How long will it take you to think of something not radical when I say the word Islam?
Was it always like this? Fasten your seatbelts as we are driving to lslam right after the prophet and driving past this whole phenomenon of extreme ideologies in Muslim community. In the very first season we ride to the origins of ismaili’s who are bringing us the assassins. Join me on this very unique ride that will question your history and will force you to think about the other side.
Binded books check , Reference list covered, history podcast rolling.
Welcome to the first ever episode of history encoded We have alll been there where we are interested to know more about history but we can’t keep up with all the facts the figures and let’s face it very unique names well then here we are to look into history without boundaries and without shying away from the facts welcome to history as a story from the stuff you missed in your history class to hardcore history facts it got too much for just a story and while we all love hearing a good one from living with the kardashians to 1001 night .If These stories have taught us something it’s that with the right amount of VFX and a good cast we could be more interested in Thanos wiping half the universe then to actually consider khan was pretty close to it himself.
so let’s travel through the past and I will drive you back to history to see what we’ve missed and the questions that we forgot to ask in just a second
The story we have for the first ever season is a little bit of both interesting and controversial but nonetheless close to my heart. They are the assassins. The word assassins is driven from 11th century use of the word hashins, why that ? we will have a closer look. Before we dive in to understand a very radical image that islam has been portraid with i should take a min to clarify that history and sources can never be perfect. What i’ll say might not just be at variance but completely oppose someone else’s facts and to clarify my sources and point of view i’ll have the books up on my website and multiple sources on facebook from time and on but . We will try to lose ourselves in history and not just think of it as political but in every aspect which is a bit unusual but very exciting. We are here for the story and to learn. Surely with stories of cat and mouse we can’t find facts but learning is always for the people who break barriers. But let’s go one step at a time when we talk about radical islam we cannot ignore the very existence of the assassins yes, they have been characterized to cinematic views and games and movies and what not and then the research from Marco Polo has created a very unique and a very dramatic image of the assassins. But trust me my story is also as interesting ! yeah! Seriously ! We will start from the very beginning of islam and understand sects and existance of radical thought to clarify if they are a part of religion or just a scheme. With a dive deeper we will follow the ismaili sect and every episode will bring us closer to our character. But make sure you step out of the line and focus on why and how rather then right or wrong. With that said lets get on to it.
After the prophets islam was complete and the holy book was testified to be always protected it wasnt compiled as of yet and after compilation itt will continue to guide the later muslims, but a bigger question that the community was confronted with was the leadership role politically and a small group appeared to be believing in Ali to be best suited for not just leading in political matters but also spritually guiding them.
However, a group sat down and decided that abu bakr was best suited to politically continue. He himself never claimed for any divine revelations or religious supremacy but just his character knowledge and skill. Ali will still continue to be a religious guide for these people and be asked to lead after the death of a usman ,,, leading islam into its first civil war and the very awaited but very little caliphate that Ali would be ruling the circumstances following would be a scenario that none of the followers or aly himself would have thought to see
In the aftermath of the murder of third caliph known as Osman. Ali was asked to take charge of political leadership. He was asked to punish the rebels immediately. But he understood restoring peace first as more important this wouldn’t actually work because now he found himself at a war with Aisha who opposed his decisions.
But winning the first civil war in Islam and he was only picking up pieces for another ……………. Muawiyah who was a relative of the third caliph usman and a ruling governor already took his opposing ideology to the battle ground. the events leading to this is a story of its own …….but let’s just go with the fact that it would end in an arbitration. What we certainly know is that muawiyah would group multiple leaders to oppose ali and as a result of this war ali would ironically lose support of his own hardcore followers who didnt agree to arbrition. They would be known as kharijites or kharaj the separated ones.
2 back to back wars and division amongst the Muslim community left everyone broken and puzzled.
The radical existence is proved when kharajites decide to kill not just a fellow muslim but a beloved to the prophet While Ali was praying a poisoned sword would meet him in 661 and would be the end of an era of rightly guided caliphs, a unified community. Now already broken into multiple pieces different ideologies and extremist thoughts. These people of the Prophet never knew when the muslim community became an islamic empire.
radical islam here we go! If you are keeping up with dates this is roughly 30 years after the prophet. Moreover this would also play a part in consolidation of shia ethos .
Now the next most powerful person was undoubtedly muawiya but some 40,000 people in kufa that were originally supporters of Ali held Hassan as their next caliph who was his eldest son, but Muawiya showed himself as a very strong political leader ,He was the biggest contender for the caliphate and confronting that would just be another civil war.
So Hassan found himself abdicating from all offers of political movement. Only to leave everyone in peace and in seven months he left a message for his devoted people in kufa. Quote. “O people, surely it was God who led you by the first of us and who has spareid you bloodshed by the last of us. I have made peace. I know not whether happily this be but that you may enjoy yourselves for a time.”
And with this message, he traveled back to Medina and died a few years later in 670.
Hussain himself didn’t wish to change what his elder brother decided. And it wasn’t until Muawiya died a year later. picked his son to continue what would be known as the umayyad dynasty.
Kufans in disagreement with new power asked husain to fight for what was rightly his. It was in these turn of events that the supporters of Ali promised power and asked him to join in the uprising in kufa.
A journey in which he never made it to the end. When Yazid asked his governors to take charge and protect the dynasty, they killed the rebellions in Kofa and suppressed the supporters. Hussain had to wait and see what was coming his way, a plot that he never expected.
Something that I haven’t mentioned until now is that my interest in history comes from the time machine that I’ve come across ……….. with my tireless work and heavy research on interstellar back to the future, even the Avengers I figured out how it could work. So I thought I should include that in my script and tell you how exactly things went. I’ll bring in some small phases where I’ll explain what I saw and how the events unfloded, the other parts would be just the research and of course please don’t ask for logic.
… so…. I saw nothing but a plain field. There were a few camps right ahead of me, women and children, very few men around 70 of them the land itself was all dry and it was a bad time for a camp because even the grass seemed lifeless so I thought I would ask these people what makes them stay here.
I approached a few men and asked what they were doing here …… an old man walked towards me, his eyes heavy with stories…… face covered with a beard it told me of more stories than he could ever speak of…… his eyes were forced down as he walked towards me, it felt as if he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders with a heavy voice, he replied we are here to support hussain.
Today was the 9th of Muharam. I was standing at the place known as Karbala, a city in iraq……. unable to hide behind these small camps. I found a huge army of thirty thousand men armored with their shields and chains and silver west carrying sharp blades just like their eyes, they looked at the camp hoping for a surrender……………… the old man politely offered me some water. That was the last drops we have he said nothing else no water no hope
clouds were standing still as if they had to witness this moment. Sun was still striking sharp. I witnessed his hand come out of the camp. He stood at a place visible to everyone with not much energy. A voice finally came out saying you are allowed to leave.
To which no one replied this was hussain. They all had no hope and slowly and gradually everyone went back to their camp. Since I had immunity and the day was still long enough. I thought I’ll take a ride. By the edge of a huge army. I found some camps.
There were two people talking over there. One was a wise old man. The other young and energetic. So, I got off my horse ducked down to the nearest end. And of course, I’ve played some games and I know how to eavesdrop on someone. I heard the old man say it is better that you give up this entire world and it’s wealth and all the earthly things it contains.
Then to meet Allah with Hussain’s blood on your hand.
The other man with worry lines all over his face had no option. He had to choose between life right now or after. Standing between two people who were not gonna give up at any point. He chose to give his power the weightage.
With that I went to sleep and woke up as soon as I heard a voice shout. I am the grandson of the Prophet and all I could see were children and women with arrows on their hearts. Blood on the ground.
No artists on this earth could have the courage to portray that image. I heard no cry … no shouting …. nothing.
The earth stood still. 30,000 men took seconds to kill, not even 80. Huassin buried his son who was shot by an arrow. He stood up. took his horse and went to a fight that he could never win.
Running as fast as it can I could hear the heartbeat of the horse. He knew these were the last few.he was on top of his horse and his sword swinging on his left hand..he fought bravely but Only to see himself covered with armored men everywhere. They circled around him.
He was pushed off his horse and thrown to the ground and every sword placed its mark on his body. Finally, someone took the head leaving off everything behind. The tears blood bodies kids woman and the wise old man. Not even a century after the prophet and his beloved grandson was sacrificed by a Muslim only.
I heard rumors there was no call for prayers for the next few days. The story was written all over the sky. Leaving my tears on the scene, it was better to go back.
What comes next will be disorder and misery for the whole community. Furthermore a tragedy that will haunt the Shias and they to this date mourn for it. This incident clearly separates the community………………….. ideologies will sprung from every corner to claim leadership.
It’s amazing when we look at history and find a piece that’s left out and somehow completely changes the future. I’m talking about natural disasters or deaths that fit the timeline. I thought these things should have a name when gods interfere and just when u think you are winning he plays his card. For me it’s like you are dealing with a chance card. It can be good or bad…. whatever it is you have to pick a card. This term will from time and on remind us of the best storyteller.
Now the next few years many people from the elites will take the authority from Ali’s lineage during this period.Hussains line will go back to just religious teachings far away from hostile lands and quiet for a few years to see the Umayyads and then the Abbasids take control of the empire.
Jafar Al Sadik, that would be the fifth imam for ismailis today he will lay emphasis on the ideology of concealment and justify the imams positikn at that time, and he would also see the Abbasids rise so with his growing influence within the community the next Imams will once again to go back into hiding but let’s hold on for a second and understand what these three ideologies actually cater.
The first of all being nass (philosophy) that justifies nomination of next guide. means that an imam will always be present for this world it would go on from the line of Ali and Fatima and then from Hussein who will continue until the end of the world so it goes on to clarify that if there are two people alive in this world one of them should be an imam the nus concept speaks of soul being transferred from one imam to another till the end of time.
the concept of knowledge that defines Imam to have the supreme knowledge that separates him from common people and these common people should approach to a person who has the abilities or could be called as pure! who was much closer to God in terms of knowledge and wisdom to connect these people and make them understand religion better.
the concept of the concealment, which was very unique in its time with the ideology of concealment an imam will go into hiding and will continue his teachings and his location will be known to only a few members and scholars who are now actively converting people……… while the imam only lay the rules. This is something which differentiate them from the 12er shia in future and many who stopped at a certain number. This theory clarifies that imam will be alive and on this earth and he will continue his lineage but will not show himself to the world. For safety reasons
Understanding these three rules of nass knowledge and concealment are important as it supports the cause and we will open each one of them in a seprate episode. The chance card is played ……………………………. the fifth imam showed up at a very good time and started dawa or missionary work to spread the knowledge. This will lead ismailies to lands and thrones never expected. HOW well you will have to stick around for that.
If you see the big picture its always like that some beduin tribe gives it all and rises to power as they have nothing to loose, sits on throne gets lazy and eventually get overthrown by another beduin!
Our first part of story has left ismailies at a state of hunger they have and will now fight for power that they wanted with hussain and failed years Of waiting and a time will arrive that you probably won’t bet on! How things shape up and what brings them out of hiding to being remembered in history forever all of this and a step closer to the assassins in the next episode.
I would like to request you all to stick around with me for the very first season in which we will uncover radical Islam assassins and the smileys the journey has just begin and a thousand more seasons are yet to be uncovered including dynasties and stories from all over the world I ask as a hungry bedouin to all of you listening to support me….. I get it this is monetary stuff and likes and shares benefit me but your support and donations are very valuable a dollar a show goes a long way and ofcourse asking for money is on the dark side but son
So you can visit me on my website for all further details and links And join the rebel as we grow to climb our stages of success. Thank you for listening, stay safe and stay hungry until the next episode of HISTORY ENCODED.
As we continue our journey to assassins with the ismailis, episode 2 (NASS) looks into the power and reason of an imam. Professor Peter Adamson from history of philosophy without any gaps joins us in understanding the lineage of an imam the Ismaili sect and the Fatimid dynasty come to power.
Script number 2
By Spring 909, the early 10th century residents knew how to celebrate and welcome a new season. Alongside me yet another merchant travelling in a chain of caravans even though this might jbe spring Morocco was still heating up and along with its heat it was famous for its hostility. Many merchants still traded here and made a living on it. Dressed up as a local the merchant next to me still looked different and rightfully so he was the Shia imam, disguised to be far away from Abbasid territory at least for now. I remember the last time they had power was when Ali served as a caliph since then their attempts have turned into disaster and undoubtedly it was better to stay hidden. But with the freshness of spring the imam looked fresh ready for a new challenge. Certainly, he has been caught a lot of times and has been trying to run ever since. Travelling along with the clouds he was accompanied by a few followers in a caravan that travelled from sijilmasa to Algeria.The maghrib as it was called was never a good place for an imam as the kharijites lived there and certainly i remember them from Ali. and as history repeats itself an armored commander shouted from a far distance stop! Al MAHDI. Sadly, he was caught again and was placed in a house arrest in sijilmasa. The abbasids had already informed locals and thus they were prepared to see an imam.
But the difference this time was a ray of sunshine, as flowers blossomed Al Mahdi saw one of his Dai marching up with the military, a devoted leader and loyal to the cause he didn’t just stood guard for the imam but took him to Algeria and handed over the reigns of power. 4th of January 910 Al Mahdi took charge of an empire. The following Friday he took a stand outside the mosque visible to everyone and spoke:
“I am from the grandsons of the prophet and your Imam. This state will be named after my grandmother Fatima and we are now the fatimids.”
300 years in making and everyone who stood their pledged allegiance to continue to fight now with imam on their side. And this ended the time of concealment and marked a start to the fatimids.
No no no no no somethings not right, lemme clear this out African tribe in Algeria who originally were kharajite accepted an ismaili Above all as their leader and then became strong enough to conquer much of the lands surrounding and if that’s not enough gave it all away to an imam they just saw. Showing up from concealment to leading the biggest empire of the time welcome to your drive back to history.
What you are about to hear is part 2 of the story on ismailis and assassins and if you like your story in some sort of order then you should probably check previous ones if you are one of those who come up with their own star wars sequence then by all means welcome to history encoded. As we talked in the last episode these dais were the key to a successful conversion. They started spreading all over places for possibilities and converted people to ismailism. Some dais started training young talents too and carefully taught them about philosophy sciences and religion. It was now common for a dai to have never seen an imam himself but be carrying out the mission. Meanwhile chief dais took charge of matters and laid or passed on the constitution. Some dais saw opportunity in bedouin tribes, others in cities. So They fashioned themselves with philosophy to create an understanding of the need for an imam and got pretty successful with it. That’s the aim for this episode we will try to understand what the dawa or the missionary work might have talked about and in this very raw but still an attempt we will look into human kind incomplete yet so impressive. BUT what’s a body without a brain, That’s why we have the expertise of Dr Peter Adamson professor of philosophy at the LMU in Munich and king’s college London who was kind enough to take out time from his podcast history of philosophy without any gaps and help us understand the situation. He will help us understand the need for an imam in light of the philosopher of that time.
Hello Peter, thank you for joining us. As we start our conversation on the need for an imam in the 9th century Islamic world, let’s start with something that’s contradictory and bugging me for a long time. What is the phrase human as a microcosm and does it deny the need for anyone?
That clears it out, we can now create a sense of the events! Understanding the decision made by the Kutama tribe and completely supporting the imam from here on.
Well thank you Peter for your time but this isn’t done yet We will call him again for his help but until then let’s pause with understanding and move on with our story. The fatimid imams now established their bases and directly challenged the abbasids and they eventually succeed to be the biggest islamic empire as the holy cities of mecca and medina including baghdad recited the khutbah at the friday sermon in the name of the fatimid caliph.
Having laid the foundations of fatimid rule Abdullah al mahdi died in 934 ce and the next few imams didn’t just continue his imamat but also expanded the state and shifted its bases to a newly founded city cairo this was also the time when they built one of the first islamic university known as al azhar, promoted scholarly and scientific work and also added onto their law to spread and intensify Dawa mission Ahh never stop after a blockbuster you see always make its part 2 or 3 or 4 you get the idea.But This wouldnt just be a contribution to the golden age of islam but will also be the place where our next character learns about the ismailies but before we move to assassins its important not just to consider but actually include the golden age of islam to give a perspective of muslims of the time and build upon that image. As ibn Sina writes the medical and philosophical encyclopedia he wouldn’t just be translated to latin and called avicenna but will survive as the primary source for medical reference in the west for the next 500 years. Talking about diet and climate ibn sina introduces the world to tumor, breast cancer and traces left in the air by the sick person. While mulims were building possibly the first ever hospital to quarantine the sick, a very familiar term now though, it was commonly believed in the west that sickness was a punishment from GOD and repentance could lead to recovery well some can argue, this concept isn’t quite lost either. Today when we look at islam it doesnt quite rightfully justify or even reflects the past. So where did it all disappear and if they really were so big off a thing how did they just lose it all. A question that comes to my mind is why even after so much knowledge and skills and spreading islam to cover as much land as possible could they possibly fall short off. While I really shouldn’t answer that, let’s look into a few things that were eating up the community from within. Buuuuuuuut in a shameless manner just like every other daily soaps I’ll leave it for the next episode.
From philosophical advancements to health medicine and cosmos muslims were shining in every aspect and it looked as they were unstoppable but let’s be honest we will see everyone rise and fall because THIS IS THE WAY but don’t you worry cause our path is far from its climax and we still have peter and fatimids to conclude. As usual this is the time where I ask you to be wise and knowledgeable, learn from the past and support the show as it goes a long way but not everyone appreciates a good story of rise to power. SO Stay safe and stay hungry because we’ve just started and the golden age to disappear is yet to be uncovered until the next episode of History Encoded.
Abbasids, Seljuks, Fatimids, Spanish Umayyads, Samanids so many different Muslim empires but not one. Bonus episode for all of you with Peter Adamson.
Script number 3
By nature all men desire to know episode 3 to continue on the ismailies and today we will reflect not just on the golden age but finally the assassins in just a min. A small recap to the position we are in. Starting with Ali as the caliph we moved hussain and saw a division. Soon after the imams had to go in concealment while they saw Umayyad and then later Abbasid dynasty rise. 300 years later the ismailies now found a voice and bought back their imam from concealment this will start the fatimid dynasty and the most powerful one of the time. Challenging other dynasties they didn’t just compete military wise but in every aspect from religion to sciences. Also Peter has been kind enough to stick around for another episode just like all of you. So welcome back to the third episode of History Encoded
Its common for someone to believe that muslim society saw its golden time because of mass conversion on the edge of a knife but because we rely on the later texts from the west we miss on a lot of things. As we concluded the last episode universities and hospitals were just one aspect of the advancements. Both Abbasids and Fatimids rivaled each other with their own house of wisdoms, open sessions to religion and libraries filled with science and astronomy and what not they were definitely ahead of competition but they weren’t just one.
Every scholarly move was triggered with politics deeply rooted in it. Although many were free thinkers some stood loyal to a cause. The ismailies themselves are an example who attempted to provide grounds to their cause through Dai and the abbasids who saw this as a challenge attempted to make the ismailis look heretic. Later crusaders provide us with an image that a sunni or shia community would likely find crusaders better to form an alliance with rather than the others muslims and rightfully so as they always had to stay on top of the competition. Although we wonder what a unified islamic community would have achieved we cannot deny that this competition was the reason for such wonders. With history and this podcast there will always be a flow of rise to power to fall and then how they stand today but achieving power, fatimids imam didn’t stop but intensified the mission. Baith ul hikma served as a school for these dais to be trained even though it stood open for all, many future dais will be initially taught here As the fatimids remained neutral and accepting of everyone in cairo they played a rather unusual move to have these missionary work outside the fatimid empire or strongholds as a matter of fact. And open the city walls for knowledge and trade regardless of what religion of belief. Something that we could appreciate and learn from even today. As we have this special episode Let’s bring back Peter to further discuss this scenario and the use of scholarly work to support political cause, welcome back Peter so we understand from medieval history that the use of philosophy triggered understanding of religion and its principals.A sunni scholar would use it to provide grounds for his belief while the dais were using it to reason the need for imam.
I was under the impression that ismailies were heavily using neoplatonic sources and if we speak of someone like the ikhwan they were understood to be ismailies because their ideas were drawn from the same thinking.
If we look in past use of philosophy rose during the 9th century and both abbasids to fatimids in their house of wisdoms promoted it and also the fact that their budget on scholarly work could rival with today’s society but still picking up on same greek ideas and sources sharing a common faith they contradicted with each other.
So keeping all this political matters in mind and use of scholarly work not just to justify but reject the other ideas would it be safe to say that al ghazali plays a part in it where he disagrees with the greek philosophy and goes after the ismailies for using it too much.
And we can say that their work or thoughts were provoked by political matters.
The fatimids as of now are on their peak of course we all know what’s gonna happen next al hakim’s reign could be called as the most controversial ones and of course any sort of controversy is attention they reached their height of popularity next up was al mustansir who had to witness 7 years of plague in egypt with food shortage and famine due to low water levels of the nile then racial rivalries within the kutama tribe and finally the turkish troops rebelling, breaking law and order the imam decided to do what most declining empires would, he outsourced the army and hence an armenian general took over he goes by the name badr al jamali and in his long fight for peace he actually did succeed but this also meant that he was now virtually the commander of fatimid state leaving the imam as a figure head. Bringing peace to egypt and losing power to seljuks in further territory badr al jamali died in 1094 and his son al afadal succeeded him soon al mustasir eighth fatimid caliph and 18th imam died in cairo. His succession led to a permanent dispute. According to ismailies today al mustansir choose his son nizar to succeed him according to shia rule of nass however the commander of armies who was badr al jamalis son had other plans al afadal favoured the candidacy of nizars much younger half brother qasim ahmad and as qasim ahmad was married to al fadals sister this can be questioned whether it was a move to favour him or just a good move. Whatever it was we have learned that he was indeed the virtual ruler and he placed ahmad on the fatimid throne which obviously means that nizar the designated one had to flee. nizar refused to endorse alafdals design and fled to alexandria. And in a snap the ismailies or nizar’s supporters were out of power. This split the ismailies into nizaris and mustalis. And the mustalis in fatimid state soon saw themselves under the rule of seljuks who captured cairo with salah din and as victors write the story we have a blurred out past in hand about the fatimid and its power under the imams and this marked the end of fatimids. But the very basis of this podcast, the history and this particular interview is not for us to believe in whatever we hear whatever we see but to use our gifts we are a cosmos gifted with self awareness and built with reason and that’s the perfect explanation of why we shouldn’t fight wars already fought but reason them. We are built with that wahm feeling finally peter could you conclude with that word wahm.
Thank you peter it was a pleasure to have you at the show.
Finally, a dai trained in cairo who have had encounters with the imam supported Nizar to be the rightful imam and now actively started looking for a place to house these ismailies and to protect them. And he has been on it for the last few years what’s surprising is that his plans to protect the ismailies is on top of a fort and never in its history has it been captured with military force legend has it that the site was first indicated to a local ruler by an eagle that soared above a great rock, hence its name alamut or the eagles nest. This special agent has now his eyes set for a prize and what he does next will change history forever. This special agent’s name, you guessed it, none other than James Bond….whoops sorry Hassan sabbah and he is up next.
Finally it’s my state of wahm that’s telling me that I have your support and donations and even though the sheep was using it to run away from the fox I’m running in for more episodes and calling it my factory fitted power. Still, things seem to be at a mountain top but we are climbing to the impossible with that stay safe and stay hungry until the next episode of history encoded.
From rumors to legend, Video games to books we finally get your hands on the Hashashins and open a new perspective on them.
Script Number 4
It was nearly noon on a hot day in summer 1090. The lord of the castle of Alamut started to sweat a little, finishing off with defense plans to enlarge the castle and strengthen its fortifications he signed of the meeting by reminding everyone to keep looking for this dangerous man and arrest this ismailis leader. Next morning, he woke up early and went for his usual trip for inspection around the castle. He enjoyed long rides back to his castle over the foothills of the mountain. The track twisted and turned, rose and fell. Occasionally, the lord of Alamut would stop to greet a few passing merchants and ask them if they had seen any Stanger or suspicious activities. A sight that might suggest the presence of Hassan Sabbah in the area. Once he was back inside, he felt secure, covered with rock walls some 350 meters high and guards stationed at the fortification halfway up the rock saluted their lord on his return. To his surprise he saw some new faces. On inquiry from his deputy, he got to know many skilled men were hired to start rebuilding parts of the castle for better defense. Fortunately, there had been no shortage of these workers. Are you sure that these men are reliable and not connected with Hassan Sabah? Asked the lord. To which the deputy replied Alamut is the strongest fort in Iran and cannot be captured even by a thousand horsemen. Having found peace in his words the lord of Alamut took off. Soon the word got spread to nearby villages surrounding the castle and reached to a schoolteacher called dehkhoda who didn’t waste any time in schooling children of these newly hired skilled men. As days passed by in peace the lord of Alamut felt more secure. Until the day when a school teacher walked in to reveal his identity. He calmly went to the lord of Alamut and announced that the castle was now in his possession. The lord of Alamut summoned the guards to arrest him, only to find them ready to obey Hassan’s command and put the lord of Alamut to their sword. Hassan left him with a draft of 3000 gold dinars as a price for the castle and allowed him to leave unharmed. A spectacular plan knitted with intelligence and loyal followers and dangerous execution the mission was now accomplished.
The fort of Alamut was captured in a story that could be played out in theaters. Fiction or truth well that’s all up to you. For now Hassan’s strategy was to protect the ismailis who didn’t just face threats from their fellow ismailis in the fatimids but Sunni seljuks who lived pretty close to him. Nizar’s supporters were small in number and many got scattered after the incident. Of the few who stayed and remained loyal to nizar in nearby Iran had Hassan to protect them. Nizar himself had to go in hiding as he was being hunted down and the later imams stayed in concealment. With a little number that Hassan was left with his strategy had to be different and unlike the times before fatimids. Ismailis were well known and being hunted down by everyone. So, Hassan went defensive and as we have already seen from the fort, he could be credited for a lot of things for example digging up areas to build storerooms to survive for months, development of irrigation system, building library to educate people, strategically capturing nearby forts but one strategy that has kept him alive until now was the idea of assassins. Ismailis were never strong enough to fight any war coming their way and thus Hassan carefully prepared these few skilled men to carry out their mission. So, the plan was that on an occasion when the enemy would surround the castle and they’ll be left without any hopes of survival a target will be carefully scanned who had influenced the revolt and eliminating him will reduce any imminent threat to the Ismailis. As a method of desperation this strategy will save thousands of lives and will let the ismailis live in peace. Originally a skilled man devout to his land and religion will carry out the mission. As we will see assassinations have been used as a weapon of warfare from the dawn of history and were not invented by the ismailis. Most rulers of all politics and religious persuasions have made deliberate use of assassination as an instrument of policy. Let’s not travel far for an example, Abbasid caliphs never hesitated to order the murder of their leading critics, especially if they happened to be Shia leaders and of course the imams even as of now are a target. But things take a turn with the ismailis version. How and why lets see. Before that let’s look into how the assassins were prepared and raised. Marco polo will help us understand that.
“The old man had turned his valley into a garden, the largest and most beautiful that ever was seen. There were runnels flowing freely with wine, milk, honey and water including a number of ladies and most beautiful damsels in the world. Who could play the most beautiful instruments and danced in a manner that it was charming to behold? For the old man desired to make his people believe that this was paradise. There was a fortress at the entrance of the garden, strong enough to resist all the world. Now the old men would introduce the garden to some 4 or 6 men at a time. then having made them drink a certain portion which cast them into deep sleep. They’ll be lifted and carried away from the garden. Then when they wake up the old men will make these simple hill-folks believe that he was a great prophet and he can send them back to paradise if they complete one of his missions. Now the old man would give these men hashish and say “Go thou and slay so and so; and when thou returnest my angels shall bear thee into paradise.” “
So romantic and fascinating but I’m sorry i’ll have to stop. The very reason that I call this podcast unique is the fact that we are forced to reason with what we have in hand. We won’t lean on one party but will reflect. This place is a mixture of facts, myths and fiction and then we go slow enough to reflect on every dynasty and characters to create sense of their decisions unlike textbooks we don’t have themes o0r likings but story and its reflection on today. We had Peter last time with us to create a sense of dawah missions and from that we can create a sense of what the mission looked like. Using philosophy to reason the need for explanation, neither the chief dai or the imam himself had ever claimed to be a prophet but only a guide. It goes without saying that the fatimid ismailis were tolerant to every religion and promoters of education and scientific reasoning. Even the dai’s themselves were learned in every aspect and not just religious experts. Let’s consider an example where the dai sends off an assasins to carry out a one time mission that has no return. One hit that’s so important that it will save thousands of lives and he only has one chance at it, but before you go bruh care to smoke a pot with me?huh, Really, How will they focus on a target after that. I can’t even focus on the keyboard to write a script, not that I have ever experienced it myself and my mum listens to this show. Even if we accept the fact that ismailis did hashish and for once forget everything we have ever learned, no sane man in his right senses will ever take such a big risk on such a crucial mission. This completely throws off the possibility of a dai even thinking of it. Also, did I ever mention that Marco polo never really went to Alamut himself, or that he visited the surrounding in 1273 that’s some 20 years after the mongols siege and destruction and some 150 years after Hassan’s death. One more thing in his books, the travels of Marco polo he has misunderstood some animals to be mystic creatures and he never wrote his book himself but got help from a dramatist in prison.ok last one some scholars debate that his explanation for the old man doesnt fit hasan but another dai named sinan. This dramatic story is an explanation of why the ismaili assassins stood out of the competition. But why did the ismailis stand silent to this. For that we will go back to our story but before that it’s important to note that as there were no official twitter handling for famous personalities back then, they never themselves got a chance to clarify their rumors or even come to know how far it’s been spread. So from crusaders to seljuks when they had to justify assassinations that somehow benefited them they credited the ismailis for it.
Anyways some 40 years after Hassan’s death imams resurfaced and claimed their leadership again just like the fatimid times. We can conclude that history started repeating itself. As soon as imams took control they started working on already built libraries and opened them for everyone, now the imams had few forts under their possession and loyal neighbours thanks to hassan and later chief dais. A great scholar of that time named tusi visited alamut and availed himself to the rich resources of that library. His works flourished quickly to lands far beyond the castle and because of that his books escaped mongols siege and helped us understand the intellectual tradition within the castle. As the imams now planned to repeat history the only problem they faced now were not fellow muslims like last time. But dangerous men who were unstoppable in their conquest who travelled like storms and destroyed everything they saw. Right about time, when the persian ismailis were beginning a renaissance of their intellectual and spiritual tradition and were strong enough to address all the rumours the dark clouds of war started gathering and the dark lord’s force was felt everywhere.
25th of november 1256 overwhelmed by a sense of impending doom everyone saw the bright fires of mongol armies encamped around the castle. There was plenty to eat but no one had any appetite, sleep had been fitful for many nights driven away by increasing anxiety. They all noticed the flames and smoke of the still burning maumundez castle just 13 km away from alamut. Normally soldiers of islam and the fidai’s had no fear of death they were certain that castle defenses had been cunningly devised by hassan sabah and no saljuq army or any enemy of the ismailis had ever been able to capture it. But they feared and awaited their imam who was in maymundez. The prince of almaut made his last tour of the battlements, full of doubts he wondered, has maymundez really fallen? Did imam surrender? Should I surrender now or prepare to fight? Should I allow this great castle of Hassan to be destroyed? Alamut is far stronger than maymendez and we can definitely fight them off. Next morning he received a letter that the imam had surrendered and Maymundez had fallen. 26 years old imam in maymundez wrote, We tried to delay them until winter but they became more ruthless, we tried to negotiate with the abbasids on our side; it only mapped more places for them to conquer, they asked for me to surrender and finally I did. The prince of alamut followed what his imam a few kms away from him did. On receiving the message he threw his sword to the ground and looked up to the will of GOD as he prepared to meet the great khan now.Mongols too relied on shock tactics and speed like Hassan did but they were ruthless in their dealings. Surrender was the only option now. The hulagu khan knew alamut was difficult and if they hold them off long enough outside the castle which they were completely capable of then winter will force them to go back and leave the ismailis for a year giving them enough time to prepare so he went for the imam and alamut fell without proper resistance. Juvayni, a very interesting character was a historian who travelled with the Mongols and wrote the accounts of mongol empire entitled the account of world conqueror. Went in alamut and burned the library or as he puts it “i burnt them all, and recited the words ‘o yellow, be yellow, and o white, be white. And shook my sleeve upon them’’ he only spared copies of the Quran and surprisingly one book that talked about Hassan’s life and adventure. Which he first read then burned and later quotes it in his own history. Everything was grounded. Hulagu khan initially treated the imam with all royalty so that all castles would surrender. When they did, imam made a journey to the great mongke khan for peace but never returned. No record was left and everything was burned. The ismailis were wiped out from history, their books turned to ashes, their forts left to smoke. For a long time the only history left of them came from Marco polo a bit from juwany and rest from tusi. Mongols and their wrath didn’t stop and they traveled to Baghdad to finish off the caliph. next significant personality for the muslims. And the caliph will be put to death in stories that just get more disgraceful. The great khan has not just ended but wiped out the ismailis, the abbasids and the golden age of islam. A blow from which the muslim world never recovered. Their books, libraries and science drowned in water as the Abbasid caliph witnessed the great era turn to smoke in the ruthless siege of Baghdad, But that’s a rant for next season.
The best seller poet in the United States is not Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou or as much as I would like to see that it’s not even slim shady but a 13th century muslim. Who is it and what happens to ismailis all of that in the last episode of our very first season. Finally i ask you all as a caliph to the his khan
“I will bring you down from the spinning spheres I will toss you in the air … ” sorry not this one
“Young man, you have just come of age and have expectations of living forever. You have … passed prosperously and auspiciously in dominating the whole world. ” so why not go over to my website and with all your wealth and lasso capture the donate button. And travel with your troops to share and like this show to every land that is known. You didn’t see that coming, did ya? Anyways Stay safe and stay hungry until the next episode of history encoded.
A conclusion to the ismailis, wrap-up to the story we had and reflection through Rumi.
Thank you everyone for listening and sharing.
Beyond the idea of iman and kufr is a field and I’ll mee t you there. Rumi, bistami and mansur hallaj. The sufi order and an option for the ismailis. In the last episode we witnessed Mongols burning and destroying the forts. After that ismailism was just a word and very little of those who were left off had nowhere to go but hide. What happens when you are left in a desert alone, you see no hope of survival. No hope as far as eyes can see, no life as far as senses can sense but you alone and stranded. Give up now or live without explanation. The Mongols conquest and the final story from my time machine visit all of this in just a min.
Welcome back to the final episode of the very first season of history encoded where we look into ismailis and learn from their history, for being abandoned to the fatimid dynasty then the assassins and finally we are here. Without further ado let’s begin episode 5 season 1.
The best-selling poet in the US is named Rumi and his love for God was put up in words that survived time and all conquests. But that didn’t happen in a snap. It took hundreds of years to be translated and spread out.
We started off with a quote that is familiar to many. And if you already haven’t seen it on coffee mugs or cars or profile captions you probably would have sent it to your ex? If you still have never heard of it, this is how it goes out beyond the ideas of right and wrong doings is a field and I’ll meet you there but the problem here is that this quote is not exactly right. The original quote never mentions the word right or wrong but iman and kufr these are two terms used have a very different meaning, but rumis poetry was translated by barks who was not quite religious himself or even a Muslim to understand these terms That’s okay cause he wishes to give us a new perspective. The only problem is that this does not give us the actual version. Much of what we have today as history is not specifically exactly what happened but someone else’s perspective or his own version. That’s the same problem with ismailis. Iman and kufr translate to believer and non believer that couldn’t quite simply be put up as right or wrong doers or even believers. To understand it completely you will have to look for your own version but let’s just continue with the fact that its different to rumi. In his own sufi believes these words hold up a very unique and different meaning. But who were sufis?
When you open a window to a dark room light floods in and you can suddenly see more. That’s an example of how sufis see the world. Knowing more about God and letting light flood into your heart to increase self awareness is the basic idea, once you are on the path everything is different and you perceive or witness a completely new world. So basically give up everything to understand God. Okay, so untill now we have talked about radical islam and come up with potrait of extreme ideologies that existed from the dawn of islamic empire. If you think that’s the only extreme side then you are mistaken. Today we look into the other side, the one that talks about giving up all worldly notions so much so that every war should only be fought within and nothing else. Yes! While we have talked about radical existence that just got worse over time. Its easy to imagine islam as a strict faith. Not open to any ideas, be regular to practices and follow the laws strictly, but that’s one side of it and it would be wrong not to mention the whirling dervish who operates beyond the external laws. sufi is derived from the word suf that means wool
So suf means wool and sufi means a deep pocket who wears gucci. Oh boy, let’s just try again.
So suf means wool and sufi is someone who wears wool. It still doesn’t sound much different right? Now as these people would give up all worldly needs and live a simple life they were often found wearing wool clothes which on contrary to today was not a luxury but harsh unrefined and very difficult to clean material. So the one who wears suf or simply a sufi. Sufism would preach of giving up all worldly needs and social barriers that we are bound with to learn the inner knowledge that is already in our heart but its been blocked with all the worldly things such as clothing, shelter, social acceptance, ego, greed and most controversial one, “I”. This letter separates you from GOD. Now sufism is often understood to be the third dimension to islam after shia and sunni perspective, however its not. Sufism has been a part of both shia and sunni beliefs. So you have suni sufis and shia sufis. But their common belief is that there are two to three meanings to the Quran, one that’s explicit and everyone can understand, then a meaning only understood by people who have devoted themselves to religious studies and used it in context and final to the only people who look with the inner eye as one may say. That’s the exact point where the ismailis come back in picture their imam or interpreter to the knowledge is has been killed, their libraries burnt down with no source of knowledge they decided to hide but the visitors who came afterwards or the people who never really traveled to their forts but surrounded them started with their own version and compiled it. As hulegu khan destroys everything, ismailis are left with a very young imam named shams. Since the very philosophy of this religion is based on nass that means the ismailis had to protect the next heir. That’s exactly what they did and drove this imam away from all politics and lands unknown. They had to go back in concealment. Since everyone was being hunted down, concealment was not an option but the only way to survive. and when they were found they would call themselves you guessed it. Sufi. The next stage will be like lost in the desert, they know nothing of the imam or fellow ismailis. Their religion was that of love and sorrow was not a feeling but a companion. Very close to this new imam lived another shams and is often mixed up with the ismaili imam.
Religion of love, shams, concealment and sorrow is getting too much right, let’s go to our bestseller poet
How many of us go through life only to find ourselves suddenly faced with someone’s death, caught in a state of shock, numbness, confusion, or even paralysis. We awaken one morning to find a tsunami of sudden loss and all the feelings that accompany this experience of overwhelm. A tragic accident, a sudden heart attack, suicide, mass shooting. Rumi is no stranger to this, he met shams in konya on 15 november 1244 there are multiple stories to how they met but i’ve chosen the most dramatic cause, why not. One day Rumi was reading next to a large stack of books. Shams Tabriz, passing by, asked him, “What are you doing?” Rumi replied, “Something you cannot understand.” On hearing this, Shams threw the stack of books into a nearby pool of water. Rumi hastily rescued the books and to his surprise they were all dry. Rumi then asked Shams, “What is this?” To which Shams replied, “Mowlana, something you cannot understand.” touche! On this rumi fell unconscious for an hour. When he woke up they both became close spiritual friends and would spend months in retreat. During this time Rumi stopped teaching and stayed alone with shams without meeting his family, students or community. These were to be Rumi’s most enlightening days where he says “i found myself” This however inspired a bit of resentment in Rumi’s community. Shams sensed the unrest among the people of Konya and disappeared. Breaking rumi into pieces. Rumi almost killed himself but soon found hope as someone reported to him that Shams was in damascus. So Rumi sent his son to retrieve his friend. “When Rumi and Shams met for the second time, they fell at each other’s feet, so that ‘no one knew who was the lover and who the beloved.”‘ Shams had returned, and jealousy blossomed once again in the community. One day sitting together in a room, shams suddenly walked out of the house never to return again. It was reported that he had been murdered. Rumi now faced heartbreak, numbness and confusion. He was left in the desert alone with no hope of survival. No hope as far as eyes can see, no life as far as senses can sense but alone and stranded. Give up now or live without explanation.He looked for shams day and night. One day while continuing his search for Shams in Damascus, Rumi realized: “Why should I seek? I am the same as him. His essence speaks through me. I have been looking for myself!”
Rumi now faced emptiness , he ceased to exist and completely denied himself to realize God or the way Sufis called it he experienced Fana. he devoted his life and time now to his love and gave us timeless pieces of writings.He was reported to have said my religion was that of love and he died in 1273 in konya.
The ismailis faced more or less the emptiness of rumi and because sufism matched their doctrine they experienced fanna. Left with the religion of love. The story of Rumi to shams can reflect on the journey we have had. Lost in the world we all search for things we have seen. When we don’t get it, it’s a regret and resentment phase. In between Love and all monsters we forget our journey. We look for power and boy we go far and beyond our reach to get it, power to get our loved ones back, power to change our past, power to live our dreams but having it is so strange. A castle of dreams and wishes filled with people and all the things we know but its made out of sand. Sooner or later we are all left with emptiness. What should you seek? Look deep, the essence speaks through you.
From small religious belief to the biggest empire of the time ismailies ended up with fana and gave us a story to reflect. As humans we all have powers it’s up to us we can use it or abuse it. The ismailis got themselves served right in Iran a few hundred years later when the qajar dynasty accepted the imam and gave him the title of aga khan. And this is what happens next.
Finally we have come to the end since the story is very much in the present now. This is no longer history and I will sign off but remember that the journey has just begun. I would like to take a minute to sincerely thank you for all your patience and kind attention to every episode. When I started the podcast it was about bringing stories from the past to have a fresh look at them, as we move on things will polish up from themes, to audio and sound editing. But i’m staying put to the idea of a unique take on the past. So once again Thank you for listening and I hope to see you again next month. Keep rating and following, join the facebook group for more fun, visit the website for more insights and transcripts. If this has made a difference then share it with your friends and keep supporting. It’s all because of your love that we have made it to the end of our first season.
Let me leave you with a quote from rumi as a hint of what’s coming next. the universe is not outside of you. Look inside everything that you want you already are, next up will be the exploration of oneself from faith and belief to practices and essence.
So stay safe and stay hungry until the next episode of History Encoded.