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Ismaili History 649 - Murder of Ruknuddin Khurshah

Ruknuddin Khurshah started his homeland journey from Karakorum after failing to see Mongke. His party, after travelling for about 400 kilometers, reached at the Khangai mountain, one of the three major mountain belts in the north of Mongolia, called also as Hangayn or Changai. On the edge of Khangai, where the route for Samarkand radiated, Ruknuddin and his companions were dismounted and led away from the road, on the pretext of going to a Mongolian feast, and were killed in brutality.
Ruknuddin had also taken his Mongolian wife with him as it was not possible to leave her alone in Hamdan, or send at Qazwin, where his family members were detained. Moreover, the presence of a Mongolian wife would have procured an impression upon Mongke as a token of friendship. The isolated chains of later traditions may have been embellished by narrators, but in essence it seems to be true that she had been spared and left alone. The Mongol party fled to Samarkand after killing Ruknuddin and his companions. They also pillaged the treasures of Ruknuddin and took a wild flight after leaving her alone. She had a small caravan of few horses and with them, she wandered and loitered all alone. It was yet danger to follow the tract leading to Samarkand, therefore, she proceeded south-east region, and finally landed at the mountaineous regions of Pamir inside the Gorno-Badakhshan, and nothing else is known about her. It seems fairly certain that her caravan must have been loaded with important documents or literary materials that most possibly remained with Ruknuddin Khurshah. It is more likely that the important historical documents and the manuscripts retained with Ruknuddin Khurshah unscathed, would have been in the Pamirs in Tajikistan. This however cannot be accepted as conclusively proven, but it does appear to be at least a likelihood. We do not pursue the matter any further here, but it deserves close examination.

Ruknuddin Khurshah remained as a ruler of Alamut for one year, and lived for another year, means the period of his Imamate was for two years. Thus, the Nizari Ismaili rule lasted for about 170 years in Alamut. Ruknuddin Khurshah was succeeded by his son, Shamsuddin Muhammad, who had been privily sent away in Azerbaijan.

Summing up the accounts of the Ismaili state, Dr. Farhad Daftary remarks in his 'The Ismailis: their History and Doctrines' (London, 1990, p. 382) that: 'The Nizari community of the Alamut period, comprised of highlanders and mountain dwellers, villagers and urban groups living in small towns, maintained a sophisticated outlook and placed a high value on intellectual activities, encouraged by the local sense of initiative in the main Nizari territories. In Alamut, Quhistan, and Syria, the Nizaris established impressive libraries, containing not only religious literature of all sorts, including Ismaili works, but also scientific tracts and equipments. The Nizaris seems to have been interested in different branches of learning, and the vitality of their community was reinforced by the continuing arrival of a certain number of outsiders into their centres.'

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