Fatimid Caliphate

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The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fātimiyyūn (Arabic الفاطميون) was an Arabo-Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb,Sudan, Sicily, Malta, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171. The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the Tunisian city of Mahdia and made it their capital city, before conquering the Egyptian city of Cairo in 969, which thereafter became their capital. The 4th century AH /10th century CE has been called by Louis Massignon ‘the Ismaili century in the history of Islam’.[1] The term Fatimite is sometimes used to refer to the citizens of this caliphate. The ruling elite of the state belonged to the Ismaili branch of Shi'ism. The leaders of the dynasty were also Shia Ismaili Imams, hence, they had a religious significance to Ismaili Muslims. They are also part of the chain of holders of the office of Caliph, as recognized by some Muslims. Therefore, this constitutes a rare period in history in which the descendants of Ali (hence the name Fatimid, referring to Ali's wife Fatima) and the Caliphate were united to any degree, excepting the final period of the Rashidun Caliphate under Ali himself.

The caliphate was reputed to exercise a degree of religious tolerance towards non-Ismaili sects of Islam as well as towards Jews, Maltese Christians, and Coptic Christians.[2]

Contents

Rise of the Fatimids

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