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Ismaili History 620 - Qiyamat-i Qubra in Alamut

Qiyamat-i qubra or qaim al-qiyama was a famous occasion commemorated in Alamut on 17th Ramdan, 559/August 8, 1164 when Imam Hasan II came out publicly upon the termination of dawr-i satr. In his speech, he announced himself a legitimate Imam in the descent of Imam al- Nizar. Edward G. Browne writes in 'A Literary History of Persia' (London, 1964, 2nd Vol., p. 454) that, 'This Hasan boldly declared himself to be, not the descendant of Kiya Buzrug Ummid, but of the Fatimid Imam Nizar bin al-Mustansir.'
The term qiyama literally means, 'rising' of the dead, and allegorically, it implies an idea denoting the rising to the next spiritual stage, and qiyamat-i qubra (great resurrection) means an attainment of the highest degree when a man becomes free from the ties of external laws, whom he shackles and transfigures into spiritual substance, which rejoins its divine sources.

Before we proceed, one pivot point needs to be touched upon. It is seen that Qadi Noman (d. 363/974) wrote in 'Sharhu'l Akhbar' that, 'The religion of Islam will triumph under al-Mahdi and his descendants, so that the present order will end, and the qiyama will come under one of his successors.' Hamiduddin Kirmani (d. 412/1021) also writes in 'Kitab ar-Riyad' on the authority of 'Kitabu'l Mahsul'that, 'This qiyamat al-qubra is going to arrive when the gates of talim will be closed, and the dawa suspended by the Imam of the qiyamat al-qubra, because by that time the dawa will attain its completion.' Qalqashandi (d. 8121/1418) writes in 'Subh al-A'sha fi Sina'at al-Insha' (13th vol., p. 245) that, 'Hasan bin Sabbah preached the doctrine that the appearance of the qaim al-zaman was imminent and that the revelation of the Imam and his creed were about to take place.' The situation of Alamut was not that of the past, therefore, the Imam of the time was to appear before his followers for their spiritual guidance. Marshall Hodgson writes, 'No doubt men hoped increasingly that time was near when the Imam himself would return from his hiding, and bring his blessing among them again, as it has been among them in the days of Egyptian glory.' (op. cit., p. 147)

Rashiduddin writes in 'Jamiut Tawarikh' (comp. in 310/1310) that, 'On 17th Ramdan of the year 559, he (Imam Hasan II) ordered the people of his territories, whom he had caused to be present in Alamut at that time, to gather together in those public prayers grounds at the foot of Alamut. They set up four large banners of four colors, white, red, yellow and green; which had been arranged for the affairs, at the four corners of the pulpit.' Abu Ishaq Kohistani also gives details in his 'Haft Bab' (pp. 41-2) that, 'The followers from Khorasan stood on the right, the followers from (Persian) Iraq on the left of it, and the Daylamites with the followers from Rudhbar stood right opposite. In the middle a chair was placed, facing the minbar (pulpit), and faqihi Muhammad Busti was ordered to mount it. The Khudawand Ala Dhikrihi's Salam, clad in a white garment with a white turban on his head, descended from the fortress about noon and mounted the minbar from the right, in the most perfect manner. Then he pronounced three times the 'salam' - first addressing the Daylamites, then turning to the right, and then turning to the left. Then he squatted for a while, then rose and holding his sword...' According to Jorunn J. Buckley in 'The Nizari Ismailites' (Stvdia Islamica, Paris, 1984, LX, p. 143) that from the top of the pulpit, Hasan II presented a clear and eloquent epistle, and at the end of the address he said, 'The Imam of the Time sends you blessings and compassion, calling you his specially selected servants.'

Imam Hasan II made his sermons in Arabic. The jurist Muhammad Busti stood up, and translated the Imam's sermons into Persian for those present. It was followed by the ceremony of an oath of allegiance from the cheering followers.

It is a worth consideration to touch here another key point that Imam al-Hadi bin al-Nizar was born in Cairo in 470/1076 and his mother tongue was Arabic. He and his successors, al-Mohtadi and al-Kahir lived within the domestic environs in Iran in the fortress of Lamasar. They did not come in touch of the outside Iranian society and culture for a long time. It is therefore evident that these three Imams spoke Arabic at home, since their home tongue was in all cases Arabic, and Imam Hasan II was also brought up with the prevalent domestic environment. He, as a result delivered his sermons into Arabic, which is concured by the historians. Granted that he was the son of Muhammad bin Kiya, who was an Iranian by birth, then he must have delivered his sermons into Persian, and not into Arabic. Secondly, Hasan, the son of Muhammad bin Kiya was hailed from Rudhbar, where he and his forebears were very familiar. The people of Rudhbar during the qiyama stood right opposite the pulpit and Hasan II also mounted the pulpit from that side; who could easily see the Imam without distance. Granted that the Imam on the pulpit was Hasan, the son of Muhammad bin Kiya, then it is most likely that the people of Rudhbar had closely perceived him. Since there happened nothing, which affords a further proof that the people of Rudhbar had certainly perceived Hasan II as a son and rightful successor of Imam al-Kahir, and not Hasan, the son of Muhammad bin Kiya, whom they knew well, therefore, one can hardly deny the logic springs from the above arguments. According to the Shiite doctrines, the Imamate cannot be altered or changed in any other descent. Nasiruddin Tusi (1201 -1274) in his 'Rawdatu't-Taslim' (ed. and tr. by W. Ivanow, Leiden, 1950, p. 130) quotes Imam Hasan II as saying: 'Know that this Imamate is true, will never go astray, became changed or altered. It was always preserved in the posterity of Mawlana (Ali), and will never become dissociated from them, either in appearance, or in meaning, or reality.' W. Ivanow remarks on the phrase: 'Know that this Imamate is true, will never go astray' that, 'This may mean that the Imamate can never pass to someone, who is not a legitimate successor in the line of Imams.' (Ibid) For further study about the genuine lineage of Hasan II, vide 'Genealogy of the Aga Khan' by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin Sadik Ali, Karachi, 1990.

Most of the Ismaili dais of that period had described the above event in their treatises, notably the fasl of Hussain bin Abdul Malik, Qadi Masud, Amir Hyder Masud etc., but none is survived. Hitherto, however, one ocular-witness of qiyamat-i qubra has been unearthed, who had not identified himself. He was a dai in Qazwin and compiled 'Haft bab-i Baba Sayyid-na' in 597/1200. His original text is edited by W.Ivanow, vide 'Two Early Ismaili Treatises' (Bombay, 1933). Marshall Hodgson has rendered its English translation, vide 'The Order of Assassins' (Netherland, 1955, pp. 279-328). Hasan bin Sabbah, according to the above treatise had foretold the advent of qiyamat-i qubra, and said, 'When the qaim appears, he will sacrifice a camel, and bring forth a red standard' (p. 21). The author further writes, 'And all these (signs) I have actually seen in Imam Ala Zikrihi's Salam.' (p. 21) He also writes, 'Sayyidna Hasan bin Sabbah had sent Hamid as a messenger to Ala Zikrihi's Salam in service and submission, and asked forgiveness of him.' Giving his comments on this very passage, Marshall Hodgson writes, 'This message from Hasan-i Sabbah to Hasan II must be conceived of in the manner of the traditional greeting of the Prophet to his great-great-grandson, the Imam: he asked one of his young companions to greet the child when it should be born.' (op. cit., p. 302)

After the proclamation of the qiyama, Hasan II, in his epistles (fusul) and addresses, hinted palpably that he himself was the Imam of the Age, the son of an Imam from the progeny of Imam Nizar bin al-Mustansir billah.

Writing on qiyama, W. Ivanow says in 'Alamut and Lamasar' (Tehran, 1960 p. 29) that, 'It is quite possible that the period of about 75 years, from the installation of Hasan-i Sabbah in Alamut, a period of continuous hard struggle, have so much matured their spirits that they could be regarded as quite fit to discard the usual external forms of worship, and carry on by their internal spiritual discipline.'

In sum, the qiyama was interpreted to mean the manifestation of the unveiled truth (haqiqa) in the person of the Imam. Thus, the believers were now capable to comprehend the truth. According to this interpretation, the believers could come to know God and the mysteries and realities of creation through an Imam, the epiphany (mazhar) of God on earth. The qiyama also represented an attempt by an Imam to give an interpretation to the Shariah abreast the times. The Imam, henceforward, had began to stress the spirituality and the inner meaning of the religious commandments.

Ten weeks later, a token ceremony of qiyama was commemorated at the fortress of Muminabad, to the east of Birjand in Kohistan, where Hasan II had sent his messenger, Muhammad Khaqan to Rais Muzaffar, his deputy who headed the Ismailis of Kohistan since 555/1160. It was festivated in the fortress of Muminabad on 8th Zilkada, 559/September 18, 1164, where the written sermons of Hasan II were read. In Syria too, the qiyama was announced, evidently a while later in 560/1165.

It appears that the Ismailis began to apply since then the term ala zikrihi's salam (peace be on his mention) with the name of Hasan II, making him known as Hasan Ala Zikrihi's Salam (Hasan, peace be on his mention), and evidently, such benedictory term cannot be pronounced for any dai like Hasan, the son of Muhammad.

Hasan II rose as an absolute ruler and Imam, and the Dawr-i Satr was replaced by Dawr-i Kashaf. It must be remembered that it was the second dawr-i satr, and the first occured in pre-Fatimid peroiod. According to 'Cambridge History of Iran' (London, 1968, 5th vol., p. 474), 'The term satr had originally referred to those periods when the whereabouts of the Imam was unknown to the world at large, or even, at times, to the faithful, as had been the case among Ismailis before the rise of the Fatimids and again after the death of Nizar.' Dr. Farhad Daftary also writes in 'The Ismailis: their History and Doctrines' (London, 1990, p. 411) that, 'Earlier Ismailis had used the term satr in reference to those periods in their history when the Imams were hidden from the world at large, or even from their followers, as had been the case with the period in early Ismailism between Muhammad bin Ismail and Ubaydullah al-Mahdi and again with the period of satr in Nizarism between Nizar and Hasan II.' The same author further writes (p. 392) that, 'On the basis of the genealogy subsequently circulating amongst the Nizaris, there were three generations between Hasan II and Nizar, Hasan being represented as the son of al-Qahir bin al-Muhtadi bin al-Hadi bin Nizar. Once Hasan II and his son Muhammad II were recognized as Nizarids Imams, the breach with the preceding period of satr in early Nizari Ismailism when the Imam was hidden from his followers and there were only his hujjats and dais at Alamut, was complete.' Dr. Aziz Ismail and Dr. Azim Nanji write in their write-up, namely 'The Ismailis in History' (cf. 'Ismaili Contributions to Islamic Culture' ed. by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Tehran, 1977, p. 248) that, 'Ismaili tradition speaks of the Imam as having been secretly brought into Alamut by Hasan-i Sabbah, who emphatically made it clear that he was acting only on behalf of the Imam. In this respect, the situation was analogue to the period before the rise of the Fatimids, which was known as the dawr al-satr, as the Imams were then believed to be in a state of occultation.'

In sum, according to 'Kalam-i Pir' (ed. and tr. by W.Ivanow, Bombay, 1935, p. 63), 'At the period of the hidden (mastur) Imams, during the first period of satr, which arrived soon after the death of the Prophet and of his Wasi, the hujjat was Abdullah Qaddah, and in the second period of satr, the hujjat was Baba Sayyid-na (Hasan bin Sabbah). And the eternal Light, Mawlana Hadi was he whose mysteries were known to Baba Sayyidna.'

Let us return to the contemporary narrative that Muhammad bin al-Hasan ibn Isfandiyar writes in 'Tarikh-i Tabaristan' (comp. 613/1216) that Ustandar Hazarasf bin Shahrnush (560-586/1164-1190), the Buduspanid ruler of Rustamdar and Ruyan procured close ties with the Ismailis of Rudhbar, and gave them few castles in his territories. In the meantime, Husam ad-Dawla Ardashir (567-602/1172-1206), the Bawandid Ispahbad of Mazandaran raided the territories of Ustandar Hazarasf, who took refuge at Alamut. With the help of Ismaili forces, he took field and invaded his former territories. He killed an Alid who ruled over Daylaman. He was however captured by Ardashir, who killed him in 586/1190.

Meanwhile, the Ismailis had for some time not a single entanglement with the Seljuqids, whose power was rapidly on the decline. In 560/1165, however, during the time of the Seljuq sultan Arslan (556-571/1161-1176), the Ismailis who had then built a new fortress outside Qazwin, besieged that town without availing approval from Alamut. The Ismailis however lifted the siege when sultan Arslan's big force came to the help of the people of Qazwin. In about 561/1166, the Seljuq amir Muhammad bin Anaz attacked on the Ismaili localities at Qazwin in reprisal and killed some of them and taken away rich booty.

A year and a half after the declaration of qiyama, on 6th Rabi I, 561/January 9, 1166, Imam Hasan II was stabbed in the castle of Lamasar by his brother-in-Law, Hasan bin Namavar, who belonged to a local Daylami branch of the Buwahid line, which had ruled in western Iran as a Twelve Shiite dynasty. Hasan II was succeeded by his 19 years old son, Ala Muhammad.

The sayings of Imam Hasan II reflect in the treatises of the contemporary dais, which have been sorted out as under:-

I am the hujja of God, and cause of the non-existence of the people.
In the qiyama whoever arrives at God arrives for eternity, and whoever falls from the Lord falls from eternity.
Righteousness is nearer to God; when you are nothing, He is all. Do not desire a closer nearness than this.
Take care, you who pilgrimage to the house of haqiqa of God, strive today which is the day of qiyama.
Whoever is a man of haqiqa, possesses both the worlds.
Whoever wishes to see the person of righteousness and the person of eternal paradise, he must look at the man who calls the people to God, and knows God, and does not covet in religion.

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