A Fida’i Mission: Into Saladin’s Tent

I Wish I’d Been There

Two key Ismaili leaders in post Fatimid Nizari Ismaili history; Hassan-i Sabbah of Alamut, Iran, shown at left and Rashid al-Din Sinan of Syria. The obedience of the Ismaili fidai's to these and other leaders working under the authority of the Imam played a crucial role in safeguarding the lives of the Jamat for many decades.

By Shazia’Ayn and Aliya-Nur Babul

Aliya-Nur, left, and Shazia'Ayn Babul - 'bibliophiles', who love story writing

My sister and I have always been captivated by stories of the Ismaili fidai’s who lived in strongholds in Syria. Different groups were always trying to persecute the Ismailis, and in the struggle to survive they trained fidai’s to sneak into enemy camps to frighten enemies and ensure that they retreated without attacking. These stories of great bravery, love and sacrifice for the Imam have captivated my sister and myself and sent our imagination whirring with ideas and stories.

I watch the camp from afar, the fires flicker and I can hear loud and confident laughter. I have been given a mission, my first mission as a fida’i, and now all I have to do is wait. Saladin has put the Ismaili fortress under siege, and he will attack in the morning. The future of all the Ismailis that are in our castle depends on me. From my watch, I can see the fires slowly winking out as the soldiers go to sleep. The last orange glow goes out and it is time to go. But I can’t move. Fear unfurls itself in my chest spreading like fire throughout my body.

I have to move, otherwise all the Ismailis will die; Saladin won’t spare them. This is the only way! Questions swirl through my mind. What will happen if a soldier sees me? What if I get caught? What will they do to me? Fear engulfs me but my love for my Imam keeps me from turning back.

I freeze as I hear two soldiers coming up the hill for a walk.

“We’ll beat them so easily! They have no way to defend against our army. This is our first real battle. I wonder what it will be like? Maybe we will go home as heroes!”, I hear them say as they pass me.

I realize what I have to do. This is the only way to stop the attack, and not hurt anyone. I sneak down from my cave, run into the camp, around the tents and into the biggest tent of all. Here Saladin sleeps. I creep into the tent, my heart pounding, and I rest a letter beside his head which simply says:

“YOU ARE IN OUR GRIP” 

I secure the letter into the cushion. In the morning, Saladin will find the letter. He will be so scared that he will retreat.

The mission is complete.

© Simerg.com

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About the writers: Shazia’Ayn and Aliya-Nur Babul are two sisters who live in Vancouver. Shazia, the younger sibling, is 12 years and currently attends Chartwell Elementary School where she is in grade 6. Aliya-Nur is 14 years old and is a student at Sentinel Secondary School. Aliya-Nur and Shazia both love to write and have previously been published in various magazines.

One of their stories, published on this Web site, concerns the rescue of certain important books from the Alamut castle before the Mongols torched the library. The story is presented in Powerpoint format in 18 delightful and imaginative slides. Please read the story and share it with your children by clicking  the following image: 

Please click image for a slide show presentation

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1. Please do not miss Light the Candle of Wisdom in the Heart which has been simultaneously published on the same day as this reading.

2. Please click I Wish I’d Been There or visit the home page www.simerg.com for links to other published articles in this special series.

3. We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the LEAVE A REPLY box which appears at the bottom of this page, or email it to simerg@aol.com. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

3 thoughts on “A Fida’i Mission: Into Saladin’s Tent

  1. Thrilling! I enjoyed both the stories from start to finish – keep up your story telling. Parents and teachers should pass these to their children.

  2. Wow, very imaginative story-telling of Alamut and meeting with Hasan Sabah, and at that young age? Amazing work.

  3. This is delightful, imaginative, creative from 2 young people. The story reflects on non-violence even in the face of persecution….

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