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Ismaili History 419 - Wafi Ahmad in Salamia

The Ismaili dais in search of a new residence for their Imam came to Salamia and inspected the town and approached the owner, Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Saleh, who had transformed the town into a flourishing commercial centre. They told him that there was a Hashimite merchant from Basra who was desirous of settling in the town. He readily accepted and pointed out to them a site along the main street in the market, where existed a house belonging to a certain Abu Farha. The Ismaili dais bought it for their Imam and informed him about it. Wafi Ahmad arrived to his new residence as an ordinary merchant. He soon pulled down the old building and had new ones built in its place; and also built a new wall around it. He also built a tunnel inside his house, leading to the desert, whose length was about 12 miles. Money and treasures were carried on camels to the door of that tunnel at night. The door opened and the camels entered with their loads inside the house.

Salamia was a small town in Syria in the district of east of the Orontes, and is located at a distance of 32 kilometers to the south- east of Hammah, or 44 kilometers to the north-east of Hims. It lies in a fertile plain, about 1500 feet above the sea level, south of the Jabal al-A'la and on the margin of the Syrian steppe, standing on the main entrance of the Syrian desert.

It is an ancient Salamias or Salaminias of the Greek, which flourished in the Christian period. According to Yaqut in 'Mudjam' (3rd vol., p. 123), the town was originally called Salam-miyyah (a hundred safe) after the hundred surviving inhabitants of the destroyed town of al-Mutafika, who migrated to this town, which they built and the expression was changed with the years until it became Salamia. There is a foundation inscription of a mosque on a stone at the entrance to the citadel, dating 150/767 founded by the local Hashimites and was destroyed by the Qarmatians in 290/902. It will be perhaps appropriate to say that the modern Salamia in Syria was prospered by the Ismailis. According to 'The Encyclopaedia of Islam' (Leiden, 1995, 8th vol., p. 921), 'The fact that Salamiyya was the centre of an important branch of the Hashimids and the isolated position of the town perhaps account for its important role in the early history of the Ismaili movement as the secret headquarters of the pre-Fatimid Ismaili dawa.'

The adherents and dais began to rush privily to Salamia. Like in Nishapur, Wafi Ahmad was also known locally as attar (druggist) in Salamia.

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