The Order Of Assassins -- Serial Killers🗡️ that Terrorized the Medieval World 🌎
Throughout human history, many secretive and appalling orders have been terrorizing the common people for specific interests for example Black Hand Order, Teutonic Order, Illuminati, etc. The intelligence agencies of today are also considered fearsome and scary by the public. As there are many similarities between the medieval world and the world today, thus such frightful military orders were a major part of the medieval society as well.
The medieval Muslim World is known for the development of arts and sciences. Muslim empires of the Middle Ages were the hub of science, arts, and technology, and the entire world gained knowledge📜📘 from Muslim scholars and scientists. Al-Ghazali(1058-1111 AD), Omer Khayam(1048-1131 AD), Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jillani(1078-1166 AD) had done such great services for mankind which are remembered even today.
Hassan bin Sabbah
A popular contemporary of these influential icons was Hassan bin Sabah(1050-1124 AD).
The Schism in Islam started in 632 AD after the death of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad(S.A.W). Two branches were made in Islam I.e Shiaa branch and Sunni branch over the issue of succession. Later, Shiaa branch further splitted and group of them under their leader Ismail broke off and became Ismiali shiaas.
Later in 1095 AD, an Ismaili prince Nizar who was in the line of succession of the Fatimid Empire was executed. His followers made a branch in the Ismaili Shia sect I.e Nizari Ismailis. Their leader was Hassan bin Sabbah.
Early Life of Hassan
Hassan was born in Qom(Iran) in a Twelver Shia family of Muslims. He spent his childhood in Rayy and Qom and his youth in Cairo. At that time, Cairo was the hub of the Ismaili movement. Hassan also converted to the Ismaili sect. Later he traveled to Egypt, Damascus, Palestine, Isfahan, and the entire Persia. He became an expert in palmistry, languages, philosophy, maths, astronomy, alchemy, medicine, and architecture. He was a brave man. He started preaching his teachings and the followers of his teachings became the Nizari Ismailis.
At that time, the famous city of Cairo was not under the control of the Abbasid caliphate. Adherents of the Nizari Ismaili Shia sect of Muslims started living there. These people were liberal and had a happy-go-lucky sort of living style. They started preaching their teachings in middle eastern areas. A suspicious, weird but yet real story has been associated with them and the major character of that story was Hassan Bin Sabbah.
Hassan’s Political and Religious Career
Once, Hassan boasted in front of his friends during a dinner that if he would be given half a dozen devoted people, he could rule the entire world. One of his friends gave him a saffron mixed drug which was considered the treatment of madness. After some years, Hassan sent a letter to that friend in which was written:
Now tell me who is a lunatic !.
Because he had made his predictions somewhat true by that time.
Hassan by that time had founded the Nizari Ismaili sect of Shia Muslims after taking control of the Alamut Castle(in Today’s Iran) in 1090 AD. This castle was also called Eagles Teaching Fort. This castle became the headquarter of Naziri Ismailis and their activities spread throughout most of Syria and Persia. Many more castles🏰 came to their control in the years to come like the castles of Masyaf, Al Kahf, Al Qubays, Al Cadmus.
Teachings of Hassan and Structure of Assassin’s Organization
Hassan had an attractive and charming personality. To achieve what he wanted, he had gathered a group of devotees by preaching a simple formula:
Nothing is right in this world. Everything is legal in this world.
His team consisted of three groups-- Daii(missionary), Rafik (comrade), and Fidai. The main power of the team was its military group -Fidaii who was also called "Hashshashin" (Assassins). Assassins were actually the expert serial killers of the Nizari Ismili sect.
Young assassins used to regard Hassan as their savior and respect him more than all the religious personalities of all religions; very few people knew the actual aim of Hassan. He wanted to rule the entire world on the foundations of horror and fear. Thus, he started a regular expedition to murder and terrorize people . Anyone, who opposed him or his teachings was murdered by his asassins.
Tactics of murdering used by the assassins
The assassins used to wear white garments with a red belt on their waistline in which they tied two sharp knives. All assassins were young adults.
Hassan made them addicts of Hashish (a drug) and opium in such a way that they became mere toys in his hands. He used to teach them that death is just a transition from this cruel world to heaven. To make his teachings and arguments more compelling, he had also made artificial heaven to demonstrate how they would live in the world hereafter. In his Alamut castle, he made a beautiful garden where he got planted beautiful and exotic plants and trees. A stream of alcohol also flowed in this heaven. He gathered musicians there whose melodious songs and rhythms were mesmerizing. When assassins go there in the intoxication of opium and other drugs, young and beautiful girls used to seduce them. After spending two to three days there, assassins were assigned the task to murder the target person. It was made sure before sending them to any mission that they were well drunk.
Three assassins were appointed to kill a person and they used to kill the desired person in the mosque or any public area so that their terror spreads manifold. One assassin used to attack first and if somehow he failed, the other two fulfilled the task in the hustle-bustle, and then all used to flee away. Assassins were not afraid of death, that’s why they never failed in their task. As at that time, there was no special protocol culture, thus it became easier for them to murder any leader or scholar.
Victims of Assassins
The first person to be killed by Hassan’s brutality was one of the wisest persons of the Islamic world--Nizam ul Mulk. He was the vizier of the Seljuk Sultanate. The Seljuk sultanate fragmented after the assassination of Nizam ul Mulk in 1092 AD. After that, assassins never stopped. Hassan took advantage of the tensions that arose due to the fragmentation of the Seljuk empire and established the foundations of his own rule. After that Jannah ud Dawla who was the Seljuk emir of Homs was assassinated in 1103 AD. Then, Atabeg of Mosul Mawdud ibn e Altuntush was murdered in 1113 AD.
This murder spread their terror all around. A Fatimid Vizier of Egypt Al Afzal Shanshah was murdered in 1121 AD. Atabeg of Damascus Taj Al Muluk Buri was assassinated in 1132 AD. Another Atabeg of Mosul Qasim Al Dawla Said ud Din was also murdered by them. 29th Abbasid caliph Al Mustarshid Billah and his son the 30th Abbasid caliph Al Rashid Billah were also assassinated in 1135 AD and 1138 AD respectively. People started agreeing and supporting them to save their lives and Hassan was quite happy at this. The Tenth Fatimid caliph and 20 the imam of Mustali Ismaili sect Abu Ali Al Mansur ibn Al Mustali was also murdered by them in 1130 AD. Ayyubid Sultan Salah ud din Ayyubi was also attempted to be assassinated by them twice but fortunately, he escaped both times. Once three Assassins attempted to murder Salah ud Din ayyubi in his camp despite the tough security, however, the sultan killed one of them and others were arrested. After that, a chill of horror spread in his army, and his security was made more serious but still, once again assassins broke into his camp and fixed their signature style daggers and warning letter on his bed. Sultan Ayyubi had besieged the Masyaf castle of assassins. That’s why they warned him to finish the siege. After the second attempt, Sultan finished the siege. If anyone dared to talk against them, assassins go to that person secretly at night and fix two daggers🔪🗡️ and a warning letter on his bed. This was so horrifying for the people that they never spoke against assassins anymore.
Thus, the order of assassins terrorized the biggest powers of that time I.e the Seljuk Empire, Ayyubid Empire, Abbasid Caliphate, and Fatimid Caliphate, and the Crusaders. Crusaders also feared them because they had killed many famous Christian leaders. Count of Tripoli, Raymond 2 was the first Christian leader to be murdered by them in 1151 AD. Other famous Christian victims of Assassin were Lord of Tyre Phillip of Montfort in 1270 AD. Conrad of Montferrat who played a major role in the 3rd crusade and was the king of Jerusalem in also fell prey to their daggers in 1192.AD. . In short, any leader or scholar who opposed them had to lick the dust.
Other Famous Leaders of Nizari Ismailis
The best safety policy of Hassan was to build castles on mountains. He took many castles from his enemies and built some new also.That's why he was called "Sheikh ul Jabbal"(The old man of the mountains) by Marco Polo.By the time of his death, he had consolidated his power from Samarkand to Cairo. After his death another ``Sheikh ul Jabbal" assumed his throne.
In Syria, Daii’s of Nizari Ismaili sect were regularly appointed to preach their cause. Famous physician and astrologer Al-Hakim al-Munajim was the first daii to be appointed in Syria from Alamut Castle. Abu Tahir Al Saigh who was professionally a goldsmith was the second Daii in Syria. After him, Bahram Al Dai and Rashid ud Din Sinan we’re respectively appointed in Syria.
Kiya Buzurg Ummid succeeded Hassan in Alamut castle after his death in 1124 AD. He added Lambsar Castle to the possession of Nizari Ismailis.The assassination rate was also reduced during his reign.. After his death in 1138 AD, his son Muhammad Ibn e Buzurg succeeded and ruled unto 1162 AD.
Then, Hassan 2 of Alamut(son of Muhammad inn e Buzurg) succeeded.
Later, Mongols invasions disrupted their rule. Mongols captured many important castles of Assassins one by one. At last, Mongol invader Halaku khay finished them before sacking Baghdad and demolishing Abbasid Caliphate. However, the political influence of Nizari Ismailis is present still today and they live in many countries of Asia and Africa. They are now the second-largest group of Shiaa Muslims. Hwever, their special branch"Assassins" was completely wiped out in 1258 AD at the hands of Mongol armies.
Now a days, many video games are based on assassins like :
“Assassin’s Creed Identity” which is one of the best selling games. Other popular games are “Hunter Assassin” and “Assassin Master”.