So many people suppose that Hassan al-Sabbah was the classmate of Nizam al-Mulk due to Amin Maalouf's "Samarkand" and Vladimir Bartol's "Alamut." Actually, the grand vizier was 30 years older than the leader of the hashashin, or assassins. Europeans have been taken in by myths rather than truth about the Middle East since the 13th century. They may want to believe that only their world is real and the Middle East is as much of a fairytale as old-school orientalism dictates. These two cases are completely dissimilar to the truth.
Named as science, tastes like manipulation
Bernard Lewis's faulty theses on Hassan al-Sabbah are examples of scientific manipulation. According to Lewis, a prominent mentor of British and U.S. intelligence, Middle Easterners are inclined to committing murder and assassination and they an unruly rabble if they are not disciplined by a tyrant. And his proof to testify to this argument is Mongol Hulagu Khan's ultimate dominance over Seljuk lands after Sabbath and his assassins terrorized the area.
Interestingly enough, years after these novels and Lewis's "The Assassins" were published, a hotbed of terrorism was created out of the Middle East, and afterward, a U.S.-dominated, multinational force occupied Iraq.
The birth of bigotry
When we pay attention to the truth and set myths aside, we firstly learn that Sabbah was an ordinary Persian man trying to portray himself as a Yemenite noble. His father was a Twelver (the largest branch in Shiism). At the age of seven, Sabbah began receiving an education in the city of Ray and was raised as a strict Imamiyyah Shiite.
Ray was a capital city where Fatimid da'i-s (an inviter to Ismailiyah) found disciples. Even though Shafiism was the prevalent sect and political control was about to be taken by the Seljuks, in what is now Iran, during Sabbah's childhood, each kind of fanatic from each kind of esoteric sect ran wild. The Cairo-centered Fatimid dynasty, which was an adherent to the Ismaili branch of Shiism, sent missionaries called da'i to certain regions. These missionaries were active in both Khorasan and Yemen.
Sabbah began debating with a da'i at the age of 17 and was influenced by esoteric ideas. Within just two years, he began making and distributing propaganda about the Imamiyyah. He was caught not long after. He was very ambitious and adept at making propaganda. He was perfectly suited for the ideological purposes of the Fatimid dynasty, which was founded on secrecy and took an oath to seize the Islamic world for his small minority.
Sabbah was advised to go to the center of Ismailism, which I liken to Nazım Hikmet's education in Moscow. It must have been invaluable to learn the details of a new idea from its source as a young person in his 20s. This case seems like the reason for Sabbah's fanaticism since he had success in bringing Greek knowledge to his own region and combining his own ambitions with the Ismailism coming from Cairo.
After a while, Sabbah's Cairo adventure reversed and he found himself imprisoned while trying to take hold of the throne. Then, according to a rumor, he was expelled from Egypt while another rumor says he escaped from prison. It is also thought that members of Ismailis, who used to do their jobs in secrecy, closed their eyes to the jailbreak because he was such a dangerous person. Eventually, al-Sabbath was excluded from the fight for the throne in Cairo and fled home.
Secrecy in secrecy
Despite the troubles Sabbah went through, he did not give up his belief in Ismailism and began collecting bouncers for his unambiguous belief in Khorasan. The concept of a "bouncer" is quite important in Ismailism. One can enter into Batiniyyah but cannot leave. What you have to do is sacrifice yourself, which caused an esoteric state requiring secrecy in secrecy. This secrecy was to such an extent that we still know very little about Sabbah's Nizari Ismailism.
Sabbah did not behave like an ordinary Cairo da'i and he made secret negotiations with stubborn and militant clans in regions near the Caspian Sea and collected supporters. Seljuk rule tracked these activities for a while and put someone on al-Sabbath's tail to catch him when things got dangerous. Sabbah still found a way and broke free.
The legend of "sayyidinah" begins
Sabbah was unable to return to civil life and could not stay in cities since he knew the Seljuk police were after him. That is why he hid in Alamut Castle, which was located in a highland to the west of Kazvin and north of Ray in 1090. We use the word "hidden" because Alamut was not an easily conquerable castle and Sabbah took control of it employing ingenious trickery. First he posed as a teacher and ordered his pupils to locate themselves around the castle. After winning the soldiers' trust, he captured the castle within in a night and executed the soldiers.
From that day on, the headquarters of the assassins, which would terrorize the whole region for more than a century, emerged in the snowy Elburz Mountains. Sabbah named Alamut Castle as "the future town." It seems, Sabbah's imagination was a little bit broad. Until the end of his life, he wanted to bring down not only the Islamic state but also the Fatimid state by raising secret pupils. He tried to realize his aims, which repelled him from Cairo, in Alamut and supported Nizar, which was meant to found a Nizari Ismaili state out in the bush. This certainly is just a comment, because Alamut never functioned as a decisive state. Rather, it was a filthy center that spread terror throughout the Islamic lands, which raised lots of bouncers and pupils.
Although he was an educated and knowledgeable man, he wanted his pupils to remain unlearned due to his authoritative character and hidden aims. He thought that no one can acquire anything through reason and knowledge and pupil's commitment and loyalty to his sheikh was the top priority.
The belief of Sabbah's pupils was unambiguous and they were not like the da'is of Ismailism. They were in fact mystical villains who consumed hashish and murdered people. That is why Muslims called them "hashashin," which is where the word "assassin" comes from.
Sabbah died in Alamut in 1024. The soul of a murderer took hold of him so much so that he even executed his own sons since they did not show him absolute obedience.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.