The period following the fall of Rome to the barbarian hordes of Europe, is referred to as the Dark Ages. The term was contrived to account for the supposed break between classical Greece and Rome, and the emergence of European culture during the Renaissance. However, Europeans had always been mired in barbarism, known to the Greeks as Scythians or Celts.
Rather, the Dark Ages were dominated by a brilliant Muslim civilization which, after resuscitating the study of classical science, was responsible for its introduction to the West. The Muslim city of Baghdad in the ninth and tenth centuries became the intellectual center of the world, the environment that produced the Arabian Nights, through which the splendors of the court of Harun al-Rashid became legendary in the West.
In Ancestor of the West , Jean Bottero observes that:
For if we discuss our civilization not as partisans but as anthropologists, and especially as historians, we see it gather and encompass not only the Greco-Latins, the heirs of Christianity, but also the Muslim world; in other words, almost the entire Arab world. A multitude of peoples, here and there, share too many concepts, values, principles, rational and emotional reactions, too may identical parameters, for us not to group them all, beyond their otherwise secondary divergences, under the heading of a single and same civilization, that is, our own: their as well as ours!
Many of the arts and techniques of handicraft of China, India, Iran, and the East Roman Empire, and those of the early civilizations of Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia were studied. The main works of Aristotle, Plato, Euclid, Ptolemy, Hippocrates, and Galen were translated into Arabic. From the Greek philosophers, the Muslim scholars, the most famous of which were Avicenna and Averroes, created works that, when studied in the West, contributed to the emergence of the Age of Scholasticism, marking Europe's emergence from the Dark Ages.
However, with the study of Greek philosophy, the influence of the occult sciences of alchemy and astrology infiltrated Arab science. Much of the occult influence that penetrated into the Muslim world emanated from a Gnostic community living in Harran, north of Baghdad, known as the Sabians. They managed to acquire protected status within the Muslim Empire by equating themselves with the "People of the Book", mentioned in the Qur'an as Sabians.
The Sabians are identified with community of Mandeans who continue to exist to this day in Iraq, and who repudiated Jesus as a false prophet, in favor of John the Baptist. Therefore, they are commonly known in occult circles as Johannite Christians, and to have preserved the Babptismal rites of the Essenes.
As explained by Muslim historian of the eleventh century, Al Biruni, the Sabians were believed to have been remnants of the Jewish captivity who chose to remain behind in Babylon and practiced a combined religion of Judaism and Zoroastrianism, and claimed descent from Enoch. In their Hermetic literature, Enoch was equated with Hermes, and from their community, and the most famous of the treatise attributed to them, that was to become notorious in the West was the Picatrix.
As a consequence of the spread of occult influences stemming from Harran, various sects emerged that forever ended the original unity of the Muslim world, dividing it between Sunni and Shiah, and contributing to a mystical branch of Islam known as Sufism. It is also considered that a set of Sufi treatises, known as the Epistles of the Ikhawan al Saffa wa Khullan al Wafa, or of The Brethren of Purity and Loyal Friends, a philosophical and religious encyclopedia, which scholars regard as reflecting elements of Pythagorean, Neoplatonic, and the traditions of the Magi, were drawn up in the ninth century AD, under Sabian influence. It is generally agreed that the Epistles of the Ikhwan as Saffa were composed by leading proponents of the Ismaili sect of the Shiah.
The Ismailis succeeded in establishing the Fatimid dynasty, in 973, with their capital at Cairo . The founder of the dynasty was Ubeidullah, known as the Mahdi, who claimed descent through a line of "hidden imams", from Muhammad, son of Ismail, and through him, to Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet. He was accused of Jewish ancestry by his adversaries the Abbasids, the Sunni rulers of Baghad, who declared him the son or grandson of Ahmed, son of Abdullah ibn Maymun, an original member of the Brethren of Sincerity, by a Jewess.
The Fatimids operated from the Dar ul Hikmat, or the "House of Wisdom", a wing of Al Azhar, the oldest university in the world, and the most prestigious educational institution in Islam, though now under the orthodox Sunnis., which they established in 988. The process of Ismaili indoctrination offered by the Fatimids involved through nine progression through nine degree, culminating in a denial of Islam and the acceptance of the Gnostic Sabian doctrine. At first, the initiate was persuaded that all his former teachers were wrong, and that he must place his confidence solely in the Imams of the Ismailis, as opposed to the twelve Imams of the Shiah. Eventually, he was taught to disregard the prescriptions set out by the Prophet Mohammed, and taught the doctrines of dualism. Finally, in the ninth degree, the adept was shown that all religious teaching was allegorical, and that religious laws need be observed only to maintain order, while he who understands the truth may disregard all such constraints.
A fatal schism split the Ismailis in 1094, resulting in two branches of Fatimids, one of which was the Nizaris, led by Hasan Sabbah. After enlisting recruits in a number of cities, Hassan Sabbah succeeded in obtaining the fortress of Alamut in Persia, on the Caspian Sea. There he completed the plans for his great society, the infamous Assassins, deriving their name from the Arabic hashishim, or "eaters of hashish," referring to the marijuana they consumed for ritual purposes.
The Assassins waged an international war of terrorism against anyone that opposed them, but eventually turned on each other. The Old Man of the Mountain was murdered by his brother-in-law and his son Mohammed. Mohammed, in his turn, while aiming to take the life of his son Jalal ud-Din, was instead anticipated by him with poison, though his son was again avenged by poison, so that from Hassan the Illuminator, down to the last of his line of Grand Masters, all fell by the hands of their next-of-kin.
Finally in 1250 AD, the conquering Mongols, lead by Mangu Khan, swept over Alamut an annihilated the Assassins. Nevertheless, Nizaris survived, though in two rival lines. The minor line died out by the eighteenth century, while the major line, led by an imam called Aga Khan, moved from Iran to India in 1840. His followers, who are estimated to number in the millions, are still found in Syria, Iran, and Central and South Asia, the largest group being in India and Pakistan, where they are known as Khojas.
Aga Khan II, came to be one of the founders of the Muslim League, which was sponsored by the British in 1858. The 48th Imam, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan III, was very close to the British royal family during his 72-year reign, and held the post of chairman of the League of Nation's General Assembly for a year. The 49th Imam, Prince Karim Agha Khan IV, was given the British title "His Highness" by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957, and continues to this day to be closely allied to the Illuminati.
It was during the crusades of the twelfth century that the doctrines of the Arab interest in Greek philosophy, and the doctrines of the Sabians, were transferred to the West. Another point of contact, however, between the Arabs and Europeans , was the Moorish civilization flourishing in Spain. Black North African Muslims, known as the Moors, conquered most of Spain in the eighth century, where they would remain for a period of nearly 800 years. Under their patronage, many distinguished scholars, scientists, and intellectuals of the Muslim world flourished. At its zenith in the tenth century, Cordoba had 500,000 inhabitants, 700 mosques, one of which, as well as 300 public baths, and a royal palace comprising 400 rooms which ranked second only in size and splendor to those at Baghdad and Constantinople.
The Al Hambra, a mosque built by the Moors between 1248 and 1354, is regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The inherent tolerance of Islam contributed to the flowering of Jewish culture, which is know as the Golden Age of Judaism, exemplified in the great Jewish philosopher, Maimonides. Finally, it was largely through contact with this civilization that Europe of the Middle Ages was introduced to the esoteric traditions of antiquity.