Secret Order of Assassins The Struggle of the Early Nizari Ismai'lis Against the Islamic World

ISBN-10: 0812219163

ISBN-13: 9780812219166

Edition: 2005

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The sect known as "the Assassins," a corruption of an Arabic word that means hashish smoker, is familiar to the West as a mystical cult of killers led by the "Man in the Mountain" encountered by the Crusaders. But it was not defeat at the hands of Christians that ended more than a century of Assassin rule; it was the massive and brutal invasion of Mongols from the East who conquered Assassin strong points and mountain fortifications one by one, crushing nearly all traces of this once fearsome sect. For nearly two centuries the Fatimids, Shi'ite Muslims who believed Mohammed's daughter Fatimah was his successor, attempted to control the Islamic world from their seat in Cairo. Following the death of the Fatimid caliph al Mustansir in 1094, members of a faction in Persia that supported a deposed claimant to the caliphate, Nizar, believed they now represented Fatimid interests. These Nizari Ismai'lis ended up separating themselves from mainstream Islam and creating their own state in parts of present-day Syria, Iraq, and Iran. In order to establish and maintain regional control, the Nizari Ismai'lis used political murders and spies to subjugate or influence rival caliphates and the dominant Saljuqs.
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Book details

Copyright year: 2005
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Publication date: 3/8/2005
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 368
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.298
Language: English

Prefatory Note
Introduction: The Isma'ili Heritage
Building an Islamic world
The Caliphate as framework for elaborating earlier traditions on a fresh basis
Incipient Islam: Mohammed's demand for civil and religious purity
Islamization of the Middle East
The Sunni synthesis
Isma'ilism as Offering an Alternative Synthesis
The Shi'a form of Islam
Isma'ilism as a Shi'a sect
The Isma'iliyya as a conspiratorial revolt
The Fatimid Empire: Philosophy of Cosmos and of Man
Rationalism and the batin
Occultism: the cosmic process of emanation
The cosmic return
Position of the imam: typological conception of history
The crisis of Isma'ilism and the Nizari response
The Traditional Interpretation of Isma'ilism
The revaluation of Fatimid Isma'ilism
The enemies of the Nizaris
Von Hammer and the Western legend of the Assassins
Vindication of the Nizaris
Problems of dealing with Saljuq and Ayyubid times
Nizari texts
Ivanow and the modern revaluation of the Nizaris
The place of a general history of the Nizaris
The Onslaught Against the Saljuqs
Hasan-I Sabbah and the Isma'ili Crisis
The Confrontation of Fatimid Isma'ilism with Saljuq Sunnism
The breakdown of the Fatimid power
Sunni culture in the Saljuq age
Social atomization and religious integration
Tableau of Nizari Times
Hasan-i Sabbah's Labors
The youthful seeking
The visit to Egypt (1078)
Hasan serves in the Isma'ili da'wa (1081-1090)
The taking of Alamut (1090)
Hasan-i Sabbah's figure at Alamut (1090-1124)
Hasan-i Sabbah and the Isma'ili Ta'lim
The leadership of Ibn 'Attash
The Shi'ite doctrine of ta'lim
Hasan's critique of the doctrine of ta'lim
The role of reason in reaching universal validity
The dehistoricized, absolute imamate
Authoritarian community policy
The Nizari Revolt
The Nizari Schism from the Fatimid Government (1094)
The succession dispute between Nizar and Musta'li
Motivation for the schism
Justification for the schism: the problem of a figurehead
The organization of an independent Nizari da'wa
The succes of the Nizari da'wa
The Revolt Under Way
The first uprisings: Rudbar and Quhistan (1090-1092)
The Isma'ili uprising finds its pattern (1092-1099)
Ambiguities of civil war
War With the Saljuqs: Decisive Phase
Methods of Struggle
The dar al-hijra ideal and the seizing of fortresses
Isma'ili revolt in a Sunni setting
The method of assassination
Assassination as a weapon of desperation
Rising Fortunes (1100-1105)
The disruption of the Saljuq power
Isma'ilis intervene at the heart of the Saljuq power
Unorganized anti-Isma'ili violence
Saljuqs attempt repression
Isma'ilis in Syria: their patron Ridwan
Falling Fortunes (1105-1118)
Reversal of the Isma'ili fortunes in Syria (1106-1113)
Disorganization of the Syrian da'wa (1113)
Muhammad Tapar and the Saljuq counteroffensive (1105-1107)
The limits of Saljuq reconquest (1107-1118)
The Nizari State
Buzurg'ummid and Territorial Settlement (1118-1138)
The Isma'ilis among the amirs (1118-1126)
Defeat of the renewed Saljuq offensive (1126-1131)
Magnificent gestures from Alamut (1131-1138)
Definition of the Isma'ili Position in the West
Career of Bahram in Damascus: the Syrian da'wa revived (1125-1128)
Defeat and withdrawal to the mountains in Syria (1129-1140)
The end of the contest with Fatimid Isma'ilism
The Hafizi-Tayyibi schism in the Fatimid da'wa (1130)
Isma'ili Policies: Assassination
Patterns of assassination and massacre
Assassination at the request of non-Isma'ilis
Assassinations and the local struggles for power
Social and Political Structure
Nizari solidarity and vigor
Raiders' life in Alamut
Alamut as the center of the Nizari power
Stability of the Nizari dynasty
Reaction of the Islamic World
Social and Legal Reaction: Proscription
The popular terror and scorn
The legal problems of conformity by lip-service
The Intellectual Response: Ghazzali and the Challenge of Ta'lim to Reason
Ghazzali's defense of a Sunni alternative to ta'lim
Problem of authority solved in terms of history
Ghazzali's "Balance" as answer to Hasan-i Sabbah's four propositions
Variations upon Ghazzali's response later
Imaginative Fruit
The legend of the garden
The word "Assassin"
Legend of the three schoolfellows
Horrified awe
The Gospel of the Qiyama
Stalemate and a New Start: Hasan 'Ala Dhikri-hi s-Salam
Muhammad ibn Buzurg'ummid: Mountain Lord (1138-1162)
Persistent expectancy despite a local outlook
Revolt in stalemate: campaigns degenerate to quarrels
Nizari rigorism and the young heir
The Proclamation of the Qiyama: Hasan II as Da'i and Imam
Festival of the Qiyama: the resurrection from the dead (1164)
Return of the imam: Hasan's claims
The resurrection: Hasan as Qa'im
Qiyama as ending taqiyya, fulfilling Isma'ilism
The resistance to the Qiyama: Hasan is murdered
The Preaching of the Qiyama
Muhammad II: Devotion Oriented Toward the Imam (1166-1210)
Muhammad's interpretation of his father's claims
The imam as revelation of God
The beatific vision
True viewpoint as salvation
The Universe of the Qiyama
Indentification of Qiyama and haqiqa
Existence as personal: tashakhkhus
The deathless sage: Melchizedec as imam and qa'im
The individual in the Qiyama: three levels of being
Resolution of the emanational system
The Qiyama as Declaration of Spiritual Maturity
The Christian analogy to the Qiyama
Nizari ambivalence toward Sunnism
The Qiyama in the World: its Lackluster (1166-1192)
Sunnism and the mystics: stolen thunder
Sunni powers after Sanjar: dissension and the Syrian ghazis
Muhammad's defensive peace in the Iranian territories
Qiyama Times in Syria: Rashid ad-Din Sinan
Sinan in Syria: Consolidation Within and Without (1140-1192)
Military problems
Sinan and his friend Saladin
The internal administration
Abu Firas' Portrait of Sinan: the Hero
Sinan as a one-man show
The types of Sinan's wonders
Sinan and Alamut: The Syrian Response to the Qiyama
Sinan as independent not in name but in effect
The Fragment Nr. One: appearances of the Lord to men
Sinan's version of the Qiyama
Flavor of the Syrian haqiqa: unregimented hopefulness
Popular Shi'ism
Sinan's legacy in Syria (1192-1210)
Rapprochement With Sunnism: the Satr
Romance and Reality Among the Sunni Powers
Clouds over Muhammad II's reign (1192-1210)
Khwarazmshah and the Middle Eastern universal monarchy
The Caliph Nasir and the civil empire
Breach between Muhammad II and his heir
Hasan III's Islamization (1210-1221)
Restoration of the shari'a
Hasan's authority at home
Military adventure abroad
Probability of Hasan's sincerity
The Aftermath of Hasan's Conversion: the Doctrine of the Satr
The relaxation of Hasan's policy: transition into the reign of Muhammad III
Adjustment of the Qiyama to history: a new mood shifts the meaning of old terms
Satr and Qiyama as alternating periods
Restriction of the privilege of wahda to the men of ta'yid
Restrictions on the manifestation of the imam: hujja as sole channel of access
The outcome of Hasan's demarche
The Last Generation of Freedom
Learning and Life Under the Satr (1221-1256)
The respect for learning: Nasir ad-Din Tusi
Tusi's Isma'ili work
The Quhistani sense of dignity
The Syrian lieutenants: high expectations
Surviving Syrian literature: the fragments
Hopes of Expansion
Fighting with the Khwarazm power (1221-1231)
Tortuous negotiations
World-wide outlook
The Death of Muhammad III
Muhammad's character: the dynasty in degeneracy
War with the Mongols
Crisis and murder
The Failure of the Nizari Venture
The End of the Nizari Power
Khwurshah's surrender (1256)
Khwurshah among the Mongols
The revenge of Islam
The Mamluk triumph in Syria
Under Egyptian rule
The Iranian Isma'ilis attempt a comeback
The Nizari heritage
The Popular Appeal of the Qiyama: Commentary and Translation of the Haft Bab-i Baba Sayyid-na
Hasan-i Sabbah's doctrine: translation from Shahrastani
Bibliographical Notes
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