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Hasan Sabbah

Hassan Sabah,Seyyedena

حسن صباح ، حسن بن علی بن محمد بن جعفربن الحسین بن محمد الصباح حِمَیری

Hasan Sabbah (c.1050 Qom-June, 19, 1124) was an Iranian leading a revolt during the Seljuk reign. His father claimed to be of royal blood. He was originally a 12 Imam Shia and after a trip to Egypt he became a follower of the Ismailism faith with 7 Imams. When he was an infant, his family moved to Rhagae and mastered sciences of his time. Some other historians claim that he went to primary school in Neishabour where he is said to have been a classmate of Omar Khayyam and Nezamolmolk. When he became 17, Hasan Sabbah travelled to Egypt where he got acquainted with Ismailism faith. Upon his return, because of his powerful speeches, he gathered a large group of followers whose numbers increased day by day.He then occupied the legendary Alamout Castle and used it as a command center to capture many castles across Iran. He invented a method of assassination where the killer was ready to sacrifice his life. Each assassin was a member of one of a pyramid-like 10 command levels, and he only knew his superior and few other members. In this manner, he created great fear among Seljuk leaders who felt death on their neck all the time. His movement lasted for 95 years, followed by Kia Bozorg after whom the great power corrupted the successors until the Alamout castle fell in hands of Hulagu Khan.Assassins had radical teachings and sometimes followers were asked to perform extreme tasks including suicide and killing of a relative to prove their loyalty. (Wikipedia) - Hassan-i Sabbah   (Redirected from Hasan Sabbah) Main article: Nizari Persian scholar politician Hassan-i Sabbah Title Born Died Ethnicity Region Jurisprudence Main interest(s) Notable idea(s)
Lord of Alamut (Khodavande Alamut)
12 June 1124(1124-06-12) (aged 74) (26 Rabi'o-Saani 518)
Ismaili Shi`ism
Islamic theology, Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic law
Evolution, Oneness of God
Artistic rendering of Hassan-e Sabbah Ismāʿīlism Concepts Five Pillars History Early Imams Groups and present leaders
Part of a series on Shī‘ah Islam
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Hassan-i Sabbāh (Persian: حسن صباح‎; 1050s–1124) was an Persian Nizārī missionary who converted a community in the late 11th century in the heart of the Alborz Mountains of northern Iran. The place was called Alamut and was attributed to an ancient king of Daylam. He founded a group whose members are sometimes referred to as the Hashshashin, or Assassins.


Hassan is thought to have written an autobiography, which does not survive but seems to underlie the first part of an anonymous Isma'ili biography entitled Sargudhasht-i Sayyidnā (Persian: سرگذشت سیدنا‎). The latter is known only from quotations made by later Persian authors. Hassan also wrote a Persian treatise on the doctrine of ta'līm, i.e. the teachings of the imam. The text is no longer extant, but fragments are cited or paraphrased by al-Shahrastānī and several Persian historians. He is the original Grand Master creating many of its main principles and foundations.

Early life and conversion Qom and Rayy

Early in his life, his family moved to Rayy. Rayy (Modern Tehran) was a city that had seen a lot of radical thought since the 9th century and it had seen Hamdan Qarmaṭ as one of its voices. It had also seen a lot of missionary work by various sects, each as impassioned as the next.

It was in this centre of religious matrices that Hassan developed a keen interest in metaphysical matters and adhered to the Twelver code of instruction. From 7 to 17, he studied at home, and mastered perfectly palmistry, languages, philosophy, astronomy and mathematics (especially geometry).

Rayy was also home to the activities of Ismā‘īlī missionaries in the Jibal. At the time, Isma'ilism was a growing movement in Persia and other lands east of Egypt. The Persian Isma'ilis supported the da'wa ("mission") directed by the Fatimid caliphate of Cairo and recognised the authority of the Imam-Caliph al-Mustanṣir (d. 1094), though since some time, Isfahan rather than Cairo may have functioned as their principal headquarters. The Ismā'īlī mission worked on three layers: the lowest was the foot soldier or fidā'ī, followed by the rafīk or "comrade", and finally the Dā‘ī or "missionary". It has been suggested that its popularity in Persia owed something to dissatisfaction with their Seljuk rulers, who had recently removed local rulers.

In Rayy, young Hassan came in touch with Amira Darrab, a comrade, who introduced him to Ismā'īlī doctrine. Hassan was initially unimpressed. As he met Darrab, participating in many passionate debates that discussed the merits of Ismā‘īl over Mūsā, Hassan's respect grew. Impressed with the conviction of Darrab, Hassan decided to delve deeper into Ismā'īlī doctrines and beliefs. Hassan began to see merit in switching to Ismā‘īlī.

Conversion to Ismailism and training in Cairo

At the age of 17, Hassan converted and swore allegiance to the Fatimid Caliph in Cairo. Hassan's studies did not end with his crossing over. He further studied under two other dā‘iyyayn, and as he proceeded on his path, he was looked upon with eyes of respect.

Hassan's austere and devoted commitment to the da'wa brought him in audience with the chief missionary of the region: ‘Abdu l-Malik ibn Attash. Ibn Attash, suitably impressed with the young seventeen-year-old Hassan, made him Deputy Missionary and advised him to go to Cairo to further his studies.

However, Hassan did not go to Cairo. Some historians have postulated that Hassan, following his conversion, was playing host to some members of the Fatimid caliphate, and this was leaked to the anti-Fatimid and anti-Shī‘a Nizam al-Mulk. This prompted his abandoning Rayy and heading to Cairo in 1076.

Hassan took about 2 years to reach Cairo. Along the way he toured many other regions that did not fall in the general direction of Egypt. Isfahan was the first city that he visited. He was hosted by one of the Missionaries of his youth, a man who had taught the youthful Hassan in Rayy. His name was Resi Abufasl and he further instructed Hassan.

From here he went to Caucasian Albania (current Azerbaijan), hundreds of miles to the north, and from there through Armenia. Here he attracted the ire of priests following a heated discussion, and Hassan was thrown out of the town he was in.

He then turned south and traveled through Iraq, reached Damascus in Syria. He left for Egypt from Palestine. Records exist, some in the fragmentary remains of his autobiography, and from another biography written by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani in 1310, to date his arrival in Egypt at 30 August 1078.

It is unclear how long Hassan stayed in Egypt: about 3 years is the usually accepted amount of time. He continued his studies here, and became a full missionary.

Return to Persia

Whilst he was in Cairo, studying and preaching, he upset the highly excitable Chief of the Army, Badr al-Jamalī. It is also said by later sources that the Ismaili Imam-Caliph al-Mustanṣir informed Hassan that his elder son Nizar would be the next Imam. Hassan was briefly imprisoned by Badr al-Jamali. The collapse of a minaret of the jail was taken to be an omen in the favor of Hassan and he was promptly released and deported. The ship that he was traveling on was wrecked. He was rescued and taken to Syria. Traveling via Aleppo and Baghdad, he terminated his journey at Isfahan in 1081.

Hassan's life now was totally devoted to the mission. Hassan toured extensively throughout Iran. To the north of Iran, and touching the south shore of the Caspian Sea, are the mountains of Alborz. These mountains were home to a people who had traditionally resisted all attempts at subjugation; this place was also of Shī‘a leaning. Of those people he met a strong willed man named Datyous who made the leap of faith into Christianity. Born in what is now Shiraz, Datyous became a key factor in Hassans mission. Within the mountains, in the region of Daylam, Hassan chose to pursue his missionary activities, after many experiences with Datyous of the Mahmoudian Clan. With Hassan's teachings Datyous became one of the Chief Missionary's of that area and sent his personally trained missionaries into the rest of the region.

The news of this Ismā'īlī's activities reached Nizam al-Mulk, who dispatched his soldiers with the orders for Hassan's capture. Hassan evaded them, and went deeper into the mountains.

Capture of AlamutHashshashin fortress of Alamut

His search for a base from which to guide his mission ended when in 1088 he found the castle of Alamut in the Rudbar area (modern 'Qazvin, Iran'). It was a fort that stood guard over a valley that was about fifty kilometers long and five kilometers wide. This fortress had been built about the year 865; legend has it that it was built by a king who saw his eagle fly up to and perch upon a rock, a propitious omen, the importance of which this king, Wah Sudan ibn Marzuban, understood. Likening the perching of the eagle to a lesson given by it, he called the fort Aluh Amut: the "Eagles' Teaching".

Hassan’s takeover of the fort was one of silent surrender in the face of defeated odds. To effect this takeover Hassan employed an ingenious strategy, one which took the better part of two years to effect. First Hassan sent his Daʻiyyīn and Rafīks to win over the villages in the valley, and their inhabitants. Next, key people amongst this populace were converted, and finally, in 1090, Hassan took over the fort. It is said that Hassan offered 3000 gold dinars to the fort's owner for the amount of land that would fit a buffalo’s hide. The terms having been agreed upon, Hassan cut the hide into strips and linked them into a large ring around the perimeter of the fort, whose owner was thus undone by his own greed. (This story bears a striking resemblance to Virgil's account of Dido's founding of Carthage). Hassan gave the owner a draft drawn on the name of a wealthy landlord and told him to obtain the promised money from this man; legend has it further that when the landlord saw the draft with Hassan’s signature, he immediately paid the amount to the fort's owner, astonishing him.

With Alamut under his control, it is said that Hassan thereafter devoted himself so faithfully to study, that in all the years he was there – almost 35 - he never left his quarters, excepting only two times when he went up to the roof. He was studying, translating, praying, fasting, and directing the activities of the Daʻwa: the propagation of the Nizarī doctrine was headquartered at Alamut. He knew the Qur'ān by heart, could quote extensively from the texts of most Muslim sects, and apart from philosophy, he was well versed in mathematics, astronomy, alchemy, medicine, architecture, and the major scientific disciplines of his time. Hassan was one who found solace in austerity and frugality.

From this point on his community and its branches spread throughout Iran and Syria and came to be called Hashshashin or Assassins, also known as the Fedayin (Meaning 'The Martyrs', or 'Men Who Accept Death').

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