House of Wisdom

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House of Wisdom

The tarik (path) of the House of Wisdom, founded by Moslem mystics at Cairo in the ninth century, had seven initiatory degrees. The original founder appears to have been Abdallah, a Persian, who, believing in the Gnostic doctrine of the aeons or sephiroths, applied the system to the successors of Mohammed, stating that Ismael was the founder of his tarik and naming one of his descendants as the seventh imam (ruler).

Abdallah established an active system of propaganda and sent missionaries far and wide. He was succeeded in his office as chief of the society by his son. After the institution had been in existence for some time it was transferred to Cairo, and assemblies were held twice a week, when all the members appeared clothed in white. They were gradually advanced through the seven degrees of the tarik over which a dia-al-doat (missionary of missionaries) presided. A later chief, Hakem-biemir-Illah, increased the degrees to nine, and in 1004 erected a stately home for the society, which he elaborately furnished with mathematical instruments.

Because the institution did not meet the approval of the authorities, it was destroyed in 1123 by the then grand vizier, but meetings continued elsewhere. The officers of the society were sheik, dai-el-keber (deputy), dai (master), refik (fellow), fedavie (agent), lassik (aspirant), and muemini (believer). The tarik taught that there had been seven holy imams, that God had sent seven lawgivers, who each had seven helpers, who in turn had 12 apostles.

(See also Assassins )