believe in the grandeur and greatness of God, to obey His ordinances, to act on the Shariah as shown by God in Koran and by His Prophet, and to have a faith in dooms-day, reward and punishments of deeds. No one is authorized to alter these ordinances at his will.' The messenger was further told, 'Tell to your king that these are our beliefs. It is well if he is satisfied, otherwise send his scholar, so that we may discuss with him.' It appears that Sultan Sanjar refrained from his inimical attitude towards the Ismailis after getting above reply. Juvaini (p. 682) writes that, 'I saw several of Sanjar's firmans which had been preserved in their (Ismailis) library (of Alamut) and in which he conciliated and flattered them; and from these, I was able to deduce the extent to which the sultan connived at their actions and sought to be on peaceful terms with them. In short, during his reign they (the Ismailis) enjoyed ease and tranquillity.'

The promising time for Ismaili Imam's appearance from dawr-i satr (concealment period) was very near, therefore, Imam al-Kahir bin al- Mohtadi bin al-Hadi bin al-Nizar took over the power of Nizari state from Muhammad bin Kiya Buzrug in 554/1159 and designated him as his vizir.

Muhammad bin Kiya Buzrug died on 3rd Rabi I, 557/February 20, 1162 and was buried next to the tombs of Hasan bin Sabbah and Kiya Buzrug Ummid. He governed as a ruler for 22 years, and 2 years as a vizir of al-Kahir.

Hitherto, the Nizari Ismaili rule in Alamut had been governed by the following three hujjats as the territorial rulers:-

1. Hasan bin Sabbah : 483-518/1090-1124 : 35 years
2. Kiya Buzrug Ummid : 518-532/1124-1138 : 14 years
3. Muhammad bin Kiya : 532-554/1138-1159 : 22 years

Henceforward, the Ismaili Imams themselves began to govern both the political and religious affairs in Alamut, and before that, there were three Imams in concealment. It must be known that in the veiled era, according to the Ismailis, the Imam would have to be represented by his hujjat among his followers. Thus, the hujjat was himself a living proof, acting as the custodian until the time of the Imam's reappearance. In sum, when the Imam is concealed, his hujjat must be visible to act as a link between the Imam and the followers. The extant sources however admit that Hasan bin Sabbah, Kiya Buzrug Ummid and Muhammad bin Kiya had executed themselves as the hujjats, which is one of the strongest evidences to admit that one Imam in every time indeed existed in Alamut. The term hujjat in the Ismailis was ample to understand the existence of the Imam in concealment, known only to his hujjat. The brief biographies of the three concealed Imams are given below:-

AL-HADI BIN AL-NIZAR (490-530/1097-1136)

Abu Ali Hasan, or Ali, surnamed al-Hadi was born in Cairo in 470/1076. He was about 17 years old on the eve of the death of Imam al- Mustansir, and 20 years during assumption of Imamate in 490/1097. Henceforward, the seat of Imamate transferred from Egypt to Iran owing to the bifurcation among the Ismailis, where Hasan bin Sabbah had founded the Ismaili state in the fortress of Alamut.

Imam al-Nizar is reported to have been killed in Cairo, most probably in 490/1097 in imprisonment. Hafiz Abru (d. 833/1430) writes in his 'Majma al-Tawarikh-i Sultaniyya' (p. 242) that, 'Only one of al-Nizar's sons was arrested with him, and the other son disappeared in Alexandria, who was neither arrested nor recognised.' This seems an erroneous account, as the arrested sons were Abu Abdullah al-Hasan and Abu Abdullah al-Hussain, who were prominent figures in the Fatimid court. The third son under shadow was Ali al-Hadi, who had managed to escape from Alexandria.

After the death of al-Nizar, there appeared no Nizari Ismailis opposition in Egypt against the ruling Fatimid empire. Certain influences of the Nizari Ismailis however have been known in Egypt, whom according to 'Tarikh-i Misr' by Ibn Muyassar, Hasan bin Sabbah is said to have sent material aids in 518/1123-4. It is reported that al-Afdal closed down the Dar al-Hikmah where he found many professions supporting the cause of al-Nizar. Ibn Zafir (d. 613/1216) states in 'Akhbar ad-Dawla al-Munqatia' (pp. 97-111) that the two sons of al- Nizar rebelled in turn after escaping from prison. Abu Abdullah al-Hasan rebelled against al-Hafiz (524-544/1131-1149) in 528/1133, while Abu Abdullah al-Hussain rose against al-Adid (555-567/1160-1171) in 557/1161, assuming the title of al-Muntasir billah. These rebellions ultimately were suppressed due to having handful supporters, but it most possibly forced the Fatimid authority to focus their attention upon the handful followers of al-Nizar in Egypt, resulting al-Nizar's third son, al-Hadi to escape from their notice.

It appears from the historical report that al-Nizar had managed to send away his son and successor al-Hadi in Maghrib before his submission through his most confident follower, named Abu'l Hasan as-Sa'idi. It is almost certain that they boarded a vessel from Alexandria for Meila, and after crossing Mount Bouiblan and Muluya river, they reached at Rissani, near Erfoud and stayed in the house of al-Nizar's aunt in Sijilmasa. Ali bin Yousuf (480-500/1087-1106), the Almoravid ruler had captured Sijilmasa in 450/1056 and dominated it when al-Hadi had been there. Al-Hadi however kept his identity completely secret in Sijilmasa.

The narrative of al-Nizar, however, in 'Kitab al-Akhbar wa'l Athar' by Muhammad Abu'l Makrem is absolutely inaccurate and far from the truth. It recounts that the escaping Imam from Alexandria was al-Nizar himself, who came in Sijilmasa, and then made his way to the castle of Alamut. This narrative is most probably spurious as it does not occur in any well-established sources. Ibn Khallikan, Ibn Athir, Ibn Khaldun and Makrizi are the accredited authorities on Fatimid history, and they also admit that al-Nizar was taken prisoner to Cairo, and was killed in the prison. De Lacy O'Leary is an outstanding European scholar, who had investigated the primary sources of Fatimid period, and writes in 'The Short History of the Fatimid Khilafat' (London, 1923, p. 212) that, 'Nizar's subsequent life is totally unknown. He was either imprisoned in absolute secrecy, or put to death: stories were told of both these ends, but nothing was ever known for certain.' It seems that the entire matter was over in the beginning of 489/1096, because al-Musta'li had intimated the whole story to the governors of his realm through a letter dated 8th Safar, 489/February, 1096.

Granted for a while that al-Nizar had escaped from Alexandria, then it is most possible that al-Afdal had not returned to Cairo and had made an intensive search. Besides the preceding, his most confident supporter, Iftigin had also accompanied him, had al-Nizar made his secret way out of Alexandria. It is therefore, not possible to value the doubtful version of Muhammad Abu'l Makrem.

The Nizari Ismaili influence also penetrated in the Maghrib, and we are told that some of the followers of al-Nizar in Berber tribe had engineered revolts against the later Fatimid rulers from their base in the Maghrib, which was not in the Fatimid control since 442/1050.

It seems probable that Abu'l Hasan as-Sa'idi had moved from Sijilmasa with Imam al-Hadi after the death of al-Musta'li in 495/1095. After a long and tedious journey, they alighted in the vicinity of Rudhbar, the chief city of Daylam in Iran after crossing the ranges of Mount Taliqan. Since Alamut was immured and stormed ceaselessly by the Seljuqs at that time, al-Hadi had to conceal either in the villages of Rudhbar, or in some remote place. He was taken to the vicinity of Alamut after restoration of peace, which was only known to Hasan bin Sabbah and none else. He caused Imam's dwelling in a village at the foot of Alamut. Abu'l Hasan as-Sa'idi is said to have stayed about six months, and then he returned to Egypt. Imam al-Hadi finally made his footing in the castle of Alamut after the death of Hasan bin Sabbah in 518/1124. The period under review denotes the second dawr-i satr of the Ismaili history (490-559/1097-1164), wherein three Imams lived in concealment during about 70 years, viz. al-Hadi, al-Muhtadi and al-Kahir. During the period of satr, the Ismaili hujjats governed the Nizari state, viz. Hasan bin Sabbah, Kiya Buzrug Ummid and Muhammad bin Kiya. The tradition widely famous about al-Hadi's arrival in Iran consists of very meagre details. The Ismaili tradition is cited in the later sources, namely 'Dabistan al-Mazahib' (comp. in 1653), 'Janat al-Amal' (comp. in 1886), 'Athar-i Muhammadi' (comp. in 1893) etc. It reads:- 'It is recounted by the Ismailis of Rudhbar and Kohistan that during the time of Hasan bin Sabbah, Abu'l Hasan as-Sa'idi, one of the confident persons, came in Alamut and brought a son of al-Nizar bin al-Mustansir, who was a legitimate Imam. Nobody except Hasan bin Sabbah knew about this secrecy. Hasan bin Sabbah treated Abu'l Hasan as-Sa'idi with honour and consideration and caused the Imam to dwell in a village at the foot of Alamut. Abu'l Hasan as-Sa'idi was allowed to return back after six months. Imam remained engaged in divine worship in seclusion, and then betrothed to a woman in that village, who bore a son, named al-Mohtadi.'

It ensues from a careful examination that the whole story of about 10 years has been packed and summed in the above single tradition. Al-Hadi was brought from Maghrib through the routes of Egypt, while the tradition simply indicates his arrival from Egypt to Iran. Secondly, it admits that this tradition was widely known among the Ismailis of Rudhbar and Kohistan, which must have been famous possibly long after the departure of al-Hadi from those places. Thirdly, Hasan bin Sabbah caused the living of al-Hadi at the foot of Alamut, which was only known to him, gives further clue to understand that the existence of al-Hadi around Alamut was also kept secret. Fourthly, it speaks al-Hadi's marriage in that village and the birth of his son. It transpires that al-Hadi would have been in the village till 500/1106 when his son al-Mohtadi was born. Fifthly, Ata Malik Juvaini has quoted the last will of Hasan bin Sabbah, whose concluding lines run:- 'And he charged, until such time as the Imam came to take possession of his kingdom' (p. 682). It also indicates that al-Hadi was yet in the vicinity of Alamut when Hasan bin Sabbah died in 518/1124. These narratives conclusively seem to show that al-Hadi had come in the castle after 518/1124. He must have inspected the administrative fabric and the Ismaili mission from Kiya Buzrug, and then had gone to live in the castle of Lamasar most probably after 526/1132.

Another less reliable story relates that the Imam brought from Egypt to Alamut was al-Mohtadi, the grandson of al-Nizar. This story seems to have been prevalent in the orbits, who believed that al-Nizar had only two sons and were imprisoned with him. It has been heretofore discussed that the whereabouts of al-Hadi had not been exposed in Cairo, and instead, the two other sons of al-Nizar were familiar in the court of Egypt. These sons had been also taken prisoners in Alexandria, which was enough for their opponents to cultivate a report that they had also arrested all the sons of al-Nizar. The age of al-Hadi was about 16-17 years during the ascension of al-Nizar, and those who definitely knew him, had spoken of him as the minor son of al-Nizar, which was a term continued to be employed for al-Hadi till his arrival in Alamut after 518/1124 when he was about 50 years old. On that juncture, the scholars seem to have drawn the conclusion that the arriving minor son of al-Nizar in Alamut should have been the son of al-Hadi, who was also 17-18 years old at that time. The theory of minor son thus became specific for al-Mohtadi, making him born in Egypt too. There is probably much truth in the traditional view, according to which the marriage of al-Hadi was actualised in the village at the foot of Alamut, and his son al-Mohtadi was the first Nizari Imam to be born in Iran, and therefore, the above assumption, purporting the arrival of al- Mohtadi seems doubtful and indecipherable.

It must be noticed that the major part of the life of al-Hadi passed in the shadow of the striking personalities of Hasan bin Sabbah and Kiya Buzrug Ummid. Abu Muhammad al-Iraqi in his 'al-Firaq' (Ms. 791 in the library of Sulemaniyya mosque, Istanbul) compiled soon after the fall of Alamut in 654/1256, and Zakariya Qazwini (1203-1283) in 'Athar al-Bilad wa-Akhbar al-Ibad' (comp. in 661/1263) admit the very presence of al-Hadi in Alamut. The Egyptian historian Ibn Muyassar (1231-1278) writes in 'Tarikh-i Misr' (p. 68) that, 'Hasan bin Sabbah introduced an Imam to his successors during his death-bed.'

Imam al-Hadi continued to guide his followers in the religious matters through Kiya Buzrug from Lamasar without making public appearance. The fragments of the traditions inform nothing for him. It is however sparsely recorded that there had been an open ground inside the castle of Lamasar, where he used to take interest in horse-riding and its breeding. It is also said that al-Hadi used to visit several times in the vicinity of Lamasar at night on horse in seclusion, and distributed foods and clothes to the poor villagers.

Imam al-Hadi died in 530/1136 at the age of 60 years, after bequeathing the office of the Imamate to his son, al-Mohtadi, when Kiya Buzrug was governing the Ismaili state in Alamut.