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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 1860 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2009, 11:02:17 pm »

p. 102

CHAPTER VIII.

Mohammed II.--Anecdote of the Imam Fakhr-ed-deen--Noor-ed-deen--Conquest of Egypt--Attempt on the Life of Saladin.

THE death of Hassan was amply avenged by his son and successor, Mohammed II. Not only was the murderer himself put to death; vengeance, in its oriental form, extended itself to all his kindred of both sexes, and men, women, and children bled beneath the sword of the executioner. Mohammed, who had been carefully trained up in the study of philosophy and literature, was, like his father, puffed up with vanity and ambition, and, far from receding from any of his predecessor's pretensions to the imamat, he carried them to even a still greater length than he had done. At the same time he maintained a high character for knowledge and talent among his literary contemporaries, who were numerous, for his reign extended through a period of forty-six years, and the modern Persian literature was now fast approaching its climax. Not to mention other names, less familiar to our readers, we shall remark, as a proof of what we have said, that this was the period in which Nizamee of Ghenj sang in harmonious numbers the loves of Khosroo and Shireen, and of Mujnoon and Leila (these last the Romeo and Juliet of the east), the crown and flower of the romantic poetry of Persia. Then too flourished the great panegyrist Enveree, and a crowd of historians, jurists, and divines.

One of the most celebrated men of this time was

p. 103

the imam Fakhr-ed-deen (Glory of Religion) Rasi, who gave public lectures on the law in his native city of Rei. It being slanderously reported that he was devoted in secret to the opinions of the Ismaïlites, and was even one of their missionaries, he adopted the ordinary expedient of abusing and reviling that sect, and each time he ascended the pulpit to preach he reprobated and cursed the Impious in no measured terms. Intelligence of what he was about was not long in reaching the eyrie of the Sheikh-al-Jebal, and a Fedavee received his instructions, and forthwith set out for Rei. He here entered himself as a student of the law, and sedulously attended the lectures of the learned imam. During seven months he watched in vain for an opportunity of executing his commission. At length he discovered one day that the attendants of the imam had left him to go to fetch him some food, and that he was alone in his study. The Fedavee entered, fastened the doors, seized the imam, cast him on the ground, and directed his dagger at his bosom. "What is thy design?" said the astonished imam. "To rip up thy belly and breast." "And wherefore?" "Wherefore? Because thou hast spoken evil of the Ismaïlites in the pulpit." The imam implored and entreated, vowing that, if his life was spared, he would never more say aught to offend the sect of Ismaïl. "I cannot trust thee," cried the Assassin; for when I am gone thou wilt return to thy old courses, and, by some ingenious shift or other, contrive to free thyself from the obligation of thy oath." The imam then, with a most solemn oath, abjured the idea of explaining away his words, or seeking absolution for perjury. The Assassin got up from over him, saying, "I had no order to slay thee, or I should have put thee to death without fail. Mohammed, the son of Hassan, greets thee, and invites thee to honour

p. 104

him by a visit at his castle. Thou shalt there have unlimited power, and we will all obey thee like trusty servants. We despise, so saith the sheikh, the discourses of the rabble, which rebound from our ears like nuts from a ball; but you should not revile us, since your words impress themselves like the strokes of the graver in the stone." The imam replied that it was totally out of his power to go to Alamoot, but that in future he should be most careful never to suffer a word to pass his lips to the discredit of the mountain prince. Hereupon the Fedavee drew 300 pieces of gold from his girdle, and, laying them down, said, "See! here is thy annual pension; and, by a decree of the divan, thou shalt every year receive an equal sum through the reis Mozaffer. I also leave thee, for thy attendants, two garments from Yemen, which the Sheikh-al-Jebal has sent thee." So saying, the Fedavee disappeared. The imam took the money and the clothes, and for some years his pension was Maid regularly. A change in his language now became perceptible, for, whereas he was used before, when, on treating of any controverted point, he had occasion to mention the Ismaïlites, to express himself thus, "Whatever the Ismaïlites, whom God curse and destroy! may say,"--now that he was pensioned he contented himself with merely saying, "Notwithstanding what the Ismaïlites may say." When one of his scholars asked him the cause of this change he made answer, "We cannot curse the Ismaïlites, they employ such sharp and convincing arguments." This anecdote is related by several of the Persian historians, and it serves to prove, like the case of sultan Sanjar, related above, that the Ismaïlites were not so thoroughly ruthless and bloodthirsty as not to prefer rendering an enemy innocuous by gentle means to depriving him of life.

Historians record no other event connected with

p. 105

the eastern establishment of the Ismaïlite society during the long reign of Mohammed II. We shall now, therefore, turn our view to the Syrian branch, which attracts attention by the illustrious names which appear in oriental history at that time, and with which the ruler of Massyat came into hostile or friendly relations. The names of Noor-ed-deen (Light of Religion), Salah-ed-deen (Integrity of Religion), the Noradin and Saladin of western writers, and the Lion-hearted king of England, will at once awake the attention of the reader.

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