This paper attempts to investigate, outline and discuss the Nizari doctrines from the establishment of the Nizari state in 1090 until its last phase of existence prior to its demise and downfall in 1256, a period referred to as the Alamut era, named after the fortified Nizari seat in Alamut, Persia.
In order to provide a cohesive account of Nizari religio-philosophical doctrinal evolution, the paper first provides an indispensable historical account of the eventful origins of Nizari Isma’ilism. It then discusses the general framework of the Fatimid philosophic tradition and theological thought to establish a theoretical basis for assessing the pattern of doctrinal evolution of a post-Fatimid era of early Nizari Isma’ilis. In this context, the paper divides the intellectual history of the Alamut-era Nizaris into two parts: first, from the establishment of the Nizari state under the strict supervision of the first ‘Lord of Alamut’, the legendary Hassan-i Sabbah and his successors until the beginning the reign of Ismaili-Imam Hassan II (1090-1164); and second, from the age of the fundamental doctrinal revolution of Hassan II until the succession of Hassan III (1164-1210). Each of these sections begins with a brief historical account of Nizaris’ policies and conditions in each stage, followed by a comparative analysis of their religious and philosophical doctrines. Through this structure, the paper aims at presenting an inclusive account of the intellectual life of Nizari Isma’ilis through their most celebrated revolutionary phase of existence.
This article was considered by the supervisor, Professor Douglass Pratt, as the best article ever written in the School of Social Sciences.
Soroush is an Isma’ili Muslim born and raised in northern Iran, and now a student of political science in Hamilton, New Zealand, University of Waikato. He is an assistant lecturer and tutor. As a research assistant, his other project is titled: “Cyber Warfare and Proliferation of Cyber-weapons: Inventing a Theory”. In 2010, Soroush delivered an oral presentation on ‘The Assassins (Ismailies): Origins, Balance of Power and Political Equilibrium’ to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA), University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
In his own words, Soroush says: “Discovering the Isma’ili heritage was one of the greatest adventures of my life that introduced me to a new horizon which dramatically changed the course of my intellectual life. For years, I traveled to all major Isma’ilis fortresses and historical sites, in search of the golden past of Nizari history and thought. In this quest, I had the honor to work as a member of Dr. Peter Willey’s research team, through correspondence. In his books on Isma’ili history (‘The Eagle Nest’, ‘In the Castle of Assassins’), Dr. Willey made valuable contributions to the historical aspect of Isma’ili studies.”