This is going to be a HUGE topic, so I have to split it up by game; I may not even make it to the last game. After numerous attempts at posting this, from wifi issues, to hard drive crashes, to just working 65 hours a week, this has been a hell of an article. But either way, I am a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed games and I wanted to fact check them. So here it goes; you’re going to be surprised!
The Hashashin were nizari isma’ili which is the second largest group of Shia Islam. Isma’ili is more of a spiritual faith, where oneness with god (Allah) comes from meditation and acceptance of reality. They favor social justice, pluralism (acceptance of all people from all walks of life), and human reasoning.
They have a term, itjihad, which means to fight a holy fight with one’s self. This means to fight the earthly desires of material things, to fight the ego, and to keep from judgement.
Now this type of spiritualism isn’t far from mysticism, which is giving one’s self up completely to a deity or god. This can be done by having a major life experience, like the use of peyote with some Native American tribes. Another example is the use of marijuana with Rastafarians, where as they use it to get closer with their god.
Ras Tafari – Haile Selassie I aka the epicenter of Rastafari culture.
Side note: Smoking weed and wearing red, yellow, and green or having pot leaves tattooed on you does not make you Rasta. Rasta means you follow ital (vegetarian), grow out your beard and hair, and meet once in a decided amount of time to have a reckoning to discuss scripture from the Bible and political ramifications. Rasta should be respected, not falsely replicated.
This leads to the name, Hashashin. These young followers would use Hashish, a type of smokable that is heavy with THC. This amount of THC would easily cause a high that can be mistaken for closeness to a god, especially when the religion is based in mysticism.
Also, the old man would use it as a motivator to the young troops.
Oh yeah, the old man.
The Old Man
Hassan-i Sabbah. He was born around 1150 and died around 1124. Al Mualim (the Mentor) was nicknamed the Old Man of the Mountain. Sabbah’s nickname as well.
Sabbah was a charismatic leader. He was extremely motivating and could gather an audience of followers easily. This fame and prestige garnered him a devoted following in Cairo, Syria. These people became the first of the Assassin’s, or Hashashin.
The hierarchy was simple and unique. The young were the lasiq’s or fidayin. They were the killers and the assassins. They were trained to be one of the many in a crowd, to fit in using disguise and vernacular like those around them. This made them covert masters. They were relentless in their pursuits exacting murderous vengeance in the name of Sabbah. Although these men were deadly, they never harmed anyone outside of who their target was. They would execute openly but would never harm a civilian. Despite the violence, they were very well read because they could not be a part of the order.
Above them were rafiq’s or companions to the faith, and above them the thinkers or propagandists all leading to the top, to Sabbah.
Although Masyaf was not the center of operations, it was a major proponent in the assassins. In actuality the castle they used as the center of operations was Alamut. So far be it from the truth, it was still extremely close to reality.
Also, being developed by Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed was a spiritual successor to Prince of Persia wherein you can visit Alamut Castle. Either way, this may be what turned the developers onto an assassin’s based game.
Even today, Masyaf still stands and many Nizari Isma’ili live there today.
Sabbah passed in 1124, after hiding himself away in his castle. He wrote numerous pieces about faith and fellowship in his beliefs, although none remain but are often quoted. The assassin empire was destroyed by the mongols in the 1200’s, leaving little to no trace of their creed.
That’s all for the facts behind Asassin’s Creed I but keep an eye out for the next few games!