NOTE: For a synopsis of this document and more information about the history of Alamut please refer to my Index to the History of Alamut.
EXCERPTS from: TARIKH-E-IMAMAT
One of the fundamentals of Ismaili Faith, after the demise of the last and final Prophet, has been the doctrine of the presence of the Living Imam to substitute the Prophet in every period of Islamic History in order that the unity of the faithful be maintained throughout as in the time of the Prophet. It has, therefore, been of great importance for the faithful to have a vital knowledge of the History of the Imam, their regular and unbroken succession from generation to generation and their periodical guidance to the faithful according to the need of the times. With this end in view I have decided to issue these brief notes on the lives and works of each Imam. These notes will prove to be very useful and informative for our Religious Education Teachers. The contents of these notes are based on bare historical facts whose veracity has been vouchsafed from original and reliable sources.
This sort of work on the history of the Imams is not something new and I have not intended to launch on a new scheme of work or to claim that I am pioneer in writing the history of the Imams. In fact considerable information is forthcoming about the Imams in various books on history written by various Muslim and non-Muslim authors. But these voluminous books are practically of little benefit to a layman and average reader who can neither spare time nor money to avail himself of these books. Again these volumes do not contain such exclusive chapters and parts as a faithful would like to read and remember easily and conveniently about a particular Imam. Such volumes contain so long and elaborate narrations of various historical facts here and there that they require very careful and patient study, long time, hard labour and in addition to all this, a very high price.
Another point to be born in mind is that whatever has been written about the Imams in these works is not free from prejudice that was brought about as a natural result of the bitter political rivalry that existed between various political parties such as the Ummayyads, the Abbasids and the Fatimids during those remote periods of history. You cannot find, therefore, a clear and impartial account of any Imam in most of the so called historic books.
Under the above mentioned facts, it would not be an easy task for the average Ismaili to draw true information about his Imams from the extant books on history. The vast Ismaili literature which otherwise would have given true account of the Ismaili Imams' history, was almost totally destroyed through bigot fanaticism of Saljuks and Mongols. It is only through hard labour of scientific research on the history of Islam that one can come across an impartial account of the Ismaili Imams. I, therefore, hope that the Religious Education Teachers will avail themselves of the beneficial services that I am offering to them in these valuable lines.
Al-Wa'ez Hasan Nazar Ali
20th Imam - (490 A.H. - 530 A.H.)
We have noticed Dai Hasan Bin Sabbah's conflict with Badr al-Jamali in Egypt over the question of succession to Mowlana Mustansir bil-Lah. Upon Imam Mustansir bil-Lah's death in 487 A.H., Dai Hasan bin Sabbah did not accept Mustaali's rule, but upheld the right of Mowlana Nizar as the rightful successor and thus made Persian Ismailis independent of the Fatimid Caliphate. In 483 A.H., Hasan bin Sabbah succeeded in occupying Alamut, and made a Nizari state in Persia. In Egypt, Mowlana Nizar continued his struggle until he was killed in 490 A.H. His son and successor to the Imamat, Imam Hadi, was brought to Alamut from Egypt by a trusted Dai of Imam Nizar.
Imam Hadi was about 25 years old when he came to Alamut. When Hasan bin Sabbah felt that death was approaching him, he called to Alamut an important Dai, Kiya Buzurg Ummid, from the fortress of Lamasser of which he was in charge. Hasan bin Sabbah asked Kiya Buzurg Ummid to be the Chief Dai of the Imam after him. He further introduced Imam Hadi to all who were present there and asked them to accept Imam Hadi as the rightful Imam.
Dai Hasan bin Sabbah died in 518 A.H., after a rule marked by freedom, strength, determination and dynamism. During his lifetime, the Fatimid Caliph, Amir, son of Mustaali, wrote a pamphlet against the Imamat of Imam Nizar, but it did not do him any good. Amir was later assassinated by Nizari Fidais. Hasan bin Sabbah wrote many books, including his autobiography. However, these books do not exist today because the library at Alamut was destroyed during the time of Mongol invasion.
During the lifetime of Dai Kiya Buzurg Ummid, Imam Hadi was the acknowledged Imam and the Ismailis remained united under him. Imam Hadi died in 530 A.H., at the age of 65, in the fortress of Lamasser which was his official residence. He was succeeded to the throne of Imamat at the same place by his son, Mowlana Muhtadi, who was about 45 years old at that time. Soon after, Dai Kiya Buzurg Ummid died; his son Muhammad became the Chief Dai after him.
Dai Hasan bin Sabbah was born in an Ithna Ashari family of Rayy, sometime between 430 A.H., and 440 A.H. His father was a Shii theologian and gave Hasan bin Sabbah a good education in subjects like geometry, astronomy and philosophy.
The story about Hasan bin Sabbah's being a fellow student with Nizam-ul-Mulk and Ummar Khayyam is obviously false as Nizam-ul-Mulk was at least 30 years Hasan bin Sabbah's senior and could not have studied with him.
Hasan bin Sabbah attracted the attention of an Ismaili dai. He began to seek more and more of Ismaili literature and got himself completely converted to the Ismaili faith. With the permission of Dai Abdul Malik bin Attash, who was then the chief of the Ismaili Da'wa in Iraq, Hasan bin Sabbah was admitted into the Ismaili community and movement.
Dai Hasan bin Sabbah must have heard about Nasir Khusraw and read his work, but it is doubtful whether he ever met him. Dai Abdul Malik bin Attash must have advised Hasan bin Sabbah to visit Cairo, the Seat of the Imamat. Eminent Dais from Persia had often travelled to Cairo to make their pilgrimage to the seat of the Imamat. In 467 A.H., Hasan bin Sabbah set out for Cairo, and after a journey through Syria, reached Cairo in 471 A.H., just after the Chief Dai al Muayyad had died. Hasan bin Sabbah was welcomed by Imam Mustansir bil-Lah who needed some support against Badr al-Jamali.
Conquest of the Fortresses
There are many stories about the conquest of Alamut, including the one which states that by cutting a given piece of leather into thin strips and linking them into a big string, Dai Hasan bin Sabbah surrounded the fortress of Alamut with it and thus won it as a prize.
The fortress was built high up on a steep rock which was inaccessible except by a special passage which was well guarded. Because of its inaccessibility and height, it was called Alamut, which means, "an eagle's nest".
Dai Abdul Malik, who was the Dai in charge of the East, and who was responsible for sending Dai Hasan bin Sabbah to Egypt, continued to rule at the fortress called Shahdiz in the south of Persia. In fact, the Ismaili Dawat in Persia had two centres, one at Shahdiz, and the other at Alamut, until the time when Shahdiz was captured.
After the conquest of Alamut, other fortresses were conquered, namely, Gird Kuh in Rudbar territory where Dai Muzzafar was in charge, Lamasser where later Dai Kiya Buzurg was put in charge, and Maymundiz where later in the Ismaili history, Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah finally surrendered to Halaku Khan, the Mongol invader.
Life in Ismaili Fortresses
Dai Hasan bin Sabbah was a very strict ruler. It is said that he lived in the fortress of Alamut all the time. Only twice he was seen outside the fortress and twice on the roof of the fortress, but he guided the destinies of the Ismailis not only in the neighbouring fortresses but also in other Muslim lands. He had the complete information of everything that happened in the Abbasid court of the Caliph, his Sultan and his Vazir.
Ismailis in these fortresses lived a very strict life and in times of emergencies, women and children were separated from men and sent away to a particular fortress, while the men lived a very vigorous military life.
The Name and Practice of the Assassins and the Legend of Paradise
Owing to the difficult situation in which the Ismailis were placed, their system of self-defence took a peculiar form. When their fortresses were attacked or besieged, they were isolated like small islands in a stormy sea. They prepared their garrisons for the fight, and as a rear-guard action, sent their agents into the very heart of the Abbasid Court in order to remove certain key trouble-makers and thus weaken the entire campaign against the Ismailis. Thus originated the practice of assassination, which, as we have seen, was a necessity.
The Ismaili Fidais carried out the assassinations with full understanding, knowing very well what the result would be. They were not, as is commonly supposed by hostile writers, being doped with drugs into carrying out these assassinations under the influence of the drugs.
Marco Polo, the famous traveller, passing through the land of the Ismailis, wrote a fabricated story about the false paradise that was shown to the Ismailis as an inducement to carry out the assassinations. This story was taken up by the hostile Sunni writers and has been widely circulated, although it does not have any foundation at all.
The story goes that the Ismaili Dais doped their followers with Hashish, and when they were out of their senses, took them into an artificial paradise which was a delightful garden. Inside this garden, the Fidai was entertained with every pleasure that he could think of. Then the dais would promise him, such a life of pleasure forever if the Fidai would carry out an assassination. If he agreed, the complete plan of a particular assassination was revealed to him. He was then doped again and while still asleep, was taken out of this paradise and back to his normal life. Later, when the Fidai woke up, he would consider this incident an inspired dream, and willingly carried out the assassination with calculation and efficiency.
The very nature of this story shows a malicious and hostile attitude of its authors. It should in no way be accepted, as it derogates the high morals and character of the Ismaili Fidais of those days, who sacrificed even their lives for the sake of their Imam.
In this story, the word "Hashish" stands out as the source of the name "Assassins" given to the Nizari Ismailis. The Ismailis were called "Hashashin" (the users of Hashish) by the Crusaders; this word was later corrupted into "assassin". Since Ismailis practised political murders at that time, their act was called by their name - "Assassination". Professor Jawad's theory is that the word "Assassin" was applied to the Ismailis because of their belief in "Asas", that is the Imam.
21st Imam - (530 A.H. - 552 A.H.)
In 530 A.H., Imam Hadi died at the fortress of Lamasser. His son Imam Muhtadi succeeded him. Imam Muhtadi was about 45 years old at that time. He had a grownup son, Qahir, about 25 years of age, and a grandson Hasan (Ala-Zikrihis-Salam), approximately 5 years old.
Dai Kiya Buzurg Ummid died in 532 A.H., during the lifetime of Imam Muhtadi, and was followed in Da'wa by his son Muhammad.
The political events of this period will be discussed later. Imam Muhtadi did not live long and was followed to the throne of Imamat by his son, Imam Qahir, during whose time Muhammad bin Kiya Buzurg was the Dai.
Dai Kiya Buzurg Ummid
The early life of Dai Kiya Buzurg is not known except that for a long time he remained an Ismaili Dai under Hasan bin Sabbah. He was in charge of the fortress of Lamasser. After Hasan bin Sabbah's death, he was called from Lamasser and put in charge of the entire Ismaili Da'wa in the East.
Only two years after Hasan bin Sabbah's death, the Saljuq Sultan Sanjar, attacked Alamut, probably with the intention of judging the strength of Hasan bin Sabbah's successor. However, he was defeated, and the story goes that once when he got up from his sleep, he found a dagger thrust into his bed, with a note attached to it, saying that if he persisted in his hostility towards the Ismailis, he would find the dagger thrust into his heart. Perhaps because of this, his attitude towards Ismailis became neutral and he maintained very good relationship with the Ismaili Dai.
22nd Imam - (552 A.H. - 557 A.H.)
Imam Muhtadi did not live long and was followed by his son, Qahir, as the Imam. When Imam Qahir died in 557 A.H., Dai Muhammad bin Kiya Buzurg had already died. The next Imam, Mowlana Ala Zikrihis-Salaam, took the reigns of the Imamat in his hands and directed the day to day affairs of the Da'wa himself, as well.
Dai Muhammad bin Kiya Buzurg's Activities
As the Sunni harassment increased, the Ismailis effectively adopted the policy of assassination. The Abbasid Caliph Rashid was assassinated, so were three Qadis and some military men. The Afghan ruler gave protection to Ismaili Dais in his territory, but his son got them all killed.
In Daylam, the Ismailis occupied a fortress which they named Mubarak Kuh (the Mount of Blessings) and near Qazwin, a fortress, which they named Jahan Gushay (World Conqueror). Although these were small achievements, the names of these fortresses instilled hope into the hearts of the Ismailis of those times
23rd Imam - (557 A.H. -561 A.H.)
Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam succeeded his father Imam Qahir in 557 A.H. Dai Muhammad bin Kiya Buzurg had died a little earlier and the administration of the Da'wa as well as the running of the Fortress Empire of the Ismailis were taken over by Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam into his own hands.
It is said that Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam was the son of Dai Muhammad bin Kiya Buzurg. This is the Sunni version of Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam's succession. However, the Ismaili sources and tradition hold this as incorrect and maintain the continuity of Imamat fro-n Imam Nizar to Imam Hadi, Imam Muhtadi, Imam Qahir and through Imam Qahir to Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam.
When Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam became the Imam in 557 A.H., he was 32 years old. He opened a new era in the history and the doctrines of the Ismailis.
In 558 A.H., Ismailis built a fortress outside the city of Qazwin, which commanded influence over the city. Its people began to call Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam, Kura Kiya, i.e. the town-lord. The Quhistani Ismailis also became active, but on the whole the policy of the Ismailis was now of peace with the surrounding Sunni areas.
Death of Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam
There was a group of Ismailis led by the brother-in-law of the Imam, namely, Husayni Namawar. They were opposed to the new Qiyama policy and were in favour of the restoration of Sharia. Husayni conspired against the Imam and succeeded in poisoning him. After a short rule of five years, Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam died in 561 A.H.
24th Imam - (561 A.H. - 607 A.H.)
Mowlana Ala Muhammad succeeded his father to the throne of Imamat at the age of 19, and with youthful enthusiasm, put down the opposition of Husayni Namawar. He vigorously propagated the theory of Qiyama. He insisted on the doctrine that God was present in the form of the Imam.
He propagated his genealogy through Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam, Imam Qahir, Imam Muhtadi, Imam Hadi and Imam Nizar, so that if there were any doubts in the minds of the people because of the enemy propaganda, they may be removed.
There is one story about the famous scientist and philosopher Fakhud-Din ar-Razi, that when he went too far in opposing the Ismaili doctrines and talking against Imam Ala Muhammad, an Ismaili Fidai, at the point of a dagger, made ar-Razi promise that in the future, he would not speak against the Imam. Fakhud-Din ar-Razi not only promised this, but also kept his promise.
It was about this time that the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt was overthrown by Salahudin-al-Ayyubi (Saladin), and Rashidud-Din-Sinan, an Ismaili Dai, began his famous career in Syria.
Sultan Sanjar had died and the Khwarazm Shahs were replacing the Saljuqs in their Empire.
The Abbasid Caliphate had been divided into various states and the Caliph's rule did not extend beyond his palace.
Imam Ala Muhammad died in 607 A.H., after a long rule of 47 years.
The name of Rashid-ud-din Sinan in the Da'wa affairs of Syria is as great as that of Hasan bin Sabbah in Alamut.
He was born and brought up in Iraq in a Shii family. Because of a family quarrel, he came to Alamut, studied Ismailism, and became a friend of Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam before his succession. Sinan was later sent to Syria by Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam.
The group of Ismaili fortresses in the Mount Bahra area were under the charge of Dai Abu Muhammad, and after his death, they came under the administration of Sinan.
Sinan was occupied in constructing and reconstructing the fortresses. He was always moving from fortress to fortress without any bodyguard or personal troops. He worked without a government and was constantly clashing with and defeating the Franks, the Sunnis and the Nusayri invaders. His influence spread even in the Jazr district of Syria besides Mount Bahra. (Mount Bahra is now called "the Nusayri Mountains".)
An Ismaili author relates many anecdotes which show the kind and amiable nature of Sinan, and the confidence and love that he inspired into his people. Many stories have been woven around his personality, and sometimes in their love for him, his people went as far as identifying him with the Imam.
Sinan was appointed by Imam Ala-Zikrihis-Salam and hence remained within the discipline of Alamut. However, he freely decided how to apply the policies of Alamut to his own territory, in his own way.
Sinan changed the status of women; they worked and fought unveiled, side by side with the men.
Sinan died during the lifetime of Imam Ala Muhammad. His people remained loyal to the Imam at Alamut. After the death of Imam Ala Muhammad in 607 A.H., the restoration of Sharia created new problems both in Alamut and in Syria.
25th Imam - (607 A.H. - 618 A.H.)
Mowlana Jalalud-Din Hasan was born in Alamut in the lifetime of his grandfather, Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam. When he succeeded to the throne of Imamat in 607 A.H., he was a grown-up man, who was fully aware of the conflicts of opinion that raged during the last few years of his father, Imam Ala Muhammad's Imamat. The policy of Qiyama which was practised for almost 48 years, had created anti-forces, and there was the danger of the community being split up into two groups. Therefore, taking into consideration the changing mood of his people, Imam Jalalud-Din Hasan very wisely restored the Sharia policy. Because of his new policy, Imam Jalalud-din Hasan became known as "Nau Musalman".
This shows that more emphasis was laid on good relationship with the surrounding Sunni world, as a matter of political policy.
Pilgrimage to Mecca
As the first step to normalize his relations with the Sunni world, Imam Jalalud-Din Hasan sent his mother on a pilgrimage to Mecca as a member of the Abbasid Iraqi delegation. This meant his recognition by the rulers of Baghdad and Mecca. The Syrian delegation tried to oppose the Ismaili Association with the orthodox pilgrimage (Hajj) but the Ayyubid princess of Egypt intervened and got this Association endorsed. Thus the Imam received recognition from Egypt and Syria as well. Moreover, Imam's mother contributed generously to charity and had many wells dug, thus proving the constructive nature of the Ismaili mission.
The Qazwini People of Alamut
The Qazwini people of Alamut still remained unconvinced of the truth of Qiyama policy. Therefore, Imam invited their scholars to visit the library of Alamut and to burn all such books if they were found to contain unorthodox material.
Persia and Syria
The Ismailis of Persia and Syria appreciated the difficulties and problems of this situation and gave their Imam their unflinching loyalty in his new policy, just as they had given their firm loyalty to the previous Imams in their old policy. Imam Jalalud-Din Hasan made a tour of Quhistan, Rudbar and Syria and returned with great success. In all the towns, he ordered the building of mosques and public baths.
In Syria, the new policy brought this advantage to the Ismailis that the surrounding Sunni threat was transformed into a joint front against the Franks. In Persia, the Ismailis tried to cultivate good relationship with the rising power of Khwarazms, but they were jealous of Ismailis' good relationship with the Abbasid Caliph Nasser. On Caliph's suggestion, Imam married the daughter of Amir of Khutam of ancient Iranian descent. She became the mother of the next Imam, Mowlana Alaid-Din Muhammad. The Imam also married other noble women from the Gilan nobility.
Death of Imam Jalalud-Din Hasan
After ten years of active rules Imam Jalalud-din Hasan died of dysentery at Alamut in 618 A.H. His vazir accused Imam's wives of poisoning the Imam, but this remains uncertain.
26th Imam - (618 A.H. - 653 A.H.)
Mowlana Alaid-din Muhammad was born in 608 A.H., and succeeded to the throne of Imamat in 61 8 A.H., at the age of ten years. His mother was a princess, the daughter of Amir of Khutam, of ancient Iranian descent. Imam Jalalud-din Hasan married her at the suggestion of the Abbasid Caliph Nasser.
The Sharia Policy
Imam Alaid-din Muhammad continued the Sharia policy of his father for about ten years. However, he noticed a change taking place in the aspirations of his people, as well as in the general political situation, and therefore, in accordance with the altered circumstances, he decided to change the nature of the Ismaili attitude towards Sharia.
The Ismailis, the Khwarazmians and the Mongols
The Ismaili conflict with the Khwarazmians continued. In the meantime,the Ismailis started their negotiations with the Mongols. Imam sent Badr ad-Din Ahmed as his ambassador to the Mongol court, but nothing much came out of it. The Ismailis then approached the Crusaders for a joint front against the Mongols, but this did not succeed either, as the Christians were, at that time, wooing Mongols.
Pir Satgur Noor
Pir satgur Noor had already started work of conversion in India and on the Gujarat coast, the Nizari Ismailis were entering into healthy competition with the Tayyabi Ismailis in converting the local Hindu commercial communities to Ismailism. It is interesting to note that there were many Indian lsmailis serving at the court of the Imam at Alamut.
Later Life of Imam Alaid-din Muhammad
Although Imam had started his rule very early, he did not make any changes until he was about 20 years old, and it is wrong on the part of Sunni authors to imagine that his activities stemmed from firstly the immaturity and secondly from the perversity of character. On the contrary, the Imam showed great wisdom in his attitude towards both Sharia and Qiyama, in accordance with the exact needs of his people and the changing times.
Imam Alaid-din Muhammad displayed great appreciation for learning. At his Court, he patronized many Sunni scholars and scientists, like Tusi. One Hasan Mazandarani, also a Sunni, was his favourite companion and advisor, who later treacherously murdered the Imam.
Death of Imam Alaid-Din Muhammad
Hasan Mazandarani was a refugee from the Mongols. Imam Alaid-Din Muhammad treated him very kindly. He, however, turned away from the Imam either because of his Sunni faith or because of some personal reasons, and he eventually carried out the murder of the Imam in 653 A.H.
Imam Alaid-Din Muhammad had appointed his son Ruknud-Din as his successor, but the Sunni writers say that he intended to change this appointment in favour of another son because of a disagreement between him (the Imam) and his son, Ruknud-Din. However, such stories do not seem to be true because the Sunni authors have always tried to show a conflict between practically every Imam and his successor; they have done this so often that their malicious intentions have become evident.
27th Imam - (653 A.H. - 654 A.H.)
Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah succeeded to the Imamat in 653 A.H. He apprehended his father's killer, Hasan Mazandarani and sentenced him to death.
Mangu Khan was the chief of the Mongols. He decided to invade China himself and assigned his brother, Halaku Khan to invade the Middle East.
Halaku Khan began his march in 650 A.H. (1252 A.D.). Three years later, he entered Iran. All the petty princes hastened to be on his right side by voluntarily entering into his service and begging his mercy and favour. Ismailis were the first ones to stand up to him and they were the first victims of his invasion.
On his succession, Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah began negotiating with the Mongols for an honourable surrender. He wrote to Yasur, the Mongol commander of Hamadan, offering his submission, but he was asked to go personally to the constantly shifting court of Halaku, who was coming towards Rudbar. The Imam did not go himself, but sent his younger brother Shahin Shah. Halaku agreed to stop Yasur's attacks, but he demanded that the Ismaili fortresses should be demolished and that the Imam should come to his (Halaku's) court immediately. The Imam, however, asked for a year's grace, hoping that Alamut and Lamasser would be saved from destruction. He, however, gave orders for the demolition of many of Rudbar's fortresses.
The Imam then sent his vazir Shams ad-Din Gilaki to Halaku on his behalf. Halaku directed Shams to go to Gird Kuh to secure his submission. The Ismaili chief of Gird Kuh submitted and came to Halaku's court, which was now at Rayy. Nevertheless, the fortress, even without its leader, continued to resist, for such was the heroic spirit of the Ismailis. It is interesting to note that Gird Kuh was the very last fortress to fall, and that too, much later.
As demanded by Halaku, the Imam sent his five year old son to Halaku's court, but the Mongol commander sent him back as he was too young. The Imam then sent another of his brothers, Shiran Shah, to Halaku, who was now only three days march away from Rudbar. Halaku had the Ismaili chieftain of Gird Kuh secretly slaughtered, and he sent Shiran Shah back with an ultimatum to the Imam to destroy the fortress of Maymundiz in which he was residing, to surrender himself unconditionally and to report to the Mongol commander immediately.
Even as the Imam was considering Halaku's ultimatum, Halaku arrived at the foot of the fortress and sent another ultimatum to the Imam to surrender within five days, or to face war. The Imam hesitated to surrender, but his Sunni advisors and the hypocrite scholar Nasir-ad-Din Tusi advised and urged Imam to surrender. The Imam went out in their company to the camp of Halaku. These ungrateful courtiers of the Imam, including Tusi, lost no time in disassociating themselves from the service of the Imam and in giving up their loyalty to the Ismaili dynasty. As soon as they were in Halaku's camp, they hastened to offer their services to the Mongols.
A few courageous and faithful Ismailis continued to resist and hold out in the fortress the same way as their brethern had done at Gird Kuh; the Mongols could only occupy the fortress over their dead bodies.
Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah Among the Mongols
Once the Imam was in their power, the Mongols made the Imam order all the Ismaili fortresses to surrender. Many fortresses in Rudbar, in Quhistan and around Gird Kuh in Qumis surrendered, numbering 100 in all. These places were all evacuated and destroyed. But the Ismailis in Rudbar, in Alamut and in Lamasser refused to surrender, even at the Imam's personal appeal. After occupying and demolishing Alamut, Halaku proceeded to besiege Lamasser, which held out for one more year. Halaku, at this time, was occupied with celebrations at Qazwin. He gave Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah a Mongol girl in marriage and presented the Imam with 100 camels. He made the Imam write to the Syrian fortress to surrender to the Mongols, and took the Imam with him on his march to invade Baghdad.
The Imam, however, decided to go to the court of the Great Mangu Khan in Mongolia. While on his way, he again sent a word to Gird Kuh to surrender, for it had not done so yet. Mangu Khan received the Imam with respect, but did not set him free because he argued that the fortresses of Gird Kuh and Lamasser had not yet surrendered to the Mongols. Soon after, Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah was murdered by the Mongol guards, presumably by the order of Mangu Khan and in consultation with the Sunni advisors.
Fall of Gird Kuh and Lamasser
Massacre of the Ismailis
After about a year of resistance, the garrisons of Gird Kuh and Lamasser were finally overwhelmed by the Mongols Thousands of Ismaili men were massacred and many women and children were sold into slavery. The Mongol commander is said to have rounded up about 80 thousand Ismailis in Quhistan on the pretext of a general meeting, and massacred them. Orders were given to have the entire family of Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah, including the babies, slaughtered.
The Syrian Ismailis did not surrender even with the fall of Alamut. They formed heroic alliance with the Mamelukes of Egypt and resisted the Mongol invasion.
Ivanow thinks that within two generations after Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah, there was a split among the Nizari Ismailis; the Syrian Ismailis following a different line of Imams from that of the Iranian Ismailis. Whether this is correct or not ,the fact remains that the Syrian Ismailis remained politically independent of their Iranian brothers and continued to maintain the traditions of Rashid-ud-Din Sinan for whom they built a shrine. Today, the Syrian Ismailis are fully integrated into the traditions of the Iranian Nizari Ismailis.
Ismailism continued in Iran although deprived of its great strongholds. Rudbar and Quhistan had large Ismaili populations and Sunni missionaries found it extremely difficult to convert them.
Hasan bin Sabbah's tomb at Alamut was visited by the Ismailis without any fear. After its fall, Alamut was reconquered by the Ismailis, but after a short period of time, it was again taken by the Mongol chief, Aqba.
Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah had a young son, Shamsud-Din Muhammad, who had been secretly sent away to Adharbayjan for safety. He became the next Imam and with him the great Satr (concealment) period of Persia begins. He and his successors remained in hiding, but continued to give the leadership to the Ismaili community. The poet, Khaki Khurasani, who lived during Imam Shamsud-Din's life, wrote devotedly about his Imamat. The remainder of the Nizari Ismaili history falls into the post Alamut, Persian and Indian periods.
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