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Barjawān

(1,043 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Abū l-Fatḥ, or Abū l-Futūḥ, Barjawān (d. 390/1000) was a white eunuch of Slavic origin belonging to the Fāṭimid caliph al-ʿAzīz (r. 365–86/975–96). He rose to the highest executive rank in the empire, becoming the wāsiṭa, a wazīr in all but name. His rule in this capacity began on 27 Shaʿbān 387/4 December 997 and lasted until his execution on the order of al-ʿAzīz's successor, al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh (r. 386–411/996–1021), on 26 Rabīʿ II 390/5 April 1000. When al-ʿAzīz sensed his approaching death, in 386/996, he entrusted the care of his eleven-year-old heir to Barjawān.…
Date: 2021-07-19

Kutāma

(1,884 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
The Kutāma were a tribal confederation of Berbers occupying a large area in the region of Constantine (Qusṭanṭīna), nowadays a province in northeastern Algeria. Their territory extended from the Aures Mountains to the Mediterranean sea and included the principal towns of Mīla and Saṭīf, to the north, and Bilizma, to the south. They are known to have been settled in Constantine since at least Roman times. With the advent of Islam, the Kutāma, in contrast to many other Berber groups, mostly rejecte…
Date: 2022-02-04

Dāʿī (in Ismāʿīlī Islam)

(2,135 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Dāʿī (s), in Ismāʿīlī Islam, were the agents of the daʿwa (the mission appealing for adherence and support), the earliest records of which date from about 261/875, in Iraq, concerning the activities of the Qarāmiṭa, led by Ḥamdān Qarmaṭ (d. 321/933) and his brother-in-law ʿAbdān (d. 286/899). It is likely, however, that the movement had already been in existence for some time. Somewhat later, we begin to find names of dāʿīs, many of whom were converted by a certain al-Ḥusayn al-Ahwāzī, who was apparently acting on instructions from a central headquarters in Salami…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Bajalī

(318 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Abū l-Ḥasan (or possibly Abū l-Ḥusayn) ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn b. Warsand al-Bajalī, was an early third/ninth-century Maghribī author of books of Shīʿī legal traditions and the founder of a sect called, after him, al-Bajaliyya. The earliest known citation of his writings occurs in a work of the Fāṭimid authority Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān, itself from the first half of the fourth/tenth century. The Bajaliyya upheld the imāmate of Mūsā al-Kāẓim b. Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (d. 183/799) but severed the line of imāms after him, accepting no others afterward. Ibn Warsand appears to have collected some o…
Date: 2021-07-19

Ibn al-Ṣayrafī, Tāj al-Riʾāsa

(834 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Tāj al-Riʾāsa Amīn al-Dawla Abū l-Qāsim ʿAlī b. Munjib b. Sulaymān, known as Ibn al-Ṣayrafī (b. Shaʿbān 463/May 1071 in Cairo, d. 19 Ṣafar 542/20 July 1147), was one of the most famous clerks to work in and, eventually, direct the Fāṭimid chancery. He was the son of a money changer (ibn al-ṣayrafī) and the grandson of a clerk. He acquired his initial training as a clerk under the tutelage of Abū l-ʿAlāʾ Ṣāʿid b. Mufarrij, who was then director of the bureau of the army. Ibn al-Ṣayrafī worked for him in that bureau before moving with him to the ch…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Āmir bi-Aḥkām Allāh

(1,373 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Al-Āmir bi-Aḥkām Allāh Abū ʿAlī al-Manṣūr (4905–24/1096–1130) was the tenth of the Fāṭimid caliphs (r. 495–524/1101–30). Born on 13 Muḥarram 490/31 December 1096, he succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father, al-Mustaʿlī, in Ṣafar 495/December 1101. For the first two decades of his reign, his all-powerful wazīr, al-Afḍal b. Badr al-Jamālī, excluded him almost entirely from the government, leaving him but a few ceremonial functions, fewer than had been allowed any of his predecessors. Reports from those years shed little light on his actions as distinct from those of the wazīr…
Date: 2021-07-19

Nizār b. al-Mustanṣir

(1,089 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Nizār (d. c. 488/1095) was, by common consensus, the eldest of the many sons of the Fāṭimid caliph al-Mustanṣir (r. 427–87/1036–94). Born in 437/1045, Nizār would have been almost fifty by the time of his father’s death, during the night of 18 Dhū l-Ḥijja 487/29 December 1094. By then, due partly to his seniority in the family, many considered him the logical, if not formally designated, successor. He also had his own following in Egypt and elsewhere amongst Ismāʿīlīs. The all-powerful wazīr al-Afḍal (d. 515/1121), son and successor of the military dictator Badr al-Jamālī (i…
Date: 2022-09-21

Bāṭiniyya

(2,386 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
The term bāṭiniyya derives from the Arabic bāṭin, meaning “inner,” “inward,” “interior,” hence “hidden,” “secret,” and, most importantly in this context, “esoteric.” It is normally used in opposition to ẓāhir, which, accordingly, carries the sense of “outward,” “obvious,” “literal,” and “exoteric.” In its abstract form and as the name of a group—al-Bāṭiniyya—the word refers to the advocates of the esoteric meaning in holy scripture and the law. Such a group most likely would also have claimed that the inner, esoteric meanin…
Date: 2021-07-19

ʿAbbās b. Abī l-Futūḥ

(1,386 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
ʿAbbās b. Abī l-Futūḥ b. Tamīm b. Muʿizz b. Bādīs al-Ṣinhājī (d. 549/1154) was wazīr for slightly more than a year, 548–9/1153–4, first under the Fāṭimid caliph al-Ẓāfir (r. 544-9/1149-54), then briefly under his successor, al-Fāʾiz (r. 549-55/1154-60). His father, Abū l-Futūḥ, had been a ranking member of the Zīrid royal family but was suspected of involvement in an attempted assassination of the ruler, his brother Yaḥyā. He was imprisoned, along with his wife, Bullāra, ʿAbbās’s mother, in the Maghrib from 5…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Manṣūr bi-llāh

(1,743 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Al-Manṣūr bi-llāh (or al-Manṣūr bi-Naṣr Allāh), Abū Ṭāhir Ismāʿīl, was the third Fāṭimid Imām-caliph (r. 334–41/946–53) after his father, al-Qāʾim. Born in the Tunisian administrative capital Raqqāda, most likely in 301/913-14, he was the only Fāṭimid caliph whose whole life was spent in North Africa. The official account of his designation as his father’s successor has the covenant (ʿahd) dated to Monday, 7 Ramaḍān 334/12 April 946, shortly before the latter’s death on 13 Shawwāl/18 May of the same year. In this period, the young prince, now clearly a…
Date: 2021-05-25

Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Shīʿī

(2,519 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Shīʿī (d. 298/911) was the major architect of the initial revolt that established the Fāṭimid caliphate in North Africa. Although he was known in the Maghrib as al-Shīʿī, among other names applied to him there, one indicated that he had come from Ṣanʿāʾ. In fact, however, he originally entered the Ismāʿīlī daʿwa in his native town of Kufa. Abū ʿAbdallāh, whose full name was al-Ḥusayn b. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Zakariyyāʾ, was recruited around 278/891, along with his older brother, Abū l-ʿAbbās Muḥammad (d. 298/911), by a dāʿī identified in Fāṭimid sources as Abū ʿAlī b…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Afḍal b. Badr al-Jamālī

(1,683 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Al-Afḍal b. Badr al-Jamālī, Abū l-Qāsim Shāhinshāh (458–515/1066–1121), was the military wazīr (amīr al-juyūsh) for three successive Fāṭimid caliphs, from 487/1094 until his assassination in 515/1121. Born at ʿAkkā (Acre) in 458/1066, he moved to Egypt in 466/1074 when his father, Badr, was given virtually dictatorial powers over what remained of the Fāṭimid empire. Twenty years later, in 487/1094, the father died, still holding that position. A senior commander of Badr’s attempted to seize power, but al-Afḍ…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-ʿAzīz bi-llāh

(1,790 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Al-ʿAzīz bi-llāh, Nizār Abū Manṣūr (344–386/955–996), was the fifth Fāṭimid caliph and the first whose rule began and ended in Egypt. He was born in al-Mahdiyya and moved to Cairo with his father al-Muʿizz in 362/973 when the centre of the empire shifted eastward from the Maghrib to its new capital in Egypt. As the third son of the Imām, Nizār was not expected to succeed. The eldest of his brothers, Tamīm, had already been passed over when it became clear that he could not produce offspring, and …
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Ḥāfiẓ li-Dīn Allāh

(979 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Al-Ḥāfiẓ li-Dīn Allāh Abū l-Maymūn ʿAbd al-Majīd was the eleventh caliph of the Fāṭimid line (r. 297–567/909–1171). Born in ʿAsqalān in 467/1074 or 468/1075 to a son of the caliph al-Mustanṣir (r. 427–87/1036–94), he was the oldest surviving male in the royal family in 524/1130, when his cousin and predecessor, al-Āmir, was assassinated. Absent a clear heir to the throne—the infant son al-Ṭayyib, whose birth had been announced earlier, seems to have left the picture—authorities in the palace decla…
Date: 2021-07-19

Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī

(1,154 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī (or alternately al-Sijzī) was the major philosophical theologian of Ismāʿīlī Shīʿism in the mid-fourth/tenth century. Although he was put to death by the Ṣaffārid governor of Sijistān at an uncertain date (but not long after 361/971), his writings continued to have great influence with Ismāʿīlī writers to the end of the Fāṭimid period. Later treatises, notably some by Nāṣir-i Khusraw (d. after 465/1072), contain passages that simply quote or paraphrase his work. Even later, the Ṭayyibī daʿwa in Yemen and in India carefully preserved many of his writ…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Baṭāʾiḥī, Abū ʿAbdallāh

(1,336 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad b. Abī Shujāʿ Fātik al-Baṭāʾiḥī (more accurately Ibn al-Baṭāʾiḥī; d. 522/1128), known as al-Maʾmūn b. al-Baṭāʾiḥī, was wazīr to the Fāṭimid caliph al-Āmir (r. 495–524/1101–30). He rose to this position in 515/1122, following the assassination of the wazīr al-Afḍal, and he held it until 519/1125, when he was himself arrested and imprisoned. His wazīrate was especially important and noteworthy, and his evident skill at governing was held in high regard then and later. Curiously, he was himself an Imāmī Shīʿī, unli…
Date: 2021-07-19

Ibn Killis

(1,329 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Abū l-Faraj Yaʿqūb, Ibn Killis (318–80/930–91) was wazīr to the Fāṭimid caliph al-ʿAzīz (r. 365–86/975–96), the first to hold that position under the Fāṭimids. Ibn Killis was born Jewish in Baghdad. He and his father eventually moved to Syria, where he gained some prominence as a merchant’s agent before continuing to Egypt, where he entered government service and, having attracted the notice and trust of its ruler Kāfūr (r. 355–7/966–8), rose eventually to a position of power and influence, controlling…
Date: 2021-07-19

Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl

(1,501 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl b. Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (d. c.179/796) was for many, if not most, of those who accepted his imāmate the seventh Imām in the line that began with ʿAlī, al-Ḥasan, and al-Ḥusayn and continued in al-Ḥusayn’s progeny. He was thus the grandson of the most widely recognised of all the Shīʿī Imāms, Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq, whose death in 148/765 provoked a confused and bitterly contested succession that divided his following, in the long run, into Twelvers and Ismāʿīlīs and, in the short run, into several additional factions that disappeared soon afterwards. According to our best sourc…
Date: 2021-05-25

al-Mustaʿlī bi-llāh

(879 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Abū l-Qāsim Aḥmad b. al-Mustanṣir, al-Mustaʿlī bi-llāh, was the ninth Fāṭimid caliph (r. 487–95/1094–1101). Born on 8 (or 20) Muḥarram 467/August/September 1074 (or 468/1075), he was the youngest of his father al-Mustanṣir’s (r. 427–87/1036–94) many sons, several of whom, most especially the eldest, Nizār, expected to succeed. However, the all-powerful wazīr al-Afḍal (d. 515/1121), son and successor of the recently deceased Badr al-Jamālī (d. 487/1094), announced, following the overnight death of al-Mustanṣir on 18 Dhū l-Ḥijja 487/29 December 1…
Date: 2023-02-24

Ḍirghām b. ʿĀmir

(1,047 words)

Author(s): Walker, Paul E.
Abū l-Ashbāl al-Manṣūr Ḍirghām b. ʿĀmir b. Sawār al-Mundhirī al-Lakhmī (d. 559/1164), was wazīr from 28 Ramaḍān 558/30 August 1163 to 28 Jumādā II 559/23 May 1164, under the last Fāṭimid caliph, al-ʿĀḍid (r. 555–67/1160–71). Although he held that office for only a short time, he is important for the dramatic events in which he participated, including invasions of Egypt by both the Syrians and the Frankish Crusaders, and for the fame of his various opponents, among them Amalric I, King of Jerusalem (r. 1163–7…
Date: 2021-07-19
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