al-Hākim (Fatimide)

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Abū ʿAlī al-Mansūr ibn al-ʿAzīz ( Arabic أبو علي المنصور بن العزيز, DMG Abū ʿAlī al-Manṣūr b. al-ʿAzīz ; * August 18, 985 in Cairo ; † February 13, 1021 near Helwan ) with the ruler name al-Hākim bi-amr Allāh (الحاكم بأمر الله / Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah  / who at God's command prevails') was of 13 October 996 until his disappearance on 13 February 1021 the sixth Caliph of the Fatimids and the sixteenth Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims . According to the canon of the “religion of uniqueness”, whose followers are known as “ Druze ”, his person was the last physical incarnation of God the Creator ( Allah ) on earth to this day .

Early years

Prince Mansur was the second-born son of the caliph al-Aziz (975–996), but his older half-brother Prince Muhammad had died as a child in 993, so that he was the only possible successor for the caliphate. In addition, he had a half-sister who was fifteen years his senior, who was only known by her honorary title "Mistress of the Empire" (Sitt al-Mulk) . His mother was a Melkite-Christian concubine of his father , whose brothers held the highest dignities of the Greek Church of the East. As the first future caliph, Mansur was born in al-Qahira (Cairo) in Egypt , to which the dynasty relocated its main residence from al-Mansuriya in Africa under his grandfather al-Muizz in 973 . At the age of eight, Mansur first attended a public act by his father on the occasion of a Friday sermon for Ramadan in the year 993 (October / November) in the mosque under construction in front of the north gate Bab al-Futuh , which was later to be named after him. On this occasion, the ruler's insignia of the golden parasol ( miẓalla ) was held over him , which was equivalent to a public designation (naṣṣ) as his successor.

The al-Hakim Mosque "the Shining One "
(al-Anwār) in Cairo.

In 996, the eleven-year-old Mansur accompanied his father to Bilbais , where the Fatimid army was assembled on the occasion of an imminent campaign against Byzantium in Syria . On October 13th, he was the last person to see his father alive when he accompanied al-Aziz, who was already sick, to the local bathhouse after the noon prayer. Sent by his father to play in the front garden, he was found here a little later sitting in the top of a sycamore by his master Bardjawan , who informed him of his father's death, put on the golden ruler's turban and paid homage as the new imam caliph. The successor to Mansur marks a critical moment in the history of the Fatimids, because he was the first caliph to come to the throne at an underage age, which is why a reign had to be formed for him. In Bilbeis, the leader of the Kutama Berbers, Hassan ibn Ammar , was the first to stage himself as kingmaker, who on the afternoon of October 13, 996, made the public proclamation of Mansur as the new caliph under the name “who rules at God's command” (al-Ḥākim bi-amr Allaah) and let his warriors proclaim himself the “mediator” (wisāṭa) between them and the caliph, thus assuming a position similar to that of a vizier . Around the same time, Princess Sitt al-Mulk attempted a coup in which she wanted to put a cousin she had fallen in love with on the throne of the caliphate, but this was prevented by the foresighted Bardjawan.

After only one year, the regime of Ibn Ammar was ended in September 997 after he had made himself hated by the Egyptians and other Orientals by favoring the Kutama, who came from the Berber West ( maġrib ) . The coup d'état against him was carried out by the soldiers of the Turkish-born military slaves ( mamlūk ) , whose organizer, in turn, was Bardjawan, who acted from the background. For the next two and a half years, the government was in the hands of the eunuch, who distinguished himself as a competent administrator and foreign politician. His most important legacy was the establishment of diplomatic relations with Emperor Basil II to clarify the balance of power in Syria, which should ultimately establish an alliance between the Fatimids and Byzantium against their common enemy, the Abbasids of Baghdad . Orestes , the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and uncle of al-Hakim, was sent to Constantinople as negotiator .


Al-Hakim initiated his personal rule with a bloody act. Under the pretext of wanting to visit a newly laid out garden in Cairo, Bardjawan was lured into a trap by the fifteen-year-old al-Hakim on March 26, 1000. Together with his umbrella bearer, the caliph personally lend a hand in the murder of his old master. To the public he justified this act, which was planned a year in advance, as an act of liberation from the trustees of the selfish eunuch, by whom he had been incapacitated for years and humiliated in his dignity. Probably as a result of these experiences from his childhood, al-Hakim had developed a lifelong distrust of his immediate surroundings in the state and the military, which regularly resulted in often exaggerated punishments. Officials or the military, who one day were still sure of his trust, could fall victim to his disgrace and thus the guiding sword the very next day if they suspected the slightest. He didn't let anyone else become powerful. Of fourteen of his viziers that he wore out during his twenty-five years' reign, only two survived and only one died of natural causes. Al-Hakim's mistrust, who also allowed himself to be influenced by intriguers, caused high blood tolls, especially in the generation of the sons and grandsons of the first followers of the Fatimids. Among other things, in 1004 and 1011 he had the chief judges Hussein ibn Ali ibn an-Numan and Abd al-Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn an-Numan executed, both grandsons of the compiler of the Ismaili legal compendium an-Numan (died 974). With the latter, the deposed vizier Hussein ibn Jawhar , who was a son of the generalissimo and conqueror of Egypt, Jawhar as-Siqilli (died 992), and a brother of the general al-Fadl ibn Salih were beheaded. The deserving general himself was executed on the orders of the caliph in 1006/07, only shortly after he was able to put down the threatening rebellion of Abu Rakwa . In 1003 al-Hakim had his cousin Prince Abd al-A'la and his friends killed because he had been praised by an astrologer as a true imam during a drinking party, in which al-Hakim recognized an attack on his rulership. Ten years later, al-Hakim's terror is said to have even been directed against his own harem, provided that the news of the execution of several of his concubines and their children did not arise from the often exaggerated imagination of his opponents. In any case, his sister Sitt al-Mulk thought it appropriate to place his son Ali and his mother under their special protection.

Feared by lackeys and officials at court, al-Hakim enjoyed great popularity among the common people of Cairo, who astonished his subjects by adopting conspicuous habits and which were therefore interpreted by enemy observers as symptoms of a mental defect. At a young age he mingled with the crowd in disguise and took part in the often extravagant festivals of Muslims and Christians. This apparently made him a model for the fairy tale character of Harun ar-Raschid from “Arabian Nights” , about whose historical counterpart nothing is reported. After his lifestyle increasingly changed from the year 1004 to that of a pious ascetic, al-Hakim began his almost daily contests in the old town al-Fustat-Misr , with which he probably escaped the atmosphere of the palace city of Cairo, which was poisoned by intrigue and greed sought. The figure of the gaunt and plainly dressed caliph, who rode on a donkey without any imperial insignia and without an escort through the alleys of the souks or along the banks of the Nile past ordinary people, became a familiar part of the cityscape. His unbridled generosity, which is described in several contemporary reports, was fairytale-like and yet also real. He did not turn away any favorite, petitioner or plaintiff when it came to calming financial worries, distributing alms or signing and kissing editions of the Koran. He usually took petitions on his own. He countered the occasionally cautious objections of his viziers against an increasing waste of state property by declaring that all property is God's property, which is due to people as servants of God. As an imam, he is only a trustee of this property, which he should not withhold from people. The generous caliph, who lets the people share in the wealth, has al-Hakim entered the 388th night of the fairy tale collection of “The Thousand and One Nights” with his own name.

Al-Hakim's need to appear fair and generous to all his subjects, a ruler accessible to the people, was also expressed in his donations to the houses of prayer in Cairo. In addition to the old Amr main mosque , the "die Strahlende" (al-Azhar) founded by the Ismaili Fatimids after they came to power in 969 , today the most important theological educational institution of Sunniism, was one of the facilities that he extensively considered and expanded. The construction of the mosque in front of the north gate, which he began under his father, was completed in 1003 and served as the new Friday mosque from then on. Its official name is "the radiant one" (al-Anwār) , but it was already known in the 11th century under the name of al-Hakim, since the caliph used to lead the Friday prayers here personally. Al-Hakim's very own foundation was the mosque in the Raschida district, consecrated for Ramadan 1013, for the construction of which several Coptic churches had to give way and which fell into disrepair in the early 15th century. The caliph also had new mosques built in Alexandria and other places in Egypt. In addition to the foundations for the promotion of faith, that of science was a particular concern of al-Hakim. In 1005, for example, he had the “House of Wisdom” (dār al-ḥikma) built in Cairo, for which he donated his private library as the basis of its book inventory. During his reign, the house developed into a center of Islamic science, which could compete with the "House of Wisdom" of Baghdad , which had been the leading educational institution in the Muslim world and from which several mathematicians, doctors and legal scholars were successfully poached. In contrast to this, which was only accessible to selected scholars, al-Hakim had made his house accessible to all subjects. The caliph's special promotion was directed towards astronomy , in order to enable the exploration of the heavens and the celestial bodies to achieve an exact astrology , which al-Hakim had dealt with from his youth. Among the Cairo astronomer, Ali ibn Ridwan and Ibn Yunus stood out. From the latter the "hakim tables" (az-zīǧ al-Ḥākimī) were created, which represented a collection of the entire astronomical knowledge of the Muslim world and also contained explanations of the creation of a horoscope and other astrological details, which later expanded into Europe Spread. The "House of Wisdom" was neglected by its first two successors, whereupon it quickly lost its prestige as an important educational institution. During the collapse of the Fatimid state in 1068, his documents were looted, partly destroyed or sold to other countries.

From the year 1014 the general turmoil that his horseback rides in the old town regularly caused became too much for the caliph. When he rode into the city, "Scheucher" kept all too intrusive people at bay. Petitions and inquiries now had to be submitted to a specially set up office in the palace three days a week. More and more often, al-Hakim and his donkey sought out the secluded solitude in the inhospitable and hardly inhabited area of ​​Cairo. He often rode out into the wilderness at sunset and did not return to the palace until daylight. Possibly the nocturnal silence there allowed him to indulge in a severe melancholy to which al-Hakim fell victim to age, provided that one can believe the contemporary report of the Christian author Yahya al-Antaki (d. 1065), who was therefore not very sympathetic to the caliph .

Foreign policy

The rulership of the Fatimid Caliphate in the time of al-Hakim.

Under al-Hakim, the Fatimid caliphate had reached its greatest territorial extent. The caliphate was associated with the right to rule over the entire Muslim world ( umma ) , but in fact it was territorially limited within it, as there were competitors for this claim with the Sunni caliphates of the Abbasids in Baghdad and the Umayyads in Cordoba . Egypt, as the heartland of the Fatimid Caliphate, could be administered directly by the central administration in Cairo, which was subordinate to the caliph, while the other territories were ruled by governor dynasties or followers. In "Africa" ​​( Ifrīqiyā , today Tunisia ) and on Sicily , the dynasties of the Zirids (Berbers) and Kalbites (Arabs) were able to act largely autonomously, but they still recognized the Caliph of Cairo as their overlord. The situation was different in the tribal areas of the Berbers of the extreme west ( maġrib ; today Algeria and Morocco ), which since ancient times has been largely free of a central government organization, which has not changed under the Fatimids either. Here, the Ziridian descendant Hammad ibn Buluggin was able to establish himself and build up his own domain. Around the year 1008 he renounced the suzerainty of the Fatimids and submitted to that of the Abbasids, whereby the outermost Maghreb was lost to the Fatimids forever.

The Berber West hardly played a relevant role in the perception of the Fatimids at that time. As Alids , they concentrated their efforts on overcoming the Abbasids, who were usurpable from their point of view, and thereby restore the inner unity of the Muslim world. As the last stage before the jump to Iraq , the submission of Syria therefore had first priority in the agenda of the Fatimid expansion policy, which was largely realized under al-Aziz through the capture of Damascus in 983. In northern Syria, however, the Fatimids had collided with the sphere of interest of the Byzantine Empire , which was experiencing a new phase of strength under the emperor Basil II . After a series of military confrontations, it was Vizier Bardjawan who, in the year he was overthrown in 1000, introduced a policy of reconciliation between Cairo and Constantinople , which the following year resulted in the conclusion of a ten-year armistice, which was extended several times at the beginning of a more than fifty-year phase of peace was standing. The Fatimids recognized the Byzantine rule over Antioch , while a Byzantine-Fatimid condominium was established in Aleppo , which although governed by a Muslim dynasty loosely dependent on the Fatimids, was at the same time obliged to pay regular tributes to the Byzantine emperor.

Uprisings and counter-caliphs

The fact that the final blow against the Abbasids by the Fatimids, who reached the zenith of their power under al-Hakim, was due to the unrest that had flared up within their territory and therefore required the full attention of the caliph and his court. The revolts were ethnically and religiously motivated, mixed up with the tribal rivalries prevailing among the Arabs, such as the contrasts between settled urban and nomadic Bedouinism, and were directed against the Fatimid dynasty's claim to rule. In 1004 the Bedouins of the Banū Qurra , who had moved into Cyrenaica , rose up against the government of Cairo after they had executed several of their clan chiefs. They were joined by the long-established Berber ethnic groups of the Zenāta, Mazāta and Luwāta ( Libyans ) in an effort to throw off foreign Arab rule. An Andalusian adventurer, known only by the nickname Abu Rakwa ("the one with the canteen") , soon led this uprising . He pretended to be a member of the Umayyads ruling in al-Andalus and was proclaimed caliph on March 31, 1005 by his followers. Abu Rakwa openly acted as a champion of the Sunnah and promised to put an end to the abuse of the Prophet's companions by the Fatimids. In April 1005 he took up the siege of Barqa , into which he was able to enter after defeating a Fatimid relief army in September of that year. In May 1006 he and his troops invaded Egypt from there, at the same time as a nearby star explosion ( Supernova 1006 ) lit up in the firmament, the appearance of which was placed in connection with current events by the chroniclers. However, the rebel attack on Alexandria could be repulsed and he himself was pushed into the Fayyum . On August 30, 1006, when the supernova began to fade, he was defeated by the Fatimid general al-Fadl ibn Salih at what is now Lake Qarun . Over six thousand severed heads of the rebels were sent to al-Hakim in Cairo, Abu Rakwa himself was initially able to escape from the battlefield and, disguised as a Christian monk, flee to Nubia. There he was imprisoned by the local prince and, after paying a large ransom, was extradited to Cairo, where he was executed on March 9, 1007 after a public humiliation.

The calm after the victory over Abu Rakwa in the west only lasted for a short time when, as early as 1008 in the Syrian east, the Bedouins of the Banu Tayyiʾ, who had previously distinguished themselves on the side of the caliph, decided to revolt against the caliph, possibly after they themselves were provoked by a lack of sensitivity on the part of the provincial governor newly appointed by al-Hakim, who was a native of Turkey. The basis of power of the Fatimids in Syria and Palestine was based on the loyalty of the nomadic Bedouin tribes who had grazed there since the Arab expansion. Any ruler who wanted to gain authority over the Bedouins had to pay for it with expensive favors and honors. Failure to do so could cause the tribes to desert quickly and in large numbers, as in the year 1008. In the summer of 1010, the Banu Tayyi nahmen took the provincial capital ar-Ramla and beheaded the captured governor, thus breaking with the caliph of Completed Cairo. In the following years, Al-Hakim repeatedly sent his military leaders against the Bedouins, who, however, proved to be militarily equal and were able to repel any punitive expedition to Palestine.

The revolt of the Bedouins in Palestine posed an even more significant danger for the Fatimids than that of the Bedouins of Cyrenaica, because the Banu Tayyiʾ, who dominated Palestine, controlled the only land connection from Egypt to the Hejaz and thus also the great pilgrimage routes from North Africa and the Near East to the holy places in Mecca and Medina, but the Fatimids vouched for their safety and open passage to the faithful. The Fatimids had been the overlords of the holy places since 976, their caliphate was recognized by the local ruling dynasties of the Sherif / "noble" ( šarīf , plural ašrāf ), the descendants of the Prophet to whom the Fatimids themselves counted. The name of their caliphs was read here in the Friday sermon. The uprising of the Banu Tayyiʾ in Palestine and the associated interruption of the land route from Cairo to Mecca, however, called the prevailing conditions into question. An emissary from the tribe was able to persuade the Sherif Hassan ibn Jafar, who has ruled Mecca since 994, not only to secede from Cairo, but also to induce him to accept the dignity of the caliph, since his family tree, unlike that of the Fatimids, is not flawed. After he had himself proclaimed caliph in Mecca, Ibn Jafar was able to move into ar-Ramla on September 13, 1012.

Like Abu Rakwa seven years earlier, the new counter-caliph also operated a Sunni program that rejected Ismaili teachings. He tried to place his position of power on a broader basis than he was looking for allies among the local Christian community by, among other things, ordering the reconstruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which had been demolished in the course of al-Hakim's policy of discrimination. Apparently the intention was to seek an alliance with the Byzantine Empire. However, the counter-caliph remained only a puppet of the Banu Tayyiʾ, who in fact never submitted to his authority as secular rulers. Their revolt collapsed in the summer of 1013 and the Fatimid governors were able to regain control of the country. After they had not been able to get over them militarily, the Bedouin clans suffered from their traditional quarreling and corruption. The government in Cairo succeeded in breaking the unity of the Banu Tayyiʾ by paying large amounts of money, so that one after the other their most important clan leaders gave up the rebellion and returned to al-Hakim's domination until the ringleaders felt compelled to flee. The powerless counter-caliph Ibn Jafar also finally fled ar-Ramla back to Mecca, where he gave up his caliphate and let pray again for the Fatimid caliph. Al-Hakim forgave him his attempt at usurpation and accepted him again as a relative of Aliden in his grace. The Christian community of Palestine and Syria could not, however, hope for so much charity; it was imposed high contributions, which caused large parts of the community to emigrate to the Byzantine area.

A significant follow-up event of the Bedouin revolt in Syria was the end of the ruling family of the Hamdanids in Aleppo in 1015 , after which this heavily fortified trading center could be subjected to direct Fatimid rule two years later. The seizure of Aleppo thus represents the most notable territorial expansion of the Fatimids under al-Hakim's reign.

Religious politics

Hardly any other aspect in al-Hakim's biography made this Fatimid caliph so much discussed and controversial in both Muslim and Christian hagiography as that of his attitude and actions in religious matters, those of contradictions, radical changes of direction and a hitherto unknown intolerance of religious ones Minorities and women. The attitude of contemporaries as well as that of posterity towards his person tends to be extreme. In the end, he had made the enemy of almost everyone; Sunni tradition paints the polemical picture of him as a maddened heretic and until recently he was regarded by Christians as the “Arab Nero ” who destroyed the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and who “through his missionaries [...] idolized ”. And indeed, al-Hakim revealed himself to a small minority in the faith as nothing other than the material incarnation of God ( Allaah ) on earth.

Popular education

As a child and a young adolescent under guardianship, al-Hakim is said to have regularly participated in the festivities of the common people of Fustat, who used to degenerate into nightly excesses precisely because of the obligatory casual use of alcohol and the sexual excesses. All Muslim rulers since the conquest of Egypt in 639, including the first Fatimid caliphs, have deliberately ignored these conditions. But already in the first year of his autocracy , al-Hakim had issued a decree ( siǧill , pl. Siǧillāt ) prohibiting women from going out at night after he had objected to their participation in the Christian Christmas festival of the year 1000, in which he himself took part. In January 1003 he announced again by decree the prohibition and prosecution of all reprehensible acts, especially with regard to the production, storage and serving of alcohol (see prohibition of alcohol in Islam ). From the late year 1004 onwards, a flood of edicts and decrees set in, whose focus was particularly on the hygienic conditions in the old town of Fustat. Horses were banned from it, the regular sweeping of their streets and the killing of all stray dogs were ordered, and kneading of bread dough with feet was forbidden. Furthermore, the nocturnal ban on going out has also been extended to men, buying and selling in the souks had to stop after dark.

The dogged persistence with which al-Hakim wanted to enforce the divine command to enforce his dignity, according to which everything that was considered reprehensible (munkar) should be forbidden ( sura 3: 110 ), has him right down to the In the present the predicate of a "fundamentalist" has been entered. Up until the last year of his reign he issued new decrees or repeatedly had existing ones issued, which were intended to serve the moral education of the people in accordance with God's will. His personal piety and asceticism, which he practiced to an increasing extent over the years, finally led to a previously unknown Muslim puritanism to which all subjects of whatever beliefs had to subscribe, which became the blueprint for many Muslim models of society that still exist today. The caliph's lifelong struggle against all forms of alcohol consumption was tough. In addition to wine, barley and millet beer was also banned, which has been a staple food since the days of the pharaohs in Egypt. One of the strangest measures taken by al-Hakim was the ban on certain foods. Not necessarily because their ingredients were considered problematic, but because their naming appeared to be offensive. For example mustard cabbage (Ǧirǧīr) , which is still served as a salad today and which was also known by the name of the wife of the Prophet Aisha, who was deeply hated by the Shiites . In order to improve morals, public dance and the pictorial representation of female bodies were finally banned. Musical instruments and chess sets were to be burned. The ban on professional mourners from appearing at funeral parades was still in keeping with the Ismailis' traditional disgust for lamentation for the dead, but in August 1012 al-Hakim even had the compulsory expressions of mourning for Ashura Day, which is mandatory for all Shiites, stopped.

The caliph's educational measures, especially towards women, grew into an increasing obsession over the years. After he initially forbade them to walk around and sit on the streets, visit the bathhouse ( ḥammām ) , take boat trips and go to places of entertainment with men, they were banned from going out day and night in January 1014. Nevertheless, as a result, and to the satisfaction of outraged contemporary commentators, he had to introduce many exemptions, since under these conditions no woman could go on a pilgrimage or any other journey, while exercising her legal rights and obligations and making her daily living as a midwife , Nurse or mortuary washer was disabled. Even female slaves were placed under an exception in order to be able to sell them on the slave market free of official nodding. Although there was no longer any question of a general ban on going out afterwards, al-Hakim has also become a role model for modern guardians of virtue in this respect. The legal requirement to veil was also an innovation introduced with his name, in that the open wearing of hair by women was simply defined as munkar .

After al-Hakim's disappearance, his sister Sitt al-Mulk saw to it that all moral laws he had passed were repealed, which, much to the delight of contemporary commentators, returned Egypt's public life to the liberal state before his rule.

Equality of the sunnah

The focus of Muslim historiography in relation to al-Hakim lay in particular on his relationship to his Muslim subjects and his fickle record towards the followers of the various religious groups. The judgments about him turned out to be correspondingly polarizing, depending on the degree of partiality of the commentators towards the Sunnah or Shia . And the verdict of the Sunni parliamentary group in particular was devastating.

As their religious leader ( imām ) , al-Hakim was at the center of the religious doctrine of the Shiite Ismailis , for whom he alone could guarantee the transmission of the true religion of God, which for ordinary believers is hidden behind the external wording of the Koran . And following the Shiite creed, only the legitimate imam is entitled to the legitimate representation ( āilāfa ) of the prophet in command of the Muslim world ( umma ) , on which the Fatimids' claim to rule was based. In historical reality, however, the Ismailis represented only a religious minority within this Muslim world at all times, even during the height of power of “their” caliphate. The vast majority of all subjects of al-Hakim, before and after him, regardless of all missionary efforts, confessed to the Sunni interpretation of Islam, which was also due to the fact that the adoption of the Ismaili doctrine was voluntary and the Shia rejected forced conversions, even as they did had the necessary means of power during the existence of her caliphate. The coexistence between Sunnis and Ismailis in the Fatimid state had established itself in parallel worlds, whereby the Ismailis occupied the clerical and state hierarchies, but did not bother the Sunnis in the organization of their everyday life. Both groups followed the principles of their respective law schools. On the part of the Sunnis, the Fatimid caliphs were accepted as purely secular rulers, as long as they ensured stable conditions, did not hinder business and guaranteed the smooth flow of the pilgrimages. The first Fatimids had thus followed up on the practice of extensive tolerance of the rulers towards the ruled, which had been practiced since the Arab conquest of Egypt, especially since the Nile land was a melting pot of the most varied of ethnic, cultural and religious influences, in which there was only mutual acceptance of balanced and stable conditions could care. But under al-Hakim this state of affairs was to experience a lasting turning point.

The Amr Mosque in Cairo is the oldest Islamic place of worship in Egypt and was also the main mosque of the Egyptian Sunnis in the Fatimid era.

The first decrees issued by al-Hakim in 1004 for the moral upbringing of the people had a clearly Shiite-Ismaili handwriting, especially the dietary laws, which contained, among other things, the prohibition on the sale of fish without scales or of dishes with names that are considered disreputable, represented a deep cut in the eating habits of the Sunni majority population. Apparently the intention was to take his duties as Imam of the Shia seriously and to fulfill them in every detail, and apparently his followers had recognized a call for a more aggressive advocacy of their cause . In any case, the climate between Shiites and Sunnis heated up dangerously in the same year, after the Shiites traditionally abused the ancestors ( sabb as-salaf ) of the Prophet's companions, holy for Sunnis but considered mortal enemies by Shiites and there were the first violent clashes between the groups. The destruction of the Sunni Amr Mosque of Alexandria by radicalized Ismailis apparently fell within the same context. Nonetheless, it should be noted that the caliph did not order any programmatic discrimination against the Sunnis in any of its decrees.

But as early as 1005, al-Hakim made a first political turnaround. While in the first years of his government he had made a name for himself as a purely Ismaili imam, he was now taking the path of rapprochement with the Sunnis. On the feast day of Ashura (October 10, 1005) , he forbade the Shiites from traditionally reviling the ancestors by decree . One of his law enforcement officers is said to have beheaded a Shiite who dared publicly insult Aisha . This concession of the Shiite caliph towards the Sunnis was motivated before the context of the Abu Rakwa uprising in Cyreneica in September 1005, which pursued a decidedly Sunni program against the Fatimids. And in order to use arguments to take the wind out of the sails of the uprising, al-Hakim had apparently come to understand that he was giving in to the sensitivities of his Sunni subjects. The caliph continued on the path of rapprochement even after the end of Abu Rakwa in 1006, especially since the Bedouin uprising in Palestine that took place in 1008 followed the same conditions. In January 1007 he ordered the eradication of all inscriptions with insults of the ancestors in public space and in May 1009 he went so far in a veritable edict of tolerance that the Sunni rites were legally equated with those of the Shiites. At the same time, the congregations were now allowed to independently determine the time to break the fast, an old point of contention among denominations, for themselves. The divine command, according to which there may be no compulsion in religion ( Sura 2: 256 ), served as the justification for these measures. Al-Hakim's policy of accommodating culminated in July 1010 with his decree to end the Ismaili mission, the abolition of their special tax levies (hūms) , the replacement of the Shiite call to prayer in favor of Sunni and the general restoration of other Sunni religious practices. These measures meant nothing more than a radical upheaval of the Fatimid state character, in that after the Sunna had been equated with the Shia in the previous year, the Sunnah was now completely restored.

Rejection of the Sunnah

The fact that al-Hakim's reputation among Sunni posterity went negative under these circumstances was due to his second radical change of direction, which took place only five months after the Sunni restoration , in addition to the anti-Ismaili propaganda of the Abbasids in Baghdad , which is mandatory for Sunnis . On December 7, 1010, al-Hakim ordered in just one decree the repeal of all previous decrees pertaining to his policy of accommodation and the restoration of Ismaili missionary activity and the re-approval of all Shiite festivals and customs. In the end, the status quo ante 1005 was restored , whereby Sunniism, although not forbidden, had to subordinate itself again to the interpretations and sensitivities of the ruling Ismailis. The obvious fickleness of Hakim's policy towards the Sunnah may be due to the dependence of the caliph, who is said to have been particularly receptive to the whispering of his rapidly changing favorites, to the various rival groups at court. The impression of external circumstances such as the Sunni-conditioned uprisings in Cyreneica and Palestine may also have played their part. But the court and the clerical hierarchy of Cairo in particular were strongly Ismaili and especially for Ismailis, al-Hakim, their adored imam, must have seemed alienating to the Sunnah. At the latest with the Sunni restoration of July 1010, he had gone one step too much for them, whereupon an influential reactionary movement must have formed at court, which in their interests had a successful effect on the caliph.

The conversion of December 1010 had for the time being preserved the supremacy of the Ismaili Shia and their mission in Egypt, but they had a lasting part in the hardening dogmatic fronts between Shiites and Sunnis, who are increasingly irreconcilable in the course of the 11th century used. From the point of view of the Sunna, Ismailism began to appear under the guise of heresy ( malāḥida ) , which had to be combated in the sense of an Islamic orthodoxy defined by it. And al-Hakim himself has been stylized through the centuries as an arch villain who, as a tyrant, confused and maltreated the people with senseless edicts. The polemics of the Abbasid court hagiography of Baghdad, favored in the triumph of their cause in 1171, made every effort to permanently distort the character of the Fatimid until he had assumed the form of a bloodthirsty psychopath who for years vegetated in underground corridors, his hair in a matted lion's mane let it grow and refrained from cutting my fingernails until they looked like eagle claws. Like an oriental Gilles de Rais , he is said to have enjoyed grazing young boys. This horror image of al-Hakim, which is based exclusively on the tradition of his enemies, has often been adopted uncritically even in recent science, whereupon some European viewers even tried to compare it with that of Caligula . Only since the increased consideration of contemporary annals and the ruling decrees often quoted in their wording has the historical person emerged increasingly from the shadow of black legend.

Notwithstanding the about-turn of December 1010, al-Hakim does not seem to have given up the idea of ​​a certain balance between the Sunnah and Shia entirely. In any case, this idea seems to have stood behind his succession regulation, which was decreed as a will in 1013, in which he envisaged a separation of powers that appeared as a novelty in Islamic history . Accordingly, the dignity of the caliph should be separated from that of the imam of the Ismaili Shia. While the former was defined in the context of a purely secular exercise of power, to which all subjects of whatever religious denomination had to submit, it was to be stripped of its Ismaili character through the separation from the spiritual dignity of the imamate, which, on the other hand, only applies to the religious leadership would have to limit its supporters. In order to unmistakably complete this break in the Fatimid conception of the state, al-Hakim deviated from the father-son designation (naṣṣ) , which had hitherto been strictly applied in the Ismaili Shia , by ignoring his own son by giving two of his cousins, the princes Abdarrahim ( d. ~ 1021/23) and Abbas (d. 1025), publicly designated to succeed both dignities. As a precedent, he could refer to the Prophet himself, who once designated his cousin Ali to succeed him. In the same year, al-Hakim is said to have cruelly murdered several of his concubines and their children, allegedly also to be able to cement the successor to his cousins ​​indisputably. His succession plan was nevertheless not implemented after his disappearance; Despite everything, the Fatimid state apparatus was dominated by Ismailis, with his sister Sitt al-Mulk as the center of the opposition, for whom giving up her supremacy was out of the question. In the Fatimid caliphate, not only the rule of the descendants of Ali , but also the rule of the Ismaili belief of the "true religion" (dīn al-ḥaqq) was to manifest itself until its end in 1171.

Discrimination against Christians

Al-Hakim went down in the tradition of almost all Christian churches in the Orient and Occident as a cruel persecutor of Christians in the spiritual legacy of Nero , Decius or Julian . This picture, like that of the psychopathic heretic of the Sunnis, has been heavily exaggerated over the centuries, particularly influenced by the martyrs of the Coptic and Melkite churches. Even if the Christians of the Orient actually had no reason to keep the caliph in friendly memory, after a closer examination of the surviving sources, the clinging to the image of a particularly cruel and outstanding persecutor cannot be justified.

Since the Arab conquest of 639, the Christians embodied the continuity of the Roman-Byzantine statecraft in what was now Islamic Egypt. They even made up the majority of the population well into the Fatimid era. The respective Muslim rulers regarded them as "people of the book" ( ahl al-kitāb ) and thus as protected persons ( ahl aḏ-ḏimma ), who for their willingness to submit to a poll tax ( ǧizya ) a guarantee (amān) of their safety and material assets, such as the exercise of their religious practices, which were also confirmed by the Fatimids when they came to power in 969. For the new dynasty, too, the Christians in the Fatimid state, who were valued for their learning and expertise, became an indispensable part of the court and financial administration. The participation of Muslim dignitaries in important Christian festivals was not unusual for that time, just as the young al-Hakim was present as a guest of honor at the Christmas festival of the year 1000. In the same year in Jerusalem the muezzin and the city's local Muslim emir participated in the lighting of the Easter fire. As the son of a Melkite Christian, the caliph himself was familiar from childhood with the milieu of the highest Christian dignitaries of his empire. Throughout his entire reign he had promoted Christians to the highest government offices, and at the same time severely punished them if they had proven unworthy of his grace. But in this he made no distinction in his regime with incompetent or corrupt officials of other denominations, which is why the subsequently strained descriptions of punitive actions against corrupt Christian officials as martyrdoms, as happened in the history of the Coptic patriarchs , appear to be exaggerated.

Al-Hakim's policy of discrimination and restriction towards the Christian religion, which was adopted by al-Hakim as early as 1004, did not represent a new phenomenon in Muslim history. Rather, a much older line of tradition was revealed here, which the Sunni caliph al-Mutawakkil , as well as al- Hakim's father who followed al-Aziz. In 1004 and 1008/09, al-Hakim had his father's edicts corresponding to the wearing of special outward signs (ġiyār) reissued for Christians, who now appear in public with a black turban and belt and a small wooden cross worn around the neck in public baths had to mark. From 1007 the caliph decreed the restriction of Christian ceremonies in public, such as the processions on Palm Sunday or the exaltation of the cross . In addition, the symbols of the cross should be removed from the domes of the churches, and the wooden gong should not be used to call to prayer. Overall, al-Hakim aimed at removing the Christian religion from public space, which from then on only had to express itself in private. In addition to his increasing piety, these measures may also have stood for a need on the part of the caliph to outwardly demonstrate his unconditional submission ( islām ) to the Qur'anic revelation of God and his unconditional support for it, since the Ismaili doctrine was suspected of heresy under Sunni spokesmen. His descent from a Christian mother may have contributed to the rest to reject the suspicion of a lack of steadfastness in the faith through a restrictive attitude towards the Christians. In this respect, al-Hakim's discrimination against Christians is part of his policy of rapprochement with the Sunnis, which he pursued between 1005 and 1010. And, as in this area, his efforts soon passed to extremes unknown for that time.

In the course of 1002/03, al-Hakim approved the construction of three new churches in their new district for the Melkite community in the course of a relocation within the city limits of Cairo. But in December 1007, in breach of the security guarantee of 639, his decree was issued to confiscate all church property in all provinces of his kingdom, which was carried out on March 20, 1008 on the day of St. Lazarus . He had even ordered the confiscation of his mother, sisters and aunts' private property. The confiscated estates and foundations of the Christian communities were then sold to Muslim officials and officers in order to use the proceeds to fill the tight treasury, which is also the main motive behind the confiscations and demolition orders. In March 1009, with the demolition of the Orthodox Church of Our Lady of Damascus, the destruction of church buildings and monasteries began. A general order for the demolition of all Christian houses of prayer was not issued, rather the destruction resulted from individual orders of the caliph. In Egypt, with the exception of St. Mary's Church "the Venerable" (al-ʿAǧūz) in Damiette , the work of destruction concentrated on the royal seat of Cairo, where the Greek "St. Mary's Church on the Bridge" (Maryam al-Qanṭara) was destroyed. On April 18, 1010, the "monastery of the dwarf" (Dair al-Qaṣīr) consecrated to St. John on the Mukattam was torn down. In this context, the only death is documented in the phase of the Hakim policy of discrimination, when the caliph secretly ordered the beheading of his uncle Arsenios , the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria and metropolitan of Fustat-Misr, apparently because he was demonstratively in favor of the destruction of the monastery had paved the way. His fate remains the only known Christian martyrdom in the Hakim era. Furthermore, three Coptic churches had to give way for the construction of the mosque of Raschida. In Palestine, a women's monastery (Dair as-Sarī) near Jerusalem, the church of Santa Maria de Latina in Jerusalem founded by Charlemagne and the Church of St. George in ar-Ramla were demolished. The famous St. Catherine's Monastery on Sinai was saved from destruction by the negotiating skills of a monk, who suggested that the cost of destruction would far exceed the value of the building material that could be extracted from it.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.

But the greatest and most momentous outrage for which al-Hakim was responsible took place in Jerusalem , where, on his decree, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher , the holiest place in Christianity, was demolished on September 27, 1009 . According to Christian tradition, the miracle of light that took place there on Holy Saturday aroused the caliph's disapproval as a pious fraud and influenced his decision to demolish it. The Patriarch of Jerusalem was informed beforehand about the decision of the caliph, which is why most of the relics and movable church treasures could be brought to safety in good time and ultimately only the old Constantinian building as such fell victim to destruction. But with this act the judgment of Christian historiography on al-Hakim was reached. Probably transmitted through reports from Italian sea traders, the news of the desecration of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher quickly spread to distant Western Europe, where the southern French chronicler Ademar von Chabannes expressed his outrage over the "King of Babylon" (rex Babilonius) , the new Nebuchadnezzar (Nabuchodonosor ) , gave free rein. Perhaps on this occasion, for the first time ever, considerations about a cohesive action by the Western Christians against the Muslims had arisen, even if a corresponding appeal by Pope Sergius IV (d. 1012) was probably a later fiction. In any case, the conception of the protection of the Holy Sepulcher through the establishment of a Christian rule over Jerusalem and the Holy Land began to gain acceptance in the Occident , the central idea in Pope Urban II's crusade appeal at the Synod of Clermont in 1095.

The destruction of the churches and monasteries took place within an organized framework; the buildings were not destroyed in an act of religiously motivated anger by an angry crowd, but rather dismantled by professionally working demolition teams, as the building material was to be sold on for the benefit of the state treasury. That these measures did not take place in the sense of a general persecution of Christians is shown by the fact that the ruling decree on the demolition of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher had to be executed by the Christian Nestorian chancellor of the caliph. And in the same month that the demolition work began, al-Hakim had appointed a Christian as his vizier. But from the standpoint of the Christian communities, this difference had no weight in assessing their situation. For the first time since the Muslim conquest of the former Christian-Byzantine Egypt, the politics of al-Hakim made clear to them their status as second-class people, who were allowed to discriminate and cupping in disregard of their religious sensitivities. Because laying hands on the possessions of Muslim mosques or foundations was of course forbidden for the pious fundamentalist caliph. The discrimination took on a new quality from 1013 onwards with the plan to Islamize the traditionally strongly Christian state apparatus by giving all Christian civil servants the choice of converting to Islam or leaving his empire with their families. Many Christian officials then actually accepted Islam, even if in many cases only pretended, but for the first time since the Islamic conquest, large numbers of Christians felt compelled to emigrate to Christian territory, especially to Byzantium and Abyssinia . The doctor Yahya al-Antaki (d. 1065), whose chronicle is one of the most important contemporary reports of the Hakim era, was also one of the expellees.

As in his policy of accommodating the Sunnis, Hakim's discrimination against Christians was marked by the caliph's fickleness and sudden change of heart. The turning point came in 1019/20 when the caliph repealed all past decrees relating to discrimination with the stroke of a pen and once again allowed the open Christian practice of religion without restrictions. As an argument, he could again fall back on the divine commandment of informality in religion ( Sura 2: 256 ). This also included the complete return of all church property that had been confiscated until then and the rebuilding of all demolished churches and monasteries. Some of them could even be rebuilt for the most part using their original building materials. The construction site of the “Dwarf Monastery” on the Mukattam was now regularly visited by al-Hakim, who was able to find inner peace and contemplation here in addition to inquiring about the progress of construction. After his disappearance, this was the first place to be searched for. In Jerusalem, too, Christians were again allowed to pray at the holy grave and celebrate church festivals, even if the basilica was only rebuilt under al-Hakim's successor. In December 1020 all other religious restrictions were repealed and the officials forced to convert to Islam were given the option to return to the religion of their fathers. The old guarantees of protection for the community were renewed, so that some Christians who had exiled in previous years returned to Egypt. However, they had to pay the poll tax that had been incurred up to that point and the labeling requirement also remained in force.

With an obligation to label by wearing a small bell and the documented destruction of a synagogue in Cairo, the Jewish community of Egypt under al-Hakim had to endure less discrimination than the Christians. This circumstance possibly contributed to the early emergence of conspiracy theories in Christian Europe, according to which al-Hakim's Christian discrimination was caused by whispers from Jews. Ademar von Chabannes had already voiced such a suspicion, which Rodulfus Glaber later concretized by blaming the Jewish community of Orléans with joint responsibility for the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was in contact with the "Prince of Babylon" (Principem Babylonis) and conceded it incited the iniquity. During the " Orléans Heresy ", King Robert II also punished several Jews who were allegedly involved in it by death by fire. This news is at the beginning of the anti-Jewish polemics in Christian propaganda that increasingly emerged in Europe from the late 11th century onwards , which culminated in the first physical attacks against local Jewish communities at the beginning of the crusade movement.

God on earth - the Druze

In addition to the accusations made by historiography against al-Hakim, that of self-deification ( apotheosis ) is considered to be the most serious, which was and is still being introduced into the field of arguments by both sides, the Muslim and the Christian. Through his missionaries, he had brought the small Druze ethnic group living in the mountains of Lebanon to worship him as a god. This accusation is based on the ignorance of the nature of the Ismaili and the genesis of the Druze doctrine, which al-Hakim had at best played a passive part in the development of the contemporary tradition and the Druze legacy. Taking this into account, however, there can no longer be any talk of self-deification.

The essence of the Ismaili doctrine tended towards antinomism at all times , recognizing it in all revealed religions of the law - Judaism, Christianity, Islam - only external (ẓāhir) covers, behind whose wording the “true religion” (bāṭin) , that of all, is hidden Commandments and prohibitions liberated pure worship of God by man. For this purpose, that final prophet should emerge from the ranks of their “rulers” (imām) , that “resurrecting / appearing” (al-Qāʾim) , who is responsible for the preaching of the “repeal of the law” (rafʿ aš-šarīʿa) with which the Abrogation of the Koranic revelation and its Islamic interpretation go hand in hand and the state of pure worship of God occurs. The realization of this promise of salvation was originally connected with the person of the hidden “ rightly guided ruler” ( al-imām al-mahdī ) , with whose emergence from “concealment” ( ġaiba ) the beginning of the “end times / resurrection” (qiyāma) and with her the end of all religions of the law should coincide in favor of pure worship of God. The Mahdi of the Ismailis was al-Hakim's great-great-great-grandfather Abdallah ibn Hussein (d. 934), who emerged from secrecy in 909 and was proclaimed the first Fatimid Caliph a few months later. But, to the final deception of many believers, the promised repeal of the law did not take place on this event, which, according to the Mahdi’s announcement, was postponed to a later indefinite time. Until then, however, all believers would have to continue to submit to the “law” ( šarīʿa ) derived from God's revelation from the Koran . In spite of all this, the repeal of the law had remained the great temptation of enthusiasts, the impatient among the faithful, who, in violation of the Ismaili doctrine, were ready to force the repeal of the law in disregard of the prophecies of their Imam. In the teaching of the Ismailis it was the sole responsibility of the qualified person of the imam to recognize and proclaim the dawn of lawless belief in God. Those impatient, however, who presumed that they were capable of doing this, threatened to slide into heresy from the standpoint of the religious community . They were regarded as "exaggerators" ( ġulāt ) and in extreme cases were persecuted as apostate heretics.

Almost all Imam-Caliphs of the Fatimids had had to deal with such impatient exaggerators in their followers since the emergence of their Imamate. With a hard hand they defended the Ismaili constitution of faith, in which they, as imams, were at the center of the sole valid interpretation of the faith, by severely punishing, if not annihilating, deviants. Overall, they were able to successfully maintain the inner cohesion of the religious community, which even in the Muslim world only represented a minority, into the 11th century. And yet, especially in those areas of the Muslim world that were beyond the direct reach of the Fatimid caliphate, the religious community was exposed to the influences of a wide variety of theological and philosophical doctrines. In what is now Eastern Iran, the Neo-Platonism schooling direction in particular aroused the fascination of Ismaili scholars, through which new thought models were conveyed to the immediate vicinity of the Fatimid court in Cairo. And just Persian scholars and missionaries from the immediate environment al-Hakim were who attended in Cairo from 1015 unrest and discord in the Ismaili community of faith that ultimately the emergence of the "religion of Einzigkeitsbekenntnisses" (dīn ad-Tawheed) transported . The core sentence of this new religion was, in simplified form, that the "resurrection" (qiyāma) has begun, the last commandments of God proclaimed by Muhammad and the law based on them have been abolished. They have given way to the cult and lawless primordial religion that the first man Adam once practiced, which itself only knows the recognition of the “uniqueness” ( tauḥīd ) of God ( Allah ) . To the extent that this teaching followed that of the Ismaili promise of salvation, but there was a decisive and irreconcilable opposition to it. After the fall of man, which led to the emergence of matter and people were trapped in it, God withdrew from the sight of mankind, but the essence of the resurrection includes the renewed view of God, through which man comes to the knowledge of his uniqueness and his original religion can find back to pure worship before the Fall. The believers of the new religion must have seen the incarnate God after he had manifested himself in material being. And according to their belief, God had manifested himself in no other person than that of the reigning caliph al-Hakim.

For the representatives of the orthodox Ismaili the followers of the new faith had thus revealed themselves as heretics, because according to their doctrine the imams of the Shia were by nature, albeit endowed with the blessing power ( baraka ) given by God , mortal people, those of people are conceived and who themselves conceive people. Furthermore, thanks to this blessing power alone, the Imam was able to recognize and proclaim the time for the dawn of the resurrection and the consequences associated with it, but no statements were made by al-Hakim, whereupon contemporary reporters emphatically referenced. The resurrection propagated in Cairo since 1015 was rather the work of impatient exaggerators, precisely those missionaries from Persia who no longer wanted to wait for a word from the imam to repeal the law and who now took this decision into their own hands. The first named missionary of the new faith was Hassan "with the mutilated nose" (al-Aḫram) , whom the orthodox Ismailit Hamid ad-Din al-Kirmani (died approx. 1020) wrote in a letter of November 1017 to turn away from tried to move his point of view out of new erroneous beliefs. The most important missionary of the Uniqueness Confession , however, was the Persian Hamza "the felt maker" (al-Labbād) , who also wrote his first letters in 1017, which became the basis of the Druze canon that he defined, the sacred script of the "tailors". The followers of the religion of uniqueness became known very early under the name "the tailors" (Arabic: al-Durziyya ), derived from the nickname of their third important missionary, the Turk from Bukhara Anuschtekin "the tailor" (pers .: ad -Darzī ) , although this should be ostracized posthumously by his own people.

Throughout his life, al-Hakim met the sermons of the exaggerated missionaries from Persia with extensive indifference, although he had never had his ascribed divinity proclaimed in any of his edicts, which for the followers of the Ismaili doctrine could be understood as a confirmation of the falsehood of the Druze . But the actual accusation of historiography against al-Hakim, who, unlike his ancestors, has indifferently allowed the heretical missionaries to do their thing instead of putting a stop to them, is precisely due to his passivity, whereby his ambiguous behavior has given them their own operated apotheosis of his person in the first place. Furthermore, he had fired the propaganda of the Druze missionaries with new arguments, albeit involuntarily, through the double succession ordered by him. Because he had chosen two of his cousins ​​as successors, the Druze had come to the erroneous conclusion that al-Hakim had no biological children, which was sufficient to confirm his being as a physical god, since God cannot beget ( Sura 112: 3 ). Both Hassan al-Achram and Hamza al-Labbad were close to al-Hakim, which helped them to gain a certain protection that their sermons for the creed had caused serious unrest within the Ismaili Shia. Their new mission (daʿwa) threatened to compete with the traditional one, and their followers regularly fought violently with those of the old mission in the streets and mosques of Cairo. Hassan al-Achram was torn from his horse by an angry man in February 1019 during a contest with the caliph before his eyes and was killed, whereupon al-Hakim immediately beheaded the perpetrator. In June of the same year the situation in front of the Amr Mosque escalated after Druze provocateurs there aroused the anger of the pious people. Thereupon the troops of the Turkish slave guard took the initiative, which decided to calm down the people to the elimination of the Anuschtekin ad-Darzi. But he fled in time to the protection of the caliph's palace, which the Turks did not dare to penetrate. When they asked the caliph to extradite the Anuschtekin the following day, al-Hakim told them that he himself had arranged for the preacher to be executed.

With his disappearance on February 13, 1021, al-Hakim, again unintentionally, provided the last, definitive proof of his being as a physical god. Since his corpse was never found, it was undeniably clear to the Druze that God had returned from material incarnation to the disembodied state, withdrawing from the gaze of humanity again. For the Druze this meant the beginning of a trial that continues to this day, in which it should be shown who should be faithful to the only true God under difficult conditions. The fact that a biological son of al-Hakim was actually able to succeed him has no longer shaken her faith. For the Ismaili Shia, the Druze had long since turned into “extremism” (ġulūw) , against which a sharp wave of persecution began under the new regime. As early as 1030, the small Druze religious community had emigrated from Egypt, moving up the Levant coast to the north, where the grip of the Fatimid central state was no longer so tight. She settled in the mountains of Lebanon , where she still exists today, in anticipation of a future return of God on earth.

His disappearance

On the night of Monday, February 13, 1021, al-Hakim set off on his donkey moon , accompanied by two grooms, for one of his obligatory rides in the vicinity of Cairo. At dawn they met a group of six to seven Suwaidī Bedouins east of the village of Helwan , who asserted an earlier promised payment of a cash bonus to the caliph, after which the caliph instructed one of his grooms to take the Bedouins to the treasury guide where the premium should be paid to them. Shortly afterwards the caliph also parted with his second groom, whom he sent back to the palace to continue riding alone. After that, al-Hakim was never seen again. After the court tourage had waited in vain for his return for several days, a search party was sent out on Sunday, February 19, which first began the search in the “monastery of the dwarf” on Mukattam Hill, the caliph's preferred retreat in the last Years. Having climbed the ridge, the group was able to find the still living donkey Moon , the tendons of its forelegs severed by sword strokes. They then followed the donkey's tracks, next to which two pedestrians could be seen. The tracks ended at a pond east of Helwan, in which the blood-soaked clothes of the caliph were found, which showed marks from knife wounds. At the court in Cairo, the realization then prevailed that al-Hakim must have been murdered, although his body was never to be discovered.

Sitt al-Mulk immediately took over the reins by arresting the Bedouins and beheading them despite their denial of the charges against them. Yahya al-Antaki (d. 1065), reporting from the distant Antioch , considered the princess' suspicion directed against the Bedouins to be plausible. Apparently, after he had ridden on alone, they had visited al-Hakim a second time to vent their anger on him after they had not been paid the high amount they had hoped for in the treasury. Afterwards, they would have buried his body somewhere in the desert, untraceable. But even the Sunni judge ( qādī ) of Cairo Muhammad al-Qudai (d. 1062), who was probably an eyewitness to the events of that day, had the slightest suspicion of a conspiracy in which the Bedouins had to give their lives as scapegoats. As the leading figures behind the conspiracy, he suspected the princess Sitt al-Mulk and the commander of the Kutama Berbers Ibn Dawwas, who had entrusted two of his slaves with the execution of the murder. The execution of Ibn Dawwas and two of his slaves only a few days later on the instructions of Sitt al-Mulk confirmed the judge's suspicions, since the princess had accused Ibn Dawwas of her brother's murder. In the following days, other close confidants of Ibn Dawwas and the princess were eliminated, possibly because they knew too much. Of the contemporary reporters, al-Quda'i remained the only one who voiced a suspicion against Sitt al-Mulk, which was not raised against them either by Yahya al-Antaki or in the Coptic patriarchal history . As a Sunni al-Quda'i was anything but impartial, he had to view the Ismaili reaction cited by Sitt al-Mulk with suspicion, as this threatened the double succession of her brother and thus the possibility of a compromise between Sunnis and Ismailis recognized the power of the Fatimid dynasty and consequently rejected it. In addition to this motive, al-Hakim's ambivalent attitude towards the Druze missionaries and the unrest they provoked within the Ismaili Shia of 1019 could have given rise to action. In any case, Sitt al-Mulk was to distinguish herself as defender of the Ismaili mission and persecutor of the Druze mission during her subsequent reign.

The death / disappearance of al-Hakim was not announced to the public until the festival of the sacrifice on March 27, 1021. The wording of the attack was later adopted by the Druze; it is the prelude to their holy scriptures. During this time the power struggle for his successor apparently took place behind the palace walls, from which Sitt al-Mulk emerged victorious. On March 27, 1021, she carried out the proclamation of her nephew Ali (alias az-Zahir) as the new caliph, bypassing the cousins ​​chosen by her brother who were eliminated as their rivals in the next few years. But until 1043 several people appeared who claimed to be the real caliph al-Hakim.


Al-Hakim's firstborn son was Abu l-Aschbal al-Harith, who was born to him on December 24, 1004 (9th Rabi al-awwal 395 AH) to an unknown mother. Perhaps this was identical to the slave that his sister had given him when he came to power in the year 1000. There is no further news about the son, so that his death can be assumed at a young age. Whether he lost his life in 1013 during the alleged terror of his father against the harem remains also speculative.

The second son of al-Hakim was Abu l-Hassan Ali, born on June 20, 1005 (10th Ramadan 395 AH), who then appears to him under the ruler's name "who appears to exalt the religion of God" (aẓ-Ẓāhir li -ʾIʿzāz Dīn Allāh) succeeded as caliph. The "son mother" (umm walad) was Princess Amina, whose nickname was "Magic" (Ruqya) , who was a first cousin as the daughter of Prince Abdallah ibn al-Muizz (d. 975). Mother and son are said to have been admitted to the palace of Sitt al-Mulk in 1013 as a protective measure against the terror of their father and from then on enjoyed their protection.

Furthermore, al-Hakim had a daughter who is known by the honorary title "Mistress of Egypt" (Sitt Miṣr) . Like most Fatimid princesses, she has remained unmarried throughout her life. She died wealthy in 1063 (455 AH).


In addition to the history of the Coptic-Alexandrian patriarchs , which was compiled in the 11th century, outstanding contemporary reporters deserve special mention:

  • ar-Rudhbari ( Aḥmad ibn al-Ḥusain ar-Rūḏbārī ), Arab-Egyptian Sunni, son of a tax farmer. On October 13, 996 in Bilbais, he was an eyewitness to the last ride of the caliph al-Aziz to the bathhouse, but was probably not a member of the court tourage. His chronicle Balaškar al-udabāʾ is lost but has been quoted many times.
  • al-Musabbihi ( Muḥammad ibn ʿUbaidallāh al-Musabbiḥī; d. 1029), Arab-Egyptian Sunni, initially a soldier and later an official under Caliph al-Hakim, with whom he had personal contact. He dealt with his biography in his monumental Chronicle of Egypt (Aḫbār Miṣr) , which, however, has survived in large parts only in copies by later authors.
  • al-Qudai ( Muḥammad ibn Salāma al-Quḍāʿī; d. 1062), Arab-Egyptian Sunni, judge and official at the Fatimid court in Cairo. His chronicle (Tārīḫ) and also his description of the old city of Cairin (Kitāb al-Ḫiṭaṭ Miṣr) were often quoted by later authors.
  • Yahya al-Antaki ( Yaḥyā al-Anṭākī / John of Antioch; d. 1065), Christian Melkite doctor from Egypt, who emigrated to Byzantine Antioch on the Orontes in 1014 . He encountered al-Hakim with a certain bias because of his discrimination against Christians. Among other things, he spread the rumor that al-Hakim had ordered the burning down of the old town al-Fusṭāṭ-Miṣr, just as Rome had once been burned down on Nero's orders, which is what the recent Nero comparisons go back to.


Overview works:

  • Sadik A. Assaad: The Reign of Al-Hakim Bi Amr Allah (386 / 996-411 / 1021). A Political Study. Beirut 1974.
  • Delia Cortese and Simonetta Calderini: Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam. Edinburgh University Press 2006.
  • Josef van Ess: Chiliastic Expectations and the Temptation of Divinity. The caliph Al-Hākim (386-411 AH.). Carl Winter, Heidelberg 1977.
  • Heinz Halm : The Caliphs of Cairo. CH Beck, Munich 2003. ISBN 3-406-48654-1
  • Heinz Halm: The Fatimids. In: Ulrich Haarmann: History of the Arab World. CH Beck, Munich 2004. ISBN 3-406-47486-1
  • Bensalem Himmich: The Theocrat . Translated by Roger Allen. Cairo 2005.
  • Wilhelm Knappich: History of Astrology. Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt / M 1967.
  • Jacob Mann: The Jews in Egypt and Palestine under the Faṭīmid Caliphs, 2 volumes. Oxford 1920/1922.
  • Thomas Pratsch: Conflict and coping: the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem in 1009. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011. ISBN 978-3-11-025351-1
  • Paul E. Walker: Caliph of Cairo: al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah . Cairo 2009.

Special literature:

  • Thierry Bianquis: Al-H'âkim bi amr Allâh ou la folie de l'unité chez un souverain fât'imide. In: Les Africains, 11, 105-133 (1978).
  • Marius Canard: al-Ḥākim bi-amr Allāh. In: The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition , Volume III, pp. 76b-82a.
  • Heinz Halm: The Trustee of God. The edicts of the caliph al-Hakim. In Der Islam, Vol. 63 (1986), pp. 11-72.
  • Heinz Halm: princes, princesses, concubines and eunuchs at the Fatimid court. In: Maurice A. Pomerantz, Aram A. Shahin (Eds.), The Heritae of Arabo-Islamic Learning. Studies Presented to Wadad Kadi. BRILL, Leiden / Boston 2015, pp. 91–110.
  • Marshall GS Hodgson: Al-Darazī and Ḥamza in the Origin of the Druze Religion. In: Journal of the American Oriental Society, 82 : 5-20 (1962).
  • Yaacov Lev: The Fatimid Princess Sitt al-Mulk. In: Journal of Semitic Studies, Vol. 32 (1987), pp. 319-328.
  • Sami Nasib Makarem: Al-Ḥākim bi-amrillāh's appointment of his successors. In: Al-Abḥāṯ, Vol. 23 (1970), pp. 319-324.
  • Hans Martin Schaller : On the Crusade Encyclical Pope Sergius IV. In: Papacy, Church and Law in the Middle Ages. Festschrift for Horst Fuhrmann on his 65th birthday, ed. by Hubert Mordek , Tübingen 1991, pp. 135–153.
  • Paul E. Walker: The Ismaili Daʿwa in the Reign of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Ḥākim . In: Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, 30: 161-182 (1993).
  • Paul E. Walker and Paul Walker: Succession to Rule in the Shiite Caliphate. In: Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, Vol. 32 (1995), pp. 239-264.


  1. That the mother bore the name Maria, as the monk Rodulfus Glaber (died approx. 1040), who wrote in distant France, stated it for her ( cepit mater ipsius Principis videlicet Ammirati Babylonis, mulier Christianissima, nomine Maria; cf. RHGF 10, p . 35 ), seems uncertain, since the name of none of the geographically closer authors such as B. Yahya al-Antaki was ever named.
  2. See Halm (2003), p. 165.
  3. See Halm (2003), p. 166 f.
  4. See Halm (2003), p. 172.
  5. See Lev (1987), p. 321; Halm (2003), p. 168.
  6. See Halm (2003), p. 177 f.
  7. See Halm (2003), p. 178 f.
  8. See Halm (2003), p. 169 f.
  9. See Halm (2003), pp. 238, 249.
  10. See Halm (2003), p. 236 f.
  11. See Halm (2003), p. 184; (2015), p. 94. ʿAbd al-Aʿlā ibn Hāšim ibn al-Manṣūr , a grandson of the caliph al-Mansur (died 953).
  12. a b See Lev (1987), p. 323.
  13. See Halm (2003), p. 170; Pratsch (2011), p. 148, note 29.
  14. See Halm (2003), p. 276.
  15. See Halm (2003), p. 201 f.
  16. See Ess (1977), p. 37 f.
  17. See Knappich (1967), pp. 145 f.
  18. See Halm (2003), p. 412 f.
  19. See Halm (2003), p. 268 f.
  20. The supernova was a. also registered by the monks of the St. Gallen Abbey . See Annales Sangallenses maiores , in MGH, Scriptores Vol. 1, p. 81.
  21. See Halm (2003), p. 231 f.
  22. See Halm (2003), p. 233.
  23. See Halm (2003), p. 234 f.
  24. See Halm (2003), pp. 270-273.
  25. Cf. Joseph von Hammer : About the state administration under the Chalifate. Berlin 1835, p. 36; Ferdinand Wüstenfeld : History of the Fatimiden Chalifes. Göttingen 1881, p. 203.
  26. See Halm (2003), p. 186.
  27. See Halm (2003), p. 192.
  28. See Halm (2003), p. 187.
  29. ^ See Lev (1987), p. 327.
  30. a b See Halm (2003), p. 217.
  31. See Halm (2003), p. 191 ff.
  32. See Halm (2003), p. 193.
  33. See Halm (2003), p. 214 f.
  34. See Halm (2003), p. 215.
  35. See Halm (2003), p. 216; Pratsch (2011), p. 151.
  36. See Pratsch (2011), p. 152.
  37. Cf. Heinrich Graetz : History of the Jews from the oldest times to the present, 5th volume, 2nd edition. Leipzig 1871, p. 369.
  38. See Halm (2003), p. 169.
  39. See Walker (1995), p. 247; Halm (2003), p. 279 ff.
  40. See Halm (2003), p. 220.
  41. See Halm (2003), p. 221 f.
  42. See Halm (2003), p. 223.
  43. See Halm (2003), p. 213 f.
  44. See Adémar de Chabannes, Chronique, ed. by Jules Chavanon (1897), p. 169 f. The oldest known note about the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Europe comes from the annals of the Church of Santa Sofia in Benevento , which recorded this event for the year 1010. Cf. Annales Beneventani, in: MGH, Scriptores Bd. 3, p. 177. The old Roman fort Babylon on the Nile had surrendered to the Arab conquering army in 641. The tent city of Fustat was built in its place and became the old town of Cairo after the Fatimid takeover. Among the Western Christians, Cairo was known under the name "Babylon" until the 13th century. See Halm (2003), p. 26 f.
  45. A Pope's crusade encyclical dated 1010 is recognized by the majority as a forgery, even if it may have been based on a certain historical core. For the encyclical see Jules Lair: Encyclique de Sergius IV relative à un projet de croisade (vers 1010) , in: Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes, Vol. 18 (1857), pp. 246-253 .
  46. See Halm (2003), p. 214.
  47. See Halm (2003), p. 225; Pratsch (2011), p. 152.
  48. a b See Halm (2003), p. 226.
  49. ↑ Ironically, the rebuilding of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was ordered as early as 1012 by the Sherif of Mecca, who appeared as the counter-caliph in Palestine, but it was only around 1027 that it could be re-consecrated. The large group of pilgrims of Richard von Verdun (d. 1046), abbot of Saint-Vanne , celebrated Easter in it that year. Cf. Hugo von Flavigny , Chronicon, in: MGH, Scriptores Vol. 8, p. 395 f ; Adémar de Chabannes, Chronique, ed. by Jules Chavanon (1897), p. 189 f.
  50. See Glabri Rodulphi cluniacensis monachi historiarum sui temporis, in: RHGF, vol. 10, p. 34.
  51. See Halm (2003), p. 283 f.
  52. See Halm (2003), p. 284.
  53. See Halm (2003), pp. 285 ff.
  54. See Halm (2003), p. 288.
  55. See Halm (2003), p. 289.
  56. See Halm (2003), p. 296.
  57. See Halm (2003), pp. 289 ff.
  58. See Halm (2003), p. 324.
  59. See Halm (2003), p. 297 ff.
  60. See Halm (2003), p. 300.
  61. See Halm (2003), pp. 300-304.
  62. See Halm (2003), p. 305 f.
  63. ^ See Lev (1987), p. 323 ff.
  64. See Walker (1995), p. 247, note 45.
  65. See Halm (2015), p. 99.
  66. See Halm (2015), p. 100.
  67. See Halm (2015), p. 96.
  68. See Lev (1987), p. 321.
  69. See Halm (2003), p. 292.
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