Legends based on polemic and fantasy distorted the image of medieval Nizari Ismaili Muslims, turning them into drug-crazed “assassins.”
Legends of the Assassins first appeared in medieval times and circulated widely in both the Middle East and Europe. Arising from the mysterious practices of the Nizari Ismailis and their unwavering devotion to their chief—the so-called Old Man of the Mountain—these myths depicted the group as a band of drugged murderers bent on senseless mayhem.
The prominence of these stories shows how readily fictions, if repeated long enough, may be confused with facts. These fanciful tales eventually became ingrained as historical reality for many citizens of the medieval world. These myths persist in modern times, with misleading analogies occasionally made in the media between suicide bombings of Islamist radicals and certain Nizari practices that led to their reputation as the world’s first political assassins.
Nizari Ismaili History
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