The main body of Hasan’s overt teachings were derived from the Nizari splinter of the Ismaili branch of the Shiite split of Islam. Cells of Assassins form Halka (circles) or lodges, requiring a minimum of nine initiates. Initiates were taught not only physical disciplines and killing, but mental disciplines designed to focus the mind, similar to yoga and meditation.
The Ismaili cult consisted of a small, specially trained and trusted inner circle, insulated from and supplied by a large, outer circle of general members. Hasan’s cult offered nine levels or degrees of knowledge, starting with the overt and moving toward knowledge of only the word of the grand master himself. Hasan himself became known as the Old Man of the Mountain.
1 Salik (Seeker)
2 Arif (Enlightened)
3 Laziks (Uninitiated, first level of ops sections)
4 Rafig ("Friends", second level of ops sections)
5 Fidais (devoted ones, third level of ops sections) - By the fifth degree, worshipers had rejected any literal interpretation of the Koran and relied only on the Grand Master’s interpretations.
6 Dais (missionaries, highest level of 4 major ops sections) - Level six initiates abandon all overt forms of Muslim observance (prayer, fasting, etc) and enter the rankings of dai.
7 Emir (Commander), Murid (Disciple) and Khwaja (Master)
8 Imam (Lodge Master)
9 Malik (Chief of Chiefs) - Ninth degree initiates were inducted into the inner circle, known as the Red Circle or the Red Mosque.