Ismaili History 614 - AL-MOHTADI BIN AL-HADI (530-552/1136-1157)

Muhammad bin Ali, surnamed al-Mohtadi is reported to have born in 500/1106 in the fortress of Lamasar. He was the first Ismaili Nizari Imam to be born in Iran. He is also called Muhtab and Muhammad I.
The Seljuq sultan Sanjar was ruling in Iran, while Iraq was under the control of sultan Masud. Sultan Malikshah III (547-548/1152-1153) was followed by Sanjar, and then Muhammad II (548-555/1153-1160). In Baghdad, the Abbasid caliph Rashid (529-530/1135-1136) had been dethroned by sultan Masud, and Muktadi had been placed on the throne, who ruled till 555/1160. He was harsh against the Ismailis, and caused the manuscripts of 'Ikhwan as-Safa' burnt in Baghdad, alongwith the writings of Ibn Sina in 545/1150. In Egypt, the Fatimid empire was in the hand of Abdul al-Hafiz (524-544/1130-1149), succeeded by al-Zafir (d. 549/1154) and al-Faiz (d. 555/1160).

Al-Mohtadi is said to have reorganized the Ismaili mission from his base in Lamasar. In 530/1136, he deputed dai Zayn bin Abi Faraj in Syria with a sealed letter. This letter is preserved in the manuscript of a dai Ibrahim bin Abi'l Fawaris, who copied it on 16th Shawal, 890/1502, in which al-Mohtadi addressed to his Syrian followers that:

'Verily, I am your Mawla Muhammad bin Ali bin Nizar. May God curse one who denies to believe the truth and covers it. We have charged dai Zayn ibn Abi Faraj ibn Abi'l Hasan ibn Ali with this pledge to make the truth cleared for you for the manifestation of the truth....'

In this letter, al-Mohtadi traces his lineage from al-Nizar for four times, and concludes that, 'After the termination of the 40th time(dawr-i arb'in), and (then) also after passing away of the 70th period (mudatu's sab'in), the time will be approaching for the appearance of the manifest truth (haq-i mubin) that will cause all the matters to obliterate and the earth will be glorified with the light of faith. The truth with His word (i.e., Imam) shall manifest in near future in the hearts of the seekers of gnosis.'

The above letter had been written as soon as al-Mohtadi assumed the Imamate in 530/1136, describing the passing away of 40 years of dawr-i satr (concealment period) from 490/1097. He also foretold the appearance of an Imam in his descent after completion of 70 years on the whole. It was a prediction most probably for the Great Resurrection (qiyamat-i qubra) celebrated by Imam Hasan II, the grandson of al-Mohtadi, in 559/1164.

Kiya Buzrug had laid a firm foundation of the Nizari state for an independent territorial rule, and also minted the Nizari coin. He died in 532/1138 after ruling for 14 years. Al-Mohtadi appointed his son Muhammad bin Kiya as the third hujjat and ruler.

Ismaili History 615 - The Nizarid coinage at Alamut

In 1966, the American Numismatic Society, New York acquired a great rarity of a coin, minted in 553/1158. It was illustrated in the American Numismatic Society's Annual Report for 1966 (pl.III,2). George C. Miles gave its detail in 'Coins of the Assassins of Alamut'(Orientalia Lovaniensa Periodica, 3-5, 1972-74, pp. 155-162). Its size is 14 mm., weighing 0.635 gm. Its obverse side bears the name, 'Muhammad bin (Kiya) Buzrug Ummid' and in the marginal legend, the name of the mint, kursi al-Daylam and the date 553 A.H. (1158 A.D.) have been clearly inscribed. The reverse area begins with the Shiite formula: 'Ali is the friend of God' and the next three lines read: 'al-Mustapha li dinillah, Nizar' (Nizar, the chosen for the religion of God). These three lines are followed by the marginal legend: 'amir al-mo'minin, salwat Allah alayhi wa-ala aba'ihi al-tahirin wa-abna'hi al-akramin' (the blessings of God be upon him and upon his ancestors, the pure ones; and upon his descendants, the most honourable ones).
George C. Miles reproduced the photographs of the following six coins:

There are few other coins minted at kursi al-Daylam with the same legends, differing only in dates.

It implies that the six coins from above had been struck during the Imamate of al-Mohtadi (530-552/1136-1157), and the two coins during the period of his successor, al-Kahir (552-557/1157-1162). It must be remembered that the early Imams in Alamut lived in concealment. They could show their slight appearances, but not whereabouts. None among them had taken power of the Nizari state at that time, and therefore, the name of the ruler, Muhammad bin Kiya Buzrug (532-557/1138-1162) was struck in the coins for governing the state. Paula Sanders however remarks in his 'Ritual, Politics, and the City in Fatimid Cairo' (New York, 1994, p. 85) that, 'The authority of the Fatimid caliph was challenged by the coins struck by the Nizaris at Alamut in the name of Nizar.'

The above coins however bear the benedictory words, invoking the prayers for al-Nizar, his ancestors and his descendants. This antique and numismatic evidence further concludes that the descendants of al-Nizar in fact existed in Alamut, and rules out an idea of the historians, purporting the discontinuation of the Nizarid line. Ibn Khallikan (1211-1282) writes in his 'Wafayat al-A'yan' (tr. de Slane, Paris, 1868, 1st vol., p. 160) that, 'Nizar is the person from whom the Ismaili princes (Imams), the possessors of the fortress of Alamut and other castles in Persia; trace their descent.'

Meanwhile, the Seljuq sultan Daud, who had severely domineered on the Ismailis in Azerbaijan and was becoming a major threat. In 538/1143, four Ismaili fidais had to kill him at Tabriz to avoid further massacres.

Ismaili History 616 - Analysis of the fictitious story in 'Athar-i Muhammadi'

Muhammad Taqi bin Ali Reza compiled 'Athar-i Muhammadi' in 1310/1893, dealing with the history of the Ismaili Imams. It relates one incredible story that Kiya Buzrug Ummid had made a will to his son, Muhammad bin Kiya that he must give up the power in favour of al- Mohtadi when he grew young. One day, when Muhammad bin Kiya asked about it to al-Mohtadi, the latter said, 'This is the task of my son Hasan after our death.' Muhammad bin Kiya feared to hear it, since al-Mohtadi had no male issue at that time. When al-Mohtadi was at death-bed, he summoned Muhammad bin Kiya, and said, 'My wife is expecting a child. You take her to your house after me and do not make a little snag in her treatment. She will bear a son, whom you name 'Hasan', because he will be like his forefather in beauty, virtue, knowledge, ethic, fame and grandeur. You must consider him as your own son, and deliver him the power.' Thus, Muhammad bin Kiya acted upon these instructions.
Granted that the above story is historically genuine, then it implies that al-Kahir would have been born in 552/1157 immediately after the death of his father, al-Mohtadi. It determines the age of al-Kahir for five years when he died in 557/1162, which is absolutely false.

Secondly, the above story indicates the name of the son of al-Mohtadi as 'Hasan' instead of al-Kahir, brushing off the historicity of al-Kahir. Granted for a while that the son of al-Mohtadi was Hasan, then it means that Hasan (or Hasan II) was hardly nine years old during his death in 561/1166, which is also unbelievable. In sum, the story of 'Athar-i Muhammadi' referred to above is quite fictitious and contrary to the Ismaili traditions.

Al-Mohtadi was also taking care of the horses bred by his father in the fortress of Lamasar. He is also reported to have taken visits of surrounding castles in Rudhbar. He died in 552/1157 at the age of 52 years. He had vested the office of Imamate in his elder son, al-Kahir.