Fatimid Caliphate

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Fatimid Islamic Caliphate
الدولة الفاطمية

909–1171
 

Flag

The Fatimid dynasty at its peak
Capital Mahdia (909-969)
Cairo (969-1171)
Religion Ismaili Shi'a Islam
Government Monarchy
Caliph
 - 909-934 (first) Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah
 - 1160-1171 (last) Al-'Āḍid
History
 - Established 5 January 909
 - Foundation of Cairo August 8, 969
 - Disestablished 1171
Area 5,100,000 km2 (1,969,121 sq mi)
Population
 -  est. 62,000,000 
     Density 12.2 /km2  (31.5 /sq mi)
Currency Dinar

The Fatimid Caliphate was ruled by the al-Fātimiyyūn (Arabic: الفاطميون) dynasty from 5 January 909 to 1171. It was an Arab Shi'a dynasty It ruled the fourth and final Arab caliphate. In different times different areas of the Maghreb, Egypt, and the Levant belonged to the caliphate.

The Fatimids established the Egyptian city of Cairo as their capital. The term Fatimite is sometimes used to refer to the citizens of this caliphate as well. The ruling elite of the state belonged to the Ismaili branch of Shi'ism. The leaders of the dynasty were also Shia Ismaili Imams. They had a religious significance to Ismaili Muslims. They are also part of the chain of holders of the office of Caliph, as recognized by most Muslims, the only period in which the Shia Imamate and the Caliphate were united to any degree. (With the only other exception: the Caliphate of Ali himself.)

The Fatimids were famous for religious tolerance towards non-Ismaili sects of Islam as well as towards Jews, Maltese Christians and Coptic Christians[1], but there were some exceptions nevertheless.

Rise of the Fatimids[change | change source]

Mosque of Al-Hakim, the sixth Caliph

The Fatimids had their origins in Ifriqiya (modern-day Tunisia and eastern Algeria). The dynasty was founded in 909 by ˤAbdullāh al-Mahdī Billah, who legitimised his claim through descent from Muhammad by way of his daughter Fātima as-Zahra and her husband ˤAlī ibn-Abī-Tālib, the first Shīˤa Imām, hence the name al-Fātimiyyūn "Fatimid".

Abdullāh al-Mahdi's control soon extended over all of central Maghreb, an area consisting of the modern countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, which he ruled from Mahdia, his newly-built capital in Tunisia.

Decay and fall[change | change source]

In the 1040s, the Zirids (governors of North Africa under the Fatimids) declared their independence from the Fatimids and their conversion to Sunni Islam, which led to the devastating Banū Hilal invasions. After about 1070, the Fatimid hold on the Levant coast and parts of Syria was challenged first by Turkish invasions, then the Crusades, so that Fatimid territory shrank until it consisted only of Egypt.

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 the rule went to his nephew, Saladin.[2] This began the Kurdish Ayyubid Dynasty.

Fatimid caliphs[change | change source]

  1. Abū Muḥammad ˤAbdu l-Lāh (ˤUbaydu l-Lāh) al-Mahdī bi'llāh (909-934) founder Fatimid dynasty
  2. Abū l-Qāsim Muḥammad al-Qā'im bi-Amr Allāh (934-946)
  3. Abū Ṭāhir Ismā'il al-Manṣūr bi-llāh (946-953)
  4. Abū Tamīm Ma'add al-Mu'izz li-Dīn Allāh (953-975) Egypt is conquered during his reign
  5. Abū Manṣūr Nizār al-'Azīz bi-llāh (975-996)
  6. Abū 'Alī al-Manṣūr al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh (996-1021)
  7. Abū'l-Ḥasan 'Alī al-Ẓāhir li-I'zāz Dīn Allāh (1021-1036)
  8. Abū Tamīm Ma'add al-Mustanṣir bi-llāh (1036-1094)
  9. al-Musta'lī bi-llāh (1094-1101) Quarrels over his succession led to the Nizari split.
  10. al-Āmir bi-Aḥkām Allāh (1101-1130) The Fatimid rulers of Egypt after him are not recognized as Imams by Mustaali Taiyabi Ismailis.
  11. 'Abd al-Majīd al-Ḥāfiẓ (1130-1149)
  12. al-Ẓāfir (1149-1154)
  13. al-Fā'iz (1154-1160)
  14. al-'Āḍid (1160-1171).

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Wintle, Justin (May 2003). History of Islam. London: Rough Guides Ltd. pp. 136-7. ISBN 184353018X.
  2. Amin Maalouf (1984). The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. Al Saqi Books. pp. 160-170. ISBN 0-8052-0898-4.

Other websites[change | change source]