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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 1760 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2009, 10:54:20 pm »

Nizam-al-Moolk determined to keep no measures with a man who had thus sought his ruin, and he resolved to destroy him. Hassan fled to Rei, but, not thinking himself safe there, he went further south,

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and took refuge with his friend the reis * Aboo-’l-Fazl (Father of Excellence), at Isfahan. What his plans may have hitherto been is uncertain; but now they seem to have assumed a definite form, and he unceasingly meditated on the means of avenging himself on the sultan and his minister. In consultation one day with Aboo-’l-Fazl, who appears to have adopted his speculative tenets, after he had poured out his complaints against the vizir and his master, he concluded by passionately saying, "Oh that I had but two faithful friends at my devotion! soon should I overthrow the Turk and the peasant," meaning the sultan and the vizir. Aboo-’l-Fazl, who was one of the most clear-headed men of his time, and who still did not comprehend the long-sighted views of Hassan, began to fancy that disappointment had deranged the intellect of his friend, and, believing that reasoning would in such a case be useless, commenced giving him at his meals aromatic drinks and dishes prepared with saffron, in order to relieve his brain. Hassan perceived what his kind host was about, and resolved to leave him. Aboo-’l-Fazl in vain employed all his eloquence to induce him to prolong his visit; Hassan departed, and shortly afterwards set out for Egypt.

Twenty years afterwards, when Hassan had accomplished all he had projected, when the sultan and the vizir were both dead, and the society of the Assassins was fully organized, the reis Aboo-’l-Fazl, who was one of his most zealous partisans, visited him at his hill-fort of Alamoot. "Well, reis," said Hassan,


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[paragraph continues] "which of us was the madman? did you or I stand most in need of the aromatic drinks and the dishes prepared with saffron which you used to have served up at Isfahan? You see that I kept my word as soon as I had found two trusty friends."

When Hassan left Isfahan, in the year 1078, the khalif Mostanser, a man of some energy, occupied the throne of Egypt, and considerable exertions were made by the missionaries of the society at Cairo to gain proselytes throughout Asia. Among these proselytes was Hassan Sabah, and the following account of his conversion, which has fortunately been preserved in his own words, is interesting, as affording a proof that, like Cromwell, and, as we have supposed, Mohammed, and all who have attained to temporal power by means of religion, he commenced in sincerity, and was deceived himself before he deceived others.

"From my childhood," says he, "even from the age of seven years, my sole endeavour was to acquire knowledge and capacity. I had been reared up, like my fathers, in the doctrine of the twelve imams, and I made acquaintance with an Ismaïlite companion (Refeek), named Emir Dhareb, with whom I knit fast the bonds of friendship. My opinion was that the tenets of the Ismaïlites resembled those of the Philosophers, and that the ruler of Egypt was a man who was initiated in them. As often, therefore, as Emir said anything in favour of these doctrines I fell into strife with him, and many controversies on points of faith ensued between him and me. I gave not in to anything that Emir said in disparagement of our sect, though it left a strong impression on my mind. Meanwhile Emir parted from me, and I fell into a severe fit of sickness, during which I reproached myself, saying, that the doctrine of the Ismaïlites was assuredly the true one, and that yet out of obstinacy I had not gone over to it, and that

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should death (which God avert!) overtake me, I should die without having attained to the truth. At length I recovered of that sickness, and I now met with another Ismaïlite, named Aboo Nejm Zaraj, of whom I inquired touching the truth of his doctrine. Aboo Nejm explained it to me in the fullest manner, so that I saw quite through the depths of it. Finally I met a dai, named Moomin, to whom the sheikh Abd-al-Melik (Servant of the King, i, e. of God) Ben Attash, the director of the missions of Irak, had given permission to exercise this office. I besought that he would accept my homage (in the name of the Fatimite khalif), but this he at the first refused to do, because I had been in higher dignities than he; but when I pressed him thereto beyond all measure, he yielded his consent. When now the sheikh Abd-al-Melik came to Rei, and through intercourse learned to know me, my behaviour was pleasing unto him, and he bestowed on me the office of a dai. He said unto me, 'Thou must go unto Egypt, to be a sharer in the felicity of serving the imam Mostander.' When the sheikh Abd-al-Melik went from Rei to Isfahan I set forth for Egypt *."

There is something highly interesting in this account of his thoughts and feelings given by Hassan Sabah, particularly when we recollect that this was the man who afterwards organized the society of the Assassins, so long the scourge of the East. We here find him, according to his own statement, dreading the idea of dying without having openly made profession of the truth, yet afterwards, if we are to credit the Oriental historians, he inculcated the doctrine of the indifference of all human actions. Unfortunately this declension from virtue to vice has been too often exhibited to allow of our doubting that it may have happened in the case of Hassan Sabah. A further reflection


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which presents itself is this; Can anything be more absurd than those points which have split the Moslems into sects? and yet how deeply has conscience been engaged in them, and with what sincerity have they not been embraced and maintained! Will not this apply in some measure to the dissensions among Christians, who divide into parties, not for the essential doctrines of their religion, but for some merely accessory parts?

Hassan, on his arrival in Egypt, whither his fame had preceded him, was received with every demonstration of respect. His known talents, and the knowledge of the high favour and consideration which he had enjoyed at the court of Malek Shah, made the khalif esteem him a most important acquisition to the cause of the Ismaïlites, and no means were omitted to soothe and flatter him. He was met on the frontiers by the Dai-al-Doat, the sherif Taher Casvini, and several other persons of high consideration; the great officers of state and court waited on hint as soon as he had entered Cairo, where the khalif assigned him a suitable abode, and loaded him with honours and tokens of favour. But such was the state of seclusion which the Fatimite khalifs had adopted, that during the eighteen months which Hassan is said to have passed at Cairo he never once beheld the face of Mostanser, though that monarch always evinced the utmost solicitude about him, and never spoke of him but in terms of the highest praise.

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