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Hasan bin Sabbáh

Hasan bin Sabbáh was one of the boyhood friends of the great Persian poet Hakim Omar Khayyám, author of his famous Rubáiyát. Hasan was the leader of a sect of fanatics who in 1090 gained control of the castle fortress of Alamut known as "the eagle’s nest." Legend has it that he acquired the Alamut in bargaining with the owner by requesting only that portion of land that could be covered by the skin of a cow. Hasan then proceeded to divide a cow’s hide into such thin layers that he was able to cover the entire surface of the fortress, and the owner felt obliged to live up to his end of the bargain.

From this isolated stronghold on a ridge 6000 feet above the Caspian Sea and accessible only by a single, almost vertical pathway, Hasan obtained infamy among the crusaders as "the old man of the mountains"—a name given him by Marco Polo. From 1090 to1256 (when they were besieged and conquered by the son of Genghis Khan) his sect directed such a ruthless campaign of assassination against the crusaders and other sects in Persia, Iraq and Syria, that the governors of cities, commanders of fortresses, Emirs, and even religious dignitaries took to wearing a coat of chain mail at all times. The English word assassin actually derives from "Hashashin," the name his followers, often drugged on hashish, were given.

As told by Marco Polo and other travelers to the East, Hasan employed an extraordinary method of indoctrination to obtain allegiance from his followers. In a beautiful valley nestled between two high mountains he created a secret garden, furnishing it with all the delights the Koran promised to the faithful upon reaching Paradise. Exotic plants, birds, and animals were imported from all over the world, and he surrounded it with palaces of marble and gold decorated with beautiful paintings and fine silk furniture. Within the garden hidden conduits delivered milk, honey and wine, concealed minstrels played lovely music that seemed to come from nowhere, and beautiful, scantily clad young men and women (in Muslim belief, female "houris" await the faithful in Paradise) were available for pleasures about to be described.

The chosen were drugged a few at a time and taken to this garden at night. When they awoke in the morning they were allowed to partake in this false but exquisite paradise for a day or two, then drugged again and returned to the squalid cave or hovel in which they lived. Bin Sabbáh would then summon them, tell them that they had just been given a preview of heaven, and recount—to the amazement of each—exactly what he had been doing while in Paradise. This method of indoctrination was so successful that Hasan—so it is told—once ordered one of his men to throw himself from the cliff as proof of his loyalty, and the man did so with no hesitation. His assassins were likewise so convinced that they would be rewarded in heaven that they never hesitated in carrying out their missions, even though they knew that their victim’s bodyguards would kill them immediately afterwards. It is from Hasan bin Sabbáh that we get the saying, "Nothing is True, Everything is Permissible."

This Hasan bin Sabbáh page and much of this 600-page website are excerpted from You and the Universe, a personalized fine art book on astrology, mythology and astronomy through which the recipient's complete astrological reading is woven.



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