Jowhar bin Abdullah as-Siqili, the famous statesman of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi'ite dynasty
Compiled by: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 20th of the Islamic month of Zil-Qa'dah in 381 AH, the famous Greek Muslim general and statesman of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi'ite dynasty of Egypt-North Africa-Syria, Jowhar bin Abdullah as-Siqili (or the Sicilian), passed away. He is the conqueror of Egypt and the builder of the city of Cairo including the famous al-Azhar Mosque and academy.
Born a Christian on the island of Sicily near what is now Italy, he embraced the truth of Islam and joined the service of the Fatemids, soon rising into prominence as “al-Kateb” (the Chancellor) and “al-Qa'ed” (the General). Jowhar subdued North Africa as far as the Atlantic coast and then went on to take control of Egypt from the Ikhshidid Turkic governors of the Abbasid caliphate. He built Cairo as the new capital of the Fatemids, and revived in the “Azaan” (call to the daily ritual prayer) the bearing testimony to the imamate of Imam Ali (AS) after testifying 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 and echoed from the minarets of "al-Azhar", which is a derivative of "az-Zahra" or the Radiant, the famous epithet of Hazrat Fatema (SA) the daughter of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).