Paradise of the Assassins
Paradise of the Assassins

Paradise of the Assassins

Theatre Accord in association with Tara Arts

Thurs 15 September – Sat 8 October

Abdul Halim Sharar Author of the novel 'Paradise of the Assassins'

 Abdul Halim Sharar was a progressive writer in Urdu in late 19th century India. Born in Lucknow just after the 1857 Mutiny against the British, he developed his writing career by serving as a correspondent for the Oudh Akhbar- an immensely popular Urdu weekly. It was here that he employed the format of a serialised novel as a literary vehicle. His view of the novel as a means of exploring a larger historical sense of mission remains a characterised feature of the Urdu novel down to the modern era.

Sharar completed this novel, his best known in 1899. The novel draws for its subject matter on the medieval cult of the Assassins. This was sect of Shia Muslims led by the enigmatic Hassan -i-Sabah, popularly known as the Old Man of the Mountain- reference to his fortress in Alamut in northern Iran, near the Caspian Sea.

In the novel Sharar provides not only a historical precedence, but also a perspective on terror as a political phenomenon. He writes of terror from the perspective of the perpetrator who turns out to be no less a victim. Sharar exposes the Paradise of the Assassins as a dystopia, a murderous illusion inspiring its fanatical believers. Addul Halim Shar died in 1926, having completed a 3 volume history of Islam on commission from Nizam of Hyderabad.

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