History of Seljuk Empire

Who Was Hassan Sabbah / Hashshashin?

Who Was Hassan Sabbah?

Hasan-i Sabbah (Ḥāsān-e Śaḇaḥ; c. 1050 – 12 June 1124) was a religious and military leader, founder of the Nizari Ismai’li sect widely known as the Hashshashin or the Order of Assassins.

Alongside his role as a formidable leader, Sabbah was an accomplished scholar of mathematics, most notably in geometry, as well as astronomy and philosophy, especially in epistemology. He came to be known in the West as the Old Man of the Mountain, a name given to him in the writings of Marco Polo that referenced the sect’s possession of the commanding mountain fortress of Alamut Castle.

History Of Hassan Sabah:

Hasan is thought to have written an autobiography, which did not survive but seems to underlie the first part of an anonymous Isma’ili biography entitled Sargozasht-e Seyyednā. The latter is known only from quotations made by later Persian authors. Hasan also wrote a treatise, in Persian, on the doctrine of ta’līm, called, al-Fusul al-arba’a The text is no longer in existence, but fragments are cited or paraphrased by al-Shahrastānī and several Persian historians.

The possibly autobiographical information found in Sargozasht-i Seyyednā is the main source for Hasan’s background and early life. According to this, Hasan-i Sabbāh was born in the city of Qom, Persia in the 1050s to a family of TwelverShia. His father, a Kufan Arab reportedly of Yemenite origins, had left the Sawād of Kufa (located in modern Iraq) to settle in the town of Qom, one of the first centres of Arab settlement in Persia and a stronghold of Twelver Shia.

Rayy was also the home of Isma’ili 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 recognized the authority of the Imam-Caliph al-Mustansir (d. 1094), though Isfahan, rather than Cairo, may have functioned as their principal headquarters.

The Ismā’īlī mission worked on three layers: the lowest was the fida’i or foot soldier, followed by the rafīk or comrade, and finally the dā‘ī or missionary. It has been suggested that the popularity of the Ismā’īlī religion in Persia was due to the people’s dissatisfaction with the Seljuk rulers, who had recently removed local rulers.

Hasan’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 Hasan, made him Deputy Missionary and advised him to go to Cairo to further his studies. It is unclear how long Hasan stayed in Egypt: about 3 years is the usually accepted amount of time. He continued his studies here, and became a full missionary.

Hasan 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.[citation needed] 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 Hasan in Rayy. His name was Resi Abufasl and he further instructed Hasan. From here he went to Arran (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 Hasan 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.

Hasan’s takeover of the fort was conducted without any significant bloodshed. To effect this transition Hasan employed a patient and deliberate strategy, one which took the better part of two years to effect. First Hasan 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, Hasan took over the fort by infiltrating it with his converts.

Hasan gave the former owner a draft drawn on the name of a wealthy landlord and told him to obtain the promised money from this man; when the landlord saw the draft with Hasan’s signature, he immediately paid the amount to the fort’s owner, astonishing him.[citation needed] Another, probably apocryphal version of the takeover states that Hasan 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, Hasan 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. While legend holds that after capturing Alamut Hasan thereafter devoted himself so faithfully to study that in the nearly 35 years he was there he never left his quarters, excepting only two times when he went up to the roof.

This reported isolation is highly doubtful, given his extensive recruiting and organizational involvement in the growing Ismā’īlī insurrections in Persia and Syria. Nonetheless, Hasan was highly educated and was known for austerity, 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, was well versed in mathematics, astronomy, alchemy, medicine, architecture, and the major scientific disciplines of his time. In a major departure from tradition, Hasan declared Persian to be the language of holy literature for Nizaris, a decision that resulted in all the Nizari Ismā’īlī literature from Persia, Syria, Afghanistan and Central Asia to be transcribed in Persian for several centuries.

Death Of Hassan Sabbah:

Hassan Sabbah Dies In 12 June 1124, aged (73-74).

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