Sunday, August 10, 2008

history of the order of the assassins

While I was in Istanbul I saw a book called Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam by Bernard Lewis. However, it was so expensive that I decided I would wait until I got back to the UK to buy the book. Even better I found that the book was listed in the catalogue of the University of Glasgow library . As I searched the dusty shelves of the library I didn't find the book above, but ended up with "history of the order of the assassins" by Franzius. Before reading this book, all I knew about the assassins was that there was some old man in a mountain in the Middle East, who kept some of his followers in a valley full of hashish and beautiful maidens. When he wanted someone killed he would tell one of his people that they were in heaven. To get back into heaven, they had to kill their target. After speed reading the book, I now know that the assassins were actually a sect of the Sunnite part of Islam. Apparently the assassins still exist today. At various stages the assassins used murder to accomplish political ends. The number of political alliances they made was very complicated. They didn't just fight the crusaders. I do expect to get visited by officers from Special Branch, since it is clear that some of the suicide bombers were influenced by the early assassin philosophy. Anyway I will just say nothing and they will think I would not hurt a fly. I also learnt that the word thugs actually comes from India. There was some kind of criminal gang called the Thuggees who used to strangle people to steal their goods. As he died one leader of the assassins, Sanjah (1118 -1124) whispered "nothing was true, that everything was permitted" and then departed to hell. This book changed my life.