Evolution of the Fatimid state
|Religion||Islam (Isma'ili Shia)|
• 909–934 (first)
|Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah|
• 1160–1171 (last)
|Historical era||Early Middle Ages|
• Overthrow of the Aghlabids
|5 January 909|
• Fatimid conquest of Egypt and foundation of Cairo
|17 September 1171|
|969||4,100,000 km2 (1,600,000 sq mi)|
| Caliphate |
|Historical Arab states and dynasties|
Part of a series on the
|History of Egypt|
The Fatimid Caliphate, an Ismaili Shia caliphate of the 10th to the 12th centuries AD, spanned a large area of North Africa, from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The Fatimid dynasty, of Arab origin,ruled territories across the Mediterranean coast of Africa and ultimately made Egypt the center of the caliphate. At its height the caliphate included - in addition to Egypt - varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and the Hijaz.
The Fatimid caliphate represented the peak of Ismaili political success. Ismailis had faithful supporters in the lands governed by the Fatimids' rivals, and areas with a significant Ismaili population and presences were able to set up their own independently-administered polities, which were loyal to the Imam in Egypt.
The Fatimids (Arabic : الفاطميون, romanized: al-Fāṭimīyūn) claimed descent from Fatimah, the daughter of the prophet Muhammad. The Fatimid state took shape among the Kutama, Berbers living in the west of the North African littoral (in Kabylie in present-day Algeria). In 909, using the military resources of the Kutama, the Fatimids occupied Raqqada, the Aghlabid capital. In 921 the Fatimids established the Tunisian city of Mahdia as their new capital. In 948 they shifted their capital to al-Mansuriyya, near Kairouan in Tunisia. In 969 they conquered Egypt, and in 973 they established Cairo as the capital of their caliphate. Egypt became the political, cultural, and religious centre of their empire, which developed a new and "indigenous Arabic" culture.
The ruling class belonged to the Ismai'li branch of Shi'a Islam, as did the leaders of the dynasty. The existence of the caliphate marked the only time the descendants of Ali and Fatimah were united to any degree (except for the final period of the Rashidun Caliphate under Ali himself from 656 to 661) and the name "Fatimid" refers to Fatimah. Orientalist authors sometimes use the separate term Fatimi (or "Fatimite") to refer to the caliphate's subjects.
After its initial conquests, the caliphate often allowed a degree of religious tolerance towards non-Shia sects of Islam, as well as to Jews, Maltese Christians, and Copts. [ need quotation to verify ]However, its leaders made little headway in persuading the Egyptian population to adopt its religious beliefs.
During the late eleventh and twelfth centuries the Fatimid caliphate declined rapidly, and in 1171 Saladin invaded its territory. He founded the Ayyubid dynasty and incorporated the Fatimid state into the Abbasid Caliphate .
|Part of a series on Shīa Islam |
The Fatimid dynasty came to power as the leaders of Isma'ilism, a revolutionary Shi'a movement "which was at the same time political and religious, philosophical and social", and which originally proclaimed nothing less than the arrival of an Islamic messiah.The origins of that movement, and of the dynasty itself, are obscure prior to the late 9th century.
The Shi'a opposed the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, whom they considered usurpers. Instead, they believed in the exclusive right of the descendants of Ali through Muhammad's daughter, Fatima, to lead the Muslim community. This manifested itself in a line of imams, descendants of Ali via al-Husayn, whom their followers considered as the true representatives of God on earth.At the same time, there was a widespread messianic tradition in Islam concerning the appearance of a mahdī ("the Rightly Guided One") or qāʾīm ("He Who Arises"), who would restore true Islamic government and justice and usher in the end times. This figure was widely expected—not just among the Shi'a—to be a descendant of Ali. Among Shi'a, however, this belief became a core tenet of their faith, and was applied to several Shi'a leaders who were killed or died; their followers believed that they had gone into "occultation" (ghayba) and would return (or be resurrected) at the appointed time.
These traditions manifested themselves in the succession of the sixth imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq. Al-Sadiq had appointed his son Isma'il ibn Ja'far as his successor, but Isma'il died before his father, and when al-Sadiq himself died in 765, the succession was left open. Most of his followers followed al-Sadiq's son Musa al-Kazim down to a twelfth and final imam who supposedly went into occultation in 874 and would one day return as the mahdī. This branch is hence known as the "Twelvers". r. 786–809), the history of the early Isma'ili movement becomes obscure.Others followed other sons, or even refused to believe that al-Sadiq had died, and expected his return as the mahdī. Another branch believed that Ja'far was followed by a seventh imam, who also had gone into occultation and would one day return; hence this party is known as the "Seveners". The exact identity of that seventh imam was disputed, but by the late 9th century had commonly been identified with Muhammad, son of Isma'il and grandson of al-Sadiq. From Muhammad's father, Isma'il, the sect, which gave rise to the Fatimids, receives its name of "Isma'ili". Neither Isma'il's nor Muhammad's lives are well known, and after Muhammad's death during the reign of Harun al-Rashid (
While the awaited mahdī Muhammad ibn Isma'il remained hidden, however, he would need to be represented by agents, who would gather the faithful, spread the word ( daʿwa , "invitation, calling"), and prepare his return. The head of this secret network was the living proof of the imam's existence, or "seal" (ḥujja).It is this role that the ancestors of the Fatimids are first documented. The first known ḥujja was a certain Abdallah al-Akbar ("Abdallah the Elder"), a wealthy merchant from Khuzestan, who established himself at the small town of Salamiya on the western edge of the Syrian Desert. Salamiya became the centre of the Isma'ili daʿwa, with Abdallah al-Akbar being succeeded by his son and grandson as the secret "grand masters" of the movement.
In the last third of the 9th century, the Isma'ili daʿwa spread widely, profiting from the collapse of Abbasid power in the Anarchy at Samarra and the subsequent Zanj Revolt, as well as from dissatisfaction among Twelver adherents with the political quietism of their leadership and the recent disappearance of the twelfth imam.Missionaries ( dā'ī s) such as Hamdan Qarmat and Ibn Hawshab spread the network of agents to the area round Kufa in the late 870s, and from there to Yemen (882) and thence India (884), Bahrayn (899), Persia, and the Maghreb (893).
Since the Fatimid era, Ismaili Imams sent dāʿīs to the Indian subcontinent to spread the faith and explain the Path of Truth (Satpanth). The goal of the dāʿīs was to help people recognize the spiritual power of the Prophet and his family. When the Nizārī Imams fled to Alamut in 1094, dāʿīs continued to spread the faith. Even after the Mongol destroyed the Ismaili state in 1256, this practice continued, but in secrecy.
In 899, Abdallah al-Akbar's great-grandson, Abdallah,became the new head of the movement, and introduced a radical change in the doctrine: no longer was he and his forebears merely the stewards for Muhammad ibn Isma'il, but they were declared to be the rightful imams, and Abdallah himself was the awaited mahdī. Various genealogies were later put forth by the Fatimids to justify this claim by proving their descent from Isma'il ibn Ja'far, but even in pro-Isma'ili sources, the succession and names of imams differ, while Sunni and Twelver sources of course reject any Fatimid descent from the Alids altogether and consider them impostors. Abdallah's claim caused a rift in the Isma'ili movement, as Hamdan Qarmat and other leaders denounced this change and held onto the original doctrine, becoming known as the "Qarmatians", while other communities remained loyal to Salamiya. Shortly after, in 902–903, pro-Fatimid loyalists began a great uprising in Syria. The large-scale Abbasid reaction it precipitated and the attention it brought on him, forced Abdallah to abandon Salamiya for Palestine, Egypt, and finally for the Maghreb, where the dā'ī Abu Abdallah al-Shi'i had made great headway in converting the Kutama Berbers to the Isma'ili cause. Unable to join his dā'ī directly, Ubayd Allah instead settled at Sijilmasa.
Beginning in 902, the dā'ī Abu Abdallah al-Shi'i had openly challenged the Abbasids' representatives in the eastern Maghreb (Ifriqiya.), the Aghlabid dynasty. After a succession of victories, the last Aghlabid emir left the country, and the dā'ī's Kutama troops entered the palace city of Raqqada on 25 March 909.Abu Abdallah established a new, Shi'a regime, on behalf of his absent, and for the moment unnamed, master. He then led his army west to Sijilmasa, whence he led Abdallah in triumph to Raqqada, which he entered on 15 January 910. There Abdallah publicly proclaimed himself as caliph with the regnal name of al-Mahdī, and presented his son and heir, with the regnal name of al-Qa'im. Al-Mahdi quickly fell out with Abu Abdallah: not only was the dā'ī over-powerful, but he demanded proof that the new caliph was the true mahdī. The elimination of Abu Abdallah al-Shi'i and his brother led to an uprising among the Kutama, led by a child-mahdī, which was suppressed. At the same time, al-Mahdi repudiated the millenarian hopes of his followers and curtailed their antinomian tendencies.
The new regime regarded its presence in Ifriqiya as only temporary: the real target was Baghdad, the capital of the Fatimids' Abbasid rivals.The ambition to carry the revolution eastward had to be postponed after the failure of two successive invasions of Egypt, led by al-Qa'im, in 914–915 and 919–921. In addition, the Fatimid regime was as yet unstable. The local population were mostly adherents of Maliki Sunnism and various Kharijite sects such as Ibadism, so that the real power base of Fatimids in Ifriqiya was quite narrow, resting on the Kutama soldiery, later extended by the Sanhaja Berber tribes as well. The historian Heinz Halm describes the early Fatimid state as being, in essence, "a hegemony of the Kutama and Sanhaja Berbers over the eastern and central Maghrib". In 916–921, al-Mahdi built himself a new, fortified palace city on the Mediterranean shore, al-Mahdiyya, removed from the Sunni stronghold of Kairouan.
The Fatimids also inherited the Aghlabid province of Sicily, which the Aghlabids had gradually conquered from the Byzantine Empire starting in 827. This process was still incomplete, however: the Byzantines still held territories in the northeast of Sicily, as well as in southern Italy.This ongoing confrontation with the traditional foe of the Islamic world provided the Fatimids with a prime opportunity for propaganda, in a setting where geography gave them the advantage. Sicily itself proved troublesome, and only after a rebellion under Ibn Qurhub was subdued, was Fatimid authority on the island consolidated. The Fatimids also faced difficulties in establishing control over the western Maghreb, as they were confronted by rival dynasties hostile to the Fatimids' pretensions, including the powerful Umayyads of Spain. In 911, Tahert, which had been briefly captured by Abu Abdallah al-Shi'i in 909, had to be retaken by the Fatimid general Masala ibn Habus. He went on to capture Fez in 920, expelling the local Idrisid dynasty, and Sijilmasa in 921. Masala's successor, Musa ibn Abi'l-Afiya, captured Fez from the Idrisids again, but in 932 defected to the Umayyads, taking the western Maghreb with him. All this warfare necessitated the maintenance of a strong army, and a capable fleet as well. Nevertheless, by the time of al-Mahdi's death in 934, the Fatimid Caliphate "had become a great power in the Mediterranean".
The reign of the second Fatimid imam-caliph, al-Qa'im, was dominated by the Kharijite rebellion of Abu Yazid. Starting in 943/4 among the Zenata Berbers, the uprising spread through Ifriqiya, taking Kairouan and blockading al-Qa'im at al-Mahdiyya, which was besieged in January–September 945. Al-Qa'im died during the siege, but this was kept secret by his son and successor, Isma'il, until he had defeated Abu Yazid; he then announced his father's death and proclaimed himself imam and caliph as al-Mansur.While al-Mansur was campaigning to suppress the last remnants of the revolt, a new palace city was being constructed for him south of Kairouan. It was named al-Mansuriyya, and became the new seat of the caliphate.
In 969, the Fatimid general Jawhar the Sicilian conquered Egypt, where he built near Fusṭāt a new palace city which he also called al-Manṣūriyya. Under Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah the Fatimids conquered the Ikhshidid Wilayah, founding a new capital at al-Qāhira (Cairo) in 969. : القاهرة), meaning "the Vanquisher" or "the Conqueror", referenced the planet Mars, "The Subduer", rising in the sky at the time when the construction of the city started. Cairo was intended[ by whom? ] as a royal enclosure for the Fatimid caliph and his army—the actual administrative and economic capitals of Egypt were cities such as Fustat until 1169. After Egypt, the Fatimids continued to conquer the surrounding areas until they ruled from Tunisia to Syria, as well as Sicily.The name al-Qāhirah (Arabic
Under the Fatimids, Egypt became the centre of an empire that included at its peak parts of North Africa, Sicily, the Levant (including Transjordan), the Red Sea coast of Africa, Tihamah, Hejaz, Yemen, with its most remote territorial reach being Multan (in modern-day Pakistan). r. 960–1279), eventually determined the economic course of Egypt during the High Middle Ages. The Fatimid focus on agriculture further increased their riches and allowed the dynasty and the Egyptians to flourish under the Fatimid rule. The use of cash crops and the propagation of the flax trade allowed Fatimids to import other items from various parts of the world.Egypt flourished, and the Fatimids developed an extensive trade network both in the Mediterranean and in the Indian Ocean. Their trade and diplomatic ties, extending all the way to China under the Song Dynasty (
While the ethnic-based army was generally successful on the battlefield, it began to have negative effects on Fatimid internal politics. Traditionally the Berber element of the army had the strongest sway over political affairs, but as the Turkish element grew more powerful, it began to challenge this, and by 1020 serious riots had begun to break out among the Black African troops who were fighting back against a Berber-Turk Alliance.
By the 1060s, the tentative balance between the different ethnic groups within the Fatimid army collapsed as Egypt suffered an extended period of drought and famine. Declining resources accelerated the problems among the different ethnic factions, and outright civil war began, primarily between the Turks under Nasir al-Dawla ibn Hamdan and Black African troops, while the Berbers shifted alliance between the two sides.The Turkish forces of the Fatimid army seized most of Cairo and held the city and Caliph at ransom, while the Berber troops and remaining Sudanese forces roamed the other parts of Egypt.
By 1072, in a desperate attempt to save Egypt, the Fatimid Caliph Abū Tamīm Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah recalled general Badr al-Jamali, who was at the time the governor of Acre. Badr al-Jamali led his troops into Egypt and was able to successfully suppress the different groups of the rebelling armies, largely purging the Turks in the process. Although the Caliphate was saved from immediate destruction, the decade long rebellion devastated Egypt and it was never able to regain much power. As a result, Badr al-Jamali was also made the vizier of the Fatimid caliph, becoming one of the first military viziers ("Amir al Juyush", Arabic : امير الجيوش, Commander of Forces of the Fatimids) who would dominate late Fatimid politics. Al-Jam`e Al-Juyushi (Arabic : الجامع الجيوشي, The Mosque of the Armies), or Juyushi Mosque, was built by Badr al-Jamali. The mosque was completed in 478 H/1085 AD under the patronage of then Caliph and Imam Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah. It was built on an end of the Mokattam Hills, ensuring a view of the Cairo city. This Mosque/Masjid was also known as a victory monument commemorating vizier Badr's restoration of order for the Imam Mustansir. As the military viziers effectively became heads of state, the Caliph himself was reduced to the role of a figurehead. Badr al-Jamali's son, Al-Afdal Shahanshah, succeeded him in power as vizier.
In the 1040s, the Berber Zirids (governors of North Africa under the Fatimids) declared their independence from the Fatimids and their recognition of the Sunni Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad, which led the Fatimids to launch the devastating Banū Hilal invasions of North Africa. After about 1070, the Fatimid hold on the Levant coast and parts of Syria was challenged first by Turkic invasions, then the Crusades, so that Fatimid territory shrank until it consisted only of Egypt. The Fatimids gradually lost the Emirate of Sicily over thirty years to the Italo-Norman Roger I who was in total control of the entire island by 1091.
The reliance on the Iqta system also ate into Fatimid central authority, as more and more the military officers at the further ends of the empire became semi-independent.
After the decay of the Fatimid political system in the 1160s, the Zengid ruler Nūr ad-Dīn had his general, Shirkuh, seize Egypt from the vizier Shawar in 1169. Shirkuh died two months after taking power, and rule passed to his nephew, Saladin.This began the Ayyubid Sultanate of Egypt and Syria.
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"Al-Mashhad al-Hussaini" (Masjid Imam Husain, Cairo) is the burial site of twelve Fatimid Imams: the 9th, Taqi Muhammad, through the 20th, Mansur al-Āmir. The site is also known as "Bāb Mukhallafāt al-Rasul" (door of remaining part of Rasul), where the Sacred Hairof Muhammad is preserved.
Al-Mahdiyya, the first capital of the Fatimid dynasty, was established by its first caliph, ʿAbdullāh al-Mahdī (297–322 AH/909–934 CE) in 300 AH/912–913 CE. The caliph had been residing in nearby Raqqada but chose this new and more strategic location in which to establish his dynasty. The city of al-Mahdiyya is located on a narrow peninsula along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, east of Kairouan and just south of the Gulf of Hammamet, in modern-day Tunisia. The primary concern in the city's construction and locale was defense. With its peninsular topography and the construction of a wall 8.3 m thick, the city became impenetrable by land. This strategic location, together with a navy that the Fatimids had inherited from the conquered Aghlabids, made the city of Al-Mahdiyya a strong military base where ʿAbdullāh al-Mahdī consolidated power and planted the seeds of the Fatimid caliphate for two generations. The city included two royal palaces – one for the caliph and one for his son and successor al-Qāʾim – as well as a mosque, many administrative buildings, and an arsenal.
Al-Manṣūriyya was established between 334 and 336 AH (945 and 948 CE) by the third Fatimid caliph al-Manṣūr (334-41 AH/946-53 CE) in a settlement known as Ṣabra, located on the outskirts of Kairouan in modern-day Tunisia. The new capital was established in commemoration of the victory of al-Manṣūr over the Khārijite rebel Abū Yazīd at Ṣabra. Like Baghdad, the plan of the city of Al-Manṣūriyya is round, with the caliphal palace at its center. Due to a plentiful water source, the city grew and expanded a great deal under al-Manṣūr. Recent archaeological evidence suggests that there were more than 300 ḥammāms built during this period in the city as well as numerous palaces. When al-Manṣūr's successor, al-Muʿizz, moved the caliphate to Cairo, his deputy stayed behind as regent of al-Manṣūriyya and usurped power for himself, marking the end of the Fatimid reign in al-Manṣūriyya and the beginning of the city's ruin (spurred on by a violent revolt). The city remained downtrodden and more or less uninhabited for centuries afterward.
Cairo was established by the fourth Fatimid caliph al-Muʿizz in 359 AH/970 CE and remained the capital of the Fatimid caliphate for the duration of the dynasty. Cairo can thus be considered the capital of Fatimid cultural production. Though the original Fatimid palace complex, including administrative buildings and royal residents, no longer exists, modern scholars can glean a good idea of the original structure based on the Mamluk-era account of al-Maqrīzī. Perhaps the most important of Fatimid monuments outside the palace complex is the mosque of al-Azhar (359-61 AH/970-72 CE) which still stands today, though little of the building is original to its first Fatimid construction. Likewise the important Fatimid mosque of al-Ḥākim, built from 380-403 AH/990-1012 CE under two Fatimid caliphs, has been rebuilt under subsequent dynasties. Cairo remained the capital for, including al-Muʿizz, eleven generations of caliphs, after which the Fatimid Caliphate finally fell to Ayyubid forces in 567 AH/1171 CE.
Unlike western European governments of the era, advancement in Fatimid state offices was more meritocratic than hereditary. Members of other branches of Islam, like the Sunnis, were just as likely to be appointed to government posts as Shiites. Tolerance was extended to non-Muslims, such as Christians and Jews, [ citation needed ] There were exceptions to this general attitude of tolerance, however, most notably by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, though this has been highly debated, with Al-Hakim's reputation among medieval Muslim historians conflated with his role in the Druze faith. Christians in general and Copts in particular have been persecuted by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah; the persecution of the Christians included closing and demolishing churches and forced conversion to Islam. With the succession of Al-Zahir li-i'zaz Din Allah, the Druze face a mass persecution, which included a large massacres against the Druze in Antioch, Aleppo, and other cities.who occupied high levels in government based on ability, and this policy of tolerance ensured the flow of money from non-Muslims in order to finance the Caliphs' large army of Mamluks brought in from Circassia by Genoese merchants.
The Fatimids were also known for their exquisite arts. A type of ceramic, lustreware, was prevalent during the Fatimid period. Glassware and metalworking was also popular. Many traces of Fatimid architecture exist in Cairo today; prominent examples include the Al-Azhar University and the Al-Hakim Mosque. The madrasa is one of the relics of the Fatimid era in Egypt, descended from Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad. Fatimah was called Az-Zahra (the brilliant), and the madrasa was named in her honour.The Fatimid palace in Cairo had two parts. It stood in the Khan el-Khalili area at Bayn El-Qasryn street.
The Fatimid military was based largely on the Kutama Berber tribesmen brought along on the march to Egypt, and they remained an important part of the military even after Tunisia began to break away. [ citation needed ]After their successful establishment in Egypt, local Egyptian forces were also incorporated into the army, so the Fatimid Army were reinforced by North African soldiers from Algeria to Egypt in the Eastern North (and of succeeding dynasties as well).
A fundamental change occurred when the Fatimid Caliphate attempted to push into Syria in the latter half of the 10th century. The Fatimids were faced with the now Turkish-dominated forces of the Abbasid Caliphate and began to realize the limits of their current military. Thus during the reign of Abu Mansur Nizar al-Aziz Billah and Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the Caliph began incorporating armies of Turks and, later, black Africans (even later, other groups such as Armenians were also used). [ citation needed ]The army units were generally separated along ethnic lines: the Berbers were usually the light cavalry and foot skirmishers, while the Turks were the horse archers or heavy cavalry (known as Mamluks ). The black Africans, Syrians, and Arabs generally acted as the heavy infantry and foot archers. This ethnic-based army system, along with the partial slave status of many of the imported ethnic fighters, would remain fundamentally unchanged in Egypt for many centuries after the fall of the Fatimid Caliphate.
The Fatimids focused their military on the defence of the empire as threats presented, which they were able to repel. In the mid-10th century, the Byzantine Empire was ruled by Nikephoros II Phokas, who had destroyed the Muslim Emirate of Chandax in 961 and conquered Tartus, Al-Masaisah, 'Ain Zarbah, among other areas, gaining complete control of Iraq and the Syrian borders, and earning the sobriquet "The Pale Death of the Saracens". With the Fatimids, however, he proved less successful. After renouncing his payments of tribute to the Fatimid caliphs, he sent an expedition to Sicily, but was forced by defeats on land and sea to evacuate the island completely. In 967, he made peace with the Fatimids and turned to defend himself against their common enemy, Otto I, who had proclaimed himself Roman Emperor and had attacked Byzantine possessions in Italy.[ citation needed ]
Many dignitaries of the Fatimid period stressed on the importance of the balance between the exoteric (zāhir) world and the esoteric (batin) world, in understanding the faith.
List of Important Figures:
After Al-Mustansir Billah, his sons Nizar and Al-Musta'li both claimed the right to rule, leading to a split into the Nizari and Musta'li factions respectively. Nizar's successors eventually came to be known as the Aga Khan , while Musta'li's followers eventually came to be called the Dawoodi bohra .
The Fatimid dynasty continued and flourished under Al-Musta'li until Al-Amir bi-Ahkami'l-Lah's death in 1130. Leadership was then contested between At-Tayyib Abu'l-Qasim, Al-Amir's two-year-old son, and Al-Hafiz, Al-Amir's cousin whose supporters (Hafizi) claimed Al-Amir died without an heir. The supporters of At-Tayyib became the Tayyibi Isma'ilis. At-Tayyib's claim to the imamate was endorsed by Arwa al-Sulayhi, Queen of Yemen. In 1084, Al-Mustansir had Arwa designated a hujjah (a holy, pious lady), the highest rank in the Yemeni Da'wah. Under Arwa, the Da'i al-Balagh (the imam's local representative) Lamak ibn Malik and then Yahya ibn Lamak worked for the cause of the Fatimids. After At-Tayyib's disappearance, Arwa named Dhu'ayb bin Musa the first Da'i al-Mutlaq with full authority over Tayyibi religious matters. Tayyibi Isma'ili missionaries (in about 1067 AD (460 AH)) spread their religion to India,leading to the development of various Isma'ili communities, most notably the Alavi, Dawoodi, and Sulaymani Bohras. Syedi Nuruddin went to Dongaon to look after southern India and Syedi Fakhruddin went to East Rajasthan.
Abū ʿAlī Manṣūr, better known by his regnal name al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh, was the sixth Fatimid caliph and 16th Ismaili imam (996–1021). Al-Hakim is an important figure in a number of Shia Ismaili religions, such as the world's 15 million Nizaris and 1-2 million Musta’lis, in addition to the 2 million Druze of the Levant whose eponymous founder ad-Darazi proclaimed him as the incarnation of God in 1018.
Abu Muhammad Abdallah ibn al-Husayn, better known by his regnal name Abu Muhammad Abdallah al-Mahdi Billah, was the founder of the Isma'ili Fatimid Caliphate, the only major Shi'a caliphate in Islamic history, and the eleventh imam of the Isma'ili faith.
The Qarmatians were a syncretic branch of Sevener Ismaili Shia Islam. They were centred in al-Hasa, where they established a religious-utopian republic in 899 CE. They are most known for their revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate.
The Kutama was a Berber tribe in northern Algeria classified among the Berber confederation of the Bavares. The Kutama are attested much earlier, in the form Koidamousii by the Greek geographer Ptolemy.
El-Mansuriya or Mansuriya, near Kairouan, Tunisia, was the capital of the Fatimid Caliphate during the rule of the Ismaili Imams al-Mansur bi-Nasr Allah and al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah.
Abu Tahir Isma'il, better known by his regnal name al-Mansur bi-Nasr Allah, was the third caliph of the Fatimid Caliphate in Ifriqiya, ruling from 946 until his death. He presided over a period of crisis, having to confront the large-scale Kharijite rebellion of Abu Yazid. He succeeded in suppressing the revolt and restoring the stability of the Fatimid regime.
Abu'l-Qasim Muhammad ibn Abdallah, better known by his regnal name al-Qa'im bi-Amr Allah or bi-Amri 'llah, was the second caliph of the Fatimid Caliphate in Ifriqiya and ruled from 934 to 946. He is the 12th Imam according to the Isma'ili faith.
Abu'l-Qasim Ahmad ibn al-Mustansir, better known by his regnal name al-Mustaʽli Billah, was the ninth Fatimid caliph and the 19th imam of Mustaʽli Ismailism.
Abu'l-Maymūn ʿAbd al-Majīd ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Mustanṣir, better known by his regnal name as al-Ḥāfiẓ li-Dīn Allāh, was the eleventh caliph of the Fatimids, ruling over Egypt from 1132 to his death in 1149, and the 21st imam of Hafizi Isma'ilism.
Al-Husayn ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Zakariyya, better known as Abu Abdallah al-Shi'i, was an Isma'ili missionary (dāʿī) active in Yemen and North Africa, mainly among the Kutama Berbers. He was successful in converting and unifying a large part of the Kutama, leading them to the conquest of Ifriqiya in 902–909 and the overthrow of the Aghlabid dynasty. This allowed the establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate in Ifriqiya under the imam–caliph Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah, but the latter quickly fell out with Abu Abdallah, and had him executed on 28 February 911.
Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd Allāh ibn Yūsuf, better known by his regnal name al-ʿĀḍid li-Dīn Allāh, was the fourteenth and last caliph of the Fatimid dynasty, and the 24th imam of Hafizi Isma'ilism, reigning from 1160 to 1171.
Hafizi Isma'ilism was a branch of Musta'li Isma'ilism that emerged as a result of a split in 1132. The Hafizis accepted the Fatimid caliph al-Hafiz and his successors as imams, while the rival Tayyibi branch rejected them as usurpers, favouring the succession of the imamate along the line of al-Hafiz's nephew, al-Tayyib.
Abū Manṣūr Nizār ibn al-Mustanṣir was a Fatimid prince, and the oldest son of the eighth Fatimid caliph and Isma'ili imam, al-Mustansir. When his father died in December 1094, the military strongman, al-Afdal Shahanshah, raised Nizar's younger brother al-Musta'li to the throne in Cairo, bypassing the claims of Nizar and other older sons of al-Mustansir. Nizar escaped Cairo, rebelled and seized Alexandria, where he reigned as caliph with the regnal name al-Muṣṭafā li-Dīn Allāh. In late 1095 he was defeated and taken prisoner to Cairo, where he was killed by immurement. Many Isma'ilis, especially in Persia, who rejected al-Musta'li's imamate and considered Nizar as the rightful imam, split off from the Fatimid regime and founded the Nizari branch of Isma'ilism, with their own line of imams who claimed descent from Nizar that continues to this day. Later during the 12th century some of Nizar's actual or claimed descendants tried, without success, to seize the throne from the Fatimid caliphs.
Hamdan Qarmat ibn al-Ash'ath was the eponymous founder of the Qarmatian sect of Isma'ilism. Originally the chief Isma'ili missionary in lower Iraq, in 899 he quarreled with the movement's leadership at Salamiya after it was taken over by Sa'id ibn al-Husayn, and with his followers broke off from them. Hamdan then disappeared, but his followers continued in existence in the Syrian Desert and al-Bahrayn for several decades.
The first Fatimid invasion of Egypt occurred in 914–915, soon after the establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate in Ifriqiya in 909. The Fatimids launched an expedition east, against the Abbasid Caliphate, under the Berber general Habasa ibn Yusuf. Habasa succeeded in subduing the cities on the Libyan coast between Ifriqiya and Egypt, and captured Alexandria. The Fatimid heir-apparent, al-Qa'im bi-Amr Allah, then arrived to take over the campaign. Attempts to conquer the Egyptian capital, Fustat, were beaten back by the Abbasid troops in the province. A risky affair even at the outset, the arrival of Abbasid reinforcements from Syria and Iraq under Mu'nis al-Muzaffar doomed the invasion to failure, and al-Qa'im and the remnants of his army abandoned Alexandria and returned to Ifriqiya in May 915. The failure did not prevent the Fatimids from launching another unsuccessful attempt to capture Egypt four years later. It was not until 969 that the Fatimids conquered Egypt and made it the centre of their empire.
Aḥmad ibn Ibrāhı̄m al-Nı̄sābūrı̄ or al-Naysābūrı̄ was an Isma'ili scholar from Nishapur, who entered the service of the Fatimid caliphs al-Aziz Billah and al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah in Cairo. His life is relatively obscure, and is known chiefly from references in his works. Among them three stand out as highly important for Fatimid and Isma'ili history: the Istitār al-imām, a historical work that offers unique information on the early history of the Isma'ili movement and the rise of the Fatimid Caliphate, the Risāla al-mūjaza, which contains an exposition on the qualities and duties of the ideal Isma'ili missionary, and the Ithbāt al-imāma, an influential analysis of Isma'ili conceptions of the imamate, combining rationalist philosophical argument with Islamic theology.
Abu'l-Qāsim al-Ḥasan ibn Faraj ibn Ḥawshab ibn Zādān al-Najjār al-Kūfī, better known simply as Ibn Ḥawshab, or by his honorific of Manṣūr al-Yaman, was a senior Isma'ili missionary from the environs of Kufa. In cooperation with Ali ibn al-Fadl al-Jayshani, he established the Isma'ili creed in Yemen and conquered much of that country in the 890s and 900s in the name of the Isma'ili imam, Abdallah al-Mahdi, who at the time was still in hiding. After al-Mahdi proclaimed himself publicly in Ifriqiya in 909 and established the Fatimid Caliphate, Ibn al-Fadl turned against him and forced Ibn Hawshab to a subordinate position. Ibn Hawshab's life is known from an autobiography he wrote, while later Isma'ili tradition ascribes two theological treatises to him.
ʿAlī ibn al-Faḍl al-Jayshānī was a senior Isma'ili missionary from Yemen. In cooperation with Ibn Hawshab, he established the Isma'ili creed in his home country and conquered much of it in the 890s and 900s in the name of the hidden Isma'ili imam, Abdallah al-Mahdi Billah. After the establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate in Ifriqiya in 909, and the public proclamation of al-Mahdi Billah as caliph, Ibn al-Fadl denounced al-Mahdi as false, and instead declared himself to be the awaited messiah. His erstwhile colleague, Ibn Hawshab, refused to follow him, so Ibn al-Fadl turned against him and forced him to capitulate. Ibn al-Fadl's dominion collapsed swiftly after his death in October 915. In January 917, his stronghold of Mudhaykhira was seized by the Yu'firids, his children captured, and his two sons executed.
Ja'far ibn Mansur al-Yaman was an Isma'ili missionary and theological writer of the 10th century. Originally born and raised in Yemen, where his father Ibn Hawshab had established the Isma'ili daʿwa in the late 9th century, he fled the country to the court of the Fatimid caliphs in Ifriqiya, where he remained until his death. He composed poems in praise of the Fatimids' victory over the uprising of Abu Yazid, a biography of his father, and dauthore or compiled a number of important theological treatises.
[...] it was at this time that an indigenous Arabic culture was developed in Egypt, and Arab Egypt, so to speak, came of age to the extent that it was able to rival older centres like Baghdad as a seat of learning and intellectual activity.
In the course of the later eleventh and twelfth century, however, the Fatimid caliphate declined rapidly, and in 1171 the country was invaded by Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. He restored Egypt as a political power, reincorporated it in the Abbasid caliphate and established Ayyubid suzerainty not only over Egypt and Syria but, as mentioned above, temporarily over northern Mesopotamia as well.
The Fatimid caliphate at its height included Egypt, Syria, the Hejaz, the Yemen, North Africa, and Sicily, and commanded the allegiance of countless followers in the eastern lands still subject to the Abbasids of Baghdad.
Originally based in Tunisia, the Fatimid Dynasty extended their rule across the Mediterranean coast of Africa and ultimately made Egypt the center of their caliphate. At its height, in addition to Egypt, the caliphate included varying areas of the Maghreb, Sicily, the Levant, and the Hijaz.
Nevertheless, the Seljuqs of Syria kept the Crusaders occupied for several years until the reign of the last Fatimid Caliph al-Adid (1160–1171) when, in the face of a Crusade threat, the caliph appointed a warrior of the Seljuq regime by the name of Shirkuh to be his chief minister.
Al Hakim Bi-Amr Allah (r. 996—1021), however, who became the greatest persecutor of Copts.... within the church that also appears to coincide with a period of forced rapid conversion to Islam
By late 1012 the persecution had moved into high gear with demolitions of churches and the forced conversion of Christian ...
With the succession of al-Zahir to the Fatimid caliphate a mass persecution (known by the Druze as the period of the mihna) of the Muwaḥḥidūn was instigated ...
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— Imperial house —
| Ruling house of Ifriqiya |
as Fatimid clients
| Ruling house of Egypt|
|Titles in pretence|
| Caliphate dynasty|
With: Abbasid dynasty, Umayyad dynasty