The Fatimid Dynasty of Maghreb in North Africa rose to prominence during the waning years of the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad. The name Fatimid came from Muhammad’s favorite daughter, Fatima. The Fatimids were members of the militant Ismaili faction of Shi’a sect who believed that the true and rightful imams should descend only from Ismail (a descendant of Ali). Dissatisfied with the weakness of the Abbasid caliphate, the Ismaili Shi’i elected Ubaydallah al-Mahdi as caliph in 909 AD. Al-Mahdi claimed to be a direct descendant of Ismail and Fatima (therefore, fit to rule the ummah) and declared himself the caliph in Maghreb. The addition of Egypt of Syria to the Fatimid Domain is recorded on the Biblical Timeline with World History during 969 AD.
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The new caliph established Mahdia (in present-day Tunisia) as the Fatimid capital and rallied his Berber troops west to attack Libya and Egypt. Al-Mahdi installed his son, al-Qaim, as the commander of the Fatimid army that would wrest away the cities of Ifriqiya (province of North Africa) from the Abbasid caliph. Al-Qaim, his generals, and their troops marched from Mahdia to Tripoli and besieged the city for six months. They captured Tripoli in 913 AD, while Cyrenaica (Libya) and Alexandria in Egypt followed in the same year.
News of North Africa’s fall into Fatimid hands reached the Abbasid caliph al-Muqtadir in Baghdad. He dispatched troops in 915 AD to reclaim Egypt when he realized that the al-Qaim might push into Asia soon after his victory in North Africa. The Abbasid caliph’s troops led by the soldier Munis defeated the Fatimid army. Al-Qaim was forced to surrender Egypt temporarily. The Abbasids returned to Egypt in 920 AD but were defeated this time by the Fatimids who became a formidable force in North Africa during the middle of the 10th century. By 969 AD, the Fatimids had established Cairo as its capital, and completely dominated Egypt, Syria, Sicily, and Sudan for many years.
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=228250
Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History. New York: Modern Library, 2000.
Sonn, Tamara. Islam: A Brief History. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
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