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Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 12:27 am
by serendipity
I have been requesting descriptions of the Imams for some time now. Basically no one has had anything to offer me, so as usual I've gone digging on my own. As a result of my excavations, I would suggest that whatever our opinions of the CURRENT regime are, it is also helpful to consider the Fatimids themselves, so that we have some sense of why their presence BRIGHTENED the company of the faithful. (Of course it goes without saying...if you have NO INTEREST in biography or history, even this material will leave you "cold".) Anyway, I'll be providing partial scrips I've found of 3 remarkable Fatimid leaders, 2 male AND 1 stay tuned! Also feel free to contribute additional details yourself.

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 12:42 am
by khuzema
And who are they?

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 4:52 pm
by serendipity
1. DESCRIPTION OF IMAM MUSTANSIR (AS), at the dedication of a new canal in Cairo:

"At a great distance behind the horses and soldiers advances the Caliph [al-Mostansir]. He is a young man of imposing appearance and pleasing expression, as befits a descendant of Hussein, the Prince of the Faithful, the son of Ali. He has a shaved head and rides a mule whose bridle and saddle are of the utmost simplicity, unadorned by silver or gold. His white jubba covers a long full tunic, as is the fashion in Arab lands: The Caliph's turban is a length of white material rolled round his head; in his hand he holds a riding whip of high price. Just in front of him go three hundred Persians, all on foot, dressed in Byzantine brocade, belted at the waist. Their sleeves are long in the Egyptian manner. They carry short spades and mattocks; their legs are girt with lengths of cloth. the man who carries the Caliph's parasol keeps close to him. He wears a turban of cloth of gold enriched with gems; the parasol itself is of the utmost splendor. This officer is the only person near the Caliph who is mounted. To the right and to the left eunuchs carry pots burning amber and aloes.

As the Caliph approaches it is customary for the people to call down heavenly blessings upon him. The Vizir, the chief religious judges, and a large throng of doctors and functionaries follow the Caliph. This great ruler thus reaches the head of the canal, the place, that is, where it will take water from the Nile. He stays on horseback under the awning for the space of an hour. Then he is handed a short spade which he hurls against the dam. This done, the ordinary folk attack the dam with shovels and picks until it yields to the pressure of the water which then floods into the canal. The first boat launched on the canal is filled with deaf mutes. These are believed to exert an auspicious influence; the Sultan sees that they are given alms. The whole population of Misr and al-Qahira throng to watch this spectacle and to take part in innumerable amusements." Desmond Stewart, Great Cairo: Mother of the World (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1981), 79-82.

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 5:08 pm
by serendipity
- By Sakar Datoo

"Every history has its landmarks and its reference points, its periods of order and disorder, its golden ages and its eras of decadence, and among them all, the events that ‘count’." And I would add: men and women
who count. One of the traumatic aspects of the history of Islam is the role, the status, and the power of women in Islam.

It is a paradox that while Islam is generally viewed as a religion that suppresses women, there are Muslim women whom history has recognized as
symbols of sovereignty, as women of the people, with extraordinary abilities, stunning beauty, unparalleled intelligence - ‘princesses’ who
ascended the hierarchy and reached the summits traditionally and officially reserved for men.

One such unique example is Sitt al - Mulk, the Fatimid Princess, whom extraordinary circumstances led into fulfilling imperial duties when she assumed power in 411/1020 after the disappearance of her brother, Imam Hakim bi Amr Allah.

Sitt al -Mulk, which means ‘lady of power’ was one of the most beautiful Fatimid princesses. She did not have to struggle to gain the first place
in the eyes of the caliphs. They were always rallying around her, fascinated by the mixture of her great beauty and immense intelligence.

Sitt al - Mulk was the daughter of Imam al - Aziz and the older sister of Imam Hakim bi Amr Allah. Sitt al - Mulk’s mother was a Christian of
Byzantine origin.

With hands richly adorned with the dynasty’s most precious jewels, the young girl was dressed in gowns of the finest silk, and royal brocade
specially designed by an industry that served the Fatimid Dynasty. The Fatimids generally dressed in white to manifest their difference from the Abbasids whose ceremonial attire was black. But the white robes were enhanced with gold and silver embroidery interspersed with precious stones to reflect the official imagery of shining splendour and divine light.

Mowlana al - Aziz had built two of Cairo’s most beautiful palaces: Qasr - al - Bahr(the river palace) and Qasr al - Dhahab(the golden palace).
Sitt al - Mulk spent her happy childhood days in the elegant and imposingly beautiful Qasr al - Bahr designed by the royal astrologers to be in unison with the stars.

The Imam's strong sense sense of tolerance for the ideal of education he transmitted to his daughter, Sitt al -Mulk. She inherited his personal qualities, particularly his openness and tolerance. She also inherited two of his characteristics - beauty and the heroes’ courage. From her early days, her father involved
her in decision making and in power by seeking her opinions and by encouraging her to express them freely and frankly. Even as a young adult, she was used to seeing her opinion taken into consideration, and this continued to be so even after the death of her father.

She was born of a mixed marriage - an Imam and a Christian - and she was proud of her birth and heritage and always defended her dual identity
rather vehemently. Her regard for Christians and Jews was an issue that almost endangered her life."

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 5:17 pm
by serendipity

"In the closing years of his reign, Mowlana Hakim bi Amr Allah had increasingly become ascetic. He used to take long nocturnal walks in the
streets of Cairo and Fustat as well as long excursions in the countryside, especially in the hills outside Cairo. On 27th Shawwal
411/1021, he left for one of his usual outings and never returned. A futile search was mounted for the Imam who was 36 years old at the time.

After 40 days, Sitt al Mulk had his only son and heir, al - Zahir, then 16 years old proclaimed as Imam and Caliph and Sitt al -Mulk became regent.

The Egyptians created no problems for Sitt al - Mulk and accepted her regency with calm and order. Cairo held its breath. The military, like
the people, retreated into silence. She organized the palace and the regency skillfully and officially. She appointed some competent
ministers and settled down for four years to putting the economy in order and settling down the people. And this she accomplished with

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 5:26 pm
by serendipity

The reign of Imam al - Aziz was exceptional from every point of view. He was described as ‘generous, courageous with a propensity for clemency, since he gave pardons freely.’
Under his rule, non-Muslims - Christians and Jews - had privileges they had never had before. They participated in all the political activities and acquired pre-eminence which frequently rendered Mowlana al - Aziz target of criticism. But he held out against the pressure and made his passion for tolerance the ideal.

In evaluating a caliph, his degree of toleration and his capacity to avoid bloodshed was an important consideration, and the reign of Imam al
- Aziz , which lasted 21 years, was acknowledged as highly successful, and he himself an exceptional prince.

The rule of Mowlana al - Aziz came to an unexpected and abrupt end. He had personally set out to lead the Fatimid armies in an expedition
against the Byzantines when he suddenly fell ill and died at Bilbays, en route to Syria.

Most sources regard Mowlana al - Aziz as the best and wisest of all the Fatimid caliphs of Egypt. He was an excellent administrator, politically
tolerant, who ‘loved pardon and used it often’. (He was succeeded by his young son, Hakim bi Amr Allah who was then 11 years old.)"

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 5:39 pm
by khuzema
one imam appoints the other,then how comw sitt-al-mulk appointed the next imam. Is this a zaidi belief or a bohris?

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 6:17 pm
by serendipity
Glad you pointed that out....I'm sure Hakim had conferred nass upon his son. Anyone else have the details?

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 6:21 pm
by serendipity
RE: "On 27th Shawwal 411/1021, he left for one of his usual outings and never returned. A futile search was mounted for the Imam who was 36 years old at the time." Incidentally this is the ORIGIN of the belief in Hakim's occultation, a belief which is not officially held by bohras.

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 7:17 pm
by Muslim
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."

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2002 1:44 pm
by asif khan
Dear serendipity,

Good Topic!

Would you have the link to your post on Princes SITT AL-MULK. The has a similar write-up on her but your has some addn'l info. I would like to re-post that piece on a number of ismaili sites!


Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2002 3:15 pm
by serendipity

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2002 3:29 pm
by asif khan
Thank you dear brother! I didn't think of that site!

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2002 8:29 pm
by asif khan
Excerpts from

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.

Re: Fascinating Portraits of the Fatimids.

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2002 8:40 am
by kmustaf
i have the whole history by dr farhad, w ivanow, dr zahid ali and few more.