I.B. Tauris in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies
One of most prosperous and influential dynasties of the Muslim world, the Fatimids (909–1171) were distinguished by their Imam-caliphs, who asserted spiritual as well as political authority in direct descent from the family of the Prophet. Their conquest of Egypt in 969 marked the inception of a burgeoning Mediterranean empire. From there, they refined their systems of administration, judiciary, and governance, instilling principles of inclusion which contributed to stability during their caliphate. Fatimid Cairo flourished as a vibrant cultural and intellectual centre through patronage of the arts, architecture, and scholarship.
This book continues the story of the Fatimids from their newly founded capital of Cairo. Introducing the figures who moulded the empire, Shainool Jiwa charts the Fatimid expansion, the reasons behind its ultimate fall by the hand of Saladin, and the legacy that continues with the living Ismaili communities today. This lively and engaging work, including maps and colour images, draws on a broad range of primary sources to lead readers through two centuries that witnessed the triumphs and trials of the only sustained Shi‘i caliphate to rule across the medieval Islamic world.
Note on the Text
1. The Arrival of the Fatimids in Egypt
2. The Genesis of Fatimid Rule in Egypt
3. Towards an Inclusive Empire
4. The Composition of the State
5. Science and Scholarship in the City Victorious
6. The Empire of the Seas
7. The Fluctuations of Fatimid Rule
8. Late Fatimid Egypt and the Heirs of Empire
Conclusion: Glimpses of the Fatimid Legacy
List of Illustrations
"A significant addition to the World of Islam series. They complement, mutatis mutandis, the efforts of the Education Programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture whose mission is to share the mine of specialized knowledge and experience accumulated by the flagship programmes of the Trust with a variety of audiences, both specialist and non-specialist. The book was difficult to put down… The author has woven a clear yet complex tapestry of fascinating human stories drawing upon political and religious, as well as cultural history, that engagingly reveal the quality and range of the intellectual and artistic patronage extended by these rulers in creating the cultural wonder that was the Fatimid Empire."
- Professor Raj Isar, Education Director, Aga Khan Trust for Culture
"This is an accessible volume from a leading scholar in the field of Fatimid studies. Based on primary sources research and including images and maps that will help readers understand the two centuries of Fatimid presence in Egypt, alongside The Fatimids 1. The Rise of a Muslim Empire, it forms a two-volume complete history of the only sustained Mediterranean Shi'i caliphate."
- Prof Ayman Fuad Sayyid, al-Azhar University, Cairo
"Having founded Cairo in 969, the Fatimids inaugurated an age marked by tolerance as well as brilliance in artistic and learning patronage. Dealing with the vicissitudes of the Fatimids and their empire, this book covers a lot of ground in a succinct, accessible way without compromising on academic rigour."
- Dr Delia Cortese, Middlesex University, UK
"Pithy, comprehensive and clearly expressed, this book brings together diverse strands of Fatimid cultural, religious and political history in a cohesive account. Books that speak to both general readers and experts are rare in academia. In achieving this feat with erudition and aplomb, Jiwa's book is an invaluable addition to the library of Fatimid studies."
- Dr Fozia Bora, University of Leeds, UK
Shainool Jiwa is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Ismaili Studies and has lectured and published on Fatimid studies for over three decades. She has published The Fatimids 1: The Rise of a Muslim Empire (2018) and co-edited The Shi‘i World: Pathways in Tradition and Modernity (2015) and The Fatimid Caliphate: Diversity of Traditions (2017) as well as translating key medieval Arabic texts relating to Fatimid history. She holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh.