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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


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