Keywords: Fatimid, Buyid, initiation of diplomacy, Adud al-dawla, al-‘Aziz billah, strengthening Buyid rule, terminating the alliance
The emergence of the Fatimids in North Africa ushered in a major revolution in the Islamic world. For the first time in Muslim annals, there were two rival caliphates, the active and expanding caliphate of the Fatimids and the waning authority of the Abbasids of Baghdad, effectively controlled by their Buyid protectors. When the Fatimids moved east to Egypt (in 358/969), interaction between these two caliphates became inevitable.
It is a coincidence of history that perhaps the greatest sovereign of the Fatimid dynasty, al-‘Aziz billah, and the most powerful representative of Buyid rule, ‘Adud al-dawla (338/944-372/983), were contemporaries. It was in the time of these two great rulers that Fatimid- Buyid diplomacy reached its highwater mark.
Prior to ‘Adud al-dawla’s appearance on the political scene at Baghdad and after his departure from it, the other Buyid amirs were too involved in interfamilial strife to have any contact - friendly or otherwise - with the Fatimid ruler al-‘Aziz. An examination of the sources on Fatimid-Buyid diplomacy during the reign of al-‘Aziz billah reveals certain discrepancies in the information they provide.
Consequently, they raise certain important questions as to the need for diplomacy between the two powers in the first place and the subsequent termination of relations between them. This article seeks to discuss these issues.
Dr Shainool Jiwa is the Head of Constituency Studies and a Senior Research Fellow at The Institute of Ismaili Studies. Prior to this, she was the Head of the Department of Community Relations from 2005 to 2012. She was also the founding coordinator of the Qur’anic Studies Project at the IIS (2002-2005).