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Samurai 3-14-11


A Sunni Muslim leader standing in a crowd starts to tell the people that the Shitt’e Muslims are not to be trusted. A man slowly comes up behind him and pulls a dagger out of his cloak, stabbing him to death. Shortly afterward, the Assassin is caught and killed by guards. The Assassins changed the way the Crusades ended. If their leader had changed only one decision, the Muslim armies may have lost the entire Holy Land.


Considered to be a “holy terror" (Jefferson1). The Assassins were a group of Shitt’e Muslims who believed that they must purify the Muslim religion of the Sunnis, another group. They liked to use public murder as a weapon to scare stronger enemies into submission. Like the one above, they were often caught immediately afterward and killed on the spot.

Hhasan_sabbah.jpgasan 'as'Sabah

The man who founded the Assassins was a poet named Hasan as’Sabah, or Hasan i Sabah. He came up with the idea that the Arabian Peninsula needed to be purified. He also preferred his enemies to be scared, rather than killed. Because if you were to kill them, you would have to worry about relatives, friends, or others trying to get vengeance.

Based on this idea, he got others to join his cause by using a hallucinogenic drug called hashish. Hence the name Hashashin, Hashishin, Hashashiyying, or Hashshasheen, all of which evolved into the modern word, Assassin. The later Assassins, however, did not use hashish, or if they did it was in tiny amounts as they probably wanted to become an Assassin. Many people think that they didn’t use any drugs, but those people don’t have much of an idea of what they are talking about.

Hasan as’Sabah became very old and died in 1124, but the Assassins grew even stronger after his death. After his demise, many Assassin leaders came and went, but one of the most prominent was Rashid ad-Din Sinan. Sinan and his followers ended the lives of many enemy leaders, and several times almost killed the “(Saladin 1) best known Muslim warrior” Sunni warlord, Saladin.

Saladin obviously never thought very highly of the Assassins, as he called them “(Lewis 1) heretical and murderous” Sinan sent many Assassins to kill Saladin over a ten year period. The first attempted assassination was in 1175, when 13 Assassins snuck into a camp. They were detected, and never reached Saladin. Though they failed, they did manage to kill many of Saladin’s soldiers before being overcome. Saladin was attacked the second time in 1185, that time having severe wounds inflicted upon him.

One time Saladin was attacking an Assassin-friendly outpost at Aleppo, when in the middle of the night, he woke to see a shadow leaving the tent. Looking to his right, he saw a poisoned dagger stabbing through a kind of biscuit that only Assassins make. He realized the Assassins could have killed him even then. Seeing how formidable they were made him decide to stop the attack. Later he claimed that the person leaving his tent had been Sinan himself.
After almost being killed, Saladin decided that the Assassins were too dangerous to ignore. He sent a messenger to ask for their hand in friendship, and the Assassins agreed to his terms. If they had not, it is very likely that Saladin and his army would have been destroyed by Crusaders.


The Assassin original headquarters, Alamut, was located in the Alburz Mountains 10,000 feet above sea level. There was a small town below the castle in which the Assassins originated. It was also a good strategic spot because it was easy to see people coming from far away. Alamut in English means ‘Eagles Nest’ due to its position.
On the inside of Alamut, there was a garden made to be a paradise in which a new Assassin would stay for two weeks before being taken out. It was in there that they were given the drink mixed with hashish to make them think they were in heaven. They would be told that they could go back into heaven for all eternity if they swore loyalty to the leader.

The castle of Alamut was the home of the Assassins for a long time, but eventually Mongols came to destroy it, and though the Assassins put up a good fight, the Mongols far outnumbered them. The entire building was burned to the ground, along with their famous library that contained so much information about the Assassins. Over the course of the following years, the remaining Assassins were hunted into instinction.


In conclusion, it could be said that the Assassins were noble warriors, uncivilized mercenaries, or men fighting for what they believe. It doesn’t matter which of these you believe, you must admit, the Assassins of Alamut made their mark on history.

Works Cited
Gray, Jefferson. “Holy terror: during the Crusades, the Muslim sect known as the Assassins tamed more powerful enemies using a shocking means: murder.” MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History 3 April 2011:1
Lewis, Bernard. “Saladin and the Assassins.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 1953. JSTOR. 4 April 2011.
“Saladin.” World Book. 2011. Saladin was the best known Muslim warrior of the 1100’s (“Saladin”3).
Williams, Paul. The Crusades. Indianapolis: Alpha books, 2002

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The last revision was Apr 27, 2011 5:25 pm by Sophie-GMS.