Ismaili Heroes - Rashid al-Din Sinan - note020
Rashid al-Din Sinan

by Dr. Naseeh Ahmed Mirza, Melbourne (Australia)

To read the letter of Rashiduddin Sinan to Nooreddin Zenki Sinan2

The Ismaili movement was the most dynamic and vigorous of the Shi'i movements in the medieval Muslim World, and is still active and very well organized under the leadership of its present Imam, H. H. The Aga Khan Shah Karim al-Husayni. Through the Fatimid Caliphate in North Africa and Egypt (C.E. 909-1171), and through the Nizari Imamate at Alamut in Persia (C.E. 1094-1256), Ismailism presented an unexampled spiritual and political challenge to the dominance of Sunni orthodoxy and to the authority of contemporary Sunni rulers and dynasties, such as the Saljuq Sultans and Abbasid Caliphs. From previous standpoints, historians or scholars in both the East and West have given considerable attention to the medieval Ismailis, and especially to the so-called "Assassins" of Alamut and Misyaf. Western writers have also shown interest in the Ismailis of Syria led by the 'Old Man of the Mountains' (Shaikh-ai-Jabal), or accounts of the contacts of the Crusaders with them.

The present article deals with the life and career of one of the greatest and most valiant of the Syrian Ismaili da'is of the thirteenth century C.E. namely Rashid al-Din Sinan, (d. 1193 or 1194).

The Early Life and Career of Sinan:

Although precise details of the early life of Sinan and the circumstances of his appointment as chief da'i, first in Iraq and later in Syria, are still difficult establish, they are no longer a complete mystery since a certain amount of information can be pieced together from various sources.

Reading through the literature on Alamut, one finds ample information about the activities of the Ismailis in Persia, but very little about Sinan and the Syrian Ismailis except short passages in Arabic chronicles and cursory allusions from the Western Crusader Chronicles.

The Syrian Ismaili sources give some useful historical material about Sinan's early life and about the Syrian Ismailis in general, but their dates are generally not correct. Any researcher into this field has to try to reconcile the different versions as stated by Ismaili and non-Ismaili sources. The recent researches of Bernard Lewis have, however, thrown some new light on this problem (1).

W. Ivanow states in his article in the Encyclopaedia of Islam (1st.ed.), that Abu al-Hasan Sinan Ibn Sulayman Ibn Muhammad was born at a place near Basra, educated in Persia and appointed by the Imam Hasan 'Ala Dhikrihi as-Salam in 588/1163 as head of the Syrian Ismaili (Nizari) community; and the available Ismaili and non-Ismaili sources do not disagree on this point. The famous historian, Kamal al-Din Ibn al -'Adim, provides some brief but valuable information about Sinan's life and quotes a story believed to have been told by Sinan himself describing his journey to Syria (2).

As regards the date of Sinan's birth and the question of whether his appointment as "deputy" in Syria took place before or after his arrival in Syria, there seems to be no certain information. Fortunately, however, a number of Syrian Ismaili manuscripts have recently been brought to light and these give Sinan's age at the time of his death as 58 or 60 years i.e he was born either in 530/1135, or 528/1133 the later date being the more probable (3).

For it was a traditional Ismaili rule that appointments to the "higher grades" (Ar' maratib 'ulya) were preferably made from among those who were not less than forty years old. This customary rule was not based solely on the consideration that leader ought to possess maturity and experience; but also on the fact that the Ismaili regard the numbers forty, twelve, seven, five and four as having certain symbolical meanings.

Only scanty information is available about Sinan's birth place and parents. The geographer Yaqut (Ibn Abd Allah al-Rumi) states that he was a native of 'Aqr al-Sunden, (4) a village between Wasit and Basra which was inhabited, mostly by extreme Shi'i sects. The statements from the non-Ismaili sources about the environment in which Sinan spent his early years suggest that his parents were Twelver Shi'is. Syrian Ismaili sources confirm that Sinan was in charge of the Ismaili da'wa in Iraq up to the time of his appointments as deputy of the Imam of Alamut in Syria, but do not give any hint that he was a Twelver Shi'i by origin. Some of these sources state that he had family connections with the Ismaili Imams; whilst others go so far as to suggest that he was himself the real Imam (5).

Before his first appointment as da'i in the district of Basra in Iraq, Sinan is reported to have taken a full course on Ismaili theology and philosophy at the madrasa (centre for religious teaching) of the Imam Hasan Ibn Muhammad Ibn 'Ali, surnamed al-Qahir (the conqueror) at Alamut (6).

What Sinan did in Alamut besides studying Ismaili doctrines and what was really happening at that time in the heart of that great Ismaili stronghold cannot be ascertained. The only thing that is almost certain is that during his stay in Alamut he met the future Imam Hasan II ('Ala Dhikrihi al Salam), who later sent him to Syria to succeed the chief da'i Abu Muhammad (7).

Sinan was transferred to Syria not long after his first appointment as da'i in the district of Basra, believed to have taken place around 556/1160. Kamal al-Din gives an interesting description of the various stages of Sinan's journey to Syria. Sinan is reported to have travelled via Mosul in Northern Iraq and Raqqa on the border between Syria and Iraq until he reached Aleppo, then under the rule of Nur al-Din Mahmud Ibn Zangi.(541-570\1146-1174).

Aleppo was at that time still accessible to Ismaili da'is who used to enter the city often disguised as merchants. Sinan did not have any difficulty in finding his contacts in the capital of the Zangids, and if 558/ 1162 was actually the date of his arrival he probably had the good fortune to arrive when Nur al-Din was absent from the city warring against the Franks. Sinan may have stayed for some time familiarizing himself with the affairs of the Ismailis in Northern Syria, until fresh orders reached him from Alamut to move to the Ismaili strongholds in Central Syria (8).

Abu Firas Ibn Qadi Nasr Ibn Jawshan, a native of al-Maynaqa (9) writing in 724/1324, states that Sinan arrived in Misyaf where he stayed for some time without revealing his real identity; and then later went to Bastiryun, a village near al-Kahf, the castle which was the residence of the Ismaili chief da'i, Abu Muhammad. According to Abu Firas, Sinan had to wait seven years, at the end of which, while Abu Muhammad was on his deathbed. Sinan forwarded to him his credentials as the new leader.

If Abu Firas's account of Sinan's arrival at Misyaf and the incidents which preceded his ultimate assumption. Of the leadership is correct, the possibility arises that Sinan was sent to Syria by the father of Hasan II ('Ala Dhikrihi al-Salam) and subsequently confirmed or appointed as chief da'i by his son. This would lead to the assumption that Sinan arrived in Syria earlier than 558/1161-2; say some time around 552\1157, a date coinciding with an earthquake, during which Sinan was injured. Many sources for this period report that a grave earthquake took place in Syria around 551/1156 destroying the main Syrian cities. But having no evidence to show how far the Imams of Alamut were exercising their powers before 558/1162, we are inclined to accept the possibility that Sinan was only appointed after the succession of Hasan II (Ala Dhikrihi al-Salam) in 558/1162. The earthquake, however, may have taken place not in 552/1157 as stated by the Arabic sources of the time, but later when Sinan had already assumed the leadership. Abu Firas may have committed a mathematical error in stating that Sinan stayed seven years in Syria before declaring his true mission. The problem arises as to whether Sinan was appointed prospective chief da'i in Syria before he went there. The fact that he did not report to Abu Muhammad on arrival of his visits to the Ismaili groups is suspicious. Was he waiting for further developments in Alamut? Or, wisely, was he only secretly making some preliminary study of the situation in Syria? At any rate it would seem probable that Sinan arrived in Syria in 558/1162, and that after his preliminary investigations he took over from Abu Muhammad in 560/1164 (10)

The Death of Abu Muhammad and the Accession of Sinan:

The death of Abu Muhammad brought to an end the life of a leader whose name and activities remain obscure in the history of the Syrian Ismailis. Presumably he played a leading part in the endeavours of the Ismailis to consolidate their position in Aleppo and Jabal al-Summaq (11) - endeavours which had not been noticeably successful, whence the lack of information about him and the mission of Sinan whose energy and strength of character had recommended him to the Imam as likely to be a successful missionary. Even when, after the massacre of the Ismaili at Damascus in 523/1129, the Ismailis launched their third and successful attempt to seize castles in central Syria, only the names of apparently junior Ismailis dai's are mentioned by the sources, while Abu Muhammad seems to remain behind the scenes. (12)

During the last decade of Abu Muhammad's leadership, weakness, disorganization and disunity manifested themselves in the Syrian Ismaili community. Many Ismailis emigrated to the neighbouring cities of Hama, Hims and Aleppo, not only in order to strengthen their da'wa, but also to earn a living; for the Ismaili territory was not fertile, and they lived mostly on their cattle. This situation was worsened when, around 546/1151, the Frankish Count of Tripoli, Raymond II, was murdered in consequence of which the Templars, a militant Christian Order founded in, C.E. 1117, raided Ismaili territory and compelled the inhabitants to pay a tribute (13). Another factor which weakened the Ismaili da'wa was the personal disputes among the Ismailis which added to the complexity of the problem to be faced by the successor of Abu Muhammad (14).

The most important events after Sinan's assumption of the leadership arose from his efforts to consolidate the position of the Ismailis and to solve their manifold internal problems. The principal aim of his external policy was to defend Ismaili territory against hostile Muslim and Frankish neighbours. Another question which needs consideration is that of Sinan's relations with Alamut, especially after the proclamation of the Qiyama by Hasan II ('Ala Dhikrihi al-Salam) in 560/ 1164; there may have been some connection between this and an episode involving a group of Ismaili extremists in northern Syria called the Sufat ("pure").

Sinan's Efforts to Consolidate the Ismaili Position:

After his accession to the leadership, Sinan found himself facing many grave problems. To protect his people was not so easy as to win their love and admiration during his early years in Syria. The pious Iraqi Shaykh (al-Shaykh al-'Iraqi) of yesterday, the teacher of the children, the renderer of medical treatment for sufferers, and the austere and ascetic man of religion living by prayer and meditation, had now to concentrate on the practical needs of his people and save them from becoming an easy prey to their enemies.

In order to meet the dangers from outside, Sinan began reorganizing his men and choosing the most eligible and devoted to form the core of fidais (devotees). Thanks to his strong personality and incisive intellect, he was able to smooth away the internal dissension which had been jeopardising Ismaili unity at the beginning of the second half of the twelfth century C.E.

In almost all these objectives, and in securing his own position, Sinan was successful, he had his fidais trained in various languages and in the art of collecting secret information from the courts of kings and princes. He organized an elaborate communication system, making full use of pigeons and coded messages by which the commanders of the various Ismaili strongholds were kept informed about his plans about possible threats to any of the widely scattered Ismaili fortresses (15).

Besides organizing and training the various groups of his fidais, Sinan also rebuilt two Ismaili castles which had fallen into ruin, either through natural calamities or through assaults by enemies. These were at al-Rasafaj, which is less than four miles south of Misyaf, and al-Khawabi which is about four miles south of al-Kahf. Sinan also looked to the north and by a military stratagem captured al-'Ullayqa, which is less than eight miles north east of the impregnable and well known Frankish castle al-Marqab (16).

The key strongholds which gave Sinan an excellent strategic position were Misyaf, al-Kahf, al-Qadmus and al-'Uilayqa. Misyaf, being on eastern fringes of Jabal Bahra' (17), served as a window on the Muslim principalities of Hama and Hims. As for al-Kahf, the centre of the previous chief da'i, it became the fortress from which Sinan was able to keep an eye on Tartus (Tortosa or Antartus), and other Frankish strongholds to the south west of his territory. AI--Qadmus was his forward post in the west and al-Ullayqa that in the

north-west (18).

Relations with Alamut:

Neither in the internal problems of the Syrian Ismailis under Sinan, nor in the relations with Saladin and the Franks, does it appear from the available evidence that Alamut played any important role. There is a report that Sinan received direction from Alamut regarding the case of Khawaja 'Ali, who tried to take over the leadership in succession to Abu Muhammad without having been designated by the Imam of Alamut, and the subsequent murder of Khawaja 'Ali at the instigation of two prominent members of the community, Abu Mansur Ibn Ahmad Ibn al-Shaykh Abu Muhammad, and al-Ra'is Fahd. Later Alamut sent instructions to Sinan to put the murderer to death and to release Fahd. It is also reported that Hasan II ('Ala Dhikrihi at-Salam) instructed Sinan to abide the rules of the Qiyama and to watch the activities of the Muslim princes (19).

The sources say practically nothing about the role of Alamut in Sinan's relations with the Muslims and the Franks, but it cannot be inferred from this silence that there was a serious separatist movement against Alamut on the part of the Syria Ismailis. This silence could be interpreted in various ways. The authorities at Alamut might have had full trust in Sinan's ability to run the affairs of the Syrian Ismailis, and consequently have seen no need to intervene. Alternatively the reason might simply be that the chroniclers lacked information, since secretiveness was the rule among the Ismailis.

But the question which puzzled, the chroniclers and still confronts the Ismaili students is not that of Sinan's political relationships to Alamut, but that of his religious status among his Syrian followers.

Abu Firas's Manaqib, in which he pours lavish praise on Sinan's heroism, telepathic powers and wisdom, do not justify the inference that Sinan was regarded as an Imam (20). In fact Abu Firas refers to him as the "deputy" (na'ib) of the Imam of Alamut and if he ascribes to Sinan certain miraculous actions, this may be explained by the Ismaili belief that a trusted servant of the Imam, who stands as his evidence, could become a recipient of al-ta'yid (spiritual help from the Imam) which would confer upon him some of the Imam's supernatural powers. As for the Ismaili sources which contain aphorisms (fusual) or "noble utterances" attributed to Sinan, it must be borne in mind that practically all these sources were compiled during the fourteenth and fifteenth century C.E.,when the Syrian Ismailis followed a different line of Imams of that of the Persian Ismailis, and had become influenced by the Sufi writings of Muhyi ai-Din Ibn 'Arabi (d. 638/1240), Jalal ai-Din al-Rumi (d. 6721 1273), lbn al-Farid (d. 632/1235) and others. Although some Sufi ideas are criticized by Ismaili writers. Sufi terms and Phraseology were nevertheless widely used by the Syrian Ismailis. Abu Firis, in his book Sullam al-Sti'ud ila Dar al-Khulud, states "that the Sufis should be recognized as wise men and recipients of the "light" of the Prophet (21 ). Another point which might have added to the confusion regarding the status of Sinan was the title mawla (lord). which was not necessarily given exclusively to Imams,. great poets and philosophers - such as Jalal al-Din al-Rumi and other chief da'is who came after Sinan also received this honorific appellation (22). The fact that Sinan was addressed as al-mawla is not necessarily an indication that he was an Imam.

Recently, however, the Ismaili historian 'Arif Tamir has published several articles in support of the view that Sinan was considered by his followers to be an Imam, and even to be the "Seventh Imam" of the series of Imams beginning with the Fatimid Imam ai-Mu'izz (C.E. 952-976) (23). Besides the fourteenth and fifteenth century C.E. Ismaili writings, 'Arif Tamir has made use and published in these articles works of a poet named Mazyad ai-Hilli al-Asadi, who is believed to have been the friend and the poet-laureate of Sinan, and who in his panegyrics addresses Sinan with titles usually reserved for the Imams. To quote 'Arif Tamir, "Sinan is considered to be one of the Imams who lived in Syria and took Misyaf as their 'house of emigration' (daran li-hijra-tihim: c.f. 'Ubayad Allah ai-Mahdi in lfriqiya). He was variously called Abu al-Hasan Muhammad lbn ai-Hasan al-Nizari, or Rashid al-Din, or Sinan, or Ra'is al-Umur, and he was the son of the Imam Hasan al-Alamuti the master of the castles of Taliqan in Persia." Arif Tamir continues, "Sinan said that he had received the office of Imamate from Hasan and he would hand it over to Hasan" (24).

This means that in the opinion of Arif Tamir the Imam of the Qiyama, Hasan II (Ala Dhikrihi al-Salam, 1162-1166), and his successor Muhammad II (known as A'la Muhammad or Nur ai-Din Muhammad, 1166\1210), were only "trustee' Imams (A'immah Mustawda'un) like Maymun al-Qaddah and his son 'Abdallah during the period of the Hidden Imams. According to 'Arif Tamir, the successor to Sinan in the Imamate was Hasan III (Jalai al-Din Hasan, 1210-1221) (25).

The non-ismaili sources do not provided any help on the question whether Sinan was considered to be an Imam; and with a few exceptions such as the Spanish Muslim traveller lbn Jubayr, who alleges that Sinan was treated as God, and the biographer lbn Khallikan, who calls the Ismailis of Syria "Sinanis", the other Arabic sources give him the title of Muqaddam (commander), Ra'is (chief ) or Sahib (master) of the da'wa or of the Hashishiya. (26)

In general both the Arabic and the western sources share the opinion that the Syrian Ismailis did remain dependent on Alamut. ln theory, Sinan was the deputy of Alamut; in practice he was probabley quite independent.

In 572/1176 Sinan was preoccupied, with external problems, and he must have wanted to settle this internal Isma'ili dispute before any outside power could intervene. Probably at the request of Sinan the regent of Aleppo, Sa'd al-Din Gumushtigin, who was friendly with the Ismailis, dissuaded Nur al-Din Zangi's young son and successor al-Malik al-Salih to withdraw his army which he had already sent on a punitive expedition against the Ismailis, and Sinan was able to settle the problem without outside intervention.

The Autonomy of the Syrian Da'wa under Sinan:

Up to the time of Rashid al-Din Sinan, the Syrian Isma'ili da'wa was run by provincial dais such as al-Hakim al-Munajjim, Abu Tahir, Bahram and Abu Muhammad. These da'is seem to have been completely dependent upon Alamut. for example, to avenge the massacre of the Ismailis in Damascus in 1129 C. E.

Sinan, who possessed outstanding abilities as an organiser and leader, was the hujja of the Imam of the Qiyama who had sent him to lead the Syrian Ismailis. (27). He successfully transformed the Syrian da'wa from weak one, depending mainly on the help of Alamut and the occasional patronage of a local ruler, into a powerful agency having its own fortresses and its own corps of fida'is, who were trained in a special centre believed to have been situated in the renowned Isma'ili castle ai-Kahf. (28). Sinan, had also his own da'is to assist him and a large number of rafiqs who used to accompany him on his frequent visits to the various Isma'ili castles. The Syrian da'wa under his leadership was no longer just a branch. It could be classified as virtually autonomous da'wa, with its territory and headquarters and its own hierarchy of dignitaries headed by Sinan '(29).

Sinan's successors seem to have turned again to Alamut, even though they inherited from Sinan a well organized da'wa, which had firmly established itself in Syria. Until 1256 C.E. they were appointed by the Imam in Alamut and were responsible directly to him, which suggests that they held the rank of hujja, a rank second to that of the Imam. These hujjas or chief da'is were assisted by a number of da'is who carried such titles as naqib (officer), janah ("wing") and nazir (Keeper or inspector) ; during the post-Sinan period a da'i appointed to be commander of a castle would be called wali (30).

Sinan's Relations with Saladin:

During a siege of Ja'bar (31) in 1146, the Turkish ruler of Mosul and Aleppo, 'Imad al-Din Zangi. had been murdered by his slave troops (mamluks), and had been succeeded by his son, 'Nur al-Din Mahmud Zangi who, had maintained his father's efforts to defend Syria against the crusaders.

After the fall of Edessa to 'Imad al-Din Zangi in December 1144, the Crusaders had launched their second Crusade (1146-1149), which had ended in complete failure. In March-1154, Nur al-Din had captured Damascus, and from then onwards Egypt had been the decisive factor in his relations with the Crusaders.

In Egypt, the wobbling Fatimid regime had reached its final stage. The death of the Fatimid Caliph al Fa'iz in 556\1160 had been followed by a disastrous struggle from the Wazirate during which the Fatimid commander Shawar had sought help from Nur al-Din, who had sent the Kurdish governor of Hims, Shirkuh, on his first Egyption campaign. Shirkuh, who was the uncle of Saladin, had restored Shawar to power (May 1164), but Shawar had refused to pay the promised tribute, and had appealed to the Franks for help. Shawar had been able to continue his vacillating policy for a few years, but in 1167 Nur ai-Din had made a second intervention in the affairs of Egypt, followed by a third in 1168, and on this occasion the Fatimid territories had been overrun by Shirkuh, who had died soon afterwards leaving his nephew Saladin (Salah al-Din) Ibn Yusuf as the Wazir of Egypt.

While this master Nur al-Din was living, Saladin had been mainly occupied in establishing control over Egypt, eradicating the Fatimid Power and planning continued war against the Crusaders. Although the relations between Sinan and Nur al-Din's had been tense, both on account of Nur alDin's suspicions that the Syrian Ismailis were collaborating with the Crusaders, and on account of their unfriendly activities in Aleppo and their ceaseless efforts to seize, more strongholds, Nur al-Din had not undertaken any major offensive operation against the Ismailis thought there are reports that threatening letters were exchanged between him and Sinan, and rumours that he was planning shortly before his death to invade the Isma'ili territory (32).

The death of Nur al-Din and the King of Jerusalem Amairic 1. son of Fuik, in 1174, gave Saladin his opportunity; and on an urgent appeal from the commandant at Damascus, he entered Damascus on Tuesday, 30 Rabi II 5701\27 November, 1174 claiming to have come to protect Nur al-Din's eleven year old son and successor al-Malik al-Salih, against aggression from his cousins who ruled Mosul (al-Mawsil). (33)

Two Abortive Attempts on the life of Saladin:

From Damascus Saladin marched northward to Hims which he captured without its castle, and proceeded to Aleppo which he besieged for the first time.

It was during this siege that Sinan, in answer to an appeal from the Regent of Aleppo Sa'd al-Din Gumushtigin, sent his fida'is to kill Saladin. This attempt which took place in Jumada 11 560/Dec. January 1174/5 was foiled by an Amir named Nasih al-Din Khumartakin, whose castle of Abu Oubays (34) was close to the Isma'ili territory and who was able to recognize the desperados.

The second attempt took place more than a year later on 11 Dhu al-Qa'da 571\22 May, 1176, when Saladin was besieging 'Azaz, north of Aleppo. Thanks to his armour of chain-mail, Saladin escaped with only slight injuries (35).

The question arises as to the motive for these two attempts on Saladin's life . Was it, as most of the general Arabic sources state, that Gumushtigin had instigated Sinan to take action against Saladin? It seems unlikely that Sinan would have acted merely as a protege of the rulers of Aleppo, obeying their orders of accepting their bribes to commit an act which might have endangered the whole safety of his people. On the other hand they may well have been influence by consideration of Saladin's general policy, which from the time when he overthrew the Fatimid Caliphate was quite probably biased against all the Ismailis.

Although the Nizari Ismailis to whom Sinan belonged considered the Fatimid Caliphs after al-Mustansir (d. 1094) to be usurpers, Saladin's gross ill-treatment of the Fatimid family caused indignation and anger among all the Ismailis, whether Nizaris or Musta'lis. Saladin had also embarked on a systematic campaign to suppress Isma'ilism in Egypt, destroying the rich Fatimid libraries,- exterminating the Isma'ili system, and introducing Sunni institutions. Moreover, it was Saladin's manifest ambition to recreate a Syro-Egyptian state under his rule; and the rise of a strong anti-Isma'ili ruler in Syria was bound to be a source of anxiety to the Syrian Ismailis.

The unknown author of Bayt al-Da'wa states that Sinan had earlier sent one of his fida'is named Hasan al-'Ikrimi al-'Iraqi to Egypt where he left a knife with a threatening letter near Saladin's bed. (36) Such reports in the Isma'ili sources about fidais being sent to threaten Saladin shed a light on a letter from Salladin to Nur al-Din (drafted by al-Qadi al-Fadil) concerning a pro-Fatimid plot against him in Egypt, in 569\1173. The letter also adds that the conspirators in this plot appealed to Sinan for help (37).

B.Lewis has suggested that Sinan's attempted assassination of Saladin was prompted by the latter's aggression against the Ismailis in 570/1174-5. In that year, according to Sibt-Ibn-al-Jawzi, a militant Sunni order called the Nabawiya raided the Isma'ili centres of al-Bab and Buza'a and Saladin took advantage of the resultant confusion to send a raiding party against the Isma'ili villages of Sarmin, Ma'arrat Masrin and Jabal al-Summaq, which were looted.

That this action stimulated Sinan to attempt the assassination seems unlikely, since Sinan's decision must have been made before these events took place (lst attempt - Jumada 11 570/Dec. 1174 - Jan. 1175). No doubt they confirmed Sinan's belief that Saladin was a menace to Isma'ili existence in Syria, and they may have led to the second attempt on 11 Dhu al-Qa'da 571\22 May 1176.

Abu Firas mentions the raid of the Nabawiya on the Ismailis, but adds that they were soundly defeated (39). For all these reasons Sinan would have had strong motives to join hands with the rulers of Aleppo and Mosul against Saladin.

The Siege of Misyaf

Having twice defeated the rulers of Mosul and forced the rulers of Aleppo to seek a peace treaty, Saladin, after capturing 'Azaz on 14 Dhu al-Hijja 571/24 June 1176, marched against the Isma'ili territories. On his way to Misyaf, he encamped near Aleppo, where the daughter of Nur al-Din came out to see him; and on her demand he presented her with the town of Azaz. Saladin entered Isma'ili territory during the summer which was the best time to attack such inaccessible places. The actual siege of Misyaf most probably took place in Muharram 572\July 1176, but does not seem to have lasted more than one week.

Apparently Sinan was out of' Misyaf during the siege, and this absence of the defending leader might have been expected to make the other's task easier; but surprisingly Saladin withdrew after only a few minor skirmishes with the Ismailis. -

The reasons for Saladin's withdrawal from Misyaf are explained differently by the sources. But practically all the chroniclers agree that the withdrawal was brought about through the good offices of the Prince of Hama, the maternal uncle of Saladin, Shihab al-Din Mahmud Ibn Takash. Though it is not clear whether Saladin or Sinan requested the mediation of the Prince of Hama. According to the Isma'ili author, Abu Firas, Saladin woke up suddenly to find on his bed a dagger with a threatening letter, and partly out of fear, partly out of gratitude to Sinan for not having killed him when he could, and partly on the advice of his uncle Taqu al-Din" (sic:? Shihab al-Din), Saladin sought peace with Sinan. (40)

Among the other sources dealing with (Saladin's withdrawal from the Ismaili territories, lbn Abi Tayy, quoted by Abu Shama, gives the most reasonable explanation of Saladin's withdrawal from Misyaf. He states that Frankish military movements in the south near Ba'iabak in the Biqa' valley convinced the Sunni leader that the threat from the Franks was more urgent and important. At the same time, the prince Shihab al-Din al-Harimi of Hama must have had good reasons to avoid provoking the anger and enmity of his Isma'ili neighbours in the west; and some sort of a settlement which might qualify to be called a peace treaty between Sinan and Saladin may have been arranged on Saladin's initiative (41 ). Whatever were the real reasons for the withdrawal, it is clear that Saladin, probably under the influence of his uncle Shihab al-Din, and as Ibn al-Athir says because of the weariness of his troops, did decide to reach some sort of an agreement or a settlement with the Ismailis.

Although the sources have not recorded the terms of the settlement, it seems almost certain that the two leaders must have agreed to some form of "Peaceful-co-Existence".

The Isma'ili sources go so far as to say that Isma'ili fida'is took part in the historic and glorious battle of Hittin near Tiberias (Tabarayya) in 583/1187 when Saladin won his most celebrated victory over the Franks. Following this victory Jerusalem and other important Frankish strongholds surrendered.

It is not known in what capacity the Ismailis took part in the battle of Hittin; but the 17th century Christian Patriarch and chronicler al-Duwayhi in his Tarikh al-Azminah covering the period 1095- 1699, states that the Frankish leaders captured in Jabat Hittin were taken to the Isma'ili castles (42).

Although hostilities between Sinan and Saladin appear to have ceased after the latter's withdrawal from Misyaf, the relations between the Ismailis and the rulers of Aleppo entered upon a difficult period. A wazir of al-Malik al-Salih, called Shihab al-Din abu Salih Ibn al-'Ajami was assassinated on August 31, 1177, and this murder was attributed to the Ismailis, Al-Malik al-Salih held an inquiry in which it was alleged that Sa'd ai-Din Gumushtigin had sent forged letters to the Ismailis urging them, in the name of al-Salih, to perpetrate the murder. Gumushtigin was found guilty and ultimately ruined by his enemies.

The other main event affecting the relations between Sinan and the rulers of Aleppo was the burning of the markets at Aleppo in 575/1179-80. The fires broke out in several places and were attributed to arson by the Ismailis in revenge for seizure of their stronghold al-Hajirah by al-Malik al-Salih in C.E. 1179/80 (43).

Sinan and the Crusaders:

Most of the strongholds which the Ismailis seized or bought in Jabal Bahra had previously been in the hands of the Crusaders; and many of the most important Frankish castles were situated very close to the Isma'ili fortresses.

In C.E. 1142 or 1145, the lord of Tripoli gave to the Hospitaller Order the fortress known in the medieval Arabic sources as Hisn al-Akrad or Qal'at al Hisn (Krak des Chevaliers). 25 miles south of Misyaf, and a few years letter there are reports of fighting between the Ismailis and the Franks over the fortress of Mayhaqa (44).

Although Defremery suggests that the Frankish raids on the Isma'ili territories were in reprisal for the murder of the Count of Tripoli in 1151 C.E. and that they ceased after the Ismailis had agreed to pay a yearly tribute to the Tempolar Order, it is quite possible that when Sinan succeeded Abu Muhammad, the Ismailis had been fighting with the Franks somewhere in the country of Tripoli (45);'

Realizing the danger of being nearly surrounded by both Muslim and Frankish hostile forces, Sinan attempted to reach a settlement with the Franks. His efforts were made difficult by the fact that the two Frankish Orders, and especially the Templars, more often than not conducted their affairs independently of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The Negotiations with Amalric 1

Sinan sought are approachment with the Frankish kingdom of Jerusalem hoping to be absolved from paying the yearly tributes to the Templars. The negotiations with the King of Jerusalem, Amairic 1, son of Fuik, (C.E. 1163-1174), began some time in 1172 or 1173, and they were successful. Amalric agreed that the tribute to the Templars should be cancelled. But this did not please the Templars, who caused Sinan's ambassador to be murdered on his way back from Jerusalem (46).

"Sinan's Offer to Embrace Christianity"

The chronicler William of Tyre, in attempting to blame the Templars for depriving the Franks of a strong ally, states that Sinan's embassy proposed to embrace Christianity (47).

It is probable that the Isma'ili embassy mentioned

to the King something about the relationship between their religious views and Christian beliefs. They would have emphasized their high regard for Jesus ('Isa) as being both a Prophet and a Natiq ("speaker or addresser") (48).

For as will be seen later, the Ismailis believe that God has been sending, since the beginning of the human world, a succession of prophets. for the guidance of human beings who are always in need for such guidance. According to them, religions evolve froth one another and each represents a certain stage in the chronic evolution.

After the death of Amairic 1, in 1174, C.E. and the withdrawal of Saladin's army from their territories, the Syrian Ismailis seem to have thrown their weight on the side of Saladin in his wars against the Franks. The reason for this was that the hostile attitude of the Templars and the hospitaller towards the Ismailis in disregard of the official policy of Jerusalem, and the aggressiveness of the Hospitaller who in 1186 C.E.set up their military headquarters at al-Marqab, less than 1 3 miles north-west of al-Qadmus, left Sinan with no alternative other than to ally himself with Saladin (49).

Only after the death of Sinan was a new move

made towards improving relations between the Ismailis

and the Franks. It is reported that the successor to

the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the husband of the

widow of Conrad of Montferrat, Henry of Champagne,

then visited the Ismailis on his way from Acre to Antioch (50).

The Death of Sinan:

The great Isma'ili leader Rashid al-Din Sinan,

whose nickname Shaykh 'al-Jabal used to be mentioned in frightened whispers at the courts of king and princes, died in 589/1193. The well-known Sunni author Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi gives the date of his death as 588/1192 and describes him as a man of knowledge, statecraft and skill in winning men's hearts. The Bustan ai-Jami states that the chief of the Ismailis Sinan died in 589/1193 and was succeeded by "an ignorant person'; named Nasr al-'Ajami. Bar Hebraeus also relates that Sinan died in 1193 C.E. and was succeeded by a certain man whose name was Nasr. He adds that the Sinan's followers did not believe that he was really dead. Other sources state that Sinan had been treated by his followers as God, and lbn Khallikan, as already mentioned, refers to his sect being called by his name, namely al-Sinaniya (51). -

Although the Isma'ili sources are mostly doctrinal, they contain certain clues to the history of the movement; Some of these sources include Sinan in the genealogical tree of the Imam (52). The Syrian Isma'ili da'i Nur al-Din Ahmad (d. 749\1384), after giving a description of the way in which Sinan used to spend his days and of his physical characteristics, continues: "he was handsome, middling in height, having wide black eyes, set in a ruddy face tending to brow 'n, eloquent in expression. powerful in argument, sharp of vision, swift in improvisation, an unmatched in the principles of philosophy and in the sciences of allegorical interpretation, poetry and astronomy (alfalak)" (53).

In the non-isma'ili sources, there are indications

that Sinan was buried at at-Kahf or al-Qadmus; but

'Arif Tamir states in an article that his grave is in Jabal

Mashhad, where Sinan used to spend much of his time praying and practising astronomy. (54)


1. B. Lewis published four main articles in connection with the Syrian Ismailis: "Sources for the History of the Syrian Assassins,"Speculum (Oct. 1952); Three Biographies,.. .. (Istanbul. 1953);"Saladin and the Assassins." BSOAS, XV/2 (1953). pp. 239-245;11 A History of the Crusades, Vol. 1, ed. K.M. Setton (Phil. 1955).

pp. 99-132.

2. W. Ivanow. "Rashid ai-Din Sinan." in the E'l, (lst ed.): A History of Crusades, ed. K.M. Setton. .. Vol. 1, p. 121.

3. Arif Tamir, who relies on an unpublished MS. in his possession entitled Fusul wa Akhbar (Chapters and traditions) and also on other Syrian MSS.. states that Sinan lived 58 years. This MS.. which is believed to have been compiled by an Isma'ili writer called Nur ai-Din Ahmad, either in the 7th or 8th century A.H., seems to be of a considerable historical value, and will be published by 'Arif Tamir. See his novel Sinan and Salah al-Din (Beirut 1956). pp. 32-33; Mustafa Ghalib in Ta'rikh al-Da'wa al-Isma'iliya (Damascus 1953). p. 210. gives the date of Sinan's birth as 5281 1133; but does not specify his sources. However, it seems that he drew his materials on Sinan from the following three Isma'ili MSS.. Kitab al-Bustan by al-Da'i Hasan Ibn Shams al-Din,

pp. 263-264, Kitab al-Mithaq, by the Syrian da'i 'Abd ai-Malik.pp. 14-16; and Kilab Bayt al-Da'wa. Op. 102-103. ,

4. Yaqut (Ibn 'Abdallah al-Rumi) al-Hamawi. Mu-jam Al-Buldan (Beirut 1374-1955), Vol. 4, p. 137; M.G.S. Hodgson, The. Order of Assassins... Vol. 1. pg 120.

5. A.Tamir."Mazyadal-Hillial-Asadi."(b.In Hillah Al Misyal) in al-Machriq. 1956, pp. 449-455. and 466-484, "Sinan Rashid al-Din or Shaykh ai-Jabal." in al-Adib. (August 1953): Mustafa Ghalib, Tarikh al.Da'wa.... (Damascus 1953). pp. 210- 214.

6. Al-Qahir is generally referred to as Hasan 1. For further details on his genealogical tree see Mustafa Ghalib. Tarikh al-Da'we.... pp. 203-208; The Syrian Isma'ili MS. No' 1 in Appendix 1. entitled Asami Khulafa' Fatima Ridwan Allah 'Alayhim...p. 249; on madrasa, see Ernest Diez's article. "Masiid." in the New Encyclopaedia of Islam, pp. 383-388.

7. There is a possibility that Sinan Was appointed by the Imam Hasan 1 (Al-Qahir). and that the appointment was later confirmed by his son Hasan II (Aka 1)Dhikrihi al-Salam), after the latter's succession to the Imamate. Sibt Ibn-Jawzi, Mir'at az-Zaman (AH. 495-654). cd. J.R. Jewet. Chicago 1907, p. 269, states that Sinan came to Syria during the Imamate of Nur al-Din Muhammad II (C.E. 1166-1210).

8.B.Lewis, "Three Biographies." pp. 327-328. 336-344 S.Guyard.

"Un Grand Maitre des Assassins au temps de Saladin", in J.A.Paris.1877pg 353-356. Mustafa Ghalib Tarikh al-Dawa...

p. 210.

9. al-laynaqa is also pronounced al-Miniqa. The Arabic script confuses the reader, because the letter (n) could be taken either preceding the letter (i). in which case the word is al-Mahiqa, or following the letter (i). making it al-Maynaqa. Even at the present lime the Syrian Isma'ilis are not unanimous about the name. Those of Misyaf and Qadmus spell it al-Manniqa (with shaddah on the 'n'). while the Isma'ilis of Salamiya and al-Khawabi spell it al-Maynaqa (with a fatha on the 'n' and Sukun in the ya. For further explanations of the world consult. S. Guyard, "Un Grand Maitre," JA' Ser. IV, 1848. pp. 489, 493.

10. See notes on Abu Firas's book, Sillam al-Su'ud ila Dar al- Khulud in appendix 1 S. Guyard. "Un grand maitre des Assassins". J.A. 1877. pp. 357-358; M.C. Defremery. "Nouvelles Recherches sur les Ismaeliens de Syrie". J.A. Ser. V, 1855. pp. 5-7.

11. On Jabal al-Summaq, see Yaqut (b. 'Abd Ailah ai-Rume). Mu, jam al-Buldan, ed. Wustenfeld. 1278/1866. Vol. 4. p. 816.

12. The non-isma'ili sources are unlikely to have known the activities of the chief Isma'ili agents.

The following are the four main fortress that were either captured or bought by the Isma'ilis.

(a)Al-Qadmus' This fortress was sold by Sayf al-Din Ibn 'Amrun to the Isma'ili da'i Abu al-Fath in 527\1132.

(b)Kharibah It is about 12 miles north east of al-Qadmus. and was captured from the Franks in 531\1136.

(c)Al- Kahf. One of the most important Isma'ili strongholds. It was acquired in 530/1135/6

(d) Misyaf' It was captured in 535/1140 from a governor appointed by Banu Munqidh.

On the other Isma'ili strongholds see:

S.Guyard, "Un Grand Maitre".... J.A. 1877, pp. 350-351: M.C. Defremery, "Nouvelles Recherches sur les Ismaeliens"..J.A. (May-June 1854), pp. 411-417;

C. Cahen, La Syrie de Nord a l'epoque des Croisades, (Paris, 1940). . pp. 353-354-.

A Critical edition of an unknown source for the life of al-Malik al- Zahir Baibars. by Abdul'Aziz ai-Khowayter (Ph.D. Thesis London 1960), Vol. 3, p. 1217. where is stated that 'Alam al-Dawla Yusuf .. Ibn Muhriz surrendered al-Qadmus to the Isma'ilis in 523/1128.

13. The annual tribute exacted from the Isma'ilis by the Templars is estimated to have been 2000 gold pieces. For the sources dealing with the murder of Raymond II, see A History of the Crusades:, ed. K.M. Setton. (Phil. 1955). p. 120. Abu Muhammad's burial place is believed by the local Isma'ilis to be 5 miles east of al-Qadmus.

14. The Isma'ili sources do not indicate clearly the differences among the Isma'ilis. but an indirect hint to that effect is reported in the form of letters or instructions being sent by the Imams of Alamut, asking their followers to unite and to drop their differences.... One of these letters is reported by an Isma'ili da'i named as Ibrahim Ibn al-Faqaris' The manuscript was compiled in 8901'1485. See M. Ghalib, Tarikh al-Da'wa.... pp. 199-201. where the letter is reproduced.

15. Pigeons for delivering both urgent and ordinary messages were widely used by the Fatimids. See Hasan Ibrahim Hasan, Tarikh al Dawla al Fatimiya (Cairo, 1958) p.295.

16. Al-Marqab was in the hands of the Hospitaller. and was used by the Franks as a key point for staging their attacks on the Muslim principalities. For the exact geographical locations of the Isma'ili and Frankish castles, consult the attached map.

17. On Jabal Bahra, see Rene Dussaud, Topographi Historique, Paris, 1927, p.146ff.

18. The Syrian Isma'ili da'i Nur al-Din Ahmad (717-749\1317-1348) in his Fusul wa Akhbar. P. 164, reports that Sinan used to spend his weekdays moving between the four castles, namely, al-Kahf, Misyaf, al-Qadmus and al-'Ullayqa. and also that Sinan used to pay secret visits to Syayzar. Hama, Hims and other Syrian districts. See 'Arif Tamir, Sinan wa Salah al-Din, (1956). p. 33, and his article, "Haqiqat lkhwan al-Safa". in al-Machriq (March- April 1957), pp. 132-133.

19. These reports are quite probable since Sinan was at the beginning of his career in Syria.

Cf. M.C. Defremery, "Recherches sur les Ismaeliens". J.A. (Janvier 1955), pp. 7. 11. 38.

20. According to the Isma'ilis, the Imam is the sole spiritual and temporal head of the community and he can interpret the Qur'an and the Shari'a in general. He combines all the qualities of Plato's philosopher king and al-Farabi's Chief of the Virtuous City. See Chapter V in Part Two'.

21. In the Syrian Isma'ili MS. three aphorisms or chapters (Fusul) are headed as "the noble words". with the first one clearly indicated to be from the "noble words" of Sinan and the others are without any reference to Sinan. For the first chapter (Fasi), see S. Guyard Fragment Relatifs.... XXII (1874). pp. 17-19; by same author "Un grand maitre". J.A. 1877. anecdotes. 7. 12. 14. 17. 19. 20. 21, 22 and 23. where Abu Firas' views on Sinan are studied; Shihab ai-Din Abu Firas, Sullam al-Su'ud.... Chapter 1. Bk. 3. pp. 208-213 (excerpts from the MS. in Appendix 1).

22. The great Sufi poet. Jaial ai-Din al-Rumi (604-672\1207-1273) who is revered by the Ismailis, was given the title Mawli. See 'Arif Temir. "Jalai ai-Din al-Rumi" in al-Adib. (March 1,956). p. 47.

23.The doctrine of the Seventh Imam and his special status belongs to the pre-Fatimid period. The Isma'ilis believe that our worldly life is divided into seven epochs - each being started with a prophet and his as as (base or foundation). Between one epoch and the other there are seven Imams, and the lost Imam of the epoch is believed to be the one who proclaims the Great Qiyama (Resurrect. lion). For more details see Chapter V in Part Two.

24.Arif Tamir's articles: "Sinan Rashid al-Din".... in al-Adib (August 1953). pp. 53-56, land two other articles on Mazyad af-Hilli al-Asadi in Al-Machriq (1956). pp. 449-455 and 466-484. Also consult the genealogical tree (A and B)-facing page 40.

25.In the genealogical tree (B). which in large represents the Syrian Isma'ili genealogical trees until the second half of the 19th century C.E., the names Hasan II and Muhammad II. do not appear. It is only at the time of Jalal al-Din Hasan Ill, that the genealogical tree of the Mu'mini and Qasim Shahi Isma'ilis meet again.

26.-The Travels of Ibn Jubayr, (English translation by R.J.C. Broadhurst, London 1952, pp. 264-265; Ibn Khalikan's Biographical Dictionary, (Eng. tr.) by Baron MacGuckin de Siane, Vol. 3, p. 239. B-On the titles given to Sinan, see, Sibt Ibn ai-Jawzi, Mir'at az-Zarnan, ed. J.h. Jewet, Chicago, 1907. p. 269; "Bustan al-Jami". ed. C. Cahen, in B.E, De I.F.D.. Vol. VII-VIII. 1937-1938, P. 151 : Ibn al-Athir ('Ali Ibn Muhammad). al-Kamil.... Cairo, 1884-5. Vol. 12, p. 31 : Abu Shama, Kitab al-Rawdatayn, Cairo, 128711870. Vol. 1. p. 258.

27.This may account for the elevation of Sinan's spiritual status.It is interesting to recall here how the chief da'i of the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim, Hamza Ibn 'Ali, assumed the title of al-'aqql (intellect) when al-Hakim was elevated to a highest status.

28. Michael Labbad. al-Isma'iliyun pp. 61. 62.

29.The inadequate materials on the organisation of the da'wa given in Syrian Isma'ili sources ran only be supplemented to a small extent by the also meagre information found in the general Arabic sources. However, the general shape of the organisation is clear, as it was based on the mother organisation in Alamut. See S.

Guyard, "Un Maitre pp. 358, 366. 370; 'Arif Temir, Sinan

pp. 25. 33.

30.S. Guyard, Fragments.... pp. 37-38; M. Max van Berchern. "Epigraphie.. .. " pp. 456. 488. 495, where the names of the chief da'is appear on the inscriptions preceded by the title al-Mawla al-Sahib and other honorific titles such as Taj al-Din (crown of religion). Maid al-Din (glory of religion) etc. On the term mazir, which is incidentally still used in the present day Syrian Isma'ili hierarchy see text, p. 1 25.

31.Ja'bar is situated on the Euphrates River, and belonged to a descendant of the 'Uqaylid Salim Ibn Malik. See Ibn al-Athir. in Recueil des Historiens des Croisades-Historiens Orientaux, Paris, 1872, Tome 1, p. 451 : Yaqut, Mu'jam al-Buldan. ed. Wustenfeld, Vol. 11. p. 84.

32. Ibn Khallikan, Biographical Dictionary .... Vol. 3, p. 340-341. where he gives a threatening letter from Sinan to Nur al-Din in answer a previous letter from the latter. It is More Probable that this letter was sent to Saladin, but this does not discount the probability that there were threatening letters between the two leaders. The Arabic sources state that Nur al din was preparing before his death to march against Saladin. See Ibn al Adim .. Zubdat al Talab..ed. Sami Dahhan..1954, p340, Abu Shama (Shihab al-Din) Kitab al Rawdatayn.. Cairo 1287\1870-71, Vol1.pp.228-230. B.Lewis. Three Biographies.p.338

33. Ibn Shaddad (Baha' al-Din). "al-Nawadir at-Sultaniya," in Rec. Des.Hist.Des Croisades,Historiens Orientaux,. 1884, Tome 3. p. 58; "Ibn al-Athir" in Rec. Hist. Des. Croisades, Hist. Orientaux. 1872. p.615

34.On Abu Qubays see Yaqut, ed. Wustendeld. Vol. 1. p. 102.

35.For more details on the actual attempts see Abu Shama (Shihab al-Din .... ). Kitab alRawdatayn.... Cairo, 1287/1870-71. Vol. 1. pp. 239-240, 258; "Ibn al-Athir." in Rec. Des. Hist. Des. Croisades, Hist. Or. Paris 1872, Tome 1, p. 673; "al-'Bustan al- Jami" ed. C.Cahen.... p. 141, where the Bustan confuses the two attempts. See B. Lewis "Saladin and the Assassins," in BSOAS, XV. 1953. pp. 239-240. where the source on both attempts are given.

36. See Mustafa Ghalib; Ta'rikh al-Da'wa,.... p. 211.

37. Abu Shama, Kitab al-Rawdata in .... Vol, 1 p. 221; Ibn al-Athir

('Ali Ibn Muhaddad), al-Kamil, Cairo 1884-85. Vol. II, pp. 149- 150. lbn Khallikan, wafayat al-A'Van-Arabic text, (3 vols.) Cairo 1299/1881. Vol. 2. p. 89.

38. B. lewis, "Saladin and the Assassins." (BSOAS. 1953, XV/2). pp. 241-2.

39. S. Guyard, "Un grand maitre"....J.A. 1877, anecdote X. pp. 418-419.

40. Abu Firas tells stories showing the telepathic powers of Sinan and how miraculously he was able to evade being captured by Saladin's forces etc. See S. Guyard, "Un grand maitre...." J.A. . (1877). pp. 458-62. Earlier Hasan al-Sabbah actually did introduce a knife by the bed of the Saljuq Sultan Sanjar. See: M. Defremery, "Histoire des Seldjoukides. Ext. du Tarikh-Guzidehl . J. A,

4e ser. T 13, pp. 32-34; M. Ghalib Ta'rikh al-Da'wa..... p. 213.

41. Abu Shama, Kitab al-Rawdatayn.... Vol. 1, p. 261; Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil.... ed. J.C. Tornberg, Leiden-Uppsala, 1851-1876, Vols. (10-11). p. 289; B. Lewis, "Saladin and the Assassins,".... pp. 240-241.

42. Le Patriarche Stephane al -Duwayhi, "7a'rikh al-Azminah (C.E. 1095-1699)" translated into Arabic by Ferdinand Taoutel, S.J. in al- Machriq. 44. (1950) p. 88, Mustafa Ghalib. Ta'rikh al-Da'wa.... p.213, where the author says that Saladin's nephew Muhammad was in command of the Isma'ili "contingent" (firqah) that took, part in the battle of Hittin.

43. C. Cahen, La Syrie du Nord. ... pp. 179. 511.

44. M. Defremery, "Recherches sur les Ismaeliens.".... J.A. May June 1854, pp. 420-21 : The Itinery of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, by A. Asher, London 1840-1. p. 50.

45. "Ta'rikh al-Azminah," Arabic tr. by Ferdinand Taoutel, S.J.. in al-Machriq. 44. 1950, P. 67. Thomas Keightley, The Crusaders. (London 1833). Vol, 11, pp. 140-141. where the author states that Amalric was engaged to reimburse the Templars out of his own revenues.

46. Guillaume de Tyr-"Histoire des Croisades." in Collection memoires relatifs a l'histoire de France, ed. N. Guizot, 31 Vols. (Paris 1823-1835), Ill, pp. 296-299. Jacques de Vitry, "Histoire de France, Vol XXII, p50; Charle E. Nowell, The Old Man of the Mountain, Speculum-October 1947. pp. 505-506, where author tries to link the alleged Ismaili move towards embracing Christianity with the reforms in the Isma'ili beliefs introduced by the Imam Hassan II, Ala Dhikrihi al-Salam.

47. According to the Isma'ilis, Muhammad, Jesus and Moses were Natiqs ("Speakers") and each had an Asas (base foundation). Concerning these terms see Part Two, Chapter V and Appendix 1.

48. C. Cahen, La Syfie du Nord.... pp. 514ff.

49. R. Grousset, Histoire des Croisades.... Paris 1934. Vol. Ill pp.91, 133.

50. Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi.., .. p. 269; Le "Chronicon Syriacum" de Barhebraeus, (Ar. Translation), in al-Machriq (July-December 1949, pp. 461-62. The Travels of Ibn Jubayr. (English Translation by R.J.C. Broadhurst). 1952, pp, 264-65; Ibn Khallikan.... Wafayt al-Al'Ayan - Arabic text. Cairo 1 29911881. Vol. II. p. 251 , Jannat al-Amal, p. 61, where it is stated that Sinan died six months after the death of Saladin on the 4 March 1193.

51. MS. 2. p. 96, Appendix 1; 'Arif Tmir, "Sinan Rashid al-Din" in al-Adib (May 1953), pp. 43-46.

52. Arif Tamir, Sinan wa Salah al-Din..... p. 23, where he quote from the Isma'ili MS. Fusul wa Akhbar... p. 164.

53. M.C. Defremery- "Recherches sur les Ismaeliens"... pp. 9, 31-33: S. Guyard, "Un grand maitre...... p. 372. 'Arif Tamir "al-Amir Masyad al-Hilli al-Asadi." al-Adib, August 1953, p. 55.


(Ref. "Ismailis of Syria", M. Galeb, p.1O9)

<< May God make you successful to do good in this world. You have said about me that I abolished the Shariat and left fasting and prayer. While I see that you are still sleeping while we are rising to make the Great Rise and Resurrection which Almighty God wants and orders.

The bad rumours which you have spread that I am abolishing the Shariat, I do not mind. Because I may be doing like the Prophet in that sense when he said: "I did not come to abolish the Bible but to accomplish it." The Bible was the origin of Shariat, and it was accomplished by the Quran. Why, then, it should not be accomplished by the (Qiyamat) Resurrection? And this is the balance (Mizan). Or why should it not be ended by Al-Qaim who is the weight (Wazn)?

Our saying is that Shariat should be accomplished by Qiyamat, and obedience by knowledge, and existing by unity. We do not say that Shariat is Al-Qiyamat, nor obedience is knowledge. >>


(Ref. "The Order of Assassins", M.G.S. Hodgson, 1955, p.2OO)

<< In the name of God the merciful and compassionate:

Fasl of the noble words of the Lord (Mawla) Rashid ad-Din (upon Him peace); it is most excellent as an explanation. My reverence is to my Lord (rabb), there is no God but He (the High (al-`ali), the Great).

"Comrades (rufaqa), we have been absent from you by two absences, by that of potentially (tamkin) and by that of actuality (rakwin); and we veiled ourselves from the earth of your knowledge (ma`rifa). And the earth groaned and the heavens shook, and they said, O Creator of creatures, forgiving! And I appeared (zahartu) in Adam, and the da`wa was Eve - we assembled the hearts of the believers (mu'minin) the earth of whose hearts groaned in love for us; and we looked upon the heavens of their spirits in our mercy. And the period (dawr) of Adam, and his da`wa passed; and his hujja disappeared, through our mercy, among the people. Then we appeared in the period of Noah, and the people were drowned in my da`wa; whoever trusted in my knowledge (ma`rifa) was saved by my mercy and grace, and whoever among the people denied my hujja perished. Then I appeared in the cycle of Abraham under the three titles of star, moon and star. And I destroyed the ship, I killed the boy, I built up the wall, the wall of the da`wa; whoever trusted in my da`wa by my grace and mercy was saved; and I talked with Moses openly (zahir) not veiled; it is I that know the mysteries. I was a door for the seeker, Aaron. Then I appeared (zahartu) in the master (sayyid), the Messiah, and I wiped (their) faults from my children with my generous hand; the first pupil who stood before me was John the Baptist; outwardly (bi-z-zahir) I was Simon (Peter). Then I appeared in the `Ali of the time, and I was concealed (sutirtu) in Mohammed (or: concealed him?); and he who spoke of my knowledge (ma`rifa) was Salman. Then arose Abu dh-Dharr the true (haqiqi) among the children of the old (qadima) da`wa, as support of the Qa'im of the Qiyama, present, existent. And religion (dîn) was not completed for you until I appeared to you in Rashid ad-Dîn; some recognized me and some denied me; the truth (haqq) continues on and those who speak truth (muhiqqûn) continue on, sure in every period and time.

"I am the master of what is (sâhib al-kawn); the dwelling is not empty of the ancient sprouts. I am the witness, the spectator, dispenser (walî) of mercy in the beginning and the end. Do not be misled by the changing of forms. You say, so-and-so passed, and so-and-so came; I tell you to consider the faces as all one face, as long as the master of existence (sâhib al-wujûd) is in existence, present, existent. Do not depart from the orders of him who received your engagement (wali `ahdi-kum) whether Arab of Persian or Turk or Greek. I am the ruler, dispenser of orders and of will. Whoever knows me inwardly (bâtin) possesses the truth. Knowledge of me is not perfect unless I say, My slave, obey me and know me in true knowledge of me: I shall make you alive like me, you shall not die; and rich, you shall not be poor; and great, you shall not be abased; hear and pray, you will advantaged. I am the one present and you are those present in my presence. I am the one near who does not depart. If I punish you, it is my justice; if I forgive you, it is my generosity and my excellence. I am the master of mercy (sâhib ar-rahma) and dispenser of forgiveness and of the clear truth.

"Praise to God, Lord of the worlds; this is a clear explanation.

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