The Hashshashin (Arabic: حشّاشين Ḥashāshīn, also Hashishin, Hashashiyyin, or Assassins) was a pejorative name given to the Nizari Ismailis, particularly those of Syria and Persia, by their adversaries during the Middle Ages. Preserved within European sources, such as the writings of Marco Polo, the term was used in a deprecatory manner to describe the Nizaris as trained killers, responsible for the systematic elimination of opposing figures. Posing a strong military threat to Sunni Saljuq authority within the Persian territories, the Nizari Ismailis captured and inhabited many mountain fortresses under the leadership of the Persian Hassan-i Sabbah. Used figuratively, the term hashish connoted meanings such as "outcast" or "rabble".[Daftary 1] Taken literally, however, various orientalist scholars came to view the Nizaris as having consumed hashish before carrying out political killings.
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