Republication from HeritageDaily

by HeritageDaily

The word “Assassin” is a term that has been used to describe a fedayeen group within the Nizari Ismailis State that formed when followers of Nizarism split within Ismailism, a branch of Shia Islam.

The true origins of the word has been debated for centuries, with one such theory believing that “assassin” has roots in “hashshāshīn” meaning hashish smokers/users.

The first known usage of the term hashshāshīn has been traced back to 1122CE when the Fatimid caliph al-Āmir employed it in derogatory reference to the Syrian branch of the Nizaris Ismailis.

The spread of the term was further facilitated through encounters with European Crusaders, whose historians and chroniclers further disseminated it across Europe telling lurid and titillating stories about a warlike sect, hidden away in remote mountain fortresses.


The Nizari Ismailis State was founded by Hassan-I Sabbah. Hassan was a missionary born in the city of Qom, Iran around 1050CE into a family of Twelver Shī‘ah. Early in life, Hassan developed a keen interest in metaphysical matters and was a keen student of palmistry, languages, philosophy, astronomy and mathematics.

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