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Byname for any member of a sub-sect of Isma'ili Shi'ite Muslims who operated in parts of Iran and Syria from the 11th to the 13th century. The order takes its name from the purported use of hashish to induce ecstatic visions of paradise among its devotees (hashshashun, hashish smokerswhence is derived the English term) before they set out to face martyrdom. The Assassins operated out of series of mountain fortresses and, seeing assassination as a religious duty, engaged in a long campaign of murder against members of the Sunnite community, including numerous officials of the 'Abbasid and Seljuq dynasties, and others. The Assassins' power was finally broken by the Mongols, who captured the great Assassin stronghold of 'Alamut in Iran in 1256. The Syrian branch was destroyed by the Mamluk Baybars I in 1271–73. Leadership of the Nizari order continued until modern times in the line of the Aga Khans, a family prominent worldwide as philanthropists and public servants.
Variants of ASSASSIN
Assassin properly Nizariyyah
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Assassin, visit Britannica.com.
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