Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


(əsăs`ĭn), European name for the member of a secret order of the Ismaili sect of IslamIslam
, [Arab.,=submission to God], world religion founded by the Prophet Muhammad. Founded in the 7th cent., Islam is the youngest of the three monotheistic world religions (with Judaism and Christianity). An adherent to Islam is a Muslim [Arab.,=one who submits].
..... Click the link for more information.
. They are known as Nizaris after Nizar ibn al-Mustansir, whom they supported as caliph; the European term Assassin is derived from the Arabic for "users of hashish." The members of the order were distinguished by their blind obedience to their spiritual leader (known in the West as the Old Man of the Mountain) and by their use of murder to eliminate foes.

The order was founded by Hasan ibn al-Sabbah when he gained control (c.1090) of the mountain fortress of Alamut, located S of the Caspian Sea. The order spread over Persia and Syria, gaining control of many strongholds, and it soon inspired terror throughout the Muslim world. Members were organized into strict classes, according to degree of initiation into the secrets of the order. The most important of the classes were the devotees, who sought martyrdom and were the instruments of assassination.

Hasan and the grand masters who ruled the order after him wielded great political power until the coming of the Mongols. Hulagu Khan attacked and destroyed (1256) their fortresses and massacred most of the Persian branch of the sect. The Syrian branch, with which the Crusaders came in contact, suffered a similar fate at the hands of Baybars, the Mamluk sultan of Egypt. Only scattered groups of the order survived; they are said to persist today, particularly in N Syria. Tales of the Crusaders and the writings of Marco Polo brought the Assassins and the Old Man of the Mountain into European folklore. The term assassin came into English and is used today to mean murderer, particularly one who kills for political motives.


See B. Lewis, The Assassins (1967); E. Franzius, History of the Order of Assassins (1969).

References in periodicals archive ?
Assassin HTPC has always pushed the envelope with streamlining new technological advances and making them work for the general population, and the release of these 2 new media extenders is no exception.
Busch truly believes his ex-girlfriend is a trained assassin and being such had made her travel for missions across Central America, South America, and Africa.
Arno's quest leads him to an alliance with the Assassins, which causes some headaches since Arno's love interest, Elise, is a Templar through and through.
Fool's Assassin is a slow burn of a book, building to a cliffhanger that will clearly lead us into a more action-packed series.
She is currently the only female IRA assassin in the prison system.
The Mongols were familiar with the Assassins and their deeds, and the reduction of Alamut (and other Assassin fortresses that had sprung up in the area) was on Hulagu's bucket list.
Eventually, the action shifts to Haytham's son, Connor, the iconic half-English, half-Mohawk Assassin you see on the cover of the game.
It would take one hell of a good eye to spot the killer, but the assassin didn't think anyone would be looking this far away.
the footsteps of the assassin Altair on a journey of revelation.
But Bin Laden's death could not have been more topical in terms of this remake of a 1963 film about a team of assassins joining an 1840s' suicide mission to kill the sadistic Lord Naritusugu - and people putting their theory training into lethal practice.
A young carefree Italian who ends up getting caught up in a deep plot where he gradually learning the ways of the assassins.
Ninja Assassin Cast: Rain, Naomi Harris, Ben Miles, Rick Yune, Sung Kang Direction: James McTeigue