The Fatimid Caliphate in North Africa
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 16th of the Islamic month of Rabi as-Sani in 365 AH, the 4th self-styled caliph of the Fatemid dynasty of North Africa-Sicily, al-Mo‘ez le Din-Allah, died in his new capital Cairo, after a reign of 23 years during which the centre of his caliphate was moved from Mansuriyya in Tunisia to the newly conquered Egypt.
The Fatemids, who claimed descent from Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), the 6th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) but did not adhere to the teachings of the last six of the Prophet’s 12 Infallible Successors, had thrown off the yoke of the Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad.
Their Shi’ite Muslim Sicilian general, Jowhar as-Saqali, conquered Egypt from the Abbasids and on the orders of Caliph Mo’ez founded the city of Qahera or Victorious to commemorate the victory. Mo’ez soon founded the famous mosque and academy known as al-Azhar in honour of Zahra or the Radiant, which is an epithet of the Prophet’s daughter, Hazrat Fatema (SA).
For the first time in Egypt the Azaan was recited in the Shi’ite Muslim manner with proclamation of the name of the Prophet’s First Infallible Successor, Imam Ali (AS), after testifying the Oneness of God Almighty and the Prophethood of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). For over two centuries, al-Azhar was the sight of Ismaili Shi’ite learning until the fall of Egypt to the Kurdish general, Salaheddin Ayyoubi, who forcibly converted the country and its people to the Sunni sect.