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AL-MUIZZ (341-365/952-975) 

Front and Back of Fatimid Gold coin minted in Mansuriyah and dated 361/971-972
[inner circle:"Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah Amir al-Mu'minin]

His name was Ma'd, and kunya was Abu Tamim, surnamed al-Muizz li-din'allah (Fortifier of the religion of God). He was born in Mahdiya in 319/931 when Imam al-Mahdi was alive, who had predicted that al-Muizz would be man of great glory. He was very intelligent from his infancy. Qadi Noman writes in "al-Majalis wa'l Musayarat" (2nd vol., pp. 616-617) that al-Muizz recalled his infancy that: "I am reminiscing about the day I was a small child. The day I was taken into his (al-Mahdi) presence, I had been weaned and I could understand and remember that what happened. He reached for me and kissed me and took me into his robe. He seated me by his side and ordered something for me to eat. A gold and silver platter was brought, containing apples, grapes etc. He put it before me. I did not eat anything from it. He then took it and gave it to me and said: "Go and eat what is in it and give the platter to such and such woman." I told him: "No, I will keep the platter and give the fruits to her." (Al-Mahdi) laughed and wondered at my perception. He prayed for me and said: "You will have a glorious future."

Al-Muizz ascended in 341/952, and his Caliphate is noted for the extension of the Fatimid domination from Maghrib to Egypt and Syria. His Caliphate is also acclaimed for the progress of learning and arts. He himself was a learned philosopher, scientist and astronomist. His court always remained full of jurists, traditionists, poets and historians. The heart of al-Muizz was set on the conquest of Egypt, the great dream ever present before his father and grandfather, which seemed now coming within the bounds of possibility.


AL-AZIZ (365-386/975-996

Fatimid Gold coin minted in Misr and dated 366/976-977
[inner circle:"Al-Aziz bi'llah Amir al-Mu'minin"]

He was born on 14th Muharram, 344/May 10, 955 in Mahdiya. His name was Nizar Abu Mansur, surnamed al-Aziz bi-lllah (August by the grace of God). He assumed the Imamate and Caliphate on 14th Rabi II, 365/December 21, 975. He was tall, broad shouldered, with reddish hair and large eyes having a dark blue colour. He was fond of sports and showed a marked interest in literature and learning.

It was owing to his generous patronage that the University of al-Azhar could maintain itself as a unique and distinguished seat of Islamic learning. He also created an almshouse in it for 35 men. Al-Azhar contained a huge library. The royal library of al-Aziz itself contained 200,000 rare manuscripts and an equal number of manuscripts were kept at al-Azhar. It also contained 2400 illuminated copies of Holy Koran. Later, in 436/1045 a new catalogue had been prepared in al-Azhar, listing 6500 volumes of astronomy, architecture and philosophy. When Nasir Khusaro visited Cairo, he had found 317 professors and as many as 9758 students engaged in the study of various subjects in al-Azhar. Marshall W. Baldwin writes in "A History of the Crusades" (London, 1958, p. 102) that, "The intellectual influences of Ismailism on Islam was very great indeed. During the heyday of its expansion, the poets, philosophers, theologians and scholars flocked to the Ismailite centres and produced works of a high order."

Al-Aziz was also known for his paternal care of the people and introduced many financial reforms in the country. He introduced the system of paying a fixed stipends for services to the official and household servants and also used to give them robes and mules to ride on. Among his outstanding reforms, the most significant was that he put down bribery and corruption with a firm hand in Egypt.

Writing in the year 372/982, the anonymous writer of "Hudud al-Alam" (tr. by V. Minorsky, London, 1937, p. 151) describes that, "Egypt is the wealthiest country of Islam, and in it lies numerous towns, all prosperous, flourishing, wealthy, and extremely favoured by nature in many respects. It produces textiles, handkerchiefs, and robes of various kinds, than which there are none more precious in the whole world - such as Egyptian woollen goods and textiles, and handkerchiefs made of dabiqi (silk brocade or linen drapes) and khazz(tissue of silk and wool). And in this country, good asses are found of great price. Fustat is the capital of Egypt. It is the wealthiest city in the world, extremely prosperous and very pleasant. It lies to the east of the river Nile."


Foundation of Dar al-Hikmah 

Amid the surging splendour, al-Hakim emerges as an unusual personality judged by any standard. He founded Dar al-Hikmah (House of Wisdom), also known as Dar al-Ilm (House of Knowledge) in 395/1004, where the sciences including astronomy, logic, philosophy, mathematics, history, theology, languages and medicines were taught and the Shiite esoteric interpretation propagated. Qadi Abul Aziz bin Muhammad bin Noman was its first supervisor. This academy was connected with the royal palace, enriched with a huge library, and distinct conference rooms and chambers. Scholastic activities were conducted by the scientists, philosophers, professors, theologians, scholars etc. Staff of clerks and servants were employed for the upkeep of the institution. Scientists, professors and learned men were employed as lecturers. Wustenfeld writes in his "Akademien der Araber" (Gottingen, 1837, p. 67) that, "It was in reality the first Lay University, where also Mathematics, Astronomy, Medicine and Methaphysics were taught."

The Dar al-Hikmah was founded to facilitate the working of the Ismaili mission too, and became rapidly a cultural centre. It attracted the students from all parts of the Muslim world, where the Imam would himself often visit the lecture-halls, joining debates and granting generous gifts to encourage notable proficiency. The lectures delivered by the dais were known as majalis and were given at different levels according to the intellectual capacity of the audience. Some were designated as majalis al-khassa (sessions for the selected) and others as majalis al-amma (sessions for the public). From the picture drawn by Musabbihi and Ibn Tuwayr, both quoted by Makrizi in his "Khitat" (1st vol., p. 391), it would appear that the majalis al-khassa were attended only by the Ismailis. In the others, the lectures read were merely explanations of the doctrines which concerned the meaning of Imam, the theological differences between the Shia and Sunni laws and their historical background. In al-Hakim's time, the majalis expanded in an endeavour to reach every group of people including even visitors to the country and women. Special meetings were divided into two. One was for the high officials and learned men and was known as majalis al-awliya and the other was for the ordinary officials and the branch of it was specially for women of the palace. The public sessions were divided into three - one for men of the general public, one for the women and one for the visitors to the country.

By the end of the 4th/10th century there were also regular assemblies on every Thursday and Friday for the reading of majalis al-hikmah(lectures on wisdom), which was flourished to its zenith. Makrizi quotes in his "Khitat" (1st vol., p. 391) al-Musabbihi (d. 420/1029) as giving some details of these majalis. According to him, "The dai gave many lectures in the palace, lecturing separately to the adepts, the members of the court, the common people and strangers. To women, he lectured in the Jam-i Azhar, where a separate chamber was alloted to the women of the court. The dai prepared the lecture in his house, after being presented its text to the Caliph, a neat copy of the lecture was prepared. The contributions (najwa) of the Ismailis were also collected during these lectures, which were called majalis al-hikmah." The fixed monetary contribution (najwa) was collected from the individual Ismailis during the majalis al-hikmah, and the lists of the contributors were kept by a special secretary (katib al-dawa) appointed by the chief dai. Makrizi writes that the wealthy Ismailis made substantial voluntary donations.

It should be noted that the term najwa evidently refers to the Koranic verse (58:12), which reads:- "Ye faithful! If you have something confidential to discuss (najaytum) with the envoy, then prior to your confidential discussion (najwakum) pay some alms in anticipation." So the najwa was a fee that the followers had to pay for being introduced into the secret assembly.

Ibn al-Tuwayri (d. 617/1220) describes the preparation of the text of the majalis differently. According to him as quoted by Makrizi (Ibid.), "The Ismaili theologians, housed in Dar al-Hikmah, met on Monday and Thursday and agreed on the text of a booklet called majalis al-hikmah. A clean copy was brought to the Chief Dai, who after checking it, presented it on to the Caliph. If possible, the Caliph read it; at any rate he put his signature on it. The Chief Dai then read the lectures in the palace in two different places - for men, sitting on the chair of the dawat in the great hall, for women, in his own audience-chamber. After the lecture the believers came up to kiss the hand of the Chief Dai, who stroked their heads with the booklet, so that the signature of the Caliph touched their heads."

It must be known that the majalis al-hikmah were interrupted in 400/1010 for some reasons. It was reopened very soon, but cancelled once again in 401/1010. It was again interrupted for the third time at the end of the year 405/1015 after the nomination of Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Awam as a chief qadi. Heinz Halm however writes in "The Ismaili Oath of Allegiance and the Sessions of Wisdom in Fatimid Times" (cf. "Mediaeval Ismaili History and Thought" (New York, 1996, p. 107) that, "We fail to learn precisely what the reasons were, but this closure seems to be connected with the Druze trouble, which began about this time." Al-Hakim however bestowed the title of chief dai on Khuttakin al-Dayf, entrusting him with the control of the room, so that it was used for the customary proceedings. Later, he also granted him the title of al-Sadiq al-amin. Ibn Muyassar writes in "Akhbar al-Misr" (pp. 166-7) that, "Khuttakin al-Dayf subsequently proved to be the most embittered opponent of the Druzes. When the followers of Hamza and those of Khuttakin met, they cursed each other."

Heinz Halm concludes that, "So it is quite possible that al-Hakim had the majalis closed either in agreement with the Ismaili dais or yielding to their pressure, in order to forestall the appearance of the Druze dissidents among them" (Ibid).


Ismaili mission

 The Ismaili dawa was brisk in this period through a network of the dais. In 385/995, Abul Jabbar Hamdani, the Mutazalite chief Qadi of Ray (325-415/936-1025) gives a list of the dais, who visited Cairo in his "Tathbit Dala'il Nubuwwat" (p. 180) as follows:- Abu Jabala Ibrahim bin Ghassan, Jabir al-Manufi, Abul Fawaris al-Hasan bin Muhammad al-Mimadhi, Abul Hussain Ahmad bin Muhammad bin al-Kumayt, Abu Muhammad al-Tabari, Abul Hasan al-Halabi, Abu Tamim Abul Kassim al-Bukhari, Abul Wafa al-Daylami, Ibn Abi'l Dibs, Khuzayma bin Abi Khuzayma and Abu Abdullah bin al-Naman. These all dais belonged to Cairo, Tyre, Acre, Askalan, Damascus, Baghdad and Central Asia. Abul Jabbar also writes that, "At the court of the fifth Fatimid Imam al-Aziz, there are many visitors from Khwarizm and Multan, and other countries, carrying money and presents."

It must be known that the initial slip of employing the dais with officials and regular payment appeared during al-Aziz's reign. Makrizi writes in "Khitat" (2nd vol., p. 273) that, "In 378/988, the vizir Yaqub bin Killis employed 35 men and provided them with accomodation near the mosque of al-Azhar. From thence the idea developed and in Imam al-Hakim's period, the services of the dais became a full time and well remunerated profession.

Military reforms

During the Fatimid expansion into Syria, the Fatimids were confronted with armies superior to their own which was mainly composed of Berber forces. In the Byzantine and Muslim armies which the Fatimids fought in Syria, the archers played prominent role. The Katama Berbers in general did not make use of the bow as a weapon. The absence of archers among the Fatimid ranks hindered their military performances. The only possible way for al-Aziz to overcome the military inferiority of his Berber troops was to incorporate ethnic groups skilled in archery into his army. This policy was inaugurated following al-Aziz's victory over an anti-Fatimid coalition in Palestine headed by Iftagin. Thus, the Turks and Iranians were introduced for the first time in the Fatimid army, who were skilled as mounted archers, while the Berbers were the horsemen carrying lances and shields.

In Egypt, these new elements were enlisted in the Fatimid army as professional soldiers and given special accomodation areas in Cairo, known as harat al-Atrak (barrack of the Turks), and harat al-Daylam (barrack of the Iranians). This new fighting element sponsored by al-Aziz, grew rapidly and before long its chiefs were appointed as commanders. In 381/991, the command of the Fatimid army was given to one of these men, called Manjutagin, with the title amir al-juyush al-mansura (commander of the victorious armies). He was charged to put down the disturbances in Syria, strike at the Byzantines in the north and bring Aleppo under the direct control of the Fatimids.

It must also be known that the Katama Berbers enjoyed special privileges in the Fatimid army since beginning and were exempted from taxation. In Egypt, they began to dominate almost in all state affairs and wielded political influences. They were known in Egypt as Maghriba (the westeners). In contrast, the Turks and Iranians were called as Mashriqa (the easterners), who were also a counterpoise against the growing influence of the Berbers.

In 380/990, al-Aziz also erected an army corp named al-Azizia. In 385/995, al-Azizia together with other corps, was dispatched to reinforce the Fatimid contingents in Syria.


 Conditions of the Maghrib

 It must be remembered that before embarking on his historic journey from Maghrib to Egypt in 361/972, Imam al-Muizz had appointed Buluggin bin Ziri, the amir of the Sanhaja tribe, as the governor of Maghrib, and invested him the honorific name, Abul Futuh Yousuf. He was vested with the governorship of all the Fatimid dominions in the west, except for Kalbid Sicily and for Tripoli. Later on, Buluggin moved from Ashir to Kairwan, where he founded the Zirid dynasty (361-543/972-1148). He was succeeded by his son, Mansur (373-386/984- 996), who fought with the Katama tribe and began to detach from the Fatimids. He also expelled the persons from different key posts being appointed by al-Aziz in Maghrib. It is related that al-Aziz deputed a dai Abul Fahm Hasan bin Nasr in Maghrib to collect the informations and report him back. Mansur arrested and put him to death. Al-Aziz however tried to cope with the situation of the Maghrib very politely. The Zirid ruler Mansur was succeeded by his son, Badis (386-406/996-1016), who had procured his close ties with Imam al- Hakim. The fourth Zirid ruler, al-Muizz bin Badis had however renounced the suzerainty of the Fatimids in 436/1044.

Jawhar conquered Syria in 359/969, making Jafar bin Falah as a governor. When al-Muizz was in Cairo, a Turkish commander Iftagin, under the Buwahids defeated the Fatimid governor of Damascus, and started the Abbasid khutba. Al-Muizz had offered him to come in Cairo, but Iftagin declined it, and as a result, al-Muizz took field against him, but died at Balbis. Iftagin sacked Syria, thus al-Aziz sent his general, Jawhar. He besieged Damascus on 22nd Zilkada, 365/July 22, 976 for two months. Meanwhile, the Qarmatians led by Hasan al-A'sam came to the help of Iftagin. Jawhar lifted the seige, because his supplies were running short, and went to Ramla, then returned to Cairo and reported to al-Aziz. This time al-Aziz himself commanded his forces and attacked enemies with all his might at Ramla, and forced them to retreat. Iftagin and Hasan al-A'sam took their heels. Al-Aziz announced a reward for one lac dinar for capturing Iftagin. Ironically, Iftagin was caught by one of his friends and brought before al-Aziz. He, keeping with his nature, behaved very politely with Iftagin, and returned to him all his personal belongings and included him among his door-keepers (hajib), a high grade in the hierarchy of the Fatimid court. His behaviour with Iftagin was so remarkable that Iftagin himself admitted: "I blush to mount my horse in the presence of our Lord al-Aziz. I did everything to oppose him, but he did not seek revenge, and I dare not to look at him because of the gifts and favours with which he overwhelms me." The Qarmatian leader, Hasan al-A'sam was forced to flee from Ramla, and lost his influence in Damascus.

When Iftagin fought with the Fatimid at Ramla, he had left behind Kassam Sharrab in Damascus. When al-Aziz defeated Iftagin, he sent Fazal bin Saleh and Suleman bin Jafar Falah, one after another, but none could capture Damascus. Fazal bin Saleh retreated to Palestine and held a series of talks with the Hamdanid Abu Taghlib, who had been expelled from Mosul by the Buwahid Adud ad-Dawla (367-372/978- 983). Abu Taghlib had also failed to occupy Damascus, therefore, he aspired to obtain at least its governorship from the Fatimid Imam al-Aziz. Abu Taghlib gave his words to Fazal bin Saleh in the campaign to conquer Damascus, but the latter had already allied himself with the Jarrahid leader, Mufraj bin Dagfal bin Jarrah of Palestine. In sum, Mufraj defeated Abu Taghlib in 369/979 and took possession of the whole territory of Palestine. His cooperation with Fazal bin Saleh was however short-lived, as he had shaken his hand with Kassam Sharrab, the chief of Damascus.

In 373/983, Imam al-Aziz sent Balaktagin, a Turkish commander of the Fatimid forces against these two rebels. He defeated Mufraj bin Dagfal in Palestine, who managed to flee to Antioch, where he took refuge with the Byzantines. Thence, Balaktagin proceeded to Damascus and defeated Kassam, and appointed Akhlaj as a governor, who was followed by Bekjur in 373/983.

Bekjur was a slave of Sa'd ad-Dawla (356-381/967-991), the Hamdanid chief of Aleppo. When Balaktagin had taken field against Kassam Sharrab in Damascus, Bekjur had provided necessary provisions to the Fatimid forces from Aleppo, and therefore, he was made the governor of Damascus after Akhlaj in appreciation of his aids. In the meantime, Bekjur sought permission from al-Aziz to conquer Aleppo, and soon afterwards, he besieged Aleppo. Sa'd ad-Dawla, the chief of Aleppo sought reinforcement from the Byzantine, forcing Bekjur to lift the siege and retreat to Damascus.

Al-Aziz however retained Bekjur's governorship in Damascus, but was expelled later in 378/988. He persuaded al-Aziz to assign him with the command of a new expedition against Aleppo. He however acquired little help from the local Fatimid forces, but was defeated and killed in 381/991 by Sa'd ad-Dawla, who was aided as usual by the Byzantines.

Few years later, al-Aziz once again turned his attention to conquer Aleppo. This time the Fatimid forces besieged Aleppo in 385/995 for several months at the command of Manjutagin. Meanwhile, the Byzantine emperor Basil II (975-1025) himself came with a large force to help Sa'd ad-Dawla's son, Sa'id ad-Dawla (381-392/992-1002) and saved Aleppo from going into Fatimid hands.

Inspite of political differences between the Fatimids and the Umayyads of Spain, there had been cultural and commercial transactions between the two Muslim empires. During al-Aziz's period, the relations between him and Umayyad caliph al-Hakam II (350-366/961-976) were improved and there had been diplomatic correspondence between them as is learnt from a letter of al-Aziz, vide "Nihayat al-Arab" (p. 58) by Nuwayri (d. 732/1332). Their relations can also be ascertained from the fact that the Umayyad Prince Muhammad bin Abdul Malik bin Abdur Rehman al-Nasir composed few verses in praise of Imam al-Aziz.


Yaqub bin Killis 

Abul Faraj Yaqub bin Yousuf, known as Ibn Killis was born in a reputed Jewish family of Baghdad on 318/930. When he grew young, he came with his father to Egypt and began his political career at the court of Abul Misk Kafur. Very soon, he secured key position in the court because of being intelligent, honest and efficient. He embraced Islam in 357/968 and Kafur too died in the same year. The new vizir Abu Jafar Furat had imprisoned him in enmity, but was relieved soon by the intervention of Sharif Muslim al-Hussain. He finally quitted Egypt and entered into the Fatimid services in Maghrib. Imam al-Muizz had assigned him the tasks of accelerating the economy of Maghrib, which he discharged efficiently. He also accompanied Imam al-Muizz to Egypt and was handed over the administration in 363/974. He was a man of great ability and is credited with having organised the fiscal and administrative system.

Imam al-Aziz appointed him as Vizir al-Ajall (chief minister) in 367/977 and became the first Fatimid vizir. Qalqashandi (d. 821/1418) writes in "Subh al-A'asha" (3rd vol., p. 483) that, "The first man to be addressed as vizir during the Fatimid Caliphate was Yaqub bin Killis, the minister of al-Aziz." He created different cells for the administration of the state, and promoted the output of agriculture, reformed trade and stabilized currency, causing increase of state revenue. In 373/983, he had fallen from his office because he is said to have ill-treated with one of the court prisoners of al-Aziz whom the Imam had promised all honours. Thus, al-Aziz penalised him with the fine of 200,000 dinars and after one year, he was reinstated in the office.

One can well judged the status of Yaqub bin Killis in the eyes of the Imam, when he fell seriously ill in 380/991. Al-Aziz visited him and said, "O Yaqub! if your recovery is to be gained through spending wealth, then I am prepared to give away the whole wealth of the state. If your life is saved by sacrificing any life, I am ready to sacrifice my own son."

Yaqub bin Killis died in 380/991 and his death was mourned through out Egypt and all the people assembled in the street leading from the citadel to his house. His shroud was decorated with 50 pieces of clothes of which 30 were embroidered with gold threads. Al-Aziz came forth, evidently much afflicted; he was mounted on a mule, and, contrary to his usual custom when riding out, no parasol was borne over him. He offered the funeral service over him; and said, "O vizir! how long shall I grieve for you." Ibn Khallikan writes that hundred of poets composed lamenting stanzas and every poet earned his reward from al-Aziz. In Cairo, a place was named al-Harat al-Viziria in his memory.

During the festival of Id al-nahr, the principle celebration took place at the open praying ground outside Cairo. The Imam used to go there in a splendid procession to perform prayer and deliver sermon. Upon his return to the palace, the people were repasted with delicious meals. Makrizi writes in "Khitat" (2nd vol., p. 220) that, "Al-Aziz introduced an innovation by building in Cairo a special house (dar al-fitra), in which meals were served during the festival of Id al-Fitr."

The period of al-Aziz on the whole was one of peace and prosperity. He also patronised scholars and encouraged learning. His generosity became so popular that the common people were comparatively happier in his regime. The trade flourished to such extent that the industry of Cairo produced such a fine cloth that a whole robe could be passed through a finger ring. In 365/976, al-Aziz built the first market in Cairo alongwith the first bathhouses.

One of the famous persons during al-Aziz's period was Abul Hussain Ali bin Qadi Noman, who attained a high rank of chief justice (qadi al-qudat) after the death of Qadi Abu Tahir in 367/977. His appointment was proclaimed at the summit of the mosque of al-Azhar and Jam- i'l Atiq in Cairo. He was also assigned with the supervision of cases of inheritance, the mint and the quality of gold and silver coins. He appointed his brother, Muhammad bin Noman as his deputy and the qadi of Mediterranean towns of Farama, Tunnis and Damietta. Qadi Abdul Hussain Ali was a prolific writer, upright as a judge, talented in Arabic literature and well steeped in poetry. He died on 6th Rajab, 374/December 3, 984 in Cairo, and al-Aziz had offered his funeral prayer.

After the death of Qadi Abul Hussain Ali bin Noman, al-Aziz wrote to his brother, Abu Abdullah Muhammad to take over the charge of the office of qadi al-qudat to fill the gap of his brother. In 382/992, Qadi Abdullah Muhammad had established a juridical office in the old mosque to give legal opinion according to the Fatimid law. He was also a man of great talent, skilled in the system of jurisprudence and diligent as a scholar. He died on 4th Safar, 389/January 25, 998 in Cairo. Imam al-Hakim led his funeral prayer.

Joel Carmichael writes in "The Shaping of the Arabs" (London, 1969, pp. 242-3) that, "The Fatimid age was one of great prosperity, with a thorough awareness of the vital importance of commerce, both economically and politically, for the extension of Fatimid political influence. Egyptian trade before the Fatimids had been quite limited in scope, but under the impulse of the financial administration founded by Ibn Killis whole plantations and industries were developed in the countryside and Egyptian products began being exported in quantity, while at the same time an extensive network of trade relations evolved both with Europe and with India. The Fatimids, while still based in Tunisia, had had lively trade relations with southern Europe, and when they got to Egypt their business conncetions with Italy, especially Pisa, Amalfi and Venice, were resumed and extended. Egyptian ships and traders, based at two great harbours, Alexandria in Egypt and Tripoli in Syria, went as far west as Spain. Indeed, the whole of the eastern Mediterranean was dominated by the ships of the Fatimid regime."

Hamilton A.R. Gibb writes in "Studies on the Civilization of Islam" (Boston, 1962, p. 20) that, "The significance of the Fatimid movement in the Islamic Renaissance is not to be measured only by the contributions of its professed adherents or sympathizers, but by the encouragement which it gave to intellectual activities of all kinds, even among its political or religious opponents, and its influence long survived the fall of the Fatimid Caliphate in 1171. It spread a spirit of free enquiry, individuals endeavour, and interaction of ideas, which expressed itself in the works of almost all the outstanding writers of Persia and Iraq in the fourth century, and most notably in Ibn Sina (Avicenna), and found echoes even in Muslim Spain, in spite of the restrictive tendencies of the orthodox Maliki school and the Almoravid rulers."

It should be known that a rare pear-shaped ewer made of rock crystal, bearing a Kufic inscription with the name of al-Aziz, represents one of the finest achievements of Islamic rock-crystal carvings. It is decorated with two seated lions confronting a tree of life, which is preserved in the treasury of St. Mark's in Venice.

It will be interesting to note that Makrizi quotes in his "Khitat" (1st vol., p. 121) an Egyptian poet, Abdul Wahab bin al-Hajib (d. 387/997) speaking of the two gigantic pyramids in his time in the following words:-

"Tis as though the country, parched with thirst, had bared her two towering breasts, invoking God's help; like a woman bereft of her child. And then the Almighty made her a gift of the Nile, which supplies a copious draught to her."

In 375/985, one Muhallabi drew up an itinerary for the Fatimid Imam al-Aziz which, for the first time, gave accurate information about the Sudan of which the other geographers of that century knew very little. His book was named, "al-Aziz" which he dedicated to al-Aziz, and had become the main source of Yaqut (d. 626/1229) for the Sudan.

Ibn Taghri Birdi (4th vol., p. 152) writes that al-Aziz had signed a truce for seven years with the Byzantine emperor in 377/987, stipulating three terms:- the release of 5000 Muslim prisoners captured by the Byzantines, the recitation of the Fatimid khutba in the grand mosque of Constantinople and the supply of the merchandise needed for the Egyptians.

Yaqub bin Killis was followed in rapid succession by six vizirs. In 380/991, al-Aziz appointed a Copic Christian, Isa bin Nestorius (d. 387/397) as his vizir, and the latter appointed a Jew, Manasseh bin Ibrahim al-Kazzaz as his deputy in Syria and Palestine. The vizir began to favour the Christians in Egypt and his deputy to the Jews in Syria and Palestine. When the Muslims made the complaints, al-Aziz at once dismissed them in 385/995 and seized 300,000 dinars from Isa bin Nestorious and a large sum from Manesseh bin Ibrahim.

In 382/992, Abul Darda Muhammad bin al-Musayyib Uqayti (d. 386/996), the governor of Mosul, declared his loyalty to al-Aziz and recited the Fatimid khutba in Mosul.

In 386/996, al-Aziz had personally set out to command the Fatimid armies against the joint forces of the Hamdanids of Aleppo and the Byzantines, but he at once fell ill at Bilbis, the first junction on his route to Syria. When al-Aziz felt that the shadows of his death were closing upon him, he summoned Ibn Ammar and Qadi Muhammad bin Noman and declared to them his son, al-Hakim as his successor. Both are said to have sworn loyalty and obedience to al-Aziz's command. On 28th Ramdan, 386/October 14, 996, al-Aziz met sudden death, from a stone in the kidney in the town of Bilbis.

Philip K. Hitti writes in "Capital Cities of Arab Islam" (London, 1973, p. 119), "Before his (al-Aziz) death at the age of forty-one, his name was cited in the Friday sermons from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, from southern Yamen to northern Syria, and at least once in northern Iraq." According to Sayyid Fayyaz Mahmud in "Short History of Islam" (Karachi, 1960, p. 214), "The Fatimid power reached its peak in the days of the fifth Caliph, Nizar al-Aziz, whose dominions were greater in area than those of the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad. There was inevitably keen rivalry between the two, and no love was lost between them either, for they divided the Muslim world into two halves, the Sunni East and the Shiite West of the Fatimids." Rom Landau writes in "Islam and the Arabs" (London, 1958, p. 63) that, "During the reign of the fifth Fatimid Caliph, Nizar al-Aziz, the dynasty reached its highest point in power, prosperity and extent. The development of trade, the building up of plantations and the encouragement of industry so increased the power of this dynasty that it was able to exert its influence in Syria, Arabia, much of North Africa, and, on one occasion, even in Baghdad." Dr. Amir Hasan Siddiqui writes in "Cultural Centres of Islam" (Karachi, 1970, pp. 61-62) that, "The Caliph al-Aziz was himself a poet and lover of learning. It was he who made the Azhar mosque and academy. He also built dwellings for a large number of professors and students, who were paid salaries and stipends respectively."

The famous poet, al-Amir Tamim bin al-Muizz (d. 375/985) in his "Diwan al-Amir Tamim" (Ms. in the private collection of Dr. Kamil Hussain) had composed many verses in praise of al-Aziz, whose few examples are given below:-

 "Surely, you are the chosen Caliph by obedience to whom we become nearer to God." (p. 23)

 "Without al-Aziz, the deputy of God, I would not have dared to resort to God or seek His help." (p. 51)

 "You alone of the kings of the world have a divine soul in a mortal body." (p. 52)

 "You are the chosen of God from among all his creatures, and you are the visible aspect of the majesty of God." (p. 61)

 "You are the God's sign which sheds light among us and you possess the treasure of knowledge." (p. 63)

"Those who sin and doubt and commit inequity, you lead in the path of righteousness." (Ibid.)


AL-HAKIM (386-411/996-1021)

Gold coin minted in Misr and dated 405/1014-1015
[fourth line gives the name :"al-Imam al-Haqim bi Amr Allah Amir al-Mu'minin"]

He was born on 23rd Rabi I, 375/August 14, 985 in Cairo, and was the first Fatimid Imam born on Egyptian soil. His name was al-Mansur Abu Ali, surnamed al-Hakim bi-Amrillah (He who governs by the orders of God). In 383/993, he was however declared as a successor of his father, following the death of his brother Muhammad. On that occasion, a traditional procession to al-Azhar was used for a public proclamation in this context. Al-Hakim acceded the throne in 386/996 at the age of 11 years, 5 months and 6 days.

Ibn Khallikan (3rd vol., p. 525), Ibn Muyassar (p. 51) and other chroniclers quote Musabbihi as narrating the incident of succession as related by al-Hakim himself that:- "My father called be before his death. His body was naked except for bandages and pieces of cloth. He hugged me and kissed me and said, `I am grieved about you, O my heart's love.' His eyes were full of tears, then he said, `Go dear and play, I am all right.' I went out and occupied myself as children do when they play until God transferred al-Aziz to Him. Barjawan came to me while I was at the top of a sycamore tree which was in the yard of the house. He said, `Descend, may God be with you.' I dismounted; he put the diamond turban on my head, kissed the ground before me and said, `May peace be upon you, Amir al-mominin, God's mercy and blessings.' He took me out to the people and they all kissed the ground before me and greeted me as Caliph."

Makrizi writes in "Itti'az" (p. 386) when al-Hakim assumed Imamate and Caliphate that, "On the following morning the dignitaries assembled in the Grand Hall to await the new Caliph. Al-Mansur, wearing the diamond turban, entered the Hall and walked to the golden throne, the assembly bowing to the ground meanwhile. They greeted him with the baya as Imam and the title al-Hakim bi-Amrillah by which he was thereafter known." Upn the termination of the ceremony, Qadi Muhammad bin Noman went to the cathedral mosque, led the prayer and delivered the khutba in the name of al-Hakim bi-Amrillah.

Al-Hakim, however assumed full power of the empire at the age of fourteen, and thus it does not appear to have affected his early education. He had a good command of Arabic tongue, and a fine knowledge of poetry at an early age. Makrizi writes in "Itti'az" (p. 387) that, "Al-Hakim had skillfulness in the knowledge of poetry which no other man had in Egypt. At his court, the poets would gather to recite their poetry, while he would listen carefully and ask for the repetition of every verse which held exceptional meaning. Each of them would receive gifts of money in accordance with the quality of his works." He was a mere twelve years of age when he gained this reputation. The astronomy was also included in his course of studies. Antaki (d. 458/1065) writes in "Tarikh-i Antaki" (Beirut, 1909, p. 217) that, "He appears as a pleasant man with a sense of humour, and often exchanged jokes with those to whom he spoke in the streets." Antaki also writes, "Al-Hakim would frequently pause in the streets of his capital to exchange greetings or answer questions from his poor subjects." (Ibid. p. 200) Marshall Hodgson writes in "The Venture of Islam" (London, 1974, 2nd vol., p. 26) that, "Al- Hakim wished, above all, to be the perfect ruler; widely generous, enforcing strict good order, and absolutely just to all the people. Personally, he avoided all luxury and mounted a simple donkey for his excursions."

Al-Hakim is described as generous and brave by the chroniclers. His clothes were simple, made chiefly of wool, and chose to ride on an ass. He disliked diamond turban and wore plain white scarf. His food was simple, and that too cooked by his mother only. He was an impressive figure, tall and broad-shouldered with a powerful voice. His large eyes were dark blue and flecked with deep reddish gold.

Abul Fawaris Ahmad bin Yaqub (d. 413/1022) writes in "Ar-Risala fi'l Imama" (comp. 408/1077) that Imam al-Hakim delivered his first speech from the pulpit of a mosque in Cairo on 386/996 and said: "O'people, surely God has made us superior by the word of Imamate. He has eternalized it in us, so that it may last until the day of doom. The one of us receives it from the other and the son inherits it from the father. This is the bounty of God, He gives it to whomever He wishes, and God is of bounty abounding."


Clash between Maghriba and Mashriqa

 The Berbers dominated the Fatimid army, known in Egypt as Maghriba (the westerners). Al-Aziz had introduced the Turkish and Iranian soldiers in the army, known as Mashriqa (the easterners), as a counterpoise against the fast growing influence of the Berbers. Only two days after the death of Imam al-Aziz, the Maghriba faction in the army began to raise and stipulated that no one but Ibn Ammar should be the wasita (chief minister). Ibn Ammar negotiated with them, securing their goodwill in exchange for increased payment. Al-Hakim capitulated and responded to their demands, and appointed Ibn Ammar with a title of amin ad-dawla (trustee of the state).

Ibn Ammar intended to establish a purely Berber government in Egypt. His rule, indeed, was characterized by unmasked favourism of the Maghriba. Rudhrawari (d. 488/1095) writes that, "The aim of the Maghriba was to abolish the institution of the Fatimid Imam and build an empire of their own. Ibn Ammar's friends advised him to kill al-Hakim. Ibn Ammar, who intended to follow their advices, but dissuaded later on because al-Hakim was too young and harmless." (cf. "Tajarib al-Umam" by Miskawayh, p. 222). The Berber tribe of Katama, known as Maghriba appears to have been the centres of this change, as they considered that they had been the conquerors of Maghrib and of Egypt, and why should the fruits of this conquest be laid at the feet of an Arab dynasty in the progeny of Ali. Immediately after his appointment, Ibn Ammar began to allocate high positions to his supporters. He dismissed the Turkish and Iranian soldiers, known as the Mashriqa, from the high posts, and restored the power of the Berbers. He also curtailed the power of Abul Futuh Barjawan, the regent of the Imam, and confined him as a tutor of al-Hakim in the palace. The chiefs of Mashriqa thus had been dismissed and some of their supporters were even executed. Annual allowances to them were stopped, and many of them fled from Egypt fearing being killed.

On the day when Ibn Ammar was proclaimed wasita, every Maghriba received 20 dinars, and each was promised an additional 64 dinarsannually. On one occasion, he gave 1500 horses to Katama supporters.


Downfall of Ibn Ammar 

Barjawan allied himself with the Turkish commander called, Manjutagin, who himself was a great force in Syria. He readily espoused to Barjawan's faction, and formed an alliance with some of the Bedouin chiefs and left Damascus at the head of six thousand troops to march towards Egypt. Ibn Ammar mobilized his troops under the leadership of Suleman bin Falah and provided him with the large sums of money to be used in diverting the loyalty of the Bedouin chiefs against Manjutagin. The two armies clashed between Ramla and Askalan, and after three days of minor encounters, they fought the final battle. Manjutagin was subdued and taken prisoner and sent captive to Cairo. The battle resulted in victory for the Maghriba, but impugned a dangerous problem to the state, a fast growing opposition between the Maghriba and Mashriqa in Egypt. The defeated Mashriqa arrived in Cairo and threatened Ibn Ammar's rule, while the majority of Maghribawere in Syria with Suleman bin Falah. To overcome the problem, Ibn Ammar planned to increase his supporters and at the same time adopted a moderate line of policy towards Mashriqa, and pardoned Manjutagin. Suleman bin Falah also followed a similar policy in Syria and tried to convince its inhabitants that his plans were for peace and security. He dismissed Jaysh ibn Samsama from the governorship of Tripoli and replaced him with his own brother Ali.

Thus, Jaysh, a powerful Katama chief, went to Cairo to revenge himself by attempting to overthrow Ibn Ammar. He made an alliance with Barjawan and the chiefs of Mashriqa. Barjawan's opportunity to gain power came with the presence of Jaysh in Egypt. He provoked riots and disturbances in Cairo and threw the blames on Ibn Ammar and his supporters. Ibn Ammar invited them to his palace under the pretext to discuss the riots between Berbers and Turks, but secretly had planned their executions. However, Barjawan, who had planted many spies in Ibn Ammar's palace, was informed of this and formed a counterplan. He and his supporters decided to accept the invitation. They planned to foil the attack by retreating among them, thus exposing Ibn Ammar's treasonable intentions. Barjawan's plan succeeded and he and his allies returned to the royal palace, declared Ibn Ammar to be a traitor and prepared to fight. With as many supporters as he could muster, Ibn Ammar left Cairo and camped in the desert. Barjawan followed him and in a battle which lasted half a day, Ibn Ammar was defeated, and fled. By the overthrow of Ibn Ammar in 387/997, Barjawan assumed the office of wasita (chief minister) after Ibn Ammar had held office for a little less than eleven months. Barjawan took out al-Hakim in public to demonstrate his loyalty towards the Fatimids.

Barjawan pardoned Ibn Ammar and granted him the same monthly allowances and supplies that he had received during the period of Imam al- Aziz.


End of Abul Futuh Barjawan

 With his accession to power, Abul Futuh Barjawan had to face a number of problems. He however handled the situation, and endeavoured to get an end of it, or at least to lessen the rivalry between Maghriba and Mashriqa. In the appointment of key posts, he tried to create equality which would satisfy the average persons of both groups. He appointed Ismail bin Fahl al-Katami, a Maghriba chief as the governor of Tyre and Bushara al-Ikhshidi, a Mashriqa chief as the governor of Damascus. For the governor generalship of Syria and the supreme command of the Fatimid forces stationing there, he chose Jaysh ibn Samsama, a powerful Maghriba chief. He made an efficient Christian, Fahd bin Ibrahim al-Katib as his personal secretary and invested him the title of al-Rais (the master).

Barjawan now governed the state with unbounded authority. In 388/998, he gave his friends key posts: Khawad was made the head of the police in Egypt; Malik as the chief of navy, Maysur as the governor of Tripoli in Syria; Yamim, his own brother, as the governor of Askalan and Qayd as the chief of the police department in Cairo. He now began to take major decisions without Imam's consent. He wanted to make the Imam merely an ornamented figure in the palace, and bring him out to grace only in the state functions. He treated al-Hakim, even after his succession to the Caliphate, in the same manner in which he did previously, overlooking the fact that he was no longer a child. He treated al-Hakim as helpless child and did not allow him even to ride on horseback. Makrizi writes in "Itti'az" (p. 390) that al-Hakim once said, "Barjawan was extremely ill-mannered. I summoned him one day while we were riding on horseback. He came, putting his foot on the neck of his horse, and while I was speaking to him, the sole of his shoe was turned towards my face and he did not seem to think it was wrong. Incidents like this were so many that it would take a long time to mention them." Ibn Muyassar in "Akhbar al-Misr" (p. 56) and Makrizi in "Khitat" (2nd vol., p. 4) consider such treatment as dictatorship (istibdad), causing al-Hakim's resentment which resulted his death.

Ibn Qalanisi (p. 51) writes that, "Abul Fazal Raydan, the bearer of the royal parasol (mizalla), once said to al-Hakim, `Barjawan is planning to emulate the career of Malik Kafur (d. 357/968) and purposes to deal with you as Malik Kafur dealt with Ikhshidi's son by isolating you and eliminating yourn power. The right thing to do is his immediate murder and administer your state alone.' Al-Hakim replied, `If this is your opinion and advice, then I need your help.'"

Barjawan was finally slain on 16th Rabi II, 390/March 25, 1000 by Abul Fazal Raydan, who carried out the murder with his associates in a place called Bustan Duwayrat al-Tin, a garden near the royal palace where Barjawan was walking with al-Hakim. Barjawan held his office for 2 years, 7 months and 29 days. In terms of wealth and power, Barjawan was typical of the top echclon of the ruling circles. Ibn Bassam (d. 542/1148) writes in "al-Dhakhira fi Mahasin al-Jazira" (Cairo, 1945, p. 232) that after the death of Barjawan, an officer of central treasury found in his house: one hundred scarves (mandil) of different colours, one hundred another kind of scarves (sharabiya), one thousand pairs of trousers (sirwal), one Armenian silk (takka), an uncountable quantity of clothes, jewels, gold, perfumes and furniture, three hundred thousand dinars, one hundred and fifty horses and mules in his personal stable, three hundred pack horses and mules and a hundred and fifty saddles, twenty of which were pure gold.

Henceforward, Imam al-Hakim took over the power into hand at the age of fourteen years. Barjawan's execution provoked some apprehension among the people, but al-Hakim skillfully navigated the storm. He went out to the people and declared: "I have been informed of an intrigue which Barjawan made against me, and for that I caused him to be executed." Makrizi writes in "Itti'az" (2nd vol., p. 27) that al-Hakim speaking before an assembly next day of state dignitaries (shuyukh ad-dawla), the leaders of Katama and Turks, said: "Barjawan was my slave and I employed him. He acted in good faith and I treated him with favours. He then began to misbehave, so I killed him." The death of Barjawan marks the beginning of the second period of al-Hakim's reign.

The period between 390/1000 and 396/1007 was critical because of famine and economical distress. There was also a general deterioration of economic and social life between 395/1004 and 411/1021 when most of the royal decrees (manshur) covering religious and social legislation were issued by al-Hakim. Vatikiotis writes in "The Fatimid Theory of State" (Lahore, 1957, pp. 152-3) that, "Although such legislation may have appeared maniacal to al-Hakim's contemporaries, it is astounding how modern historians, who could have conducted a more dispassionate investigation, have accepted such verdict. His forbidding extravagant spending in entertainments when the Nile was exceptionally low in 398/1008 and his fight against profiteering from high prices during the famine crisis are examples of sensible legislation for the public welfare. For example, his handling of thieves and vagrants was amazing and probably very effective at the time. A spy system to report thieves to the "man" inside the "sphinx" statue is commendable, if that were a way to stop hooliganism. In the evening, al-Hakim would hold open forum, where the merchants would report to the "sphinx" the missing items from their stores. The latter would, through previous information, deliver the name of the robber. This seems an interesting and brilliant method of coping with vagrant thieves rampant in a period of depression. Al-Hakim no doubt understood the psychological power of miracles and their effect upon the masses."

Hence, al-Hakim had to take drastic measures by pressure of circumstances. On account of his extreme measures to meet the challenges, he became a controversial figure. Historians have held different opinions for him. Abul Fida, Ibn Athir and Ibn Khallikan depict him as an heretic and wily tyrant. Prof. Hitti, on the other hand, defends him, and writes in "The Origins of the Druze People and Religion" (New York, 1928, p. 27) that, "The fact that al-Hakim introduced many reforms regulating weights and measures, fought immorality with police ordinances .... amidst a hostile milieu indicates that he was not the kind of maniac or fool whose biography these early writers have left us."

It must be noted that Antaki and Ibn al-Sabi's records discrediting al-Hakim's personality should be treated with a degree of caution since both historians were aggressive to al-Hakim and lived in distant countries. Al-Hakim's so called cruelty may have been the result of the circumstances rather than the acts of a sadist, or were perhaps exaggerated according to the view of the hostile historians. He ascended when he was still a child and witnessed fierce struggle and rivalry for power among the high officials of his state. This may have created a sense of insecurity which led him to resort to so called cruelty as a tool of maintaining his power. Ibn al-Futi, who is quoted by Makrizi in "Itti'az" (p. 411) suggests that, "al-Hakim's cruelty was both part of his policy to abolish the corruption resulting from his father's great tolerance, and vengeance against those who oppose the Islamic law of the state." In "The Encyclopaedia of Islam" (Leiden, 1971, 3rd vol., p. 80), M. Canard writes that, "It cannot, however, be said that his reign was particularly unfortunate for Egypt."

Muhammad Abdullah al-Inan writes in his "al-Hakim bi-Amrillah wa Asrar al-Dawa al-Fatimiya" (Cairo, 1937, p. 173) that, "We are however unable to understand different political enigmas of al-Hakim, but it is beyond doubt that the ordinances and injunctions he imposed were not against the Islamic traditions to a little extent. These were also not the result of the whimsical thoughts, but based on the ordinary reformations of the state, therefore, the wisdom and strategy motivated behind them can never be ruled out." Dozy also writes in the same vein in "Essai sur l'historire de I'Islamism" (Leiden, 1879, p. 148) that, "We fail to know the enigmatic personality of the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim, therefore, it is not plausible to draw a conclusion that these were the outcome of whimsical thoughts."


Policy towards the wasita

 It must be remembered however that the constant struggle for power between the two elements in the Fatimid's army presented al-Hakim with a very serious problem. His position was also threatened by the growing influence of mudabbir ad-dawla (the administrator of state affairs), better known as wasita (the mediator, executor of the Caliph's orders or chief minister), simply an intermediary between the Imam and the people. Both Ibn Ammar and Barjawan had forcefully seized power and became themselves as wasitas, and misused the office. This was the first crack in the political structure. In the face of this trend, al-Hakim's attitude towards each successive wasitaduring the last twenty years of his Caliphate, was well and carefully planned to control his exercise of power. He did not abolish the institution of wasita, but restricted its power. Makrizi writes in "Itti'az" (p. 390) that, "After the appointment of al-Hussain bin Jawhar as wasita in 390/1000, he was ordered not to receive or deal with petitions in his own house or in public streets; those who had cases of complaints should be told to deliver them to him only at the office in the palace." Hussain bin Jawhar together with his secretary, Fahd bin Ibrahim, would come early to the palace, receive the petitions, study them and carry them to the Imam for final judgement. Except for Hussain bin Jawhar and Ali bin Falah, none of the wasita had a military background. None was powerful tribal chief nor a chief of any element of the army. Most of them were from poor class. No wasita was allowed to remain in office for a long period. In the course of his twenty years of rule of al-Hakim, more than fifteen wasita were employed, some held office for as little as ten days. Severity was the prominent feature in al-Hakim's attitude towards his wasitas, and the majority of those who occupied that office were executed. Thus, Ibn Hammad (d. 628/1230) writes in "Akhbar al-Muluk Bani Ubayd wa Siyaratihim" (p. 57) that al-Jarjara'i, a high official who had lost both hands by the command of al-Hakim, would tell those who remarked upon such treatment that: "This was a punishment which I deserved for betraying amir al-mominin's orders." According to Marshall Hodgson in "The Venture of Islam" (London, 1974, 2nd vol., p. 27), "He was merciless to any of the great who, he thought, took advantage of their position."

Historians have generally shown al-Hakim's attitude as a tyrant and blood-thirsty. Such commitments, however, do not seem to be quite accurate, and many have been hastily arrayed without a thorough investigation. P.J. Vatikiotis writes in "The Fatimid Theory of State"(Lahore, 1957, p. 149), that, "These presentations have been hastily arrayed without a genuine investigation of al-Hakim's reign." This part of al-Hakim's policy cannot be described as blood-thirsty or insane.

Al-Hakim was extremely engaged in a deadly struggle of retaining the Fatimid Caliphate. He was not fighting only the secular tendencies of political power groups, but also attempting to rally the fast disintegrating Fatimid ranks in the face of impending danger.

It is a common method which most rulers used to adopt to silence opposition and prevent threats to their own powers. There is no evidence suggesting that, at any time, al-Hakim ordered the execution of someone just for the sake of killing. His bursts of killing, as M.G.S. Hodgson says in "al-Darazi and Hamza in the Origin of the Druze Religion" (JAOS, 82, 1962, p. 14), "were most obviously turned against the great and the proud, the holders of positions and those ambitious to be such." There were more precisely against those from whom al-Hakim anticipated danger or considered a threat to his power. A comparative study of his attitude towards qadi al-qudat (chief judge) with the manner in which he treated the wasita and military chiefs illustrates this point. It was only Qadis who opposed his policy who were executed; others were treated quite normally. During his entire reign, al-Hakim employed five persons to that post of Qadi al-qudat. Muhammad bin Noman died in 389/998 and al-Hakim himself led the prayer at his funeral. His successor, Hussain bin Noman served until 395/1004 when he was executed after being found guilty of theft. Muhammad bin Yousuf al-Kindi (d. 330/951) writes in "Kitab al-Umra wa'l Kitab al-Qudat" (London, 1912, p. 608) that, "Hussain bin Noman stole twenty thousand dinars from an orphan whose father entrusted the money to him. His trial was personally conducted by al-Hakim." Abdul Aziz bin Noman succeeded until 399/1008 when he was dismissed, and two years later executed for opposing al-Hakim and supporting Hussain bin Jawhar. Malik bin Sa'id al-Fariqi served for 6 years, 9 months and 10 days (399/1008 to 405/1014) and was executed for opposing al-Hakim's policy for imposing Islamic laws. In 405/1014, al-Hakim appointed Muhammad bin Abi'l Awwam as Qadi al-qudat and Khatgin as a Dai al-duat, and both remained in office until the end of al-Hakim's rule because of their loyalty with the rules imposed.


Jaysh ibn Samasama 

Barjawan was able to overcome the chronic problems in Syria, and appointment of Jaysh ibn Samsama as a governor general and the commander of the Fatimid forces, indicates a shrewd policy. Jaysh was a powerful Maghriba leader and was also a popular figure among the Mashriqa. Initially, he had four major problems to be confronted when he reached Syria: the rebellion in Tyre, the rebellion of Mufraj bin Dagfal, the unrest in Damascus and the Byzantine invasions into the Fatimid territory.

Jaysh at first moved into the action to subdue the rebellion in Tyre, an important port on the Mediterranean coast; whose inhabitants, supported by the Byzantines, had rose against the Fatimid suzerainty during the clash between Barjawan and Ibn Ammar. Their leader, a sailor called Ullaqah had declared Trye an independent, and issued new coinage with the slogan, "Dignity and plenty instead of humility and poverty. Amir Ullaqah" (uzzun ba'da faqah al-amir Ullaqah). Jaysh appointed Abu Abdullah al-Hussain and Ibn Nasir ad-Dawla al- Hamdani to lead the expedition against Trye, and himself stayed with the rest of the forces in Palestine, preparing another expedition against Mufraj bin Dagfal. He also ordered the governors of Tripoli and Sidon to join together with their warships in the forthcoming fighting against Tyre. In the ensuing battle, the Fatimid forces ravaged the Byzantine ships, and at length, Tyre fell before the onslaught of the Fatimid forces. The Fatimid troops entered the city and declared immunity (aman) and safe-conduct for all who remained in their homes. Ullaqah was arrested and sent to Cairo.

After suppression of rebellion in Tyre, Jaysh proceeded towards Palestine, where Mufraj bin Dagfal was plundering the towns and attacking the pilgrim caravans. When confronted with the big army of Jaysh, Mufraj capitulated and sent a delegation, asking for safe- conduct and promised to advance his loyalty to the Fatimids. Jaysh, who was pressed by more serious problems in northern Syria, accepted the offer of Mufraj and pardoned him, and withdrew his army to the north.

Jaysh thence advanced towards Damascus, and as soon as he entered the city, according to Ibn Athir (9th vol., p. 50), he declared that his prime objective was to wage war against the Byzantine and establish peace and security in Damascus. He also announced the death penalty for any one, whether his soldiers or other citizens, who proved guilty of disturbing the peace in the city. Jaysh then moved towards Hims, where the governor of Tripoli and his troops and a number of volunteers, augmented Jaysh's army in his fight against the Byzantines, who had besieged Afamiya at that time.

Jaysah arrived at Afamiya during the hour when the city was in great distress and about to fall into the hands of Byzantines. In the ensuing battle lasted for a few days, Jaysh faced defeat in the beginning. In the interim, a Muslim soldier managed to kill the Byzantine commander, causing demoralization among the Christian troops. The Byzantine troops were defeated, who took wild flight from the field. Jaysh followed the defeated Byzantines as far as Antioch and besieged the city for a few days, but he at once lifted the siege and returned to Damascus.

It must be remembered that Ibn Ammar had instituted a group of the young men (ahdath) from among the Maghriba in Damascus against the Mashriqa. The Ahdath, an urban militia, commanded by al-Rais (master) or al-Rais al-Bilad, whose influence exceeded that of the qadi. As armed and pugnacious men of the native-born population, the Ahdath had constituted in face of the political authorities. The Ahadath had assumed the principal power and were the main cause of the troubles in Damascus. Jaysah tried to cope with these elements and finally decided to eliminate them once and for all. During his early arrival in Damasus, he delayed his plan owing to the raids of the Byzantines on northern Syria. After suppression of the Byzantine influence in Tyre and the troubles created by Mufraj bin Dagfal, he returned to Damscus to strike a final blow on the Ahdath. According to Qalanisi (p. 51), he invited the chiefs of Ahdath to his camp which he had pitched outside the city, and had them killed. He at once besieged the city and sent his troops inside to search and kill the remaining ashes of Ahdath. This operation clean-up cost the death toll of 1200 persons and brought fear to the inhabitants, but Jaysh declared for their safe-conduct and promised security and peace under the suzerainty of the Fatimids. This was of course a bloody operation, but at the same time it was a last resort and the only effective solution to solve the problems of Damascus, where peace was restored for a long time. In sum, the major threat to the suzernaity of the Fatimids in Damascus was avoided.

During the first three years of al-Hakim's rule, two major anti-Fatimid uprisings occurred in Damascus. It was the untiring efforts of Jaysh ibn Samsama that these rebellions had been subdued in 388/998. Al-Hakim's aim was to win the loyalty, therefore, he paid due attention to the welfare of Damascus and appointed considerable governors, some of whom were recalled after only a few months. Thus, 21 governors are reported to have been appointed in Syria during the 22 years of al-Hakim's rule. He did not hesitate to dismiss any governor who exceeded his authority or caused discontent among the inhabitants.

Jaysh ibn Samsama died on 390/1000 at Damascus. His son went to Cairo with a paper on which his father had written his will and a detailed statement of all his property: all this, he declared, belonged to al-Hakim; his children had no rights. The property thus valued was estimated at 200,000 pieces of gold. His son brought all this before al-Hakim, who said, "I have read your father's will and the statement of the money and goods of which he has disposed by his will. Take it, and enjoy it in tranquility and for your happiness."


Condition of Aleppo

 The Fatimid Imam al-Hakim had also contemplated to extend his authority to Aleppo, the greatest centre of northern Syria. The last Hamdanid ruler, Sa'id ad-Dawla had been killed in 392/1002 by the conspiracy of his minister, called Lulu; who abolished the Hamdanid dynasty in Aleppo and established his own. The real power behind Aleppo was however the Byzantines, who used to be called when their help needed to the rulers. Thus, al-Hakim made a non-aggression pact (hudna) with Basil II, the emperor of Byzantine and weakened the reliance of Aleppo on Byzantine help. There appears different of views as to the negotiation of non-aggression pact (hudna) between the Muslim and Christian empires. Ibn Qalanisi (p. 54) writes that in 390/1000, Barjawan moved first by sending a friendly letter through his Christian secretary, Fahd bin Ibrahim al-Katib, expressing the Fatimid desire for the pact. Antaki (p. 184) however states that the Byzantine emperor, Basil II took the initiative by deputing his two envoys to negotiate peace with the Fatimids. In sum, the agreement was initially for a period of ten years, but it remained enforced through out al-Hakim's period, and the relations between them were strengthened. Envoys and presents were exchanged between the two rulers and trade and commercial activities continued uninterrupted except for a brief period.

The events which occurred in Aleppo after the death of its ruler, Lulu in 399/1008 faciliated al-Hakim's policy and assisted him to achieve his goal. Lulu's son Mansur, succeeding his father, was faced with numerous enemies, including Abul Hayja, the Hamdanid prince who came from Byzantium with Byzantine support to restore the rule of his ancestors. Mansur received investitaure from al-Hakim and virtually became a Fatimid vassal. Al-Hakim supported Mansur against Abul Hayja, who had taken field and defeated.

In 406/1016, Mansur was defeated in a battle by Saleh bin Mirdas, the chief of the Banu Kilab. Mansur took refuge with the Byzantines after leaving a citadel under the control of a certain Fath, who was secretly in contact with al-Hakim. Thus, al-Hakim granted the title of Asad ad-Dawla (lion of the state) to Saleh bin Mirdas and Mubarak ad-Dawla (blessed of the state) to Fath. On the other hand, al- Hakim commanded his troops encamped in Syria to move towards Aleppo to prevent any pact between Saleh and Fath against the Fatimids. In 407/1017, the first Fatimid governor appointed by al-Hakim entered Aleppo, called Fatik, bearing the title of Aziz ad-Dawla. Ibn al-Adim (d. 660/1262) writes in "Zubdat al-Halab fi Tarikh Halab" (Damascus, 1951, 1st vol., p. 214) that al-Hakim issued an edict addressing to the inhabitants of Aleppo that, "When Amir al-mominin learned of the tyranny and ill treatment you suffered from those in powers, burdening you with taxes and harsh imposts out of all proportion to the ways of Islam, he, may God strengthen his power, ordered supplies to be sent to you from the state's stores and to exempt you from the kharaj until the year 407. By this you will know that the light of righteousness has risen and the darkness of tyranny has been dispelled."

The Byzantine emperor however opposed the Fatimid foothold in Aleppo, but did not break the non-agression pact (hubna) with the Fatimids. He put restrictions upon the trade with Aleppo and cemeted his close ties with the Mirdasids in order to employ them against Fatik. The remote distance of Cairo, the threats and offers of his Byzantine contacts and his personal ambition, made it easy for Fatik to show his back to the Fatimids. Soon afterwards, Fatik began to rule as an independent ruler in Aleppo and dismissed the officials appointed by al-Hakim and employed men of his own choice.

On this juncture, al-Hakim realized that a demonstration of the Fatimid arm forces was necessary to maintain his authority in Aleppo, therefore, he ordered his governor in Syria to prepare for a quick expedition against Fatik. On the other side, the troops of the Byzantine also came into action and started moving from the north to the south to support their interests. It was only the sudden death of al-Hakim that had prevented the two empires from breaking peace which had lasted between them for more than 20 years.


Conditions of the Maghrib

 It must be remembered that before embarking on his historic journey from Maghrib to Egypt in 361/972, Imam al-Muizz had appointed Buluggin bin Ziri, the amir of the Sanhaja tribe, as the governor of Maghrib, and invested him the honorific name, Abul Futuh Yousuf. He was vested with the governorship of all the Fatimid dominions in the west, except for Kalbid Sicily and for Tripoli. Later on, Buluggin moved from Ashir to Kairwan, where he founded the Zirid dynasty (361-543/972-1148). He was succeeded by his son, Mansur (373-386/984- 996), who fought with the Katama tribe and began to detach from the Fatimids. He also expelled the persons from different key posts being appointed by al-Aziz in Maghrib. It is related that al-Aziz deputed a dai Abul Fahm Hasan bin Nasr in Maghrib to collect the informations and report him back. Mansur arrested and put him to death. Al-Aziz however tried to cope with the situation of the Maghrib very politely. The Zirid ruler Mansur was succeeded by his son, Badis (386-406/996-1016), who had procured his close ties with Imam al- Hakim. The fourth Zirid ruler, al-Muizz bin Badis had however renounced the suzerainty of the Fatimids in 436/1044.

Jawhar conquered Syria in 359/969, making Jafar bin Falah as a governor. When al-Muizz was in Cairo, a Turkish commander Iftagin, under the Buwahids defeated the Fatimid governor of Damascus, and started the Abbasid khutba. Al-Muizz had offered him to come in Cairo, but Iftagin declined it, and as a result, al-Muizz took field against him, but died at Balbis. Iftagin sacked Syria, thus al-Aziz sent his general, Jawhar. He besieged Damascus on 22nd Zilkada, 365/July 22, 976 for two months. Meanwhile, the Qarmatians led by Hasan al-A'sam came to the help of Iftagin. Jawhar lifted the seige, because his supplies were running short, and went to Ramla, then returned to Cairo and reported to al-Aziz. This time al-Aziz himself commanded his forces and attacked enemies with all his might at Ramla, and forced them to retreat. Iftagin and Hasan al-A'sam took their heels. Al-Aziz announced a reward for one lac dinar for capturing Iftagin. Ironically, Iftagin was caught by one of his friends and brought before al-Aziz. He, keeping with his nature, behaved very politely with Iftagin, and returned to him all his personal belongings and included him among his door-keepers (hajib), a high grade in the hierarchy of the Fatimid court. His behaviour with Iftagin was so remarkable that Iftagin himself admitted: "I blush to mount my horse in the presence of our Lord al-Aziz. I did everything to oppose him, but he did not seek revenge, and I dare not to look at him because of the gifts and favours with which he overwhelms me." The Qarmatian leader, Hasan al-A'sam was forced to flee from Ramla, and lost his influence in Damascus.

When Iftagin fought with the Fatimid at Ramla, he had left behind Kassam Sharrab in Damascus. When al-Aziz defeated Iftagin, he sent Fazal bin Saleh and Suleman bin Jafar Falah, one after another, but none could capture Damascus. Fazal bin Saleh retreated to Palestine and held a series of talks with the Hamdanid Abu Taghlib, who had been expelled from Mosul by the Buwahid Adud ad-Dawla (367-372/978- 983). Abu Taghlib had also failed to occupy Damascus, therefore, he aspired to obtain at least its governorship from the Fatimid Imam al-Aziz. Abu Taghlib gave his words to Fazal bin Saleh in the campaign to conquer Damascus, but the latter had already allied himself with the Jarrahid leader, Mufraj bin Dagfal bin Jarrah of Palestine. In sum, Mufraj defeated Abu Taghlib in 369/979 and took possession of the whole territory of Palestine. His cooperation with Fazal bin Saleh was however short-lived, as he had shaken his hand with Kassam Sharrab, the chief of Damascus.

In 373/983, Imam al-Aziz sent Balaktagin, a Turkish commander of the Fatimid forces against these two rebels. He defeated Mufraj bin Dagfal in Palestine, who managed to flee to Antioch, where he took refuge with the Byzantines. Thence, Balaktagin proceeded to Damascus and defeated Kassam, and appointed Akhlaj as a governor, who was followed by Bekjur in 373/983.

Bekjur was a slave of Sa'd ad-Dawla (356-381/967-991), the Hamdanid chief of Aleppo. When Balaktagin had taken field against Kassam Sharrab in Damascus, Bekjur had provided necessary provisions to the Fatimid forces from Aleppo, and therefore, he was made the governor of Damascus after Akhlaj in appreciation of his aids. In the meantime, Bekjur sought permission from al-Aziz to conquer Aleppo, and soon afterwards, he besieged Aleppo. Sa'd ad-Dawla, the chief of Aleppo sought reinforcement from the Byzantine, forcing Bekjur to lift the siege and retreat to Damascus.

Al-Aziz however retained Bekjur's governorship in Damascus, but was expelled later in 378/988. He persuaded al-Aziz to assign him with the command of a new expedition against Aleppo. He however acquired little help from the local Fatimid forces, but was defeated and killed in 381/991 by Sa'd ad-Dawla, who was aided as usual by the Byzantines.

Few years later, al-Aziz once again turned his attention to conquer Aleppo. This time the Fatimid forces besieged Aleppo in 385/995 for several months at the command of Manjutagin. Meanwhile, the Byzantine emperor Basil II (975-1025) himself came with a large force to help Sa'd ad-Dawla's son, Sa'id ad-Dawla (381-392/992-1002) and saved Aleppo from going into Fatimid hands.

Inspite of political differences between the Fatimids and the Umayyads of Spain, there had been cultural and commercial transactions between the two Muslim empires. During al-Aziz's period, the relations between him and Umayyad caliph al-Hakam II (350-366/961-976) were improved and there had been diplomatic correspondence between them as is learnt from a letter of al-Aziz, vide "Nihayat al-Arab" (p. 58) by Nuwayri (d. 732/1332). Their relations can also be ascertained from the fact that the Umayyad Prince Muhammad bin Abdul Malik bin Abdur Rehman al-Nasir composed few verses in praise of Imam al-Aziz.


Revolt of Abu Raqwa 

In 395/1004, al-Hakim faced the most serious challenge to his authority against the rebellion that shooked and rocked the foundation of his state. This was the rebellion of Abu Raqwa, an Umayyad prince who united the forces of Berbers of Zanata with those of the Arab tribe of Banu Qorra to lead them against the Fatimids. Little is known of Abu Raqwa's background. Most of the historians gave his name as Walid bin Hisham, and Abu Raqwa was his nickname given him by the Egyptians. The word raqwa means "leather bag", in which travellers, especially the Sufis, carried water during journey. He was an Umayyad prince from the line of Marwan bin Hakam. In his twenties, he fled from Spain when Mansur bin Amir took over power and began persecuting members of the Umayyad family. He travelled to Maghrib, Egypt, Yamen, Mecca and Syria; testing the possibility of creating a group strong enough to support the Umayyad cause. At length, he succeeded to generate a large following in Maghrib and proclaimed himself as an amir.

Besides the rooted opposition of Zanata and the dissatisfaction of Banu Qorra with the Fatimids, the economic factors also appears to have been the main cause behind the rebellion of Abu Raqwa. The province of Barqa in Maghrib was very poor, and its treasury was even insufficient to supply the needs of the small army which al-Hakim sent in 391/1000 to restore Fatimid suzerainty in Tripoli. Its commercial life was limited and its income depended upon its limited agricultural output. The whole of Maghrib preceding the rebellion was caught with economic crisis, resulting a sort of catastrophe in 395/1004. Ibn Idhari (d. 712/1312) writes in "Akhbar al-Andalus wa'l Maghrib" (1st. vol., p. 256) that, "In 395/1004, there was a catastrophe in Africa. The poor died and the money of the rich vanished. Prices rose and food became impossible to find. The people of Badia left their homes. Houses became empty and there was no one to occupy them. With all this there was a plague of cholera." Abu Raqwa understood the difficulties of the tribesmen, their overwhelming desire to solve their problems, and therefore, he concentrated his effort to this point. The situtation turned in his favour as an effective tool of his rebellion. When the people agreed to follow his rebellious leadership, the first pact he executed with the people concerning the booty and gains resulting from war. It was resolved to divide the booty into three shares: one for each tribe and one third to be retained under Abu Raqwa's control in order to form a treasury to help during the war. He also promised to give the chiefs the palaces and houses of the Fatimid state in Cairo and other fertile regions in Egypt.

After being assured himself of sufficient support from the two principal tribes, Abu Raqwa canvassed neighboring districts, where he delivered speeches about Islam in a revolutionary manner. The tribesmen were fascinated by his eloquence, and assembled under his leadership against the Fatimids. Sandal, the Fatimid chief of Barqa had immediately reported to al-Hakim and asked permission to campaign against him. According to Ibn Athir (9th vol., p. 82), "Al-Hakim, who apparently did not realize the urgency of the problem, neither gave permission nor sent help but recommended diplomacy, not militant stance as a solution." Sandal's action failed, and Abu Raqwa with his troops swiftly marched to invade the city of Barqa. Sandal and his troops met them outside the city, and was subdued after a fierce fighting. Sandal retreated and barricaded himself inside the city. Sandal also contacted Ibn Taybun, the chief of the Berber tribe of Lawata, who came to the rescue and forced Abu Raqwa to break the siege, but failed to defeat him. Abu Raqwa then inflicted a heavy defeat on Lawata's forces and got the loss of many fighters including Ibn Taybun. The inhabitants of Barqa with their chief Sandal took advantage of Abu Raqwa's temporary withdrawal from their city, and strongly fortified its walls, digging huge trenches around them and storing as much food and supplies as they could. When Abu Raqwa returned to the siege, he found the city in a much stronger position to defend than before. Several months of siege, he failed to convince Sandal to surrender. Meanwhile, al-Hakim sent an army of five thousand men under the leadership of Yanal to relieve Barqa. Yanal had to cross considerable stretch of desert before he reached Barqa, and Abu Raqwa sent a body of cavalry across the route to fill in the wells. He then waited at the point farthest from Egypt to meet Yanal's forces, who arrived tired, exhausted and thirsty. Yanal was defeated and was scourged to death. Abu Raqwa sacked his all equipments and supplies, and returned to Barqa. Sandal, together with his family, fled to Cairo. In the month of Zilhaja, 395/October, 1005, Abu Raqwa captured Barqa, and declared himself amir al-mominin, and adopted the title of al-Nasir li-Dinillah (the assistant of God's order). This was struck on the coinage too, and the khutba was read in his name and the Sunni law was declared. Al-Musabbihi (d. 420/1029) writes that Abu Raqwa's supporters regarded him as a caliph.

About a year after his occupation of Barqa, Abu Raqwa was driven out by the threat of famine and plague. He and his supporters left Barqa as if they were migrating from one land to another, and proceeded towards Alexandria. Al-Hakim began his preparations to quell the rebellion, and appointed Fazal bin Saleh to arrange a large force to meet Abu Raqwa in the field. Meanwhile, a news arrived of Abu Raqwa's movement towards Alexandria. Fazal sent a detachment at the command of Qabil to intercept the rebels, and prevent them from reaching the city. The two armies met in Dhat al-Hamam in Alexandria, where Abu Raqwa won a victory over Qabil. Thence, Abu Raqwa resumed his march towards Alexandria. He besieged it for several months, provoking extreme alarms in Cairo, and a large force had been dispatched from Cairo in command of Fazal bin Saleh. Abu Raqwa failed to capture Alexandria, so he turned towards Cairo. He reached at Fayyum and camped to plan the final blow against the Fatimids. Al-Hakim raised reinforcement of four thousand horsemen at the command of Ali bin Falah to Jiza to prevent Abu Raqwa's troops from raiding areas close to Cairo. Knowing this, Abu Raqwa sent a division of his troops which ambushed Ali bin Falah, killed many of his men. Skirmishes between the two forces continued until they finally met at Ra's al-Barqa in Fayyum district.

It should be noted that a secret pact between Abu Raqwa and the Bedouin chiefs in the Fatimid forces had stipulated that when he would attack, they would withdraw from Fazal bin Saleh's side to create fear and confusion. Fazal was fully aware of this, and on the day of the battle, he summoned all the Bedouin chiefs to his tent. When the attack took place, the Bedouin chiefs, being the prisoners virtually in Fazal's tent, were unable to play their part in accord with the pact with Abu Raqwa, and their troops, unaware of their masters' pact with Abu Raqwa, fought fiercely. Expecting a victory, the troops of Abu Raqwa were easily ambushed and defeated, and he himself fled to the south, and then to Nubia, a large country streching from Aswan to Khartoum, and from Red Sea to the Libyan desert. Abu Raqwa reached at Dumqula, the capital of Nubia, where he pretended to be an ambassador of the Fatimid at the court of the Nubian king. Fazal followed close behind to the Nubian frontier and managed to find out Abu Raqwa, and took him prisoner in 397/1004. He was brought to Cairo, and was paraded through the streets. Ibn Qalanisi (d. 555/1160) writes in "Tarikh-i Dimashq" (p. 65) that Abu Raqwa had written a poetical letter to al-Hakim, begging him for mercy, but al-Hakim refused pardon. But al-Musabbihi (d. 420/1029) as quoted by Makrizi in "Itti'az" (p. 396) however refutes it and suggests that al-Hakim intended to pardon Abu Raqwa as al-Hakim had personally told him while talking about Abu Raqwa, "I did not want to kill him and what happened to him was not of my choosing." Ibn Athir (9th vol., p. 84) writes that, "Abu Raqwa died from humiliation and the cruel treatment during the parade, but was not executed." It transpires that al-Hakim did not wish to execute him and was waiting the termination of the parade to grant him mercy, but he was died.

The rebellion of Abu Raqwa lasted for two years, which almost sucked away the national economy and depleted the royal treasury. In 398/1005, the Nile rising only 16 yards and 16 fingers flow with the result that there was a great rise in prices and hardship. The single bread (al-khubz) became so dear that it could be obtained with great difficulty. It was followed by disease and plague together with malnutrition. Al-Hakim immediately exempted the taxes and formulated strict measures to cope with the situation and instituted death penalty for those who inflated prices or hoarded commodities, which produced the desired effect very soon.


Rebellion of Mufraj bin Dagfal 

Created by Arab tribes in Palestine, headed by Mufraj bin Dagfal al-Jarrah Taiy, al-Hakim had to face another rebellion hatched in 397/1004, which lasted for about three years. This was the rebellion of the tribe of Banu Jarrah, a part of the Yameni tribe, called Taiy, who had settled in southern parts of Palestine in the Balqa region. Unlike the revolt of Abu Raqwa, Mufraj's rising was not influenced by religious teaching, nor was it a serious threat to the Fatimids. He began to plunder the pilgrims, and planned to occupy Palestine to establish his family rule. In 400/1009, al-Hakim appointed his general Yarkhtagin to Aleppo to suppress the rebellions, but Mufraj intercepted him at Askalan and raided. Mufraj sacked his materials and captured him. The rebels also occupied Ramla.

Mufraj went to Hijaz and swore allegiance to Hasan bin Jafar (d. 430/1038), surnamed Abul Fatuh as an amir, and brought him to Ramla. Thus, Mufraj dominated both in Palestine and Hijaz, and started coinage in the name of Abul Fatuh. Al-Hakim was much alarmed by these events in his state and tried to suppress the rebellion before it assumed serious proportions. He wrote a letter of remonstration to Mufraj and offered him a sum of 50,000 dinars in return for the safety of Yarkhtagin. Al-Hakim also threated him with severe consequences if he harmed his general. Soon afterwards, the Fatimid general Yarkhtagin had been executed.

To discredit Abul Fatuh in Mecca and regain Hijaz, al-Hakim communicated with another in Mecca, known as Ibn Abu Tayyib and helped him, resulting re-occupation of Hijaz by the Fatimid. Al-Hakim wrote to Mufraj, promising him estates and other gifts if he would cease from rebellion. Mufraj resolved to abandon Abul Fatuh, who returned to Hijaz. Meanwhile, Mufraj accepted the offer of al-Hakim and took his money. He however retained his mastery over Palestine and continued to menace the peace and security. The pilgrims from Egypt could no longer travel to Hijaz to perform hajj as their caravans were used to be sacked.

At length, al-Hakim was impelled to take field against Mufraj. In 404/1013, he sent 20,000 horsemen under Ali bin Falah, whom he invested the title qutb ad-dawla (magnate of the state), and ordered the chief of Damascus to join the campaign. Meanwhile, Mufraj died and his supporters scattered. Ali bin Falah captured Ramla and restored law and order.


The famous decree of al-Hakim

According to "Tarikh" (4th vol., p. 60) by Ibn Khaldun, "Tarikh-i Antaki" (p. 195) by Antaki and "Khitat" (2nd vol., p. 287) by Makrizi, al-Hakim issued his famous ordinance in 399/1008, which was read on the pulpit of the mosque of al-Azhar as under:-

"This is to inform that Amir al-mominin al-Hakim bi-Amrillah recites the verse of God's manifest Book before you that: "There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right path is now distinct from error. He that renounces idol-worship and puts his faith in God, he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and God is Hearing and Knowing." (2:256)

Yesterday passed away in prosperity and today came up with its necessities. O'multitude of Muslims! I am an Imam and you are the Ummah. Verily, all Muslims are brothers with one another, therefore, you seek unity with the brothers and fear God. It is hoped that you shall be graced with mercy. One who confesses the tauhid (Unity of God) and risalat (Prophethood of Muhammad), and one who does not boost disunity between the two persons, they all are included in the bond of Islamic Brotherhood. God saved those who had saved themselves through it. And those whom were to stop, they were stopped from all unlawful things, i.e., from slaughter, means and materials, and the forbidden women. Best understanding and the following on the true path are good and excellent. The quarrels and dissentions are not good. The past events should not be repeated and given up as extremely harmful for the present time. It should not be remembered what occurred in the past, notably those events and occurances being taken place during the rules of my ancestors. Who they were? They were Mahdi billah, Qaim bi-Amrillah, Mansur billah, Muizz li-dinillah and other (i.e. al-Aziz), who adopted the true path. The condition of Mahdiya, Mansuria and Kairwan is quite apparent, not hidden from any one, nor even it is secret.

The fast-keepers may keep fast and break in accordance with their rites. One should have no objection with the person who keeps and breaks fast (according to his own belief). Those who offer five obligatory prayers, they must continue it. No one should restrict or forbid one who offers the salat al-dua and tarawih (prayers in the month of Ramdan). Those who recite five taqbir (act of extolling greatness of God) on the funeral prayers, they should do so, and no person should forbid to those who offer four taqbir. The muazinshould recite "haiya ala khair al-amal" (come to the best work) in the call to prayer. One should not be however teased who does not recite these words in the call to prayer.

No ill words should be uttered to revile the Companions of the past, and one should have no objection against the eulogies being extolled for them. Let him oppose who is against them. Each Muslim mujtahid is responsible for himself in the decision of religion matters. Verily, he has to return to God. He has his own book of deeds, whereupon depend his accounts.

O'God's servants! you follow the injunctions of above deccree being enforced today. No Muslim should hemper into the faith of other Muslims, and no person should oppose the beliefs of his friends. Amir al-mominin has written down all these points for you (explicitly) in his decree. Nay, God says, "O'believers! you are accountable for none but yourselves; he that goes astray cannot harm you if you are on the right path. You shall all return to God, and He will declare to you what you have done" (5:106). May peace be upon you and the divine grace."

In Egypt, al-Hakim thus is reported to have removed the differences of the Shia and Sunni Muslims. Ibn Khallikan (3rd vol., p. 450) writes that, "He gave orders that the persons who uttered curses against the Companions should be flogged and paraded ignominiously through the streets." Antaki (p. 195) writes that, "He publicly praised the Companions of the Prophet and commanded his subjects to do the same." In sum, the Sunni and Shia enjoyed toleration and equal rights. Many Sunni jurists were also employed in the Dar al-Hikmah and the appointment of a Sunni qadi, called Abul Abbas bin Awam Hanbali is best example in this context. In 400/1009, al-Hakim also established a school of law offering instructions in the Malikite rite, whose incharge was Abu Bakr Antaki.

In sum, al-Hakim restored peace and prosperity in the country, attracting the Muslims of Baghdad and Cordova to settle in Cairo. He brought the Fatimid rule to its zenith. Dr. G. Kheirallah writes in "Druze History" (Detroit, 1952, p.160) that, "During the life and reign of al-Hakim, the Fatimite Egypt reached its highest position of influence and prestige - no other state could then vie with Egypt for power, wealth or enlightenment; the Arabian art and crafts were at their zenith, and affluence and ease became the lot of the Egyptians". According to Antaki (d. 458/1065) in "Tarikh-i Antaki" (Beirut, 1909, p. 206), "Al-Hakim provided such kind of justice that his subjects had never known before. They slept in their homes secured in the possession of their properties." Ibn Ayyas (d. 930/1524) writes in "Bada'i al-Zuhur" (Cairo, 1896, 1st vol., p. 52) that, "His justice became the favourite theme of both writers of story and myth as well as poets. Much of their works, praising and picturing al-Hakim as the champion of justice, shows the impression his rule left on people's imaginations." Al-Hakim adopted severity in observance of Islamic law, which enormously helped to reduce crimes. Ibn al-Zafir (d. 613/1216) writes in "al-Duwal al-Munqatia" (p. 59) that, "At times of prayers, the shopkeepers would have their shops open and unguarded without fear of theft." Ibn Ayyas (op. cit., p. 54) reports a story of a man who lost his purse full of money in the street of Cairo, and when, after few days, he passed the same street, he found it untouched. None dare to touch it for fear of al- Hakim's punishment. In sum, there is an Egyptian fragment of Hebrew writing, evidently from al-Hakim's period, praising and eulogizing his unparalled justice with sincerity, vide Dr. A. Neubauer's "Egyptien Fragment" (FQR, IX, pp. 24-6).


Reforms of al-Hakim 

After suppression of revolts, al-Hakim's administration became very liberal. The rebellions and the risings during his period had badly shaken the commercial life in Egypt by the fluctuation of the dhiram. In 395/1004, the market value of one dinar became equal to 26 dhirams. In 397/1006, the same problem occurred and one dinar valued equal to 34 dhirams. To cope with the monetary problem, new dhiramshad been minted for circulation and the old ones withdrawn. The official value of a new dhiram was fixed at the rate 18 pieces to the dinar. The people were given three days to exchange the coins. This method controlled the monetary system to great extent.

In Egypt, the prices of merchandise, like units of measures and weight were not under direct control of the rule. This resulted price inflation and the people were at the mercy of the shopkeepers and merchants, profiteering high prices, therefore, al-Hakim stabilized the units of weight and measure and fixed the price under government control. In 395/1004, an ordinance was issued to this effect, commanding the stabilization of the units and threatening those who delibrately mishandled them. In 397/1006, the prices of certain commodities were fixed. Severe punishment was inflicted upon the shopkeepers and merchants, who infringed these rules and also paraded in the streets who disobeyed these ordinances.

The relaxation in tax appears to have been an important feature in al-Hakim's reformations. During the years of low Nile which affected agriculture, the land-owners were exempted from paying imposts and taxes. Sometimes, certain areas were declared tax-free zones and at other times it covered the whole country. All the important commodities were relaxed from taxation along with local industries, such as silk, soap and refreshments.

The agriculture in Egypt used to be a target of the scanty of water during bad Nile and the loss of cattle from epidemics, therefore, al-Hakim had taken important measures to reduce the problem as much as possible. He ordered water courses and troughs to be cleaned regularly. In 403/1013, he expended 15,000 dinars for the cleaning of the canal of Alexandria. He also employed Ibn al-Haytham, a famous engineer from Basra to solve the problem of low Nile. To ensure the supply of cattle for agriculture purpose, al-Hakim ordered that cows should not be slaughtered except on occasions of religious festivals or if they were unfit to pull the plough. Ibn Taghri Birdi (d. 874/1470) writes in "al-Nujum al-Zahira fi Muluk Misr wa al-Qahira" (Cairo, 1929, 4th vol., p. 252) that, "His food laws like the slaughtering of safe and healthy cows, which was limited to perpetuate the cattle breed, and the killing of all dogs in the country were promulgated for sanitary purposes."

Al-Hakim also granted most of the state land to his subjects and it was not only officials and friends who benefited the facility, but any person who petitioned for his aids. He also curtailed the expenses of the palaces and confiscated most of the properties of his family members, notably of his mother and sisters and added them to the state treasury in 399/1009.

Al-Hakim's forbidding extravagant spending in entertainments when the Nile was exceptionally low and his fight against profiteering from high prices during the famine crisis are examples of sensible legislation for the public welfare. Ibn Taghri Birdi also discusses at some length al-Hakim's charitable and university endowments; his leniency with taxation, depending on the ability of people and commensurate with the prosperity of Egypt over a particular year (op. cit., 4th vol., p. 180).

There are also other notworthy reforms of al-Hakim in Egypt. "Nudity in public baths" says Makrizi in his "Itti'az al-Hunafa" (Cairo, 1948, p. 391), "was prohibited and people were ordered to wear towel around the waist." In 397/1006, Makrizi adds, a decree (manshur) was read, commanding the fixation of prices of bread, meat and other commodities. According to "The Renaissance of Islam" (Patna, 1937, p. 399), "The Caliph al-Hakim, who sought to restore the original Islam, enacted stringent measures against wine-drinking. When his Christian physician, Ibn Anastas prescribed wine and music for his melancholy, the people reverted with joy to the old vice. But the physician soon died and the Caliph became a yet greater opponent of alcohol. He even forbade the sale of raisins and honey and destroyed the casks wherein wine was kept."

Makrizi further writes in his "al-Khitat" (Cairo, 1911, 2nd vol., p. 285) that, "He enforced an Islamic law forbidding the making, selling and drinking of wine. A total and complete enforcement of this law never exercised by any Muslim caliph but al-Hakim was determined to enforce it." In 402/1012, al-Hakim had forbidden the use of beer under a decree (manshur), and according to Ibn Khallikan (3rd vol., p. 450), "The usual law against wine was strictly enforced. Now he forbade the sale of dried raisins because they were used by some for making wine. He forbade their importation into the country, and ordered all found in stores to be destroyed, in consequence of which some 2340 boxes of dried raisins were burned, the value being put at 500 pieces of gold. He next forbade the sale of fresh grapes, exceeding four pounds at a time; in any markets, and strict prohibition was made against squeezing out the juice. The grapes found on sale were confiscated, and either trodden in the street or thrown into the Nile. The vine at Gizeh were cut down and oxen employed to tread the fruit into the mire. Orders were issued that the same was to be done throughout the provinces. But honey as well as grapes can be used in preparing fermented liquor, so the Caliph's seal was affixed to the stores of honey at Gizeh, and some 5051 jars of honey were broken and their contents poured into the Nile, as well as 51 cruises of date honey."

De Lacy O'Leary quotes an example to this effect in "A Short History of the Fatimid Khilafat" (London, 1923, pp. 165-6) that a certain merchant had all his money invested in the prohibited fruit, and lost everything by the seizure and destruction of his goods. He appeared before the qadi and summoned al-Hakim to appear and make good the destruction caused by his officials. The Caliph appeared to answer the charge preferred against him, the qadi treating him like any other citizen against whom complaint had been lodged. The merchant asked for compensation to the amount of 1000 pieces of gold. Al-Hakim in his defence said that the fruits destroyed were intended to be used in the preparation of drinks forbidden by the law of Holy Koran, but that if the merchant will answer that they were not intended for this purpose, but only to be eaten he was willing to pay their price. The merchant swore that the fruit was intended only for eating. He then received the money and gave the Caliph a formal receipt. When the case was concluded, the qadi, who had upto this point treated both parties as ordinary suitors, rose from his seat and gave the Caliph the salute customary at court. Al-Hakim admired the qadi's conduct, and made him valuable presents in recognition of his treatment of the case.

The historians concur that the life of frivolity in Egypt seems to have been against the principles of al-Hakim, and according to Antaki (p. 202), "He banned the profession of singers and dancers in Egypt." He also forbade unveiled women to follow a funeral, prohibiting the weeping and howling and procession of mourning women with drums and pipes. Thus, the tearing of clothes, the blackening of faces and clipping of hair were forbidden and women, employed for lamenting the dead, were imprisoned. O'Leary writes that, "No doubt the nocturnal festivities of Cairo, well suited to the pleasure loving character of the Egyptians, led to many abuses, and so in 391/1001 a strict order was issued, forbidding women to go out of doors by night, and a little later this was followed by a general order prohibiting the opening of the shops by night." (op. cit., p. 133)

In sum, al-Hakim always protected the Islamic interest like his ancestors. Ibn al-Muqaffa in "Tarikh Batarikat al-Kanisa al-Misriyya"(2nd vol., p. 125) and Bar Hebraeus in "Chronographia" (London, 1923, p. 184) state that al-Hakim threatened those who did not follow Islam and honoured those who did. Ibn Khallikan (3rd vol., p. 451) writes that, "In 408/1017, al-Hakim forbade the kissing of the ground in his presence and annulled the prayer made for him in the khutba and in the writings addressed to him. Instead of that prayer, they were ordered to employ these words: Salutation to the Commander of the Faithful."


Construction of mosques 

Dr. Sadik Assad writes in "The Reign of al-Hakim bi-Amrallah" (Beirut, 1974, p. 86) that, "Al-Hakim also built more mosques than any of his predecessors and perhaps, more than any other Muslim caliph." He extended his benefactions to all the existing mosques, and was responsible for the building of many more. The mosque near the Bab al-Futuh, commenced by his father in 380/990 had been left incomplete. Al-Hakim completed it and made it the second congregational mosque of Cairo, known as al-Anwar. Making no distinction between public treasury and personal funds, he made lavish gifts to the mosques of Fustat and Cairo. He furnished the mosque known as Hakim's Mosque with lamps, mats and other requirements at a cost of 5000 pieces of gold. He presented to the old mosque at Fustat a candlelabrum with 1200 lights which weighed 100,000 dhirams. So huge was his grant that in carrying it to the mosque, the road had to be dug, and the upper part of the door had to be removed to carry it into the mosque. This present was taken in a procession with the commander-in-chief in the front with drums and trumpets and amidst shouts of tehlil (no might save God) and takbir (God is great). He also presented the mosque 1290 copies of Holy Koran, some of which were written in letters of gold. He also built a huge mosque near the Muqattam hills and presented to it carpets, curtains and lamps. He also furnished various mosques the items like the copies of Holy Koran, silver lamps, mats, curtains etc." Makrizi also writes in "Itti'az" (2nd vol., p. 96) that al-Hakim generously allocated 9220 dhirams each month for the upkeep of the mosques.


The Fatimid Genealogy 

The Abbasid caliph Kadir billah (d. 422/1031) got his rule dwindling before his eyes. He saw Baghdad yielding its position of prestige as the seat of culture and science to Cairo, and he found himself a virtual prisoner of the Buwahids, while the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim was ruling powerfully and absolutely. Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1200) writes in "al-Muntazam fi Tarikh al-Muluk" (Hyderabad, 1840, 7th vol., p. 237) that, "The Shia of Iraq had looked to al-Hakim as their desired Caliph in 398/1008 in Baghdad, and during a quarrel with the Sunnis, they shouted slogans, Ya Hakim, Ya Mansur in favour of al-Hakim."

In 401/1010, Mutamad ad-Dawla Qirwash bin Maqallid (d. 444/1052), the chief of the Uqayl tribe and governor of Mosul, Madain, Anbar and Kufa acknowledged the Fatimid Caliphate instead of the Abbasids, and started the Fatimid khutba and coinage. In the same year, Ali bin Mazid Asadi (d. 408/1018), the chief of the Asad tribe also proclaimed his loyalty to al-Hakim and had the Fatimid khutba read in Hilla and the districts he governed.

The Abbasid caliph Kadir billah alarmed over the prosperity of Egypt and growing influence of the Fatimids inside his empire, therefore, he attempted to combat with al-Hakim by another cowardice tool. He gathered a number of Shia and Sunni theologians and jurists to his court in 402/1011 and ordered them to prepare a forged manifesto that the Fatimid claim of Alid descent was false. Ibn Khaldun (1332- 1406) writes in "Muqaddimah" (tr. Franz Rosenthal, London, 1958, 1st vol., pp. 45-6) that, "The judges in Baghdad eventually prepared an official statement denying the Alid origin (of the Fatimids). The statement was witnessed by a number of prominent men, among them the Sharif ar-Radi and his brother al-Murtada, and Ibn al-Bathawi. Among the religious scholars were Abu Hamid al-Isfarayini, al-Quduri, as- Saymari, Ibn al-Akfani, al-Abiwardi, the Shia jurist Abu Abdullah bin an-Numan, and other prominent Muslims in Baghdad. The event took place one memorable day in the year 402/1011 in the time of (the Abbasid caliph) al-Qadir. The testimony was based upon heresy, on what people in Baghdad generally believed. Most of them were partisans of the Abbasids who attacked the Alid origin (of the Fatimids). The historians reported the informations as they had heard it. They handed down to us just as they remembered it. However, the truth lies behind it. Al-Mutadid's letter concerning Ubaydallah (al-Mahdi) to Aghlabid in al-Qayrawan and the Midrarid in Sijilmasah, testifies most truthfully to the correctness of the origin (of the Fatimids) and proves it most clearly. Al-Mutadid was better qualified than anyone else to speak about the genealogy of the Prophet's house." Ibn Taghri Birdi (d. 874/1470) writes in his "al-Nujum al-Zahira fi Muluk wa al-Qahira" (Cairo, 1929, 4th vol., p. 236) that, "The Abbasid caliph hired theologians and paid them large sum of money to write books condemning the Fatimid cause and their doctrine."

We have three accredited Sunni historians, Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), Abul Fida (1273-1331) and Makrizi (1363-1442), who were not under the pressure or influence of either the Abbasids or the Fatimids. These historians concur that the Fatimids of Egypt were the direct descendants of Ali and Fatima. The Abbasid false propaganda, however, discrediting the Fatimid lineage has been falsified through accredited sources and arguments, vide "Genealogy of the Aga Khan" by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin Sadik Ali, Karachi, 1990.


Foundation of Dar al-Hikmah 

Amid the surging splendour, al-Hakim emerges as an unusual personality judged by any standard. He founded Dar al-Hikmah (House of Wisdom), also known as Dar al-Ilm (House of Knowledge) in 395/1004, where the sciences including astronomy, logic, philosophy, mathematics, history, theology, languages and medicines were taught and the Shiite esoteric interpretation propagated. Qadi Abul Aziz bin Muhammad bin Noman was its first supervisor. This academy was connected with the royal palace, enriched with a huge library, and distinct conference rooms and chambers. Scholastic activities were conducted by the scientists, philosophers, professors, theologians, scholars etc. Staff of clerks and servants were employed for the upkeep of the institution. Scientists, professors and learned men were employed as lecturers. Wustenfeld writes in his "Akademien der Araber" (Gottingen, 1837, p. 67) that, "It was in reality the first Lay University, where also Mathematics, Astronomy, Medicine and Methaphysics were taught."

The Dar al-Hikmah was founded to facilitate the working of the Ismaili mission too, and became rapidly a cultural centre. It attracted the students from all parts of the Muslim world, where the Imam would himself often visit the lecture-halls, joining debates and granting generous gifts to encourage notable proficiency. The lectures delivered by the dais were known as majalis and were given at different levels according to the intellectual capacity of the audience. Some were designated as majalis al-khassa (sessions for the selected) and others as majalis al-amma (sessions for the public). From the picture drawn by Musabbihi and Ibn Tuwayr, both quoted by Makrizi in his "Khitat" (1st vol., p. 391), it would appear that the majalis al-khassa were attended only by the Ismailis. In the others, the lectures read were merely explanations of the doctrines which concerned the meaning of Imam, the theological differences between the Shia and Sunni laws and their historical background. In al-Hakim's time, the majalis expanded in an endeavour to reach every group of people including even visitors to the country and women. Special meetings were divided into two. One was for the high officials and learned men and was known as majalis al-awliya and the other was for the ordinary officials and the branch of it was specially for women of the palace. The public sessions were divided into three - one for men of the general public, one for the women and one for the visitors to the country.

By the end of the 4th/10th century there were also regular assemblies on every Thursday and Friday for the reading of majalis al-hikmah(lectures on wisdom), which was flourished to its zenith. Makrizi quotes in his "Khitat" (1st vol., p. 391) al-Musabbihi (d. 420/1029) as giving some details of these majalis. According to him, "The dai gave many lectures in the palace, lecturing separately to the adepts, the members of the court, the common people and strangers. To women, he lectured in the Jam-i Azhar, where a separate chamber was alloted to the women of the court. The dai prepared the lecture in his house, after being presented its text to the Caliph, a neat copy of the lecture was prepared. The contributions (najwa) of the Ismailis were also collected during these lectures, which were called majalis al-hikmah." The fixed monetary contribution (najwa) was collected from the individual Ismailis during the majalis al-hikmah, and the lists of the contributors were kept by a special secretary (katib al-dawa) appointed by the chief dai. Makrizi writes that the wealthy Ismailis made substantial voluntary donations.

It should be noted that the term najwa evidently refers to the Koranic verse (58:12), which reads:- "Ye faithful! If you have something confidential to discuss (najaytum) with the envoy, then prior to your confidential discussion (najwakum) pay some alms in anticipation." So the najwa was a fee that the followers had to pay for being introduced into the secret assembly.

Ibn al-Tuwayri (d. 617/1220) describes the preparation of the text of the majalis differently. According to him as quoted by Makrizi (Ibid.), "The Ismaili theologians, housed in Dar al-Hikmah, met on Monday and Thursday and agreed on the text of a booklet called majalis al-hikmah. A clean copy was brought to the Chief Dai, who after checking it, presented it on to the Caliph. If possible, the Caliph read it; at any rate he put his signature on it. The Chief Dai then read the lectures in the palace in two different places - for men, sitting on the chair of the dawat in the great hall, for women, in his own audience-chamber. After the lecture the believers came up to kiss the hand of the Chief Dai, who stroked their heads with the booklet, so that the signature of the Caliph touched their heads."

It must be known that the majalis al-hikmah were interrupted in 400/1010 for some reasons. It was reopened very soon, but cancelled once again in 401/1010. It was again interrupted for the third time at the end of the year 405/1015 after the nomination of Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Awam as a chief qadi. Heinz Halm however writes in "The Ismaili Oath of Allegiance and the Sessions of Wisdom in Fatimid Times" (cf. "Mediaeval Ismaili History and Thought" (New York, 1996, p. 107) that, "We fail to learn precisely what the reasons were, but this closure seems to be connected with the Druze trouble, which began about this time." Al-Hakim however bestowed the title of chief dai on Khuttakin al-Dayf, entrusting him with the control of the room, so that it was used for the customary proceedings. Later, he also granted him the title of al-Sadiq al-amin. Ibn Muyassar writes in "Akhbar al-Misr" (pp. 166-7) that, "Khuttakin al-Dayf subsequently proved to be the most embittered opponent of the Druzes. When the followers of Hamza and those of Khuttakin met, they cursed each other."

Heinz Halm concludes that, "So it is quite possible that al-Hakim had the majalis closed either in agreement with the Ismaili dais or yielding to their pressure, in order to forestall the appearance of the Druze dissidents among them" (Ibid).


Ibn al-Haytham 

Sami Hamarneh writes in "Medicine and Pharmacy under the Fatimids" (cf. "Ismaili Contribution to Islamic Culture" ed. by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Tehran, 1977, p. 163) that, "It seems plausible to speculate that the generosity of al-Hakim towards scholars and scientists had attracted the migration to Fatimid Egypt of eminent figure, Abu Ali Muhammad bin al-Hasan bin al-Haytham (Latin Alhazen) of Basra in southern Iraq."

Ibn al-Haytham (354-429/965-1039), the greatest physicist was born in Basra, and was originally appointed to a civil post at Basra. He was avidly consumed by the desire to learn mathematics and philosophy, for which he could not get spare time in his post, therefore, he feigned madness and was dismissed as a result from the post. Our informations about his pre-Egyptian days are deficient, but according to a few accounts of his life, it is known that he managed to leave Basra in order to proceed to Egypt, where he had been invited by the Fatimid Imam al-Hakim.

It must be known on this juncture that in the summer following the rainy reason, the Nile river and the canals overflew with water, causing millions of tons of fertile silt, containing phosphoric acid, potash and nitrogen. But in the winter, the level of water fell down, making the cultivation of the crops impossible, and in annual inundation it used to cause devastation of life and property. With his brilliant mind, the famous physicist and the founder of the science of optics, Abu Ali Muhammad bin al-Hasan bin al-Haytham came to the conclusion in Iraq that if some of the surplus water available immediately after the rains, could be stored, not only could it be used in the dry season for more cultivation of land, but it would also help to prevent the periodic flood inflicting heavy damage. According to Ibn Abi Usaibia (d. 668/1270) in his "Uyn al-Anba fi tabakat al-Attiba" (2nd vol., p. 91), Ibn al-Haytham had also claimed that, "Had I been in Egypt I could have done something to regulate the Nile, so that the people could derive benefit at its ebb and flow." Thus, he prepared a plan to build a three-way embankment dam near Aswan for harnessing the Nile waters, and sent his report to al-Hakim. He even suggested for a site near Aswan where the river emerged from a gorge into the flat country. Haidar Bammate writes in "Muslim Contribution to Civilization" (Lahore, 1981, p. 21) that, "Al-Haytham was the first to advocate the construction of a dam at Aswan to raise the level of the Nile."

Al-Hakim was deeply impressed when he received the outline of the project and sent one of his emissaries with adequate funds to Ibn al- Haytham in Basra and invited him to Cairo. He readily accepted the royal invitation and after a short stay in Cairo, he was sent up the river with a large sum of money and retinue of workers. He undertook the journey to Aswan, which is situated at a distance of over 400 miles to the south of Cairo as the crow flies. He inspected the site at Aswan and came to the conclusion that such a colossal scheme of works was not feasible under the working conditions. According to Ibn Abi Usaibia, "He saw the pyramids at first glance and became awed by the engineering and geometrical skills of the ancients. Had it been possible he thought, the ancient Egyptians must have done it before." (op. cit., 2nd vol., p. 91). Having realized the enormous magnitude of the project, he failed to execute it with the technical means he had at his disposal. Instead therefore of undertaking the start-up of the projected dam, he returned to Cairo and confessed to al-Hakim his sheer unability to go ahead with the proposed plan.

Al-Hakim assigned him some office pertaining to revenue, but he is said to have feigned madness, and retired to a place near al-Azhar university. Different stories have been advanced to discredit the personality of al-Hakim in this context. Prof. Abdul Ghafur writes in "Ibn al-Haitham" (cf. "Ibn al-Haitham", Karachi, 1970, pp. 111-2) that, "From this, it should be obvious that, even after Ibn al- Haitham's inability to go ahead with the plan for construction of the dam at Aswan, al-Hakim had considerable respect for Ibn al- Haitham. It might be that there were monetary difficulties involved in the implementation of the scheme or some other snag. However, the reputation of Ibn al-Haitham remain unscathed in this affair. The plea of insanity was not new to Ibn al-Haitham. He had used this subterfuge once before at Basra. It is therefore plausible to assume that he adopted this ruse in order to devote himself to studies. Qifti, Baihiqi and Ibn Abi Usaibia unanimously held that Ibn al-Haitham was a self-contented person and devoid of avarice or worldly self-aggrandizment."


The origin of the Druzes

 In 407/1016, an Iranian dai, named Muhammad bin Ismail Nashtakin ad-Darazi came in Egypt, who professed the transmigration of souls. He also preached the divinity of al-Hakim. He came from Bukhara to Cairo in 408/1017. Finding no response he moved to Wadi al-Taymun, at the foot of Mount Hermon in Lebanon and Jabal as-Summaq in Syria. He was first in the public eyes being the founder of the Druze sect. In 410/1019, the Turks soldiers of the Fatimids gathered and moved towards the houses of ad-Darazi and his followers and surrounded them. Ad-Darazi and those with him, fortified themselves in a house, fighting the besiegers from the roof and the wall. The besiegers ravaged the house and killed about forty people with ad-Darazi. About the same time, another Iranian from Farghana, named Hasan al-Akhram also appeared as using his influence to propagate the deity of al-Hakim, and found a Druze sect about in 409/1018. He was also killed in his house just eight days following his declaration.

The most famous however among them was Hamza bin Ali bin Ahmad, born in 375/985 in Zawzan in Iran, whom the Druzes regard as their real founder. He made public declaration of his doctrines in 408/1017, which is also considered the Era of Hamza. He established himself in a mosque outside the Nasr Gate of Cairo, inviting the people to confess his teachings and sent out his missionaries to various parts of Egypt and Syria. The extreme to which the followers of Hamza were prepared to go also increased.

Ibn Zafir (d. 613/1216) writes in "al-Duwal al-Munqati'a" (Cairo, 1972, pp. 52-3) that on 12th Safar, 410/June 19, 1019, a group of Hamza's followers entered the congregational mosque of Amr in Fustat on horseback and approached the Qadi Ibn Abi al-Awwam, who belonged to Hanbali school of law. They handed him a letter from Hamza which began with these formula:- "In the name of al-Hakim, Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate." The provocation at the most important religious centre of Fustat cost Hamza's followers their lives; they were killed by the people at the mosque.

In sum, both Hamza and ad-Darazi preached the divinity of al-Hakim according to their own interpretations, but Hamza seems to have cautious, intending to build a disciplined organisation. But, ad-Darazi created such a stir that his name was affixed to the movement at large. He has been given a title of "guide of the faithful" (hadi al-mustajibin) in the Druze epistles.

The Druze historical accounts were written primarily to explain theological and religious issues rather than to record history. The Druze accounts were however written at a much later date, i.e., in the 16th and 17th centuries, such as "Majra az-Zaman" by Taqi ad-Din Zayn al-Abidin Abdul Gaffar in 16th century, and "Umdat al-Arifin" by Abdul Malik al-Ashrafani in 17th century.

Following Hamza in rank and authority was Ismail bin Muhammad al-Tamimi, the successor of Hamza. Then followed Muhammad bin Wahab al- Qoraishi, Salma bin Abdul Wahab al-Samuri and finally came Ali bin Ahmad al-Sammuqi. The five leaders embodied the five cosmic principles, and their teachings were considered irrevocable and final. According to Philip K. Hitti, the Druzes were a mixture of Iranians, Iraqi's and Persianised Arabs, vide "The Origin of the Druze People and Religion" (New York, 1928, p. 23). Martin Sprengling, after analyzing each argument of this theory, criticised Hitti's speculative assumption, and concludes that the Druzes were mixture of stocks in which the Arabs component largely predominated, onto which was grafted an original mountain population of Aramaic blood, vide "The Berlin Druze Lexicon" (American Journal of Semitic Language, 56, 1939, pp. 391-8).

The Druze movement became a main tool of the aggressive historians to discredit al-Hakim and contrived baseless stories arount it. He had however tried to control the Druzes in Egypt and Syria with drastic measures, but most of them had migrated in the mountains of Lebanon.

Ibn al-Qalanisi (d. 555/1160), who usually follows the reports of Ibn al-Sabi (d. 448/1056), does not mention any relation between al- Hakim and the Druze leaders, nor al-Hakim's so called desire for divinity. Makrizi also does not suggest that the Druze leaders were at any time emboldened by al-Hakim. Makrizi however condemns Ibn Abi Tayy (d. 630/1232), who seems to have been influenced by the account of Ibn al-Sabi by saying, "This is extreme hostility which not one of the Egyptian historians has mentioned." ("Itti'az", p. 411) Ibn Khaldun writes in his "Tarikh" (4th vol, p. 60) that, "These are allegations which no man of intellect would contemplate." From Ibn al- Sabi comes the statement that al-Hakim desired to claim divinity and employed a man, named al-Akhram to declare it. A contradiction of this sharply appears in his own work when he says that al-Hakim prohibited his subjects from prostrating before him or from kissing the ground or his hand when they saw him. Kais M. Firro writes in "History of the Druzes" (London, 1992, p. 15) that, "In fact, however, neither the historical personalities of Hakim and the unitarian dais nor the history of the Fatimid Caliphate as such have any importance for the Druzes." Kais Firro further writes, "Others, comparing the several versions given in the different chronicles, conclude that Hakim had no wish to be considered divine and did not support or encourage the unitarian dais." (Ibid)

Al-Hakim was anxious to promulgate Ismailism throughout the Muslim world and to convince the Muslims that he was the rightful Imam- Caliph. If this was a difficult, it would be even more so to convince them that he was an incarnation of the Divinity to boost his alleged claim. Al-Hakim's belief is seen in a personal letter which he wrote to one of his officials: "I fear no one; beg from no one except my God to whom I submit and from whom I receive all bounties. My Prophet is my grandfather; my Imam is my father and my religion is sincerity and justice." ("Itti'az", p. 403) Makrizi writes in his "Khitat," p. 286) that in 403/1012, al-Hakim had engraved on his seal these words: "By the help of God, the Almighty and Protector, the Imam Abu Ali is the victorious."

Besides the preceding, if al-Hakim had supported the Druze movement, he must have chosen one or both of the Druze leaders as official members of the Ismaili dawa to emphasis their authority. The Druze teaches that al-Hakim had no father or son. Contrary to it, al-Hakim claimed publicly that his father was al-Aziz and himself a direct descent from Prophet Muhammad, vide "Itti'az" (p. 386) by Makrizi. There is no evidence that al-Hakim had forced the Muslims to pay jaziya being levied upon the non-Muslims. But according to Druze teachings as mentioned in "Bud al-Tawhid" (pp. 41-42) that all the Muslims would have to pay jaziya if they refused to pay their creeds. The Druzes claimed that al-Hakim had written many sijils (treatises), but it has been to us a source of surprise that each sijil begins with the phrase: "From the slave of God" and ends with "By the assistance of God."

The Druze literatures however affirm that Hamza was supported by al-Hakim and approved his teachings. But as A. Najjar in "Mazhab al- Druze wa al-Tawhid" (Cairo, 1965, p. 103) pointed out, "there is no substantial evidence to support such claims." According to Antaki (d. 458/1065), "When al-Hakim was informed about Druze's preaching, he was very much angry." (vide "Tarikh-i Antaki," p. 222) In Hamza's own writings there is a passage in which he states that some of the people refused to accept his teaching unless Al-Hakim's own signed mandate commanded them to do so." (vide "al-Rida wa al-Taslim", p. 20) The impartial readers should judge conclusively how it is possible that a pious Imam-Caliph al-Hakim had made a claim for divinity after reading the following descriptions of the Sunni historian Makrizi who writes in his "Khitat" (pp. 286-7) that, "He gave orders that no one was to kiss the ground in front of him, nor kiss his stirrup nor his hand when greeting him in public processions, because bowing to the ground before a mortal was an invention of the Greeks; that they should say no more than "Greeting to the Commander of the Faithful, and the mercy and blessings of God be upon him;" that in addressing him, whether in writing or in speech, they should not use the formula "May God pray for him," but that in writing to him they confine themselves to these words, "The peace of God, His favour and the abundance of His blessings upon the Commander of the Faithful;" that only the customary invocation should be used for him, and no more; that the preachers at the time of the Friday prayer should say no more than "O God, bless Muhammad Your Chosen One, give peace to the Commander of the Faithful Ali Your Well-beloved. O God, give peace to the Commanders of the Faithful the forebear of the Commanders of the Faithful. O God, give Your most precious peace to Your servant and deputy (khalifa)." He forbade them to beat drums or to sound trumpets around the palace, so that they marched around without drums and trumpets. On the Id al-Fitr, al-Hakim rode on horseback to the place of prayer without adornment, sumpter animals, or any pomp, save only ten led horses with saddles and bridles adorned with light white silver, with plain flags and with a white parasol without any golden adornment. He was dressed in white without embroidery or gold braid; there were no jewels on his turban and no carpets on his pulpit. He forbade people to curse the first Muslims and had those who disobeyed flogged and publicly reviled. He prayed on the Feast of Sacrifice, as he prayed on the Id al-Fitr, without any pomp. Abd al- Rahim bin Ilyas bin Ahmad bin al-Mahdi performed the sacrifice for him. Al-Hakim often rode to the desert outside the city. He wore plain sandals on his feet and a cloth on his head." Thus, if al-Hakim had supported Hamza or ad-Darazi, not doubt, it must have been sounded in his personal life and in his activities as a ruler.

In the interim, al-Hakim wrote an urgent letter in 400/1009 to Hamiduddin Kirmani in Iraq with necessary instructions, so as to suppress the Druze propaganda. His letter is cited in "Damigh al-Batil" by Ali Muhammad bin al-Walid (d. 612/1215), whose few lines read:- "Keep up all my prescriptions to you concerning the service of God. Keep alive the tradition of our ancestor the Messenger of God, through the dawat to true tawhid. Urge the believers to remain attached to all the obligations of religious practices, to all the other obligations of their allegiance, and to the loyalty which is incumbent upon them and which is written in the book of their deeds. And know that our protection extends only to those who put into practice the Book of God and the Tradition of the Messenger of God, and who serve God through their devotion to us. Teach this to all of our friends (awliya) as our word."

Thus, in refuting the Druze propaganda, Hamiduddin Kirmani wrote several tracts. Addressing the Druze leader, Hasan al-Akhram al- Farghani, he said, "Amir al-mominin al-Hakim bi-Amrillah is no more than a servant of God, obedient and subservient to Him. God has preferred him over the rest of His creatures. And how can he be worshipped while he is of body and a spirit endowed with necessary powers of eating and walking. He denies what you and your followers ascribe to him. Nay, only God is worshipped to whom Amir al-mominin bows in prayer." (vide "al-Risala al-Waiza", Cairo, 1951, pp. 21-28). Kirmani also quoted the Koranic verses (41:33, 37 and 3: 178-9) in support of his arguments.

It is also necessary to mention that the official dais of the Ismaili mission in Egypt declared that al-Hakim never supported or authorized Hamza or any other extremist to preach such teaching. Special literature and even official decrees (manshur) were circulated throughout the state to emphasize this. For instance, "al-Risala al-Waiza", "al-Mabasim wa al-Bisharat" and "al-Risala al-Duriya" etc. were written and circulated to condemn the Druze propaganda. Al-Musabbihi and Antaki says that immediately after the death of al-Hakim, his son az-Zahir issued a decree (manshur) denouncing the claims of the extremists.


Death of al-Hakim 

Al-Hakim had installed an astronomical observatory on Jabal al- Muqattam, near Cairo for Ibn Younus. According to Ibn Khallikan, al- Hakim went out late in the night of 27th Shawal, 411/February 13, 1021 to Jabal al-Muqattam and did not return to the palace. A tracking party was sent out, who found an ass on the top of the hill with its forelegs hacked off. Blood marks on the ground led to a spot, where they found al-Hakim's clothes pierced by daggers and buttoned up, and as such his death was officially declared on 10th Zilhaja, 411/April 4, 1021. The Druzes however believed that al-Hakim did not die but disappeared, anticipating his return on dooms-day. He died at the age of 36 years and 7 months after the Imamate and Caliphate of 25 years and 1 month. Makrizi (2nd vol., p. 290) quotes one other tradition about al-Hakim's death on the authority of Abul Mahsin that in 415/1025, a man from Imam Hussain's family had been arrested after raising up rebellion in the southern part of upper Egypt. He confessed that it was he who had killed al-Hakim. He said that there were four accomplices of the crime, and that they afterwards fled to different parts. He also showed a piece of cotton with which he had been clothed.

Imam al-Hakim had two sons, al-Harith (395-400/1004-1009) and Ali Abul Hasan, surnamed az-Zahir. He had also a daughter, Sit al-Misr (d. 455/1063).

Muhammad bin Ali as-Suri (d. 488/1095) praises al-Hakim in his poem (vide "al-Qasida as-Suriyya," ed. Arif Tamir, Damascus, 1955, p. 68) in the following words:-

The perfect resides wholly in the ninth (Imam). In him the parturition is accomplished, the coming to light is done. And the conceal and hidden appear. In al-Hakim God established His Will in the world, and the wisdom of the Just was realized.


AZ-ZAHIR (411-427/1021-1036) 

Fatimid Gold coin minted in Misr and dated 416/1025-1026
[two line center gives the name : Al-Zahir li-l'zaz Din Allah Amir al.Mu'minin]

He was born on 20th Ramdan, 395/June 4, 1005. His name was Ali Abul Hasan, or Abu Ma'd, surnamed az-Zahir la-azaz dinallah (Assister in exalting the religion of God). His mother Amina was the daughter of Abdullah, the son of Imam al-Muizz. He acceded on the throne of Fatimid Caliphate and Imamate on 411/1021 at the age of 16 years. On the occasion of his coronation, a special payment in excess (fadl) of 20 dinars was granted to each soldier.

A black eunuch Midad began his career in the service of Sit al-Mulk, the aunt of az-Zahir. She employed him as a teacher of az-Zahir. On Friday, the 18th Safar, 415/May 1, 1024, az-Zahir invested Midad the honorific title and named him Abul Fawaris. Later on, Midad was assigned the administration of the affairs of the soldiers according to a long edict read publicly in the palace.


Fatimid decree against the Druzes

It appears from several Druze writings that Hamza and his followers had contacted the chiefs of the Fatimid army and the tribal chiefs, asking them to depose az-Zahir and declare Hamza as the successor of al-Hakim, vide "Risalat al-Arab" (p. 561) and "Taqlid Bani al-Jarrah" (p. 484). Another Druze work, "al-Ghaya wa al-Nasiha" (pp. 71-2) in this context makes az-Zahir as an imposter who usurped the rights of Hamza. On the other hand, Makrizi speaks of a Katami named, Ahmad bin Tatawa who arrived in Egypt in 415/1024 and claimed to have come from Kufa where he had been in the company of al-Hakim (vide "Itti'az", p. 415). He also claimed that al-Hakim had sent him as a messenger to warn the people of their evils. Makrizi also mentions that a black servant named Anbar, who worked as a porter in al- Hakim's court, met az-Zahir and tried to convince him that his father was still alive and would return very soon. It is also known that a certain person, called Suleman whose resemblance to al-Hakim encouraged him to make an attempt to take power from az-Zahir. He entered the royal palace with his men, declaring himself as the returning Imam. His attempt was however foiled and was executed. In sum, the Druze propaganda of al-Hakim's divinity appears to be merely a mean leading to the abolition of the hereditary tradition of the Imamate, and open the door for non-Fatimids to become Imams. It also led the other individuals to mint groundless tales for al-Hakim. Before the time, the propaganda became congenial for the growth of the ambitions of the extremists, az-Zahir immediately issued an official decree (manshur), calling for the extermination of the extremism with iron hands from Anioch to Alexandria and Egypt. Yaacov Lev writes in "State and Society in Fatimid Egypt" (London, 1991, p. 36) that, "He (az-Zahir) condemned (in the official decree) those who adopted extreme views regarding the position of the Imam, and those who went beyond the pale of Islam were cursed. The regime took action against those who adhered to the view of God being incarnated in al-Hakim; they were imprisoned and put to death."

Accordingly, the amir of Antioch, aided by the amir of Aleppo, suppressed the group of the Druzes in the Jabal as-Summaq in 423/1032, which mostly included the peasants. In Alexandria, al-Mukana tried to maintain Hamza's authority and encouraged the extremists in the Jabal as-Summaq after their defeat. At length, al-Mukana himself also withdrew in 425/1034.


Sit al-Mulk 

Az-Zahir began his career under the tutelage of his aunt, Sit al-Mulk (the lady of the state), also known as Sit al-Nasr, who was born in 359/980. During the first four years of az-Zahir's rule, the whole power was in the hands of his aunt. The personnel of Sit al-Mulk in the administration included both men and women. Abul Abbas Ahmad bin a-Maghribi, for example, served as her agent, who was a man of laudable character and had already served the mother of Sit al-Mulk in the same capacity. She also employed a slave girl of her mother, named Takarrub, was her confidante. She also served as her informant and handled the petitions submitted to her.

It is said that at the beginning of her regency, she managed to summon Abdul Rahman bin Ilyas bin Ahmad, the great-grandson of Imam al-Mahdi and the cousin of Imam al-Hakim, who had hatched rebellion against the Fatimids at Damascus, and is reported to have made his contact with the Jarrahids of Palestine to help him in his action. Sit al-Mulk made vizir Khatir al-Mulk, Ammar bin Muhammad write a letter to Abdul Rahman. He had been arrested in Cairo and imprisoned for some four years, then fell ill and died just three days before Sit al- Mulk herself died in 416/1026.

Thus, she is reported to have wielded great influence over the masses and directly participated in the state affairs, and remained quite influential until her death in 416/1026. Ibn Khallikan (8th vol., p. 130) writes that, "She showed exceptional ability, especially in legal matters, and made herself loved by the people."

During these four years, the chief ministers changed in quick succession and thus the administration could not acquire stability. After the death of Sit al-Mulk, the principle power passed into the hands of a trio from among the court nobles, who paid daily visit to the Imam for getting decision on all important matters.


Nasir Khusaro

Nasir Khusaro Hamiduddin Abu Muin Nasir bin Khusaro bin Harith al-Qubandiyani was a celebrated poet, philosopher and traveller. He is ranked as the Real Wisdom of the East. He was born in 394/1003 and came in Egypt in 439/1047, where he aboded for about three years, until 441/1050, during which time he had his audience with al-Mustansir. He was appointed as the hujjat of Khorasan and Badakhshan. It is certainly due to his tireless endeavours that there are millions of Ismailis in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China, Chitral, Hunza, Gilgit, Pamir, Yarkand etc. He spent the rest of his life in the bleak valley of Yamghan, where he died in 481/1088. In the introductory note of "Wajh-i Din" (ed. by Ghulam Reza Aavani, Tehran, 1977, p. 1), Seyyed Hossein Nasr writes, "He is one of the greatest Islamic philosopher and deserves to be studied as a major intellectual figure of Islam in general and of Ismailism in particular."

Besides being a great thinker and erudite writer, Nasir Khusaro was also an eminent traveller. The distance he traversed from Balkh to Egypt, and thence to Mecca and then to Fars via Basra, and ultimately back to Balkh, not counting excursions for visiting shrines and so on, was about 2220 parasangs (each one about 3 miles). His journey began in 437/1045, accompanied by his brother Abu Sa'id, an Indian servant and some pack-animals. He travelled first to Merv to tender his resignation from government service, and then proceeded to Nishapur where he visited the shrine of the Sufi poet, Bayazid Bistami. From there he took the overland route via Tabriz to Syria and Palestine. He thereafter visited Mecca, where he made up his mind to visit Egypt. He arrived in Cairo by way of Damascus and Jerusalem in 439/1047. As he entered the city, Nasir Khusaro felt instinctively that "here it is where you should seek for what you need."

His "Safar-nama" gives a lively picture of the great splendour of the Fatimid empire in vivid words during the time of al-Mustansir, with its royal palaces, gates, gardens, shops and the normal living of the people, as well as the uncountable wealth of Egypt. Writing on the city of Cairo, Nasir describes: "I estimated that there were no less than twenty thousand shops in Cairo, all of which belong to the sultan (al-Mustansir). Many shops are rented for as much as ten dinars a month, and none for less than two. There is no end of caravanserais, bathhouses and other public buildings - all property of the sultan, for no one owns any property except houses and what he himself builds. I heard that in Cairo and old Cairo there are eight thousand buildings belonging to the sultan that are leased out, with the rent collected monthly. These are leased and rented to people on tenancy-at-will and no sort of coercion is employed." (p. 45) He further describes: "In the midst of the houses in the city are gardens and orchards watered by wells. In the sultan's harem are the most beautiful gardens imaginable. Water-wheels have been constructed to irrigate these gardens. There are trees planted and pleasure parks built even on the roofs. At the time I was there, a house on a lot twenty by twelve ells was being rented for fifteen dinars a month. The house was four stories tall, three of which were rented out....These houses are so magnificent and fine that you would think they were made of jewels, not of plaster, tile and stone! All the houses of Cairo are built separate one from another, so that no one's trees or outbuildings are against anyone else's walls. Cairo has four cathedral mosques where men pray on Fridays. One of these is called al-Azhar, another al-Nur, another, the Mosque of al-Hakim and the fourth the Mosque of al-Muizz. This last mosque is outside the city on the banks of the Nile. When you face the qibla in Egypt, you have to turn towards the ascent of Aries." (p. 47)

Describing the markets of Cairo, Nasir Khusaro writes: "The merchants of old Cairo are honest in their dealings, and if one of them is caught cheating a customer, he is mounted on a camel with a bell in his hand and paraded about the city, ringing the bell and crying out, `I have committed a misdemeanor and am suffering reproach. Whosoever tells a lie is rewarded with public disgrace.' The grocers, druggists, and peddlers furnish sacks for everything they sell, whether glass, pottery, or papers; therefore, there is no need for shoppers to take their own bags with them. Lamp oil is derived from turnip seed and radish seed and is called zayt harr. Sesame is scarce, and the oil derived from it is expensive, while olive oil is cheap. Pistachios are more expensive than almonds, and marzipan is not more than one dinar for ten maunds. Merchants and shopkeepers ride on saddled donkeys, both coming and going to and from the bazar." (p. 55) Nasir also adds: "The security and welfare of the people of Egypt have reached a point that the drapers, moneychangers and jewellers do not even lock their shops - they only lower a net across the front, and no one tampers with anything." (p. 57)

"In the year 439/1047" writes Nasir Khusaro, "the sultan ordered general rejoicing for the birth of a son: the city and bazars were so arrayed that, were they to be described, some would not believe that drapers' and moneychangers' shops could be so decorated with gold, jewels, coins, goldspun cloth, and embroidery that there was no room to sit down. The people are so secure under the sultan's reign that no one fears his agents, and they rely on him neither to inflict injustice nor to have designs on anyone's property. I saw such personal wealth there that were I to describe it, the people of Persia would never believe it. I could discover no end or limit to their wealth, and I never saw such ease and comfort anywhere." (p. 55)

The signs of the Fatimid presence in Jerusalem were uncountable. Nasir Khusaro was impressed by some of them, such as silver lamp donated to the Dome of the Rock, on which the name of al-Mustansir was inscribed in gold letter around the bottom. The Fatimid governor of Palestine also built in the area of the Haram; their inscriptions were admired by Nasir Khusaro. The Fatimid presence was no less visible at the shrine of Abraham in Hebron; which was enlarged and redecorated.

Nasir Khusaro compiled many books besides the "Diwan" and "Safar-nama." The famous among them are "Rawshana'i-nama" (Book of Light), "Wajh-i Din" (Face of Religion), "Gushayish wa Rahayish" (Release and Deliverance), "Zad al-Musafarin" (Provision for the Road), "Jami al- Hikmatayn" (Harmonization of the Wisdom), etc. Gholam Reza writes in "Nasir-i Khusraw" (Tehran, 1977, p. 14) that, "Of course, Nasir does eulogise one person: the Caliph al-Mustansir. For him, however, the Caliph is not the representative of worldly rule or secular power, but rather the spiritual master of masters, representative of the Holy Prophet, the Pole of the Age. These eulogies are not mere poetic effusions, but deeply felt songs of devotion."

Among other eminent dais, Abdul Malik Bin Attash was also a refined literary personality. He was the chief of Ismaili mission in Fars, mainly in Ispahan. He was a great diplomate and expert in winning over the hearts of people. He was also a great military leader, and died in 500/1107.

Hasan bin Sabbah was also a renowned Ismaili dai. He came in Egypt in 471/1078 and had his audience with al-Mustansir. He stayed 18 months in Cairo, and being ascertained the name of Nizar as the successor personally from al-Mustansir, he quitted Cairo and reached Ispahan in 473/1081 and thence proceeded to Qazwin, and took possession of the fort of Alamut in 483/1090 and founded Nizari Ismaili state.

 

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