Legends of the Assassins: The Old Man of the Mountain

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12560

You've heard of the Man in the Moon, but who was The Old Man of the Mountain? Can we always lump all members of a group together, in good times or bad? What happens when even religious sects collide?


World, World Religions

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Imagine you are living many centuries ago and this is your home. Outside, there is a war going on, one that will decide the fate of your people! You are summoned by your mysterious leader, the Old Man of the Mountain, and he wants to send you on a dangerous mission that could save everyone. Are you ready?

If you switch on a cable news channel right now and watch for even a half hour, you will likely hear the words, “Islam” or “Muslim.”

Some people speak about Muslims as if they are just one giant group of people who all believe the same thing and who work together towards the same goals. With over one billion Muslims in the world today, however, there are bound to be different groups, beliefs, ideas, and behaviors.

You may have heard of the two major groups of Muslims in the world today: Sunnis and Shi’ahs. These two groups, while representing the vast majority of Muslims today, don’t show the diverse beliefs and practices within the Islamic religion. Learn more about the different kinds of Muslims!

Using the chart linked below, find the answers to these questions:

  • About how many different Islamic groups can you count?
  • Which of the two major sides — Sunni or Shi’ah — seems to have more sub-types under it?
  • How many groups do you find under Isma’ilism?

Now, use the graphic, Islam: Branches and Schools, courtesy of Wikimedia, to locate the answers to the questions. Then, reflect on the following questions and write your responses in your notebook or journal:

  • What are some of the reasons religions might break into different groups?
  • How many different types of Christianity, Hinduism, and other groups do you think there are? Which do you know about?
  • Why is it useful or important to understand the diversity within a group of people?

The branches of Islam you found on the chart in this section are mostly those that still exist today. In history, there were even more! The events that shaped these different groups have a real impact on our modern world. The more you know about that history, the more the events of today make sense.

In the Got It? section, learn more about one of the branches you might have noticed in the chart: the Nizaris, also known as … the Assassins!

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