By: Mir M.Hosseini
Life of mystic leader Hasan Sabbah and stories behind Alamout Castle have been source of many mysterious stories.
Born in Rhagae as a 12 Imam Shia Muslim, Hasan Sabbah adopted Ismailism after his trip to Egypt in 1078 and when he returned to Iran in 1080, he began spreading the word. Ismailism is a branch of Shia sect believing in 7 Imams. Their seventh Imam is Ismail, son of sixth Imam Jafar Sadegh, as opposed to Safavid Shiites that consider Imam Musa Kazem as his successor. Ismailism is derived from Fatemiyeh school of thought that ruled in Egypt at the time. On his way back home, Hasan spent some time in Khuzestan, Isfahan, Yazd, Kerman and Damghan preaching, and then he sent missionaries to Deylaman, Tabarestan and Alamout. He soon started gathering many followers which constituted a threat to the Seljuk rulers. This did not go unnoticed especially to Seljuk Grand Vezir Nezamolmolk who ordered for his arrest. This was a turning point in his life; Hasan Sabbah now needed a place to use as a base.
On September, 3, 1090 he tricked Alavi Mehdi, the master of the Alamout Castle and his troops out of their stronghold by bribing the governor. From that date, Alamout became the command center of Hasan Sabbah and his followers. He then started his uprising and spread his ring of assassins and spies throughout the Seljuk Empire. His top notch agents disguised as ordinary people, found their way into the royal court. They were called Hashashin and their missions and identities were top secret.
The Hashashin phenomenon could no longer be tolerated; therefore, top Seljuk generals were dispatched to take them down but their missions ended without any success in disgrace. In November, 1092, the Hashashin assassinated Nezamolmolk near Nahavand, and then they killed his sons Ahmad in Baghdad and Fakhrolmolk in Neishabour. Many key political and military figures were killed by the Hashashin and their power and grip practically had no boundaries. For their victims, they never used poison or arrow and they never stroke from their target's back, and assassins were mostly killed or committed suicide after their mission.
The legendary Hashashin leader, Hasan Sabbah died on June, 19, 1124. He was succeeded by Kia Bozorg Omid.
In Nov, 19, 1256, the Alamout Castle surrendered to Mongol conqueror Hulagu Khan who burnt it down to ashes. The site still remains a major touristic attraction in the heart of scenic mountains between Qazvin and Deylaman.