Wikijunior:Stories/Three School Friends

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Wikijunior Stories
Three School Friends
Omar, Nizam, and Hassan in the meykhaneh

Back in the eleventh century, in an Eastern night, when the faint glow of the sky was casting light over the meykhaneh (a tavern) of the Shadiyakh district of the city of Nishapur, Saqi, the wine-bearer, was going to see her lover, Omar, for the last time. Omar and his two close friends, Nizam and Hassan, were going to be graduated from the School of Nishapur the next morning.

Imam Muwaffaq often enjoyed discussing with his clever pupils, Omar and Hassan

Nizam was born in Tus. He was son of a financial officer of Sultan Massoud. Since he began his study in the School of Nishapur as a kid, he soon befriended with Omar and Hassan, who were the most clever pupils of Imam Muwaffaq, the most notable teacher of the School. "Whenever I was not attending a lecture, I discussed the lessons with them", Nizam has written in his memoirs.

Hassan was born in Rayy. His parents secretly belonged to the persecuted Ismaili sect.

In that night, in their last gathering in that tavern, Hassan told Nizam and Omar a well-known fact about Imam Muwaffaq: many of Imam Muwaffaq pupils had become very successful men, many of whom reached high positions in the Persian court. Hassan pointed out that it is probable that at least one of them reach a very high status. "Let us make a vow, that to whomsoever this fortune falls, he shall share it equally with the rest, and reserve no pre-eminence for himself". The other two agreed. After making this covenant that night, they drank and rejoiced much, knowing that they all will be eventually become great men!

The morning arrived, and each pupil started to make his decision about what to do with his life.

Omar marries Saqi, and later becomes a famous scholar and poet

Omar made the decision to stay in Nishapur and stay with his beloved Saqi. He eventually became a great scholar. In mathematics, he surpassed all the mathematicians of the region. He soon aquired skill in astronomy and all other fields of his time. His love poems, the Rubaiyat, became very famous.

Hassan leaving Nishapur through its western gate

Hassan left Nishapur for his home town Rayy. There, he became even more successful than his father, gathering many friends and allies among key figures across the region who were secretly Ismailis. He also traveled to Egypt, meeting leaders of the Ismaili sect.

Nizam worked with his father for Sultan Massoud. He replaced his father after his death, and soon proves his superior merit. As Sultan Massoud dies, rebellions occur. Nizam assists a friend, Alp Arslan, a skilled military leader, to defeat other princes and become the king. Alp Arslan eventually appoint Nizam as the vizier, the highest rank of the empire.

After becoming a vizier, Nizam quickly recalls his covenant when he was young. He then offers both Omar and Hassan high positions in the court. Omar, who had become a successful scholar, was already lacking ambitions for a high position. Instead, he asked Nizam to give him the means to continue his studies indefinitely. Nizam builds an observatory for Omar, and send ten thousands gold coins for Omar.

Hassan, unlike Omar, decided to accept the appointment offered to him. However, he was forced to flee after plotting to dispose Nizam as vizier.

Nizam gave orders for Hassan's arrest. Hassan headed north of Persia, hiding in a village whose most people where secretly Ismailis. There he allied with local people. Near the village was a legendary castle called Alamut, which was never taken by military means. Many of the people of the village, including Hassan, slowly made their way into the castle as guards and workers. There Hassan earned the trust and friendship of many of its soldiers. Hassan finally revealed his true identity to the lord of Alamut castle, claiming that the castle now belonged to him. The lord ordered the guards to arrest Hassan, only to find them to be secretly supporters of Hassan. Hassn then turned the castle into the center of his new Ismaili order. Lacking an army, Hassan and his followers used assassination as a means to eliminate enemy leaders. When about to go on an assassinating mission, they were using cannabis, a drug which would make them overconfident.

Ismaili followers of Hassan fatally stab Nizam

Source[edit | edit source]

  • Recounted by Jorge Luis Borges

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