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Rashid ad-Din Sinan

Masyaf Castle, headquarters of Rashid ad-Din Sinan
Rashid ad-Din Sinan
Born 1131/1135
Basra, Iraq
Died 1193 (aged 57-61)
Masyaf, Syria
Known for Leader of the Ismaili religious sect, important figure in the Third Crusade

Rashīd ad-Dīn Sinān (Arabic: رشيد الدين سنان‎), also known as the Old Man of the Mountain (Arabic: شيخ الجبلShaykh al-Jabal, Latin: Vetulus de Montanis)[1][2] and also referred to Rashid al-Din Sinan (1132/1135–1193), was a missionary[3] and a leader of the Syrian branch of the Nizari Ismaili state (the Assassins), and a figure in the history of the Crusades.[4]

Biography

Rashid ad-Din Sinan was born between the years 1132 and 1135 in Basra, southern Iraq, to a prosperous family.[5] According to his autobiography, of which only fragments survive, Rashid came to Alamut, the centre of the Hashashins, as a youth after an argument with his brothers,[5] and received the typical Hashashin training. In 1162, the sect's leader Ḥassan ʿAlā Dhikrihi's Salām sent him to Syria, where he proclaimed Qiyamah, which in Nizari terminology meant the time of the Qa'im and the removal of Islamic law. Based on the Nizari stronghold Masyaf, he controlled the northern Syrian districts of Jabal as-Summaq, Maarrat Misrin and Sarmin.[6]

Rashid enjoyed considerable independence from the Nizari centre in Alamut and some writings attribute him with a semi-divine status usually given to the Nizari Ismaili Imam.

His chief enemy, the Sultan Saladin (1137/1138–1193), ruled over Egypt and Syria from 1174 to 1193. Saladin managed twice to elude assassination attempts ordered by Rashid and as he was marching against Aleppo, Saladin devastated the Nizari possessions. In 1176 Saladin laid siege to Masyaf but he lifted the siege after two notable events that reputedly transpired between him and the Old Man of the Mountain. According to one version, one night, Saladin's guards noticed a spark glowing down the hill of Masyaf and then vanishing among the Ayyubid tents. Saladin awoke from his sleep to find a figure leaving the tent. He saw that the lamps in his tent were displaced and beside his bed laid hot scones of the shape peculiar to the Assassins with a note at the top pinned by a poisoned dagger. The note threatened that he would be killed if he did not withdraw from his siege. Saladin gave a loud cry, exclaiming that Sinan himself was the figure that left the tent. As such, Saladin told his guards to come to an agreement with Sinan. Realizing he was unable to subdue the Assassins, he sought to align himself with them, consequently depriving the Crusaders of aligning themselves against him.

Sinan's last notable act occurred in 1191, when he ordered the successful assassination of the newly elected King of Jerusalem Conrad of Montferrat. Whether this happened in coordination with King Richard I of England or with Saladin remains unknown.

In 1193, Sinan wrote a letter to Leopold V, Duke of Austria at the request of Richard I, taking credit for the assassination order and subsequent death of Conrad of Monferrat, of which Richard was being accused.[7]

He died in 1193 in Al-Kahf Castle in Masyaf, Syria and buried in Salamiyah.[8] He was succeeded by men appointed from Alamut, which regained a closer supervision over Syrian assassins.

Popular culture

Al Mualim is the main antagonist of Assassin's Creed, who has similarities with Rashid ad-Din Sinan; for example he fought against Saladin.[9] In the videogame, Al Mualim ordered Altaïr to kill Robert IV de Sable in 1191 at the battle of Arsuf.[10]

References

  1. ^ Mentioned in Latin sources from the Crusader states.
  2. ^ Mirza, Dr. Naseeh Ahmed. "Alamut. Bastion of Peace and Information". Alamut. Melbourne, Australia. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  3. ^ "Rashid al-Din Sinan". Oxford Reference. 2003. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  4. ^ Reston Jr. 2001, p. 16.
  5. ^ a b Wasserman 2001, p. 119.
  6. ^ "« راشد الدین سنان » پیشوای بزرگ اسماعیلیان شام در عصر صلیبی". www.hawzah.net. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  7. ^ Reston Jr. 2001, p. 372.
  8. ^ Willey, Peter (November 25, 2005). Eagle's Nest: Ismaili Castles in Iran and Syria. Institute of Ismaili Studies. I.B.Tauris. p. 234. ISBN 978-1-85043-464-1.
  9. ^ Nichols, Derek (September 27, 2013). "History Behind the Game – Assassin's Creed Characters". VentureBeat. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  10. ^ Delrio, Francesco (31 January 2018). "Assassin's Creed: Mito, Storia e Videogioco (Prima Parte)". Every Eye (in Italian). Retrieved 28 April 2018.

Bibliography