Shi'ites and Assassins – Lecture

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The next lecture of our series entitled Orientalists in NSZL will start at 5 p.m. on Wednesday October 11, 2017. Our guest Dr. István Hajnal, associate professor emeritus with habilitation will deliver a lecture entitled Shi'ites and Assassins.

Synopsis of the lecture: Nizari Ismailis represent a significant Muslim community who had become known as Assassins in medieval Europe. The Crusaders and their chroniclers, who got into contact with them in Levante in the 12th century, traded on posterity many stories about the dealings of the Assassins and their leader, the Old Man of the Mountain.

The history of the Ismailis as the most significant Shiite opposition movement goes back to the Middle Ages, to the second half of the 8th century. So they have more than 12 centuries of history, rich in events, in the course of which they have been split into several trends.

In the Middle Ages, they established a state of their own twice: the Fatimid caliphate (909–1171) and the Nizari state (1091–1256). Consequently, they played an important role in the religious, political and cultural life of the Muslim world. Their history and doctrines had been surrounded by shadows and mysteries for centuries, and the majority of Muslims attested general hostility towards them.

Despite all the persecution and historical trials, Ismailis survived and nowadays they live scattered across various regions of the world, yet strongly clinging to their identity and traditions. They live as a successful and prosperous community in 25 countries worldwide, which reflects their coherence, flexibility and adaptability.

In this respect, changes that have taken place in their communities under the leadership of Karim Aga Khan, their current religious and political leader and 49th imam, are particularly noteworthy. He responded to the challenges of a rapidly changing world as a prominent Muslim statesman and reformer, and he has strengthened and renewed the Nizari community weakened over the centuries.

And this process continues to this day.


The event is free.

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Orientalists in NSZL

Edited by László Tüske, Director-General of NSZL, Arabist, professor of Pázmány Péter Catholic University, the lecture series presenting various fields and results of Hungarian research into the East was launched last year. Main aim of the lectures, discussions and book presentations, to be held once in a month and starting at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, is to provide the general public with state-of-the-art knowledge on issues covering various fields and periods, and on the latest research results by lectures delivered by internationally renowned Hungarian researchers.

Further lectures of the autumn season

  • BALÁZS MAJOR: In the footsteps of the crusaders
    Wednesday November 8, 2017, 5 p.m.
  • TAMÁS IVÁNYI: Mystical Explanations of the Koran
    Wednesday December 13, 2017, 5 p.m.

Poster of the event series

Further information: