In their beliefs, they went to the extent of viewing the adherents of that sect as followers of a religion that has its own privacy and unique constitution. They are among the sects that prefer luring others in order to gain the majority and spread across the land.
Esoterics are an Ismaili sect, whose origins go back to Persian Magi, as we have tackled in previous articles.
Ismailis are one of the three major Shiite sects, along with the Imamis and the Zaidis. They endowed their imams with esoteric qualities, putting them in a rank beyond humanity. They are an ancient movement which exact date of inception is unknown, according to the researchers of the science of religions, sects and creeds. Rather, it has a general intellectual framework from which dozens of religions, sects, philosophies and traditions emerge, and are still reproducing, granting continuity to its leaders and followers. Hence, it is a religion that enables humans – as per their claim – to practice all their whims with the change of times, developing the place with its variables.
They have secret books that are circulated among their followers to root their beliefs. They have their forums in which they manage to stir up esoteric actions against Sunni and Jama’a Muslim scholars. This is in addition to their libraries which they flood with books bearing their ideology, reaching out to the West, after they incorporated whatever they selected from Christianity, in order for the West to accept their demonic works. They aimed to receive a helping and supportive hand to write against Islamic libraries and the books therein, authored by scholars keen to transmit ideas and concepts free of human impurities that deliberately offend and attempt to alienate people from a religion that was spread by the early people with great caution. They are Muslim scholars whose mission is to maintain the fundamentals and principles as transmitted by the word of Allah Almighty and the Sunnah of His Prophet (PBUH).
Implementation of their plans is carried out by secret guides who hide among people. A number of researchers have pointed out through writings that indicate the same and warn against. Some describe those people as the Mongols of religions and Tatars in their destructive advance.
Thus, Ismaili is one of the esoteric sects that claim that religion has outward and inward faces; outward face is what the general public thinks and the inward face is restricted to the elite and scholars and it is the face that is intended and required by religious beliefs and sharia rulings. As for Christianity’s impact on esotericism, Al-Nubakhti (d. 310 AH) referred in his book Shiite Sects, where he noticed Christian origins in the esoteric Ismaili faith, saying: “They claimed that Muhammad bin Ismail is the last prophet”. In this article, we will discuss Salah ad-Din’s reaction to the esoteric movement, which heads were represented by the Ismaili movement and the consequences to establishing the Fatimid state in North Africa and Egypt (297 AH), yielding in the ideas of “emergence and incarnation”. We find the impacts and effects of that invasion in the letters of Ikhwan al-Safa, which form the ideas of a certain Ismaili esoteric sect that presented Neo-Platonism with expressions. But how did Salah ad-Din react to their appearance and increase during the era of his state?
The Ismaili Shia sect (the Assassins) resented Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi because he overthrew their Ubaidi Fatimid caliphate and advanced to the Levant to annex it to Egypt, which constituted a threat to them. Hence, they cooperated with both the Crusaders and the Zengids to eliminate him.
In the year 570 AH / 1174 AD, the righteous King Ismail went to the Ismaili leader Rashid al-Din, asking for his help in consideration for a lot of money and a number of villages, as a price for killing Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi. Obviously, a common interest brought both parties together, which is hostility towards Salah ad-Din, upon which the Ismaili leader sent a group of his follower fedayeen Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi’s camp to assassinate him. However, the latter’s guards discovered their plot, engaged with them in front of his tent and killed them all. That was the first attempt to assassinate Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi.
The leader of the Ismaili sect did not stop attempting to assassinate Salah ad-Din despite the failure of his first attempt, so, in Dhu al-Qi`dah in 571 AH, corresponding to May 1176 AD, he sent a group of his followers disguised as Muslim soldiers. They entered the Ayyubid camp during the siege of Azaz Castle and started a war with the soldiers of Salah ad-Din and mingled with them, waiting for an opportunity to kill him while the soldiers were busy besieging the castle.
When Salah ad-Din was passing by his soldiers to encourage them to continue fighting, one of the Ismailis attacked him and struck him with a knife on his head severely. However, Allah saved him and the iron helmet he was wearing repelled it. Thus, Muslim soldiers were alerted to the presence of infiltrators among their ranks, so they rushed to their leader and gathered around him. That attempt to murder Salah ad-Din was also a failure, where four Ismaili sect followers were killed after their conspiracy was exposed.
That was the second attempt to murder Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi.
Al-Ayyubi succeeded in storming the Azaz Castle, as part of his plan to establish an Islamic unity. The Castle fell after a siege that lasted thirty-eight days. Upon surrender, Salah ad-Din ascended to the Castle, which importance lies in its being a base for gathering all allied armies of Aleppo soldiers, the Crusaders of Antioch and Ismaili remnant soldiers.
Attempts are repeated at different times to remove any person who tries to bring them back to the right path.