Ismaili Survival After the Mongol Conquest
During the 13th century, the Persian speaking lands, extending from Central Asia to Iraq were devastated by a series of Mongol invasions. The massive movement of these nomadic warriors from the inner steppes of Asia resulted in the massacre and displacement of many communities, including the Ismailis.
Genghis Khan, the Mongol Emperor, decreed that the Ismailis should be utterly annihilated.
The decree stated:
“None of that people should be spared, not even the babe in its cradle.”
Thousands of Ismailis, including Imam Ruknu Din Khurshah had their lives taken away in the most brutal form.
For many centuries after the fall of Alamut and the surrounding districts and towns where the Jamat lived, it was thought that the Jamat in Persia was virtually eliminated. In 1912, the Russian scholar Wladimir Ivanow visited Persia and brought the continued existence of the Ismaili community to the attention of Western scholarship.
“My learned friends in Europe plainly disbelieved me when I wrote about the community to them. It appeared to them quite unbelievable that the most brutal persecution, wholesale slaughter, age-long hostility and suppression were unable to annihilate the community. Only later on, however, when my contact with them grew more intimate, was I able to see the reasons for such surprising vitality.
It was their quite extraordinary devotion and faithfulness to the tradition of their ancestors, the ungrudging patience with which they suffered all the calamities and misfortunes, cherishing no illusions whatsoever as to what they could expect in life.”
“They with amazing care and devotion kept through ages burning that Light, mentioned in the Koran, which God always protects against all attempts of His enemies to extinguish It.”
This reading adapted from:
(1) Professor Ivanow’s article “My First Meeting With the Ismailis in Persia”, published in a number of magazines including Ilm, Ismailia Association, London, England
(2) The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, a Search for Salvation by Shafique N. Virani, Hardcover – May 3, 2007