SARGOḎAŠTE-E SAYYEDNĀ (The life-story of our master), title of an anonymous Persian work containing the biography of Ḥasan-e Ṣabbāḥ (d. 518/1124), the founder of the Nezāri Ismaʿili state of Persia (see ISMAʿILISM iii. ISMAʿILI HISTORY) centered at the mountain fortress of Alamut.  This biography (sargoḏašt), the first part of which might have been autobiographical, has not survived, but it was seen and paraphrased extensively by three Persian historians of the Il-khanid period, notably ʿAṭā-Malek Jovayni (d. 681/1283; see JOVAYNI FAMILY), Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh (d. 718/1318; see JĀMEʿ AL-TAWĀRIḴ), and Abu’l-Qāsem Kāšāni (d. ca. 738/1337), who had access to the Sargoḏašt and other Nezāri sources of the Alamut period, which are no longer extant.  These historians produced accounts of the Ismaʿilis, and all three authorities name the Sargoḏašt as their main source for the life and career of Ḥasan-e Ṣabbāḥ, referred to as Sayyednā (our master) by the contemporary Nezāris (Jovayni, III, pp. 186-87; tr., II, p. 666; Rašid-al-Din, ed. Dānešpažuh and Modarresi, pp. 97, 134; ed. Rowšan, pp. 98, 131; Kāšāni, pp. 133, 168). 

There are two short manuscripts (Pers. 162, and 177), each entitled Sargoḏašt-e Sayyednā, among the uncataloged Persian Ismaʿili manuscripts of The Institute of Ismaili Studies in London.  These manuscripts, transcribed in India during the early years of the twentieth century, are late compilations based on unknown sources.  They contain an admixture of highly anachronistic details, such as Ḥasan-e Ṣabbāḥ’s meeting with the poet Nāṣer-e Ḵosrow (d. some time between 465-71/1072-78; see ISMAʿILISM xiii. ISMAʿILI LITERATURE IN PERSIAN AND ARABIC) in Cairo, as well as some of the events narrated by Jovayni and Rašid-al-Din in their fragmentary quotations from the original Sargoḏašt-e Sayyednā (see Ivanow, p. 157).

The Sargoḏašt-e Sayyednā marked the initiation of a Nezāri Ismaʿili historiographical tradition covering the career of Ḥasan-e Ṣabbāḥ and the reigns of his seven successors as the lords of Alamut (Daftary, 1992, pp. 91-97).  However, the Sargoḏašt and all other Persian Nezāri chronicles compiled subsequently, and kept at the famous library of Alamut and other fortresses, perished in the course of the Mongol destruction of the Persian Nezāri fortresses in 654/1256 or soon afterwards during the Il-khanid period. Thus, the accounts of Jovayni, Rašid-al-Din, and Kāšāni, though hostile towards the Ismaʿilis to various degrees, represent our chief primary sources on Ḥasan-e Ṣabbāḥ and the history of the Nezāri Ismaʿili state, community, and daʿwa (see DAʿI) in Persia during the Alamut period (483-654/1090-1256). 

ʿAṭā-Malek Jovayni was the earliest of three Persian historians who had direct access to the Sargoḏašt and other Nezāri chronicles kept at Alamut.  Jovayni, who was in the service of the Mongols when they converged on Alamut, relates how, with Hülegü’s permission, he examined the library at Alamut and selected rare and precious books (maṣāḥef wa nafāyes-e kotob) from its collections of manuscripts, including the Sargoḏašt-e sayyednā, before the library was consigned to the flames (Jovayni, III, pp. 186-87, tr. Boyle, II, p. 666).  Jovayni composed his account of the Ismaʿilis soon after the fall of Alamut in 654/1256, adding it to the end of his Tāriḵ-e jahāngošā.  Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh was the second Persian historian who had independent access to the Sargoḏašt and other Nezāri chronicles as well as to Jovayni’s work.  Rašid-al-Din quotes more extensively than Jovayni from the Sargoḏašt and is also less hostile towards the Ismaʿilis than his predecessor.  Kāšāni, who was associated with the compilation of Rašid-al-Din’s Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ, included a section on the Ismaʿilis in his own general history, Zobdat al-tawāriḵ.  Kāšāni’s history of Ḥasan-e Ṣabbāḥ and the Persian Nezāris is very similar to Rašid-al-Din’s account and is closely related to it.  Kāšāni, however, mentions details from the Sargoḏašt and other Nezāri sources, which are missing in both Rašid-al-Din and Jovayni (Daftary, 2007, pp. 303-7). 

The fragmentary evidence extracted by our three Persian historians from the Sargoḏašt, indeed, constitutes our main source of information on Ḥasan-e Ṣabbāḥ, the revolutionary-preacher who founded an Ismaʿili Shiʿite state within the Sunni Saljuq empire, as well as the independent Nezāri branch of the Ismaʿili daʿwa (see Jovayni, III, pp. 186-216; tr. Boyle, II, pp. 666-83; Rašid-al-Din, ed. Dānešpažuh and Modarresi, pp. 97-134; ed. Rowšan, pp. 98-131; Kāšāni, pp. 133-68).  Later Persian historians, such as Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru (d. 833/1430), based their account of Ḥasan-e Ṣabbāḥ and his successors at Alamut mainly on Jovayni and Rašid-al-Din. 


Farhad Daftary, “Persian Historiography of the Early Nizārī Ismāʿīlīs,” Iran 30, 1992, pp. 91-97.  Idem, The Ismāʿīlīs: Their History and Doctrines, 2nd ed., Cambridge, 2007, pp. 311-12; tr. F. Badraʾi, as Tārik wa sonnathā-ye Esmāʿiliya, Tehran, 2014.  

Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, Majmaʿ al-tawāriḵ al-solṭāniya: qesmat-e ḵolafā-ye ʿAlawiya-ye Maḡreb wa Meṣr wa Nezāriān wa rafiqān, ed. Moḥammad Modarresi Zanjāni, Tehran, 1985.  

Wladimir Ivanow, Ismaili Literature: A Bibliographical Survey, Tehran, 1963.  

ʿAṭā-Malek Jovayni, Tāriḵ-e jahāngošā, ed. Moḥammad Qazvini, Leiden and London, 3 vols., 1912-37; tr. John A. Boyle, as The History of the World-Conqueror, 2 vols., Manchester, 1958.  

Jamāl-al-Din Abu’l-Qāsem ʿAbd-Allāh Kāšāni, Zobdat al-tawāriḵ: bakš-e Fāṭemiān wa Nezāriān, ed. Moḥammad-Taqi Dānešpažuh, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1987.  

Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ: qesmat-e Esmāʿiliān, ed. Moḥammad-Taqi Dānešpažuh and Moḥammad Modarresi Zanjāni, Tehran, 1959; ed. Moḥammad Rowšan, Tehran, 2008.

(Farhad Daftary)

Originally Published: November 26, 2014

Last Updated: November 26, 2014

Cite this entry:

Farhad Daftary,"SARGOḎAŠTE-E SAYYEDNĀ," Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2014, available at (accessed on 26 November 2014).