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In the year AH 469/1076 CE, a still young and recently initiated to Ismailism Ḥasan-i Ṣabbāḥ (d. AH 518/1124 CE) reportedly left the city of Rayy in Iran to embark on a journey that was to take him to the Fatimid capital, al-Qāhira.Ḥasan's experience in Egypt was one that eventually led him to change the course of Ismaili history and leave an indelible mark on medieval Islamic history as a whole. Indeed, it was upon returning to Iran from Egypt that Ḥasan took control of most of the Iranian Ismaili organization and launched a new course for an Ismaili da‘wa that –from its headquarters in the fortress of Alamūt- was to become spiritually, organisationally and politically independent from al-Qāhira.Yet, Ḥasan's seemingly formative experience while in Egypt has received little to no attention from scholarship so far.In this paper I will revisit what medieval sources reported about Ḥasan's time in Egypt, in light of my examination of previously unstudied manuscripts of Ḥasan's biography titled Sarguẕasht-i Sayyid-nā. I will then contextually analyse information provided in the accounts of Ḥasan‟s stay in Egypt against the backdrop of the political and intellectual climates that prevailed there at the time of his presence. This analysis will serve as the basis for consideration as to the motivations that might have moved Ḥasan to set up a new, independent Ismaili da‘wa in Iran. More broadly Ḥasan‟s travelogue will serve me as a catalyst to illustrate aspects of the cross-culturalism that characterised life in Fatimid Egypt at the dawn of the new da‘wa.
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