History of the Ismai'ili Assassin Society (c. 1080—1275)

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Background & Introduction

The Fatimid empire was weakened by the Sunni Ayubids and Abbasids.

History:— The Ismailis are a distinct branch of Shia Islam, which first split off from mainstream Shia Islam during the turn of the 9th century.[1] This division wasn't dramatic, and was similar to the split between the original Shia and Sunni Islam.[1] The disagreement was purely political, based on the succession of the imams who represented the lineage of Muhammad.[1] The Shia supported Musa for the appointment of the 8th Imam, but the Ismailis supported Ismail (the brother of Musa).[1] Hence those who supported Ismail became known as the "Ismailis".[1] The Shia's—and therefore by extension the Ismailis—opposed the ruling Sunni Abbasid Caliphs.[1] Things turned dramatic when the Ismaili leader Ubaydulla established the Fatimid dynasty in 909, claiming he was directly related to Ali and Fatima (the latter of whom was the daughter of Muhammad); and he thereby had the right to lead the Muslim world.[1] By 969, the Fatimids conquered Egypt, founding the city of Cairo (Al Kahira).[1] By 970 the Fatimids created one of the oldest universities in the world today; University Mosque, Cairo, and it soon became a leading center of education.[1] However during the Crusades the Fatimids began losing power as the Sunni leadership united into a single faction to destroy the invading Crusading armies who were terrorizing the Arabian hinterlands.[1] Saladin, who was Sunni, and having dealt with the Crusaders, killed the last leader of the Fatimid Caliphate in 1171, thereby establishing the Ayubid Dynasty.[1] The rest of the empire went to the Abbasids.[1] Fleeing for their survival, the Fatimid Ismailis ran for Persia where they were already living independently,[1] in the form of Hasan Sabbah's Ismaili State; in the Valley of Assassins (also known as the "Hashashin").

Alamut Castle:— In the 11th century Hassan Sabbah (1034—1124), who was the leader of the Hashashins settled in Alamut Castle in what is now modern day Iran.[2] The castle itself was strong, ancient, secretive and strategic; having been built by the Justanid Dynasty (791—974) prior to it being captured in 1090. Set 6,980 feet above sea level, and consisting of only a single but dangerous road leading to the castle's inner gates,[2] it became an important centre of intelligence gathering, higher education, training, kidnappings, assaults and assassinations. The fortress gave the Ismaili minority absolute secrecy from the hostile empires that threatened to destroy them. As the threat from the daring assassins grew, the Ismailis became increasingly reliant on the base of operations for their own protection. The chief aims of the organisation were firstly to destroy it's political opponents through necessary violent public assassination;[2] with the condition that it must never be done in secret so as to intimidate the enemy. Their opponents were initially the Fatimids themselves,[2] but grew to include the Abbasids,[2] and Seljuk dynasties,[2] but also later included the invading European Crusaders and the Asiatic Hordes of Mongols. The elite soldiers, called the "Fedayin", were the chief instigators of the Ismaili public political assassinations, and turned their murders into an art form.[2] Sabbah passed away in 1124,[2] but his legacy would live; his followers went on to capture the Syrian castles of Qadmus (1132) and Maysaf (1140); making their presence known throughout the known world.[2] The Alamut itself was sacked in 1256 when the Mongols destroyed the inhabitants of the fortress, burning with it the historical library detailing the assassins history, customs and operations.

14th century depiction of an assassination.
  1. Ḥasan Ṣabbāḥ (—1124)—1st Lord of Alamut (1094—1124)[3]
  2. Kiā Bozorg-Omid (—1138)—2nd Lord of Alamut (1124—1138)[3]
  3. Mo-ḥammad (—1162)—3rd Lord of Alamut (1138—1162)[3]
  4. Ḥasan II "ʿalā ḏekrehe’l-salām" (—1166)—4th Lord of Alamut (1162—1166)[3]
  5. Nur-al-Din Moḥammad (—1210)—5th Lord of Alamut (1166—1210)[3]
  6. Jalāl-al-Din Ḥasan (—1221)—6th Lord of Alamut (1210—1221)[3]
  7. ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Moḥammad (—1255)—7th Lord of Alamut (1221—1255)[3]

By the start of the 1200s, the history of the Ismaili sect becomes more difficult to ascertain.[1] However what is known is that the Nizari Ismailis became bitter rivals to the Sunni Abbasids for the control of the Muslim world.[1] The Nizaris had few resources and so used this to their advantage; forming political assassination hits of their enemies and rivals.[1] From the very beginning the Nizaris used this doctrine to conquer to fortress of Almut in Persia, which was believed to have been impeneterable to any military attack.[1] By the time of the Christians Crusaders, who even used their services for political murder, the Ismailis became targeted scapegoats and symbols of assassination,[1] on both sides of the holy war.

Alamut Castle was taken over in a bloodless coup in 1080 or 1090.

History

c. 1080—c. 1124

Alamut Castle was taken over in a bloodless coup in 1080 or 1090.

Location:— Sabbah meticulously chose Alamut, as he was already wanted by the Sultan; warrants were out for his arrest; but he was not able to be found and so needed a place that was difficult to reach.[4] He was in actual fact hiding in Qazvin before finalizing his plans to conquer the Alamut.[4] He chose this castle specifically because the Valley below it was fertile, populated mostly by Shia Muslims and Ismaili Muslims who traditionally cultivated rice,[5] and the fact that it was easily defensible, and difficult to scale.[4] The castle had never in its 200 year old history been conquered before by any army.[4] Additionally, also aware that the vizier Nezam al-Molk had warrants out for his arrest, Sabbah set out for the longer road towards the Alamut, travelling through Ashkavar, scaling the mountains and arriving behind the castle.[4] The road from Qazvin to Andej was shorter but expected to be much more dangerous given that the authorities were in active search of him.[4] He arrived in Andej, and masked himself as a schoolteacher, named "Dehkhoda". Whilst there, he was met by his loyal supporters, who he ordered be sent to the Alamut in search of employment.[4] Some of them even settled themselves at the foot of the castle in the village of Gazorkhan, just in case they needed to be summoned quickly.[4] Sabbah even entered the castle himself in the same guise he had been since arriving at Andej.[4] It was here that soldiers were befriended and converted over to the Ismaili faith.[4] Assurances and alliances having been built, without so much as the original lord of the Alamut knowing, Sabbah revealed his true identity and overtook the castle in a bloodless coup; kindly also paying 3,000 gold dinars as compensation for the lord's loss.[4]

Sandwiched:— Sabbah preached Ismailism on behalf of the Fatimids, deep inside the Sunni Seljuks regions of Persia, before he conquered the fortress of Alamut in 1090.[3] This newly formed independent power was in practical terms now in open rebellion against the successors of the Abbasids and Ayubids—the Seljuq Turks—who had implemented anti-Shia policies.[3] The Seljuqs in fact wanted to get rid of the Ismaili Fatimids as well if they could get an upper hand over them.[3] Symbolising this open revolt Sabbah chose the Persian language, rather than the traditional Arabic, as the religious language amongst the Ismailis, also done in efforts of showing sympathy to their Persian hosts, who resented being ruled under the thumb of the Turks.[3] Eventually Sabbah would sever his relations with the Fatimids, and truly begin to lead an independent state centred around the Alamut.[3] Sabbah had in effect devised a strategy to exhaust the Seljuqs through attacking local strategic positions via the occupation of the invaluable and impenetrable mountainous castles.[3] By 1096, he had managed to either conquer, or build for themselves, a number of mountainous strongholds in the Rudbar region, thereby possessing a significant network of castles and towns which served as secondary bases.[3] By the time of Sabbah's death in 1124, the Ismailis and the Seljuqs war had reached a stalemate, which would continue well until the Mongols invasion in 1256 where the Ismailis almost went extinct, were it not for the Muslim rulers of Islamic India who had permitted the Ismailis to settle there,[3] now currently threatened by Hindu terrorism.

Alamut and the surrounding network of castles in Northern Iran.

c. 1124—c. 1256

Seljuq warriors.

Death of the Lord of Alamut:— Sabbah fell ill between May (or June) of 1124, and for a while he did not show his illness publicly, preferring to work his usual routine.[11] As his illness became worse, he appointed Koya Buzurg Ummid of Lamasar as his successor, also making Dihdar Abu-Ali Ardistani the head of the Chancery of Dawa and Finance.[11] He also made Hasan Adam Qasrani and Kiya Ba-Jafar members of his council until the next Imam came "to take possession of his kingdom, to act in concert and agreement".[11] On May 23rd, 1124, Sabbah passed away in the castle.[11] He had stayed at the Alamut for 35 years, and had only ventured out twice according to some historians, on both occasions only observing the new moon,[11] whilst others have said he never left the castle during his "34 year" reign.[12] His death was mourned in the Ismaili community but the residents of the Alamut would continue to occupy the fortress, being lead by another six lords before their eviction in 1256, who would continue to serve the Ismaili tradition left behind by the Old Man of the Mountain. Sabbah had managed to survive eight years worth of sieges by the Seljuq Turks, who would not leave the Ismailis alone until the death of their sultan in 1118 which gave them some respite and time to consolidate their resources for the wars yet to come.[12] Sabbah left a legacy as a great organiser, military commander, strategist and learned man who had deeply been impassioned by and studied philosophy, theology, astronomy,[12] and other sciences. The Ismailis revered him so much that they even referred to him as "our master" and would visit his shrine regularly to pay their respects long after he died.[12] He wasn't only a leader, but considered a father to many, who saved the Ismaili sect.

Mongol Invasion:— When the Mongol invasions began to affect the Asian and Arabian empires, the fortunes of the Ismailis at Alamut began to reverse for the worse.[3] This was especially the case when the Kvarazmian empire had fallen, bringing the Mongols into direct contact with the assassin order.[3] The Mongols had wanted to strike against the Ismailis not only to conquer them but to destroy their state totally.[3] The 1256 expedition of Hulegu into Persia presented itself as an opportunity to open diplomatic channels; the assassins tried to negotiate with them, but found this futile.[3] The assassins saw no other option other than to surrender to the Mongols; and they did so on November 19th, 1256; and the castle followed soon after a month later.[3] The fortresses were demolished, the libraries burned and the inhabitants massacred, and their history was almost totally destroyed.[3] What leaders were left in the prisons of the Mongol empire were murdered outright, including those under the very protection of the Mongol guards.[3] The last Nizari outpost decided to surrender to the Muslim Mamluks in 1273 rather than the Mongols.[3] From that moment on in 1256, the assassins were no more.[3] The Ismailis soon began living secretly however, in the scattered remnents of their communities across the Asian continent.[3] The Ismailis were actually lucky not to have suffered totally at the hands of the Mongols, in 1258 for example the Mongols murdered up to 1,000,000 people in Baghdad, burning libraries, palaces, places of worship and cultural sites, from which they never recovered.

Hulegu captured the Alamut in 1256; the Ismailis surrendered voluntarily.

Legacy

Recruitment

Turkic Houris, Persia (15th Cen.).

Hashish Influence:— The Assassin's recruited members by selecting and intoxicating recruits with cannibinoids.[13][14][15] According to reports by the Venetian explorer Marco Polo who stayed as a guest at Sabbah's castle, these recruits would be knocked out and transferred to a place mimicking paradise; full of beautiful women, food and drinks.[15] After experiencing heaven on earth, the recruit would be knocked out again until he awoke, and placed in front of the lord of Alamut, where they could pledge loyalty to the "fedai" for a sacred cause—a sacrifice for the sacred purpose of protecting the Ismailis.[15] This method was useful as it gave impetus to the recruit to give up their lives for a part in heaven; where they would readily sacrifice themselves, and face their deaths if it was necessitated.[15] This is actually a mandated principle in Islam where the reward for a solider who sacrifices themselves for the Muslim world is granted special treatment in the afterlife (such as beautiful women created of red Saffron, having big black eyes, round and volumptuous breasts, and alabaster skin[16]—the Arab beauty standard at the time,[n. 1] but particular emphasis is placed on the fact that men and women will get what they wish for in heaven—the women need not necessarily be White—indeed Turkic, African, and Asian women are not excluded).[17] These assassins were educated in many languages, customs, methods of murder, secretly taught how to use a multitude of weapons, as well as to be absolutely loyal, and blindly obedient to their superiors.[15] This training inspired many other groups such as the Sarbedars, who were active in the 14th century to take up arms against the Mongols.[15]

Tactics

Impact & Legend:— The legend of the Assassin's grew to spectacular heights throughout their history, and they soon became legendary throughout the world for their brazen way of life,[n. 2] known for attacking high profile targets.[18] They never intended for their story to spread so far and wide, but became so, as they slaughtered their victims on holy days and festivals, in venerated sites and even in the royal courts themselves.[18] These assassinations were designed to cause as much fear as possible, however this did not mean that the group wanted witnesses; indeed they were concerned at drawing attention to themselves only on some occasions, and not so much in others.[18] Their tactics were to attack their enemies not only physically, but psychologically, emotionally, and imaginatively.[18] After a successful operation, the Ismailis would accept that they too would be either be murdered on the spot, or tortured to death, and so accepted their fate.[18] This would actually confuse their enemies.[18] The Assassin's carried out these attacks because they never had a land army of their own, and nor did they conquer or had the potential to conquer large territories.[19] They were a minority group, centered around much larger and powerful empires. They were however different to say, the Thuggee cult of India who murdered and robbed their victims for profit, gaining a different sort of infamy. In actual fact, strangely, most of the members of the cult were Muslims who wouldn't give up their Hindu customs.[20][n. 3]

The Thuggee were mostly Muslims, but different to the Hashishins.

Video-games

Assassin's Creed (2007), showing the Muslim character of Altair, fighting the Knight's Templar.

Computer & Video-games:— The Assassin's have left an enduring imprint on video-game culture most prominently through the "Assassin's Creed" franchise which was first created in 2007.[30][31] Patrice Désilets, creative director and creator of the franchise, was directly inspired by the secret society after having worked on "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2003)", having remembered reading a book on the secret order a month after finishing the game.[32] The global video games industry itself is estimated to be worth $100 billion dollars (2017),[33][34] more than $60 billion dollars than Hollywood (estimated to bring in at least $38 billion dollars in 2017 alone).[33] "Assassins Creed" by contrast has sold over 73 million copies between 2007 and 2014.[35][n. 5] It is by far French developer Ubisoft's most popular games franchise, closely followed behind by the "Just Dance" series.[35] The "Prince of Persia" series, the gameplay mechanics of which also inspired the "Assassin's Creed" franchise,[32] has sold only 20 million copies comparatively.[35] Although the series is produced at a rate of at least one game per year, it has drifted on from the originals now involving multiple historical settings. However, the core concepts of a secret order has carried on throughout the plot in a formula that has repeatedly worked for the company. The series has proven so successful that it has even lead to many spin offs, including films, books, and comics. Unfortunately the Muslim world has not benefited from it's success, even though its history and concepts are used within the game (though a few key people of Muslim heritage have worked on it).

===Background & Introduction===
The Fatimid empire was weakened by the Sunni Ayubids and Abbasids.

History:— The Ismailis are a distinct branch of Shia Islam, which first split off from mainstream Shia Islam during the turn of the 9th century.[1] This division wasn't dramatic, and was similar to the split between the original Shia and Sunni Islam.[1] The disagreement was purely political, based on the succession of the imams who represented the lineage of Muhammad.[1] The Shia supported Musa for the appointment of the 8th Imam, but the Ismailis supported Ismail (the brother of Musa).[1] Hence those who supported Ismail became known as the "Ismailis".[1] The Shia's—and therefore by extension the Ismailis—opposed the ruling Sunni Abbasid Caliphs.[1] Things turned dramatic when the Ismaili leader Ubaydulla established the Fatimid dynasty in 909, claiming he was directly related to Ali and Fatima (the latter of whom was the daughter of Muhammad); and he thereby had the right to lead the Muslim world.[1] By 969, the Fatimids conquered Egypt, founding the city of Cairo (Al Kahira).[1] By 970 the Fatimids created one of the oldest universities in the world today; University Mosque, Cairo, and it soon became a leading center of education.[1] However during the Crusades the Fatimids began losing power as the Sunni leadership united into a single faction to destroy the invading Crusading armies who were terrorizing the Arabian hinterlands.[1] Saladin, who was Sunni, and having dealt with the Crusaders, killed the last leader of the Fatimid Caliphate in 1171, thereby establishing the Ayubid Dynasty.[1] The rest of the empire went to the Abbasids.[1] Fleeing for their survival, the Fatimid Ismailis ran for Persia where they were already living independently,[1] in the form of Hasan Sabbah's Ismaili State; in the Valley of Assassins (also known as the "Hashashin").

14th century depiction of an assassination.

Alamut Castle:— In the 11th century Hassan Sabbah (1034—1124), who was the leader of the Hashashins settled in Alamut Castle in what is now modern day Iran.[2] The castle itself was strong, ancient, secretive and strategic; having been built by the Justanid Dynasty (791—974) prior to it being captured in 1090. Set 6,980 feet above sea level, and consisting of only a single but dangerous road leading to the castle's inner gates,[2] it became an important centre of intelligence gathering, higher education, training, kidnappings, assaults and assassinations. The fortress gave the Ismaili minority absolute secrecy from the hostile empires that threatened to destroy them. As the threat from the daring assassins grew, the Ismailis became increasingly reliant on the base of operations for their own protection. The chief aims of the organisation were firstly to destroy it's political opponents through necessary violent public assassination;[2] with the condition that it must never be done in secret so as to intimidate the enemy. Their opponents were initially the Fatimids themselves,[2] but grew to include the Abbasids,[2] and Seljuk dynasties,[2] but also later included the invading European Crusaders and the Asiatic Hordes of Mongols. The elite soldiers, called the "Fedayin", were the chief instigators of the Ismaili public political assassinations, and turned their murders into an art form.[2] Sabbah passed away in 1124,[2] but his legacy would live; his followers went on to capture the Syrian castles of Qadmus (1132) and Maysaf (1140); making their presence known throughout the known world.[2] The Alamut itself was sacked in 1256 when the Mongols destroyed the inhabitants of the fortress, burning with it the historical library detailing the assassins history, customs and operations.

  1. Ḥasan Ṣabbāḥ (—1124)—1st Lord of Alamut (1094—1124)[3]
  2. Kiā Bozorg-Omid (—1138)—2nd Lord of Alamut (1124—1138)[3]
  3. Mo-ḥammad (—1162)—3rd Lord of Alamut (1138—1162)[3]
  4. Ḥasan II "ʿalā ḏekrehe’l-salām" (—1166)—4th Lord of Alamut (1162—1166)[3]
  5. Nur-al-Din Moḥammad (—1210)—5th Lord of Alamut (1166—1210)[3]
  6. Jalāl-al-Din Ḥasan (—1221)—6th Lord of Alamut (1210—1221)[3]
  7. ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Moḥammad (—1255)—7th Lord of Alamut (1221—1255)[3]

By the start of the 1200s, the history of the Ismaili sect becomes more difficult to ascertain.[1] However what is known is that the Nizari Ismailis became bitter rivals to the Sunni Abbasids for the control of the Muslim world.[1] The Nizaris had few resources and so used this to their advantage; forming political assassination hits of their enemies and rivals.[1] From the very beginning the Nizaris used this doctrine to conquer to fortress of Almut in Persia, which was believed to have been impeneterable to any military attack.[1] By the time of the Christians Crusaders, who even used their services for political murder, the Ismailis became targeted scapegoats and symbols of assassination,[1] on both sides of the holy war.

Alamut Castle was taken over in a bloodless coup in 1080 or 1090.

History

c. 1080—c. 1124

Alamut Castle was taken over in a bloodless coup in 1080 or 1090.

Location:— Sabbah meticulously chose Alamut, as he was already wanted by the Sultan; warrants were out for his arrest; but he was not able to be found and so needed a place that was difficult to reach.[4] He was in actual fact hiding in Qazvin before finalizing his plans to conquer the Alamut.[4] He chose this castle specifically because the Valley below it was fertile, populated mostly by Shia Muslims and Ismaili Muslims who traditionally cultivated rice,[5] and the fact that it was easily defensible, and difficult to scale.[4] The castle had never in its 200 year old history been conquered before by any army.[4] Additionally, also aware that the vizier Nezam al-Molk had warrants out for his arrest, Sabbah set out for the longer road towards the Alamut, travelling through Ashkavar, scaling the mountains and arriving behind the castle.[4] The road from Qazvin to Andej was shorter but expected to be much more dangerous given that the authorities were in active search of him.[4] He arrived in Andej, and masked himself as a schoolteacher, named "Dehkhoda". Whilst there, he was met by his loyal supporters, who he ordered be sent to the Alamut in search of employment.[4] Some of them even settled themselves at the foot of the castle in the village of Gazorkhan, just in case they needed to be summoned quickly.[4] Sabbah even entered the castle himself in the same guise he had been since arriving at Andej.[4] It was here that soldiers were befriended and converted over to the Ismaili faith.[4] Assurances and alliances having been built, without so much as the original lord of the Alamut knowing, Sabbah revealed his true identity and overtook the castle in a bloodless coup; kindly also paying 3,000 gold dinars as compensation for the lord's loss.[4]

Alamut and the surrounding network of castles in Northern Iran.

Sandwiched:— Sabbah preached Ismailism on behalf of the Fatimids, deep inside the Sunni Seljuks regions of Persia, before he conquered the fortress of Alamut in 1090.[3] This newly formed independent power was in practical terms now in open rebellion against the successors of the Abbasids and Ayubids—the Seljuq Turks—who had implemented anti-Shia policies.[3] The Seljuqs in fact wanted to get rid of the Ismaili Fatimids as well if they could get an upper hand over them.[3] Symbolising this open revolt Sabbah chose the Persian language, rather than the traditional Arabic, as the religious language amongst the Ismailis, also done in efforts of showing sympathy to their Persian hosts, who resented being ruled under the thumb of the Turks.[3] Eventually Sabbah would sever his relations with the Fatimids, and truly begin to lead an independent state centred around the Alamut.[3] Sabbah had in effect devised a strategy to exhaust the Seljuqs through attacking local strategic positions via the occupation of the invaluable and impenetrable mountainous castles.[3] By 1096, he had managed to either conquer, or build for themselves, a number of mountainous strongholds in the Rudbar region, thereby possessing a significant network of castles and towns which served as secondary bases.[3] By the time of Sabbah's death in 1124, the Ismailis and the Seljuqs war had reached a stalemate, which would continue well until the Mongols invasion in 1256 where the Ismailis almost went extinct, were it not for the Muslim rulers of Islamic India who had permitted the Ismailis to settle there,[3] now currently threatened by Hindu terrorism.

|}

c. 1124—c. 1256

Seljuq warriors.

Death of the Lord of Alamut:— Sabbah fell ill between May (or June) of 1124, and for a while he did not show his illness publicly, preferring to work his usual routine.[11] As his illness became worse, he appointed Koya Buzurg Ummid of Lamasar as his successor, also making Dihdar Abu-Ali Ardistani the head of the Chancery of Dawa and Finance.[11] He also made Hasan Adam Qasrani and Kiya Ba-Jafar members of his council until the next Imam came "to take possession of his kingdom, to act in concert and agreement".[11] On May 23rd, 1124, Sabbah passed away in the castle.[11] He had stayed at the Alamut for 35 years, and had only ventured out twice according to some historians, on both occasions only observing the new moon,[11] whilst others have said he never left the castle during his "34 year" reign.[12] His death was mourned in the Ismaili community but the residents of the Alamut would continue to occupy the fortress, being lead by another six lords before their eviction in 1256, who would continue to serve the Ismaili tradition left behind by the Old Man of the Mountain. Sabbah had managed to survive eight years worth of sieges by the Seljuq Turks, who would not leave the Ismailis alone until the death of their sultan in 1118 which gave them some respite and time to consolidate their resources for the wars yet to come.[12] Sabbah left a legacy as a great organiser, military commander, strategist and learned man who had deeply been impassioned by and studied philosophy, theology, astronomy,[12] and other sciences. The Ismailis revered him so much that they even referred to him as "our master" and would visit his shrine regularly to pay their respects long after he died.[12] He wasn't only a leader, but considered a father to many, who saved the Ismaili sect.

Hulegu captured the Alamut in 1256; the Ismailis surrendered voluntarily.

Mongol Invasion:— When the Mongol invasions began to affect the Asian and Arabian empires, the fortunes of the Ismailis at Alamut began to reverse for the worse.[3] This was especially the case when the Kvarazmian empire had fallen, bringing the Mongols into direct contact with the assassin order.[3] The Mongols had wanted to strike against the Ismailis not only to conquer them but to destroy their state totally.[3] The 1256 expedition of Hulegu into Persia presented itself as an opportunity to open diplomatic channels; the assassins tried to negotiate with them, but found this futile.[3] The assassins saw no other option other than to surrender to the Mongols; and they did so on November 19th, 1256; and the castle followed soon after a month later.[3] The fortresses were demolished, the libraries burned and the inhabitants massacred, and their history was almost totally destroyed.[3] What leaders were left in the prisons of the Mongol empire were murdered outright, including those under the very protection of the Mongol guards.[3] The last Nizari outpost decided to surrender to the Muslim Mamluks in 1273 rather than the Mongols.[3] From that moment on in 1256, the assassins were no more.[3] The Ismailis soon began living secretly however, in the scattered remnents of their communities across the Asian continent.[3] The Ismailis were actually lucky not to have suffered totally at the hands of the Mongols, in 1258 for example the Mongols murdered up to 1,000,000 people in Baghdad, burning libraries, palaces, places of worship and cultural sites, from which they never recovered.

Legacy

Recruitment

Turkic Houris, Persia (15th Cen.).

Hashish Influence:— The Assassin's recruited members by selecting and intoxicating recruits with cannibinoids.[13][14][15] According to reports by the Venetian explorer Marco Polo who stayed as a guest at Sabbah's castle, these recruits would be knocked out and transferred to a place mimicking paradise; full of beautiful women, food and drinks.[15] After experiencing heaven on earth, the recruit would be knocked out again until he awoke, and placed in front of the lord of Alamut, where they could pledge loyalty to the "fedai" for a sacred cause—a sacrifice for the sacred purpose of protecting the Ismailis.[15] This method was useful as it gave impetus to the recruit to give up their lives for a part in heaven; where they would readily sacrifice themselves, and face their deaths if it was necessitated.[15] This is actually a mandated principle in Islam where the reward for a solider who sacrifices themselves for the Muslim world is granted special treatment in the afterlife (such as beautiful women created of red Saffron, having big black eyes, round and volumptuous breasts, and alabaster skin[16]—the Arab beauty standard at the time,[n. 6] but particular emphasis is placed on the fact that men and women will get what they wish for in heaven—the women need not necessarily be White—indeed Turkic, African, and Asian women are not excluded).[17] These assassins were educated in many languages, customs, methods of murder, secretly taught how to use a multitude of weapons, as well as to be absolutely loyal, and blindly obedient to their superiors.[15] This training inspired many other groups such as the Sarbedars, who were active in the 14th century to take up arms against the Mongols.[15]

Tactics

The Thuggee were mostly Muslims, but different to the Hashishins.

Impact & Legend:— The legend of the Assassin's grew to spectacular heights throughout their history, and they soon became legendary throughout the world for their brazen way of life,[n. 7] known for attacking high profile targets.[18] They never intended for their story to spread so far and wide, but became so, as they slaughtered their victims on holy days and festivals, in venerated sites and even in the royal courts themselves.[18] These assassinations were designed to cause as much fear as possible, however this did not mean that the group wanted witnesses; indeed they were concerned at drawing attention to themselves only on some occasions, and not so much in others.[18] Their tactics were to attack their enemies not only physically, but psychologically, emotionally, and imaginatively.[18] After a successful operation, the Ismailis would accept that they too would be either be murdered on the spot, or tortured to death, and so accepted their fate.[18] This would actually confuse their enemies.[18] The Assassin's carried out these attacks because they never had a land army of their own, and nor did they conquer or had the potential to conquer large territories.[19] They were a minority group, centered around much larger and powerful empires. They were however different to say, the Thuggee cult of India who murdered and robbed their victims for profit, gaining a different sort of infamy. In actual fact, strangely, most of the members of the cult were Muslims who wouldn't give up their Hindu customs.[20][n. 8]

Video-games

Assassin's Creed (2007), showing the Muslim character of Altair, fighting the Knight's Templar.

Computer & Video-games:— The Assassin's have left an enduring imprint on video-game culture most prominently through the "Assassin's Creed" franchise which was first created in 2007.[30][31] Patrice Désilets, creative director and creator of the franchise, was directly inspired by the secret society after having worked on "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2003)", having remembered reading a book on the secret order a month after finishing the game.[32] The global video games industry itself is estimated to be worth $100 billion dollars (2017),[33][34] more than $60 billion dollars than Hollywood (estimated to bring in at least $38 billion dollars in 2017 alone).[33] "Assassins Creed" by contrast has sold over 73 million copies between 2007 and 2014.[35][n. 10] It is by far French developer Ubisoft's most popular games franchise, closely followed behind by the "Just Dance" series.[35] The "Prince of Persia" series, the gameplay mechanics of which also inspired the "Assassin's Creed" franchise,[32] has sold only 20 million copies comparatively.[35] Although the series is produced at a rate of at least one game per year, it has drifted on from the originals now involving multiple historical settings. However, the core concepts of a secret order has carried on throughout the plot in a formula that has repeatedly worked for the company. The series has proven so successful that it has even lead to many spin offs, including films, books, and comics. Unfortunately the Muslim world has not benefited from it's success, even though its history and concepts are used within the game (though a few key people of Muslim heritage have worked on it).

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Sources

Footnotes

  1. ^ Muslims believe this description of the statement in the Qu'ran is not a racist as White skin is not unique to Europeans but common to Asians, Turks, Arabs and so on, but this verse is specific to Arabs only as the Qu'ran was revealed to the Arabs first and so the language is directed more towards them and their standards, although the Qu'ran is very clear that racism is against the teachings of Islam.
  2. ^ In 1253 even, at the dying days of the Ismaili assassins, the Mongols were even so afraid of the Hashashin that every man had any worth of importance wore body armour both day and night in order to protect themselves from murder.
    1. James Waterson (30 October 2008). The Ismaili Assassins: A History of Medieval Murder. p. First page of Chapter 1. Frontline Books. ISBN 978-1-78346-150-9.
  3. ^ The Thuggee were said to have been descended from seven Muslim tribes, and operated as early as the 7th century.
    1. Charles Phillips; Michael Kerrigan; David Gould (December 2011). Ancient India's Myths and Beliefs. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-4488-5990-0.
    The Thuggee were however not wholly violent; for instance the "Thuggee were forbidden by their religion to kill women, children, youth, Hindu and Muslim holy-men, carpenters, poor people and beggars, bards, water-carriers" and even "oil-vendors".
    1. Economic and Political Weekly. Sameeksha Trust. 1974. p. 1399-1401.
    2. Community Development and Panchayati Raj Digest. National Institute of Community Development. 1973. p. 60.
  4. ^ Former Emir of Aleppo, Syria. Several assassination attempts, requested by Malik al-Nasir, Egyptian sultan
  5. ^ The games by the end of 2014 genereted an income of $3.5 billion dollars for Ubisoft.
    1. John Gaudiosi (November 13th, 2014). Ubisoft banks on history with two new ‘Assassin’s Creed’ games. Fortune. Retrieved May 15th, 2016.
  6. ^ Muslims believe this description of the statement in the Qu'ran is not a racist as White skin is not unique to Europeans but common to Asians, Turks, Arabs and so on, but this verse is specific to Arabs only as the Qu'ran was revealed to the Arabs first and so the language is directed more towards them and their standards, although the Qu'ran is very clear that racism is against the teachings of Islam.
  7. ^ In 1253 even, at the dying days of the Ismaili assassins, the Mongols were even so afraid of the Hashashin that every man had any worth of importance wore body armour both day and night in order to protect themselves from murder.
    1. James Waterson (30 October 2008). The Ismaili Assassins: A History of Medieval Murder. p. First page of Chapter 1. Frontline Books. ISBN 978-1-78346-150-9.
  8. ^ The Thuggee were said to have been descended from seven Muslim tribes, and operated as early as the 7th century.
    1. Charles Phillips; Michael Kerrigan; David Gould (December 2011). Ancient India's Myths and Beliefs. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-4488-5990-0.
    The Thuggee were however not wholly violent; for instance the "Thuggee were forbidden by their religion to kill women, children, youth, Hindu and Muslim holy-men, carpenters, poor people and beggars, bards, water-carriers" and even "oil-vendors".
    1. Economic and Political Weekly. Sameeksha Trust. 1974. p. 1399-1401.
    2. Community Development and Panchayati Raj Digest. National Institute of Community Development. 1973. p. 60.
  9. ^ Former Emir of Aleppo, Syria. Several assassination attempts, requested by Malik al-Nasir, Egyptian sultan
  10. ^ The games by the end of 2014 genereted an income of $3.5 billion dollars for Ubisoft.
    1. John Gaudiosi (November 13th, 2014). Ubisoft banks on history with two new ‘Assassin’s Creed’ games. Fortune. Retrieved May 15th, 2016.

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