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The Assassins, a medieval Persian sect of esoteric terrorists, founded in 1090 AD by Hasan-i Sabbah "The Old Man of the Mountain" at the Rock of Alamut. Anyone who opposed their secret freethinking propaganda might be rubbed out by a fanatical hit-man. Hasan-i Sabbah built an exquisite garden at Alamut as a lure and reward for his secret agents -- according to legend he gave them hashish before showing them the garden, and told them it was Paradise. (The word "assassin" may come from hashisheen "user of grass.") The Resurrection was declared at Alamut, and the chains of the law were broken. "Nothing is true -- everything is permitted." From a network of mountain castles in Iran and Syria they opposed both Islam and the crusaders of the Christians, scandalizing the world with their lawless heresy, till they (and the garden of Alamut) were destroyed around 1257 by the Mongol hordes. Their religion still survives today.

-- Peter Lamborn Wilson


"Tale of the Caliph Harem"

"Brother," said Yousouf, "you seem weary: doubtless you have come a long way. Will you take some refreshment?"

"Indeed, my way has been long," replied the stranger. "I came into this okel to rest: but what can I drink here, where only forbidden drinks are served?"

"You Mussulmans, you dare not moisten your mouths with anything but pure water, but we, who are of the sect of the Sabeans, we can without offending our law, refresh ourselves with the generous blood of the grape, or the fair juice of the barley."

"But I do not see any fermented drink in front of you."

"Oh, I have long disdained their vulgar drunkenness," said Yousouf, making a sign to a negro, who set upon the table two small glass cups surrounded by silver filigree, and a box filled with a greenish paste in which was placed an ivory spatula. "This box contains the paradise your prophet promised to his believers, and, if you were not scrupulous, in one hour I would put you in the arms of the houris without making you pass across the bridge of Alsirat," he said laughing.

"But this paste is hashish, if I am not mistaken," said the stranger, pushing aside the cup in which Yousouf had put a part of the fantastic mixture, "and hashish is forbidden."

"Everything pleasant is forbidden," said Yousouf, swallowing his first spoonful.

The stranger looked at him with dark blue eyes, and his forehead contracted in folds so violent that his hair moved with the movement of the skin. For a moment one would have thought that he would spring upon the careless young man and tear him to pieces: but he contained himself, and suddenly changing his mind, stretched out his hand, took the cup, and slowly began to sample the green paste.

After a few minutes, the effects of the hashish began to make themselves felt upon the young man and the stranger: a gentle languor spread over all their limbs, a vague smile hovered over their lips. Although they had hardly spent half an hour in each other’s company, they felt as thought they had known one another for a thousand years. When the effect of the drug upon them grew stronger, they began to laugh, to move about, and speak with extreme volubility, especially the stranger, who, a strict observer of all the prohibitions, had never before tasted this preparation and felt its effects strongly. He seemed a prey to extraordinary exaltation, hosts of new thoughts, unheard-of and inconceivable, traversed his soul like whirlwinds of fires. His eyes sparkled as though they were lighted from within by the reflection of some unknown world, his demeanour took on a superhuman dignity. Then the vision faded, and he collapsed limply upon the cushion.

-- from the liner notes of Bill Laswell’s CD Hashisheen: The End of Law

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Have you been playing a certain little game on a modern gaming console Sina?

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