Ismaili History 530 - AL-MUIZZ (341-365/952-975)

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.


Ismaili History 531 - War with the Byzantines

In 345/956, the Fatimid naval fleet inflicted a major defeat on the Byzantines in Italy, following several minor entanglements and forcing the emperor Constantine VII (913-959) to pay tribute and send a peace-negotiating embassy to al-Muizz in 346/957. In 351/962, Ahmad bin Hasan, the second Kalbid governor of Sicily had staged war against the eastern part of the island and captured Taormina, whose name was changed to al-Muizzia in honour of Imam al-Muizz. In 354/964, following the accession of the emperor Nicephorus II Phocas (963- 969), who had delibrately stopped the customary tribute to the Fatimids, the Byzantines were severely defeated on land and sea by the joint Fatimid and Kalbid forces, and occupied Rametta, the last ashes of the Byzantium; and the simultaneous victory at sea known as the wak'at al-majaz (battle of the straits), which is celebrated in a turgid qasida of Ibn Hani (d. 362/973), vide his 'Diwan' (Cairo, 1271 A.H., no. 40, pp. 540-59). In 356/967, a peace treaty was concluded between the Fatimids and the Byzantines, and accordingly, the Muslims sought the right to impose jaziya on the Christian inhabitants of Sicily. This defeat of the Byzantines was indeed celebrated with pomp through out the Islamic world.

Ismaili History 532 - Jawhar as-Siquilli

Abul Hasan Jawhar bin Abdullah traced his origin from his country of birth, Sicily in Italy. Imam al-Muizz had given him the kunya of Abul Hasan, and was also called al-Katib (secretary) and al- Qaid (general). He was born most probably between 298/911 and 300/913 in Sicily, the then island under occupation of the Byzantines, and died most probably in 381/992.
During the period of Imam al-Mansur, Jawhar was brought as a slave to Kairwan and was presented before the Imam. Realizing his potential, he was made as a personal attendant of Imam al-Mansur, and soon rose to prominence. In 341/932, al-Muizz appointed him as his Katib and since then, he became known as Jawhar al-Katib. In 347/958, he was made the commander-in-chief of the Fatimid forces, and was assigned to subdue the remaining parts of the Maghrib. In 347/958, Jawhar led the Fatimid forces westwards and defeated near Tahrat, a large army of the Zanata Berbers commanded by Yala bin Muhammad, the chief of the Banu Ifran, and an ally of the Umayyads of Spain, who had rebelled against the Fatimids. Yala, who ruled the central Maghrib from Tahrat to Tangier was killed and thus the Ifranid influence in the central Maghrib came to an end.

He further proceeded towards Sijilmasa, then ruled by the Midrar tribe and killed its chief, Muhammad bin al-Fath in a fierce fighting. Jawhar marched against Fas after spending a year in the eastern Morocco. In 349/960, he beseiged the strongest fortress of the Umayyads. He took possession of Fas and arrested its Umayyad governor. Jawhar proceeded towards the far west, and continued conquering one after another city till he reached the Atlantic ocean. He ordered some fish to be put in a pot with water, and sent it to al-Muizz to let him know symbolically that whichever cities he had crossed, he conquered them as far as the Atlantic ocean.

Ismaili History 533 - Conquest of Egypt

We have heretofore noticed that the Fatimid attempt to conquer Egypt began early in their reign. Al-Muizz, however, with a comprehensive and more cautious policy in the Mediterranean and the Muslim world, was able to succeed where his predecessors failed. Having completely subjected the Maghrib to his control, he was able to rally the Katama tribe under the capable leadership of Jawhar for impending expedition against Egypt.Egypt was under the rule of the Ikhshids from 323/935 to 358/969 before the advent of the Fatimids. It was a Turkish dynasty under the Abbasid suzerainty. Muhammad Ikhshid, the founder of the rule, died in 355/966 and his two minor sons, Abu Kassim and Ali ruled after him in succession as the nominal rulers, and the virtual authority was held by an Abyssinian, called Abul Misk Kafur (camphor, the father of musk). He was an able governor, and died in 357/968 after ruling for 22 years. Kafur's death left Egypt in a state of confusion. It was a time of acute disorders and anarchy. Famine broke out as a result of scarcity of water in Nile and it was also followed by plague. The soldiers had their pay diminished, their gratuities were in arrear. The whole administration failed to relieve the people from distress due to lack of capable governor.

Kafur was succeeded by a twelve years old Abul Fawaris Ahmad. Under his rule, there had started an animosity between the vizir Abu Jafar bin Furat and Yaqub bin Killis, the treasurer. Yaqub was imprisoned, but was relieved soon by the intervention of Sharif Muslim al- Hussain, a great grandson of Imam Hussain. Yaqub bin Killis had gone to al-Muizz in Maghrib and informed the chaotic condition of Egypt. He also requested the Imam to take possession of Egypt. On the other hand, the Abbasids also neglected Egypt because of their internal wars. The people of Egypt ultimately knocked the door of Maghrib and wrote several letters to al-Muizz, inviting him to get rid of calamities. Al-Muizz confessed the offer and ordered for the preparation of large army to conquer Egypt. According to Ibn Khallikan (5th vol., p. 226), 'The preparations for expedition against Egypt are a fair witness to the efficiency of the Fatimid logistics.' Four months provisions were patiently amassed at the Qasr al-Ma, near Mansuria. Wells were dug and rest-houses built along the route between Tunisia and Egypt in 354/966, about three years before the invasion.

Al-Muizz determined to entrust the invasion of Egypt to his general, Jawhar, who had already proved his efficiency in the reduction of the western provinces, but just about this time, Jawhar fell ill, that no hopes were entertained of his recovery. In this state, he was visited by al-Muizz, who according to Ibn Khallikan (1st vol., p. 341) declared that Jawhar would not only escape from death, but make the conquest of Egypt. The health of Jawhar was restored soon. Al-Muizz attended with his court to bid him farewell and according to Makrizi (1st vol., p. 378), he said: 'We are in need of your bodies and minds. Be it known to you that if you act on what we say, we can hope that God will ease our attack of the eastern countries, as he did of the western parts with your cooperation.' He further said, 'By God, if Jawhar goes alone to conquer Egypt, he will be able to take hold of it. You people will enter Egypt within remaining in your veils without offense, and will land at the ruins of the Tulunids, where a city shall be built, whose name shall be al-Qahira, which shall dominate the world.' (Ibid.)

Thus, al-Muizz made his farewell speech to Jawhar's troops on the eve of their departure from the Maghrib in which he greatly emphasised the political and religious policy to be followed in the new dominion. He admonished his troops that 'justice was the basis of the state, not oppression.' If this principal were to be observed by all, he thought, the Katama warriors would eventually conquer the East as easily as they had conquered the West.

With the conclusion of his khutba, al-Muizz formally ordered Jawhar to set out, and ordered his princes to dismount and give Jawhar the salutation of departure; and this also obliged the great officers of the empire to dismount. Jawhar kissed the hand of al-Muizz, and mounted his horse and put his army on march.

Jawhar's march started from Kairwan with a huge army on 14th Rabi I, 357/February 4, 969. Ibn at-Tiqtaqa in his 'al-Fakhri' (comp. 701/1302) quotes the poet, named Muhammad bin Hani Maghribi (d. 362/973) as follows: 'No army before the army of Jawhar trotted and walked its charges by files of tens'. Jawhar's army consisted of Arabs, Saqaliba, Rum and Berber tribes of whom the Katama was the largest. Ibn Khallikan (5th vol., p. 377) estimated at more than a hundred thousand men, and Nuwayri (d. 732/1332) writes in 'Nihayat al-Arab' (ed. M. Jabir A. al-Hini, Cairo, 1984, p. 44) that it was later augmented by two hundred thousand men. The cost of the expedition is also given for 24 million dinars. More than a thousand camel loads of gold were also placed under Jawhar in order to meet extra expenses. With all his forces, Jawhar reached Barqa, whose governor, Aflah received him with honour. Jawhar directed his forces towards Alexandria, and conquered it without much opposition. When the people of Fustat learned the fall of Alexandria, they sent their deputation, who met Jawhar in a village, called Taruja on Rajab, 358/June, 969. Jawhar promised them for safe-conduct in writing. On 11th Shaban, 358/June 30, 969, the Fatimid general Jawhar overwhelmed the last feeble resistance of the Ikhshid forces near Jiza, and entered Fustat by crossing the Nile. He landed at the ruins of the Tulunid dynasty (254-292/868-905) on 15th Shaban, 358/July 4, 969 where he was received with honour.

In the same year, Jawhar dispatched a messenger towards Maghrib in presence of al-Muizz with the glad tidings that Egypt had fallen to the Fatimids. Ibn Hani, ready on the spot, recited a qasida which began:-

The Abbasids are saying, 'Has Egypt been conquered?'

So say to them, 'The matter has been decided!'

Jawhar has already passed Alexandria:

The heralds have announced it, and victory is his!

It seems that Jawhar preferred to follow very closely the policy designed by al-Muizz. In his proclamation (ahd al-aman) to the Egyptian populace in 358/969, Jawhar outlined a sagacious policy of religious toleration, reform, justice, tranquillity, security and peace. He was there to execute Fatimid policy which was aimed at pacifying Egypt in order that it might serve as a potential centre.

Ismaili History 534 - Building of Cairo

It would be more accurate to describe the site of Fustat as a low-lying bank consisting of a plain and series of alluvial terraces stretching as far as the advanced spurs of the Jabal al- Muqattam, known as Jabal Yashkur. The Greeks named it Babylon, then it was known as Fustat, founded after the conquest by Amr bin al-Aas in 20/641, in the form of a camp, to the north of the ancient city. The name Fustat (fistat, fussat or fissat) means either a 'military tent' or more probably, a 'defensive moat' (Roman fossaton and Latin fossatum). In 258/872, Ibn Tulun, the chief of Egypt had built a huge palace at the foot of Jabal al-Muqattam and a great mosque in 261/875.Jawhar encamped his army at the northern plain of Fustat, almost away from the crowded parts of the city. Prof. Hitti writes in 'Capital Cities of Arab Islam' (London, 1973, p. 111) that, 'The victor lost no time in laying the foundation of his new capital. The site he chose excelled that of Baghdad in the number and importance of its forerunners, and the region around the site vied with that of the earlier capital.'

On 17th Shaban, 358/July 6, 969, Jawhar drew the lines of the new city, and on the same night, he laid the foundation of a new city, named al-Qahira al-Muizia, or al-Qahira (whence Cairo through Italian). It is related that a lot of about 1200 yards square was marked by poles with ropes extending from one pole to the other. Mattocks in hand, labourers stood waiting for the sound of bells strung on the ropes, while the astrologers were busy calculating the most favourable conjunction of the planets to give the signal for starting digging. But a raven darted down, perched on the rope, and set the bells jingling. Down went the diggers mattocks. Mars (qahira al- aflak) was then at its zenith, therefore, the name of the new city was given al-Qahira, or al-Qahira al-Muizzia. It should, however, be noted that Masudi (d. 346/958) tells more or less the same story about the foundation of Alexandria by Alexander. Still from credible sources, it seems that al-Muizz had designed a plan of the city before Jawhar's departure and had selected its name as expressed in his speech.

The new city was built on a rectangular plan. Its width was about 1200 metres and spread on 340 acres of land, out of which 70 acres were occupied by the big palace. A large area was reserved for gardens and parks, and about 200 acres were distributed among the soldiers. The city was strongly fortified on all sides with iron-gates to protect from the invaders. In its north was the gate of Nasr, in south the gate of Zwella, in east the gate of Barqiya and the gate of Mahruk, and on its west were the gates of Saadat, Faraj and Khokhal.

John J. Pool writes in 'Studies in Mohammedanism' (London, 1892, p. 165) that, 'Cairo, in the time of her real greatness, in the days when the Fatimites ruled, must have been a capital to be proud of. And not only was the city famous for her unique situation and grandeur, but she earned renown in the East, as Cordova did in the West, for her encouragement of learning.' Dr. T.J. De Boer writes in 'The History of Philosophy in Islam' (New York, 1967, pp. 5-6) that, 'For a short time Aleppo, the seat of the Hamdanids, and for a longer time Cairo, built by the Fatimids in the year 969, - have a better claim to be regarded as the home of intellectual endeavour than Baghdad itself.'

Jawhar ordered that all mention of the Abbasid caliph in the Friday prayers must be expunged from all official records and the Fatimid khutba be recited. Ibn Khallikan (1st vol., p. 344) writes that these words were added in the khutba:- 'O my God, bless Muhammad the chosen, Ali the accepted, Fatima the pure, and al-Hasan and al-Hussain, the grandsons of the Apostle, whom Thou hast freed from stain and thoroughly purified. O my God, bless the pure Imams, ancestors of the Commander of the faithful.' Ibn Khallikan (1st vol., p. 345) further writes that, 'Jawhar disapproved however of prayers (of khutba) being made for himself, and said that such was not in the direction given by his master.' One of Jawhar's first acts in Egypt was to strike the Fatimid coins, bearing the name of al-Muizz. He sent a sack of coins to al-Muizz in Mansuria as a symbol of his conquest. It is recounted that al-Muizz's faithful retainer, Abu Ali Mansur al-Jawdhar al-Azizi (d. 363/974) was near death due to illness on that time, therefore, al-Muizz sent him some of these Egyptian coins, and said, 'I hope that God will prolong his life, so that he may make the pilgrimage with us (towards Egypt).'

The preachers in the mosques were forbidden to wear the black garment usual under the Abbasids, and were ordered to use white instead. It was also ordered that every Sunday a court should be held for the inspection of complaints for hearing of petitions against the officials. Jawhar introduced financial reforms and accelerated the economical conditions, and the peace and prosperity were restored very soon in Egypt.

Jawhar's first step after laying down the city wall with four gates was to start on the two major projects: the Imam's palace and the mosque. The palace complex occupied the central area of 116,844 square yards. It was large enough to accomodate the imperial household and servants and to provide offices for government officials and army officers. In course of time it came to have 4000 rooms.

Close by the palace rose the mosque, extending to the foot of Jabal al-Muqattam, named Jam-i Azhar, on 24th Jamada I, 359/April 4, 970, where a big library and school were erected. Since the title of Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad and the wife of Ali, was Az-Zohra (the bright) and in her honour, it was named Al-Azhar, being the masculine form of Az-Zohra. Philip K. Hitti writes in 'Capital Cities of Arab Islam' (London, 1973, p. 114) that, 'It took two years (970-972) to build. Its name al-Azhar (the most resplendent) recalls Ali's wife and Muhammad's daughter, Fatimah al-Zahra.' It was built with 76 pillars of marble, facing each other. The roof was made of strong wood. The first service was performed in the mosque on Saturday, the 7th Ramdan, 361/June 22, 971. Makrizi writes in 'Khitat' (2nd vol., p. 273) that the dome above the arches was decorated with the following inscriptions:-

'In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate; according to the command for its building, from the servant of Allah, His governor Abu Tamim Ma'ad, the Imam al-Muizz li din Allah, Amir al-Mominin, for whom, and his illustrious forefathers and his sons may there be the blessings of Allah: By the hand of his servant Jawhar, the Secretary, the Siqilli, in the year 360.'

De Lacy O'Leary writes in 'A Short History of the Fatimid Khalifate' (London, 1923, pp. 110-11) that, 'In 378/988, the following caliph al-Aziz, devoted it especially to the learned, and from this it gradually become the leading university of Islam.' 'Reputed to be one of the world's oldest universities', writes John L. Esposito in 'Islam, the Straight Path' (New York, 1991, p. 48), 'al-Azhar has remained an internationally recognized centre of Islamic learning, training students from all over the Islamic world and issuing authoritative religious judgements on major issues and questions.'

The students in al-Azhar were called mujawir (learners) and talib al-ilm (seekers after knowledge). The teachers and professors took pride in using the modest title khadim al-ilm (servants of knowledge). The relationship between the teacher and pupil was patriarchal. The students showed their tutors the great respect, kissed their hands and carried their shoes. An inspector (nazir) at the head of the al-Azhar was to be chosen from the high officials of the state, also known as shaikh al-umum, who may be compared to the Rector of the German universities, and the office of the Rector was called mashyakha.

When one enters the Jama-i Azhar in Cairo through the door bab al-muzayyinin, the inscription on this gate will bedevil and attract his attention. It says: 'Inna' l-a'mala bi'l-niyyati wa-li-kulli mara'in ma nawa' (verily, actions are judged by their intention and every man has what he has intended). This saying of the Holy Prophet is considered to be one of the most important principles of Islam. As such it is mentioned as one of the four basic doctrines around which Islam revolves (madar al-islam).

Syed Ameer Ali writes in 'The Spirit of Islam' (London, 1955, pp. 336-7) that, 'The Fatimides of Egypt were grand supporters of learning and science....They established colleges, public libraries, and scientific institutes, richly furnished with books, mathematical instruments, to which were attached numerous professors and attendants. Access to, and the use of, these literary treasures were free to all, and writing materials were afforded gratis. The Caliphs frequently held learned disputations at which the professors at these academies appeared, divided according to the different faculties,-logicians, mathematicians, jurists and physicians, dressed in their khala, or doctoral mantles. The gowns of the English universities still retain the original form of the Arabic khala or kaftan.' It must be noted that khala (robes of honour) generally consisted of a set of clothes: an imama (turban), a qamis (shirt), taylasan (piece of material worn over the shoulders), a qaba (a kind of sleeved, close-fitting coat) or a durra'a (a loose outer garment). While, the kaftan was regarded as a characteristic dress of the Turks. It was a kind of sleeved, close-fitting coat, generally reaching the middle of the calf, divided down the front and made to overlap over the chest.

It must be known that the first university was founded in Europe on 1150 at Paris, whose grade of university was declared in 1208. The Oxford was founded in 1168 and the Cambridge in 1231, therefore, al-Azhar University, no doubt, is the first oldest University in the world. In July, 1969 more than 4,000,000 people crowded into its 83 square miles in Cairo to celebrate its thousandth anniversary with pomp and jubiliation.

Ismaili History 535 - Al-Muizz in Egypt

Jawhar also conquered Syria, and then he invited his master, al-Muizz in Egypt. After making necessary appointments in Maghrib, al-Muizz departed from Mansuria on 21st Shawal, 361/August 15, 972 with his family and notable persons. His caravan reached Alexandria on 23rd Shaban, 362/May 29, 973. Abu Tahir Muhammad bin Ahmad, the qadi of Egypt, accompanied by the chief men, offered al-Muizz their salutations. Ibn Khallikan (3rd vol., p. 379) writes that, 'He (al-Muizz) held a sitting near the light-house, in order to receive them and, addressing to them a long speech, he said that he had come to Egypt, not for the purpose of augmenting his dominions and his wealth, but of maintaining the true faith, protecting pilgrims and making war against the infidels. He declared his resolution to close his life in the exercise of good works and to act in conformity with the orders he had received from his ancestor, the Prophet Muhammad. He then preached to them and made a long exhortation which drew tears from some of those who were present; after which, he arrayed the qadi and other persons of the assembly in robes of honour, made each of them a present of a horse, ready harnessed, and dismissed them.' Towards the end of the month of Shaban, al-Muizz left Alexandria and, on Saturday, the 2nd Ramdan, 363/June 6, 973, he stopped at Mina, the wharf of Egypt. He was warmly greeted by Jawhar in Jazira. Al-Muizz entered Qahira, or Cairo, henceforward, it became the capital of the Fatimids. Ibn Khallikan (3rd vol., p. 380) writes that, 'On arriving at Cairo, he went to the castle and entered a hall of audience where he fell prostrate in adoration of Almighty God. He then said a prayer of two rakats (i.e., the genuflections of prayer).'
Jawhar continued to govern Egypt with absolute power till the arrival of his master; he preserved his high rank, dignity and authority till 364/974. He however continued in the government of Egypt for 4 years and 20 days.

The capital was placarded with al-Muizz's name and the praises of Ali. He was acclaimed by the people, who crowded to his first public audience. He was presented precious gifts by the prominent noblemen, in which the present offered by Jawhar was splendid and eye- catching. Stanley Lane Poole writes in 'History of Egypt' (London, 1914, p. 98) that, 'It includes 500 horses with saddles and bridles encrusted with gold, amber and precious stones; tents of silk and cloth of gold, borne on Bactrian camels; dromedaries, mules, and camels of burden; filigree coffers full of gold and silver vessels; gold-mounted swords; caskets of chased silver containing precious stones; a turban set with jewels, and 900 boxes filled with samples of all the goods that Egypt produced.'

The reign of al-Muizz was one of the most glorious ever recorded in Egyptian history. He displayed judgement and justice in the management of his mixed subjects. He did not allow his troops to interfere with the people. He was well disposed towards the Copts. His land revenue reforms were highly admired, which he was ably assisted by his vizir Yaqub bin Killis. Al-Muizz divided the provinces into districts and were placed under capable officers. The army was organized with a standing force and a militia to be summoned in times of war. A naval fleet was also organized to protect the coastal trade and commerce from pirates. Makrizi writes in 'al-Khitat' (1st vol., p. 444) that, 'The Franks were employed as craftsmen, making weapons for the navy and other services in Cairo.' The Fatimids built a big dockyard (dar al-sina'a) at Alexandria and Damietta, inside the country on the Nile at Maks near Cairo and Aydhab near Sanga on the Red Sea opposite to Jeddah. The Arabic word dar al-sina'a for a dockyard is still current in the European languages as arzenale or arsenale in Italian and arsenal in Spanish, French and English. In the dockyard, more than 600 ships were built - the largest fleet that Egypt had ever seen since the Arab conquests. The commander of the naval force was called Amir al-Bahr (the chief of the sea), which came to be used in the European languages, such as Amiralh (Portuguese), Amiral (French) and Admiral (English).

One of the wonders of Alexandria was the erection of lighthouse in the shape of a towering minaret, near the shore at dangerous zone, measuring 175 hands. On the minaret were fire pans, in which a fire was kindled when the watchman saw the ships at a distance.

'Egypt under the Fatimids' writes H.U. Rahman in 'A Chronology of Islamic History' (London, 1989, p. 160), 'enjoyed an era of great prosperity; trade with India, Italy, the western Mediterranean and even, at times, with the Byzantine empire flourished. The tolerant attitude of the regime created great intellectual vitality in the country.'

It must be known on this juncture that Jawdhar (d. 363/974) was a very faithful servant of al-Muizz and never involved himself in any sort of achievement in Egypt. The Dar al-Tiraz (state textile factory), for instance, producing reed mats and inscribed prayer rugs as well as articles of clothing continued to flourish under al-Muizz. In 354/965, al-Muizz ordered Jawdhar to have a prayer rug made. The weavers included in it not only the text the Imam wished to have, but also the usual reference to Jawdhar: 'from among the works made under the supervision of Jawdhar, client of the Commander of the Believers.' When Jawdhar saw his name embroidered in gold thread, he was mortified, supposing that the Imam might think him guilty of self-aggrandizement. Al-Muizz, however, praised the rug as being of 'extreme beauty and perfect manufacture,' and paid no attention to the inscription.

One of the most interesting products of the Fatimid workshops of this period must have been a 'map of the world' woven in blue tustari qurqubi silk on which the climate, mountains, seas, cities, rivers and roads of the earth were shown. Included was a clear representation of Mecca and Medina. Every feature on it was identified in gold and silver, or silk writing. Across the bottom, the legend read: 'Among the things ordered by al-Muizz li-din Allah, longing for the Sanctuary of God (Mecca), and proclaiming the landmarks of His messenger, in the year 353/964.' It is reported to have cost twenty-two thousand dinars to make, vide Makrizi's 'al-Khitat' (1st vol., p. 417).

The Fatimid Caliphs combined both, the religious as well as secular powers in their persons, and were more respected than the Umayyad or Abbasid caliphs. The Caliphs wore a religious halo. Hussain Ibrahim Hasan and Taha Ahmad Sharf write in 'al-Muizz li-din'allah Maktaba al-Mahda al-Miriyya' (Cairo, 1947, p. 139) that, 'The personality of al-Muizz was clothed in the clean robes of holiness and majesty. The Fatimid Caliph was not, like his Umayyad and Abbasid rivals, a tyrant in running the affairs of the state. Neither was al-Muizz over-indulgent about pleasures. His subjects and helpers held him in high esteem as he belonged to the progeny of the Prophet.' According to Theodore Noldeke in 'Sketches from Eastern History' (Beirut, 1963, p. 90), 'After their conquest of Egypt, the Fatimids were the most powerful princes of Islam, and it seemed at times as if even the form of power had passed from the Abbasids. The Fatimids, moreover, governed excellently as a rule, and brought Egypt to a high peak of prosperity.'

One of the greatest figures in this period was the physician - therapist, called Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Sa'id al-Tamimi, who hailed from Palestine. He went down to Egypt in 360/970 and practised medicine at Cairo. Soon afterwards, his fame began to spread and was welcome at the Fatimid court. He compiled several medico-pharmaceutical books. His best extant work is 'al-Murshid ila Jawahir al- Aghdhiya wa quwa al-Mufradat min al-Adwiya' on drug origins and properties including mineral and botanical simples. He mentions the use of finely powdered white sulphur in the manufacture of safety maches - an interesting reference to its wide use at the time - made from sulphur found in abundance in the Dead Sea area. This is over five centuries before the German scientist, Georgius Agricola (1494-1555), known as the father of mineralogy, mentions sulphur matches (sufuratis ellyehniis) for use with flint and steel. Sami Hamarneh writes in 'Medicine and Pharmacy under the Fatimids' (cf. 'Ismaili Contribution to Islamic Culture' ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Tehran, 1977, p. 182) that, 'It seems therefore appropriate to state that the manufacture of safe sulphur matches was propagated and utilized early in the Islamic civilization centuries before it was used in Europe.'

Mention should also be made of the old Egyptian mummies. The Arabic word mumiyah (Persian, mumiya'i) means bitumen or a mineral tar, whose earliest indisputable evidence dates from about 2600 B.C. It is interesting to note that Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Sa'id al-Tamimi seems to be an earliest reporter about these mummies in detail in his above work. He thought that the origin of the North African mummywax (mum or mumia) is the sea which throws it to its shores. He recalls, 'Abul Hasan al-Basri (al-Haytham) informed me that a large piece of it was thrown on the sea-shore near Katama (Tunisia) during the reign of Caliph al-Muizz. At a first glance, it was thought to be an ambergris (a grey substance from sperm whale's intestines). This piece was presented to the Caliph's treasry. Upon testing it, it was found dry and brittle and of the same texture as the old mummies found in the graves of the ancient Egyptians.' Tamimi further adds, 'This suggested to me that during the time of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs and nobles, as a part of honouring their dead and preserving their corpses with normal bone structure against decay, they employed skilled people to do the embalming. They took the viscera from abdomen and bowls as well as the brain and their internal liquids and filled in their places with this already heated and melted mummia. Then they left it to solidify, joining the ribs and the spinal vertebra tightly together. In addition they anointed the outer skin for its preservation before laying the corpses in tombs dug in the rock with cover inscribed within and without with their full life histories. Thus they are well kept from deterioration in their burial places for good. The grave diggers in our time find great amounts of this mumia sticking to the bones and ribs of corpses. They removed it to sell. But I do not approve of its therapeutic use by our people.'

Another notable person of this period was Musa bin Ali'azar al-Israili, the author of a book on the culinary art, which he dedicted to Imam al-Muizz, entitled 'al-Kitab al-Muizzi.' He compiled another, on the therapy of coughing and chest ailments and a third, a formulary, all of which are not accessible.

Ismaili History 536 - Qadi Noman

Qadi Abu Hanifah an-Noman bin Abi Abdullah Muhammad bin Mansur bin Ahmad bin Hayyun at-Tamimi was a renowned Ismaili jurist in the Fatimid court. He espoused Ismaili faith early in life at Kairwan. His association with the Fatimids however began with his entry into the services of Imam al-Mahdi since 313/925. During the period of Imam al-Qaim, he concentrated mainly in the study of history, philosophy and jurisprudence and composed numerous works. Prior to the death of Imam al-Qaim in 334/945, he was appointed as a qadi. His status was further promoted during the time of Imam al-Mansur when he was granted the rank of Chief Qadi (Qadi'l-qudat). He however reached his zenith in the time of al-Muizz. Qadi Noman was greatly impressed by al-Muizz's appearance and writes that he was struck by 'the refulgence of the Imamate from his countenance.'
When al-Muizz ascended, Qadi Noman had felt his post dwindled and wrote a letter to the Imam about it. He got Imam's reply, which he had quoted in his 'al-Majalis wal Musayarat.' It reads: 'O, Noman, may God protect you. I have read your letter. I regret that you are not sure of my patronage, and are trapped in fear unnecessarily. You have no reason to fear any adverse change in my attitude towards you. Instead, you should entertain greater hopes and aspire for a higher position. I know every thing about you. My well-wishers ought to look upon you as a model. Your friend will envy your lot and your enemies will feel jealous of you. May God help you and keep you straight on true path. With regard to the position you occupied with my predecessor, nothing is hidden from my notice. We, the Imams are the roots and branches of the same tree. If my father has died physically, the line of Imamate shall continue for ever. The souls of the Imams are joined like the hooks of a chain. If your patron has gone, your Imam is present. Thank God and have a trust upon Him for your affairs. Write to me about your needs, and you will be given what you want.'

When al-Muizz came to Egypt, he also brought Qadi Noman with him as his own qadi. He however allowed Qadi Abu Tahir Muhammad bin Ahamad bin Abdullah to remain as the qadi of Cairo. Abu Tahir, however, always consulted Qadi Noman and asked him to revise his verdicts. Qadi Noman was not formally appointed to a higher official position, his rank as a judicial officer was however superior than that of Abu Tahir.

Qadi Noman was a man of great talent, learning and accomplishments, diligent as a scholar, prolific as a writer and upright as a judge. He was the founder and exponent of Ismaili jurisprudence. He died in 363/974 at Cairo and al-Muizz led the funeral prayers. He was a erudite and versatile author and the name of 44 of his works have survived. Of these 20 are totally lost, and 18 are wholly, and the rest are preserved in the private collection

Ismaili History 537 - Jafar bin Mansur al-Yamen

It has been discussed heretofore that Jafar bin Mansur, the son of Ibn Hawshab was greatly distressed by the internal quarrels in which his brother, Abul Hasan Mansur played a conspiracy in killing Abdullah bin Abbas al-Shawiri in Yamen. Jafar bin Mansur was deadly against his brother and went to Maghrib at the Fatimid court. He reached Maghrib when Imam al-Mahdi had died in 322/934. He was however well received by Imam al-Qaim and his services were amply rewarded and was given the charge of mission. He was held in great esteem for his learning and ability. He also served whole heartedly to Imam al-Mansur and Imam al-Muizz.
Jafar bin Mansur was first to be invested the title of Bab al-Abwab by al-Muizz in Cairo, for which a separate mission cell was constituted. The residential palace of al-Muizz and Jafar was nearby. He always remained close to the Imam in Maghrib and Egypt as well. He rose to such a great extent that he had been given superiority over Qadi Noman, which can be judged from an event that one day, the health of Qadi Noman became impaired, therefore many visitors excluding Jafar bin Mansur came to see him. When Qadi Noman recovered, he went to see al-Muizz, who asked him as to who had come to see him while he was sick. Qadi Noman thereupon complained that many persons came except Jafar. Al-Muizz got annoyed at him and after a short while, he took out a book and gave it to Qadi Noman to read. Qadi Noman was highly astonished at the ability of its author. Al-Muizz asked him to imagine the name of its author. Qadi Noman said, 'There could be no one else except the Imam himself who could write so well.' And al-Muizz replied, 'You have mis-judged, for the book is written by Jafar bin Mansur.' Qadi Noman admitted his mistake with an apology and went to the house of Jafar to pay his respect.

Jafar bin Mansur was a prolific writer and instituted the interpretation for the school of Ismaili writings. His main works are twelve, whose few manuscripts are preserved in the University Library of Leiden. Suffice it to say that the period of al-Muizz would be barren without the intellectual, philosophical and mystical achievement of Jafar bin Mansur, who died in 365/975.

It must be known on this juncture that Abu Ali Mansur al-Jawdhar al-Azizi was the secretary of Jawhar from 350/961. He continued in his service until the death of Jawhar, then joined the services of al-Muizz and then al-Aziz, and died in 363/974. He was a prolific writer and compiled 'Sirat al-Ustadh Judhar,' containing important biography of Jawhar. It also contains the decrees (manshur) issued to him from al-Mansur and al-Muizz and the letters written to them by him. It was edited and published by M. Kamil Hussain and Dr. M. Abd al- Hadi Shaira from Cairo in 1954.

Abul Fawaris Ahmad bin Yaqub (d. 413/1022) writes in 'Ar-Risala fi'l Imama' (comp. 408/1077) that Imam al-Muizz said in a speech he delivered on the day of fast-breaking in Cairo that: 'O'people, God has chosen a Messenger and Imams. He has made them superior and favoured them. He has accepted them as the guides to His creatures. He sent down His revelation upon them, and made them speak with His wisdom. They are like luminous stars: if one of them sets, another one shining, glittering and fully radiant with illumination. It is out of mercy upon those who are guided and prefer the life to come to the present life. It is in retribution to him `who cries, lies and turns his back', and who favours the present life, and in retaliation against him who deviates from the path of guidance. God accepts from no one his deeds or his offerings, his admonition or his pursuit, except through them. He must surrender to their command, and acknowledge their bounty and their Imamate. He must surrender to them in obedience, follow their guidance and seek mercy from their part. May God bless them all.'

Writing on the then Islamic empires, Robert Payne observes in 'The Holy Sword' (London, 1959, pp. 182-3) that, 'There were now three Muhammadan empires: the Umayyad caliphs ruled over Spain, Iraq and Persia remained in the hands of the Abbasids and North Africa, Egypt, Syria and Arabia were in the hands of the Fatimids.'

The Ismaili mission in the period under review also penetrated to Sind and Hind, where a Fatimid state had been founded by Jaylam bin Shayban. It was dislodged by the onslaught of the Ghaznavid power in Sind, but was followed by other major principality of the mission in Mansurah, which was short-lived. The Ismailism, however, continued to remain a force that grew stronger in Sind, for it was patronised by the Sumra dynasty. For its detail account, vide 'Ismaili Rule in Sind and Hind,' Appendix No. III.

Having considerably enhanced the power and territorial extent of the Fatimid Caliphate, al-Muizz died in 14th Rabi II, 365/December 21, 975 at the age of 44 years, after the Caliphate and Imamate of 23 years and 6 months. He ruled 20 years in Maghrib and 3