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Shia Fatimid Dynasty in Egypt and Syria

mpiled by: Syed Ali Shahbaz

The Egyptian capital Fostat under the rule of Fatimid
On 17th of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 358 AH, the Egyptian capital Fostat was conquered by the Fatemid Ismaili Shi’ite general, Jowhar as- Saqali, ending the rule of the Ikhshid Turkish governors of the Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad. Jowhar, who was originally a Greek from the island of Sicily, off the coast of Italy, immediately started the construction of a new capital nearby for the planned move of the Fatemid caliph, al-Mu’iz, from Mahdia in what is now Tunisia, the then capital of the Fatemid state -- which at its peak extended from the northwest African coast of the Atlantic Ocean in present day Morocco to Syria and the Hijaz including the holy cities of Mecca, Medina, and Bayt ol-Moqaddas.
It also included several islands in the Mediterranean, especially Sicily. Jowhar named the new capital, al-Qahera (The Victorious). He also built the al-Azhar Mosque and School in honour of the famous epithet “az-Zahra” of Prophet Mohammad’s (SAWA) daughter, Hazrat Fatema (SA).
The Fatemids restored the full form of the “Azaan” (call for the daily prayers), from the minarets of al-Azhar and other mosques, by bearing testimony to the vicegerency of Imam Ali (AS) after the mission of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). The phrase “hayya ala khayr il-amal” (hasten to the best of deeds), which was dropped from the “Azaan” by the second caliph, was also revived. The Fatemids ruled Egypt for two centuries.

The grand al-Azhar Mosque
On 7th of the Islamic month of Ramadhan in 361 AH, the grand al-Azhar Mosque was officially opened for prayer by Jowhar as-Saqali, the Sicilian general of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi'ite dynasty who completed the grand project three years after conquering Egypt and establishing the city of Cairo, as the new capital of the Empire that now stretched from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean."Al-Azhar" is a derivative of "Az-Zahra" or the Radiant, the famous epithet of Hazrat Fatema (peace upon her) the daughter of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) in whose honour the mosque and the religious school were built.
The Fatemids restored the full form of the Azaan or call for the daily prayers, from the minarets of al-Azhar and other mosques, by bearing testimony to the imamate of Imam Ali (AS) after the Prophethood of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). The phrase "Hayya ala khayr il-amal", meaning "hasten to the best of deeds", which was dropped from the Azaan by the second caliph, was also revived. Exactly, a year later on this same date in 362 AH, the Fatemid caliph, al-Mu’iz le-Dinillah arrived in his new capital Cairo, from Mahdia in what is now Tunisia, the then capital of the Fatemid state.

Ma'adh Abu Tamim al-Mu'iz le Din-Allah, the fourth caliph of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi’ite dynasty of North Africa
On 30th of the Islamic month of Shawwal in 341 AH, Ma'adh Abu Tamim al-Mu'iz le Din-Allah, assumed power as the fourth caliph of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi’ite dynasty of North Africa in his capital Mahdiyya in what is now Tunisia. He reigned for 22 years during which he conquered Egypt, where in 362 AH, he shifted his capital to the newly built city “al-Qahera” or Cairo, built by his loyal Sicilian general, Jowhar as-Saqali.
Jowhar, originally a Greek who embraced the truth of Islam and became a devout follower of the Ahl al-Bayt, also built in Cairo the grand al-Azhar Mosque, which derives its name from “az-Zahra” the famous epithet of Hazrat Fatema (SA), the daughter of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
The Fatemids restored the full form of the “Azan” from the minarets of al-Azhar and other mosques, by bearing testimony to the vicegerency of Imam Ali (AS) after the mission of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). The phrase "hayya ala khayr il-amal" (hasten to the best of deeds), which was dropped from the “Azan” by caliph Omar ibn Khattab, after the passing away of the Prophet, was also revived.

The Holy Roman Emperor Otto II was decisively defeated by the Fatimids
On August 15, 982 AD, the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II was decisively defeated by the Muslim forces of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi'ite caliphate of Egypt-North Africa at the Battle of Capo Colonna, in Calabria, southern Italy. The Fatemids who after taking control of Sicily in the 960s had advanced into southern Italy, came into conflict with the Germans under Otto, who was advancing from the north with the intention of seizing Apulia and Calabria from the Byzantines.
He was met by the forces of the Sicilian Emir, Abu'l-Qassem, to whom the Greek Christians had appealed for aid against the Roman Catholics. After initial success, Otto's army was bogged down in a pitched battle south of Crotone at Cape Colonna, and although Emir Abu'l-Qassem was martyred, the Muslim troops did not flee the battlefield. They regrouped and managed to surround Otto's soldiers, killing many of them and inflicting a severe defeat upon the Holy Roman Emperor.
The defeat changed the political makeup of southern Italy, where the Muslims retained their presence, while the Greek Orthodox forces joined with the Muslims to regain possession of Apulia from the Roman Catholics. The Muslim presence in southern Italy lasted for over three centuries till 1300 AD, when as a result of loss of political power they were enslaved, expelled and the remaining were forcibly converted to Christianity with mosques turning into churches.

Islamic astronomers in Daylamite-ruled Iraq and Fatimid-ruled Egypt
On April 30 in 1006 AD, at a time when Christian Europe was in the dark ages, Islamic astronomers in Daylamite-ruled Iraq and Fatimid-ruled Egypt recorded a supernova, giving descriptions of how light varied and was visible for almost a year. The speed of the still-expanding shock wave was measured nearly a millennium later.
This is history's brightest "new star" ever recorded, at first seen to be brighter than the planet Venus. It occurred in our Milky Way galaxy, appearing in the southern constellation Lupus, near the star Beta Lupi. It was also recorded by Chinese astronomers as is evident from their books.

The Arabic grammarian of Fatemid Egypt, Abul-Hassan Taher Ibn Ahmad Ibn Babshad
On 3rd of the Islamic month of Rajab in 469 AH, the Arabic grammarian of Fatemid Egypt, Abul-Hassan Taher Ibn Ahmad Ibn Babshad, passed away. He was of Iranian origin and was born in Basra, Iraq, in a family of pearl-dealers who migrated to Cairo. In his youth he came to Baghdad to learn sciences, and eventually returned to Egypt.
He wrote several books, and was a rich businessman but later in life, donated to charity all his possessions, and became a hermit.

The Islamic astronomers in Fatemid Egypt and the Iranian Buwayhid dominions of Iraq and Iran
On 14th of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 1054 AD, Islamic astronomers in Fatemid Egypt and the Iranian Buwayhid dominions of Iraq and Iran, as well as the Chinese, recorded the seeing of a supernova, a violently exploding star that was visible in daylight for 23 days and at night for almost 2 years. It is believed the Crab Nebula in the constellation Taurus is the remnant of this supernova. Rock paintings in North America suggest that Amerindians in Arizona and New Mexico also saw it.
There are no European records of the event, since Christianity had plunged Europe into centuries of darkness. Also 48 years earlier in 1006, Islamic astronomers had recorded a supernova and given descriptions of how light varied and was visible for almost a year. This was history's brightest "new star" ever recorded, at first seen to be brighter than the planet Venus. It occurred in our Milky Way galaxy, appearing in the southern constellation Lupus, near the star Beta Lupi. It was also recorded by Chinese astronomers as is evident from their books.

Poet and scholar Qazi as-Sa'eed Ibn Sana ul-Mulk
On 4th of the Islamic month of Ramadan in 608 AH, the poet and scholar Abu’l-Qasim Hibatollah bin Ja'far, known as Qazi as-Sa'eed Ibn Sana ul-Mulk, famous for the treatise "Dar at-Tiraaz" which he devoted to the genre of “muwas̲h̲s̲h̲ah” poetry, passed away in Cairo at the age of 63. He belonged to a distinguished scholarly family of Fatemid Egypt, and was well versed in hadith and the exegesis of the holy Qur'an in addition to Arabic grammar.
He lived in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria as well, and for a time served as Qazi or judge in Damascus under the new Ayyoubid Dynasty, founded in Egypt and Syria by the Kurdish conqueror, Salaheddin Ayyoubi, in whose praise he composed some of his poems. His poetical compositions include an account of the Epic of Ashura (Moharram 10) and the tragic martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS), the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).

Abdullah ibn Yousuf al-Azeed, the last caliph of the Fatemid Ismaili dynasty of Egypt, Syria and North Africa
878 lunar years ago, on this day in 555 AH, Abdullah ibn Yousuf al-Azeed, the last caliph of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi'ite dynasty of Egypt, Syria and North Africa, ascended the throne in Cairo at the age of 11 years. He was a pawn in the hands of his vizier Shawar who frequently changed alliances, from the Zangids of Syria to the Crusader occupiers of Palestine that brought about the doom of the Fatemid state.
His eleven-year reign ended with his dethronement by the young Kurdish general, Salah od-Din Ayyoubi, whom he had appointed as vizier on the assumption of containing the power of his own courtiers. Salah od-Din, who had entered Egypt as deputy commander to his uncle, Shirkoh, sent by Noor od-Din Zangi to save Egypt from the Crusaders, brutally persecuted Shi'ite Muslims, burned entire libraries, and forced the people to become Sunnis, thereby ending over two-and-a-half centuries of Fatemid rule. The Fatemid rulers were buried in the grand mosque of Cairo known as “al Mashhad al Husain” in honour of the Martyr of Karbala, Imam Husain (AS).

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