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Hassan-i-Sabah

From Academic Kids

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Artistic Rendering of Hassan-i-Sabbah
Hasan-i-Sabbah (in Persian / Arabic حسن بن صباح or حسن صباح ) (circa 1034 - 1124), or "The Old Man of the Mountain", was an Iranian Ismaili missionary who converted a community in the late 11th century in the heart of the Elburz Mountains of northern Iran. The place was called Alamut and was attributed to an ancient king of Daylam. When Hassan discovered Alamut, it was in the hands of a Seljuk subject. Hassan prepared the takeover of the castle by secretly converting its staff. With the household on his side, he was smuggled into the castle and began to establish his rule at Alamut. When the coccastle's residents realized they were no longer in control it was too late. Hassan graciously allowed the former tenant leave of his castle in addition to a draft of 3,000 silver dinars in payment for the castle. From this point on his community and its branches spread throughout Iran and Syria and came to be called Hashshashin or Hashshishin or Assassins, an Islamic mystery cult.

Hasan was extremely strict and disciplined. The abrogation of Islamic law (sharia) occurred under a later Grand Master, Hasan II, in 1174. If hashish was used by the community (and this is uncertain) it probably also occurred later.

Not much is known about Hasan, but legends abound as to the tactics used to induct members into his quasi-religious political organization. A future assassin was subjected to rites very similar to those of other mystery cults in which the subject was made to believe that he was in imminent danger of death. But the twist of the assassins was that they drugged the person to simulate a "dying" to later have them awaken in a garden flowing with wine and served a sumptuous feast by virgins. The supplicant was then convinced he was in Heaven and that Sabbah was a minion of the divinity and that all of his orders should be followed, even to death. This legend derives from Marco Polo, who visited Alamut just after it fell to the Mongols in the thirteenth century.

Hasan i Sabbah was born Hassan Bin Ali Bin Muhammad Bin Ja'fr Bin Hussain Bin Muhammad al Sabbah al Hameeri in Re, Iran. He belonged to the tribe of al Hameer from Yemen. His ancestors were all Asna Asheri Shiites, but Hassan under the influence of Ismaili friends or probably a physician converted to Ismaili Shiism. The Paradise or "Firdous e Bareen" was the brainchild of Hassan Bin Sabbah, which was used to literally 'forge' Hashshishin, his most lethal weapon. He died on 26 Rabi utthani 518 Hijri in his abode, Alamut.

The famous novel Firdous e Bareen written by Indian Muslim novelist Abdul Halim Sherer gives the biographical account of Hassan, a youth lured and captured by Hassan's men and then forced into his assassination machinery.

The cult was responsible for the assassination of a number of Sunni scholars and rulers.


William S. Burroughs is one of a number of fiction writers who have incorporated Sabbah--himself or his ideas--in their work. Hassan i Sabbah is also the name of a now defunct screamo band.

See also

External links

nl:Hasan al-Sabah fr:Hassan ibn al-Sabbah sl:as-Sabah es:Hassan-i Sabbah

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