September 6, 2015

The Shia Ismaili or Assassin Order and the Knights Templar

Artistic rendering of Hassan-i Sabbah
Historians point out repeatedly analogies linking the Shia Ismaili to the Templars: both orders used initiation and were military and held the title of "Guardian of the Holy Land".

The Templars would have come into contact with the Nizari Ismailis of the Old Man of the Mountain, Hassan ibn al-Sâbbâhune, a secret society whose members are called by the Sunnis Hachichiyin (hashish consumers). A term converted to "Assissini"by the Crusaders, in Italian "assassino" and in French "assassin". Amin Maalouf gives in his novel "Samarcande" a different etymology; the word would have come from asâs (base, foundation). "According to the texts that have survived of Alamut, Hassan liked to call his followers "Assassiyoun", those loyal to Assas, the Foundation of Faith (Assas also means Guardian in Arabic). And it was this word that, misunderstood by foreign travelers, seemed to be related to hashish"

The meetings would have taken place in the Muslim fortress of Alamut in the Syrian mountains. Al-Sâbbâh reigned on this eyrie with its fidâiyyûn or fedaïn, true brotherhood of warrior monks. On this citadel four flags flew: white for purity, yellow for devotion, red for war and a green one for the secret knowledge of Allah.

In the rites of Alamut, the rank of Knight is conferred not by princes, but by the sheiks (spiritual masters). At their dubbing the Knights of Islam drank from a cup. Cronicles from the Syrian Muslims mention several grades of knighthood, conferred among Ismailis, the first having occurred in 578 AH (1182).
Entrenched in their castles in Iraq and Syria, members of the Ismaili order wore a garment that was similar to the one of the Knights Templar, a white dress with a red belt.
In the constitution of the two orders, Templar and Ismaili, the hierarchy is identical, the degrees are the same.
The Templars would have gone as far as arming Knights of the Ismaili and of Greek Catholics hostile to the papacy.
The Druze of Lebanon, Shia close to the Ismailis, would have passed to the Templars esoteric teachings. However, in 1172, ambassadors of the Ismailis, received by the king of Jerusalem, were murdered by brothers of the Temple.

Jean de Joinville, biographer of St. Louis, reports on the virsit to Acre in 1248 of the Old Man of the Mountain, where he was received by King Louis IX. The two sovereigns exchanged gifts. The Old Man of the Mountain asked the help of Louis against the Mongols who were invading Persia. The King of France receives the Embassy of Great Mongol in December.

This blog is a mainly an English translation from a part of the article "Les Templiers" (in French) by Jean-Paul Decoeurtyte. For more information on the same subject also see

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