University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / The first hundred years
(1969)

IV: The Ismailites and the Assassins,   pp. 99-[133] PDF (13.9 MB)


Page 99

Iv 
THE ISMA~ILITES 
AND THE ASSASSINS 
The death of the prophet Mohammed created something in the nature of a constitutional
crisis in the infant Moslem community. It was solved by the appointment of
Abü-Bakr, one of the leading converts, as "deputy" (Arabic, khali/ah)
of the prophet, and the creation, almost incidentally, of the great historic
institution of the caliphate. There was at the very beginning of the caliphate
a group of people who felt that ~Aii, the son-in-law and cousin of the prophet,
had a better title to the succession, some of them p~rhaps from legitimist
scruples, most of them for the reason, far more congenial to the Arabian
mind, that ~A1i was the best man for the job. This group came to be known
as the shi~atu ~Ali, the party of ~Ali, and then simply as the Shi~ah. In
the course of time it gave rise to the major religious schism of Islam. In
its origins, 
Detailed studies on the Assassins in Syria will be found in E. Quatremêre,
"Notice 
historique sur les Ismaëliens," Fundgruben des Orients, IV (Vienna,
1814), 339—376; C. Defrémerv, "Nouvelles recherches sur les
Ismaéliens ou Bathiniens de Sync," 7ournal asiatique, 5th series,
III (1854), 373—42!, and V (1855), 5—76; S. Guyard, "Un Grand
Maître des Assassins au temps de Saladin," Journal asiatique, 7th series,
IX (1877), 324—489; B. Lewis, "The Sources for the History of the Syrian
Assassins," Speculum, XXVII (1952), 475—489. 
On the parent sect in Persia see J. von Hammer, Geschichte der Assassinen
aus morgenländiscben Quellen (Stuttgart, i8i8; English translation by
0. C. Wood, The History ot the Assassins, London, 1835); C. Defrémery,
"Documents sur l'histoire des Ismaéliens ou Bathiniens de la Perse,"
~ournal asiasique, 5th series, XV (i86o), 130—210. For an annotated
bibliography of works on the Isma9lite and Fã~imid movements in general
see J. Sauvaget, Introduction a l'histoire de l'orient musulman (Paris, i
943), pp. 136—139. Among the numerous writings of W. Ivanow on Ismã5lite
doctrine and history mention may be made of his article "Ismã9liya,",
Encyclopaedia of Islam, supplement, and his book A Brief Survey of the Evolution
of Ismailism (Leyden, 1952). While many Ismã9lite works have come
to light and been published in recent years, there is very little of Syrian
provenance. Some religious texts were published and translated by S. Guyard
in "Fragments relatifs a la doctrine des Ismaélis," Notices et Extraits,
XXII (1824), 177—428. A legendary and anecdotal Syrian Isma5lite biography
of Sinãn was published, translated, and examined in S. Guyard, "Un
Grand Maître    The Arabh~ inscriptions of the Syrian Isniã9lites
were edited and discussed by M. van Berchem, "Epigraphie des Assassins de
Syrie," Journal asiatique, 9th series, IX (1897), 453—50!. The main
sources for events in Syria are the general Arabic historical works which
are examined in B. Lewis's article, cited above, in Speculum. Further bibliographical
information, including editions, etc., will be found in C. Cahen, La Syrie
du nord ~ l'époque des croisades (Paris, 1940), pp. 33—93. The
whole problem of the Assassins will be treated at greater length in a book
which is now being written by the author of this chapter (Bernard Lewis).
99 


Go up to Top of Page