Has anything changed?

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by 5.10 leader, Jan 7, 2004.

  1. 5.10 leader
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    A few years ago I worked in Teheran and whilst there became a member of a loosely knit group of Americans and European climbers. At that time Teheran was a beautiful city with broad, tree-lined avenues, marble palaces and superb gardens, admittedly in vivd contrast to the impoverished countryside beyond. A far cry to modern day Teheran.

    The following is an extract from a magazine article which I had published describing a climbing trip to the Valley of the Assassins in the Elburz mountains. The irrelevant climbing text has been omitted but I think the historical text indicates that, in fact, very little has changed with regard to the Jihad. I do hope that it is not too long and boring.

    The Valley of the Assassins is locked in a remote corner of the Elburz mountains about 150 km north-west of Teheran. The headwaters drain the western slopes of the Takht-e Sulaiman range (Solomons Throne), which is crowned by Alamkuh (4840m). This part of the Elburz mountains, which spread around the shores of the Caspian Sea for 800 km, was first visited by the Bornmüller brothers, two German botanists, who climbed Alamkuh in 1902. Farther east, the extinct volcano of Demavend (5670m) is the highest point of the Elburz and was first climbed by Sir W. Taylor in 1836.

    In medieval times a dissident religious sect had made its stronghold at Alamut in this impenetrable valley with a series of fortresses built to reinforce the defences. Under the leadership of Hasan the sect supported the Ismaili doctrine in Cairo and waged guerrilla resistance against the Seljuk regime in Persia. The Persian Ismailis were eventually cut off when they offered allegiance to the ideals of a deposed and subsequently murdered caliph in Cairo. A new blood line of leaders, called Imams, then flourished in the valley. It became a powerful branch of the Moslems, and the Aga Khan today, representing the same people in greater numbers in India and Pakistan, is the direct descendant of these Imams.

    Hasan, the original “Old Man of the Mountain”, was a fierce and fearless leader and in about 1090 AD he introduced several changes in the Ismaili doctrine and practice, notably the adoption of “assassination” to deal with enemies. Assassination was carried out as a sacred religious duty. As grand master of the “Assassins”, he presided over terrorist officers and directed the policies and activities of the sect. All attempts by the Seljuks to defeat the Assassins failed. High ranking victims were claimed by the Assassins and their influence and activities spread as far as Cairo and Syria with repercussions even being felt in Europe. The Assassins were finally subdued in 1256AD by the second Golden Horde led by the Mongol general Hulagu, a great grandson of Genghis Khan and a brother of Kublai Khan. Alamut was captured and the ruling grand master hanged.

    The word “assassin” came from the phonetic sound of hashishin, a taker of hashish. The narcotic influence of eating hashish drugged the minds of the Assassins and kept them happy in their nefarious work. The Crusaders brought the word to Europe from Syria and Dante first used it to denote political and secret murder in the early fourteenth century.

    The legend goes that the grand master first enticed those of his followers selected to commit murder into his castle where it was alleged that the indoctrinations took place. A grand vizier, a figure with the status of a senior minister and who was completely under the influence of the grand master, was responsible for guiding recruits to the castle. He was also responsible for ensuring that a destiny no less than paradise was promised to them as an inducement; in case they had second thoughts before arriving. Shown into a tunnel, the grand master gave them hashish that produced a dream-like condition of erotic splendour. Then they were led along the tunnel, 800m, to a garden full of beautiful girls, who fed them sherbert and pandered with favours to their drugged sensations. After a day in the garden they were taken before the grand master who declared that they had experienced true paradise and that if they served him well and laid down their lives for him, they would find eternal paradise. Having ingratiated himself, the grand master took possession of their minds. He could pick out a candidate and order him to jump off a cliff.; the man jumped without hesitation. However, none of the popular stories or legends connected with Assassin practices are confirmed in Ismaili sources.

    The tunnel could still be seen, but there was no sign of the buildings or garden. The castle was called Maimundiz and consisted of five caves opening about 50m above ground in an overhanging cliff some 300m high. The conglomerate rock was terrible to handle, quite the worst rock anyone had ever seen. It was more like solidified glacier moraine, all mud and gravel peppered with larger stones. A stone could be pulled out, and the face crumbled around the hole.

    Hasan had erected masonry against the cliff and a ramp had linked the caves. Stones hurled from Hulagu’s war machines had destroyed all means of access. The original approach to the first cave was so narrow that only one man could pass at a time. One guard armed with a spear was sufficient to defend the entrance. A bowman could not attack the position because both hands were needed to approach the entrance

    The Assassins’ headquarters were at Alamut some 25km higher up the valley. They stood on a huge pedestal, called, surprisingly, the Rock of Alamut. The grand master had surrendered here; the Mongols brought him to Maimundiz and held a knife to his throat to force him to order his associates to capitulate. (Irrelevant climbing discussion follows)
     
  2. wonderwench
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    5.10,

    Thanks for posting this. Fascinating!

    The attitudes and goals haven't changed - but the technology to carry out "assassinations" certainly has.
     
  3. wonderwench
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    What a goober!

    I've know 5.10 on other boards. He is an unusually informed and intelligent poster, in my span of experience.

    And he doesn't insult the membership with gross overuse of capitalization and emotional hyberbole.

    Would you like a little umbrella in your Shirley Temple?
     
  4. jimnyc
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    jimnyc ...

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    :laugh:
     
  5. wonderwench
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    Yes. But the existence of the Knights Templar is completely orthogonal to 5.10's post.

    And, kiddo, it would be much easier to converse with you if you didn't shout to make your points. It's hard to take you seriously with that style feature.
     
  6. Isaac Brock
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    Isaac Brock Active Member

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    I can't even freaking understand you!
     
  7. Isaac Brock
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    Isaac Brock Active Member

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    Use bold for key point, italics for quotes and punctuation, makes sentances so, so, so much easier to understand!
     
  8. lilcountriegal
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    lilcountriegal Senior Member

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    why is it after i read a post by h.j. i feel the need for an alcoholic beverage.

    WW... I sure could use that lil umbrella. Make it a double, please.
     
  9. wonderwench
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    You got it hun. Would you like some popcorn too?
     
  10. SinisterMotives
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    SinisterMotives Guest

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    Looks like I missed some action here earlier. No updates necessary, thank you. I have a pretty good idea of what happened. :laugh:
     

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