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Abu Muhammad Abdallah al- Mahdi
Mahdi
Billah (873 – 4 March 934) (Arabic: أبو محمد عبد الله المهدي بالله‎), was the founder of the Ismaili Fatimid Caliphate, the only major Shi'a caliphate in Islam, and established Fatimid rule throughout much of North Africa, Hejaz, Palestine and the Levant.

Contents

1 History 2 The genealogy of the Fatimid Caliphs according to ʿAbd Allāh al- Mahdi
Mahdi
Billah 3 See also 4 References 5 Sources 6 External links

History[edit] At the beginning of the Abbasid realm in Baghdad, the Alids
Alids
faced severe persecution by the ruling party as they were a direct threat to the Abbasid Caliphate. Owing to the political complexities, the forefathers of Imam
Imam
Abdullah opted to conceal themselves which helped them maintain the Dawa's existence. As a result, these Imams
Imams
travelled towards the Iranian Plateau
Iranian Plateau
to distance themselves from the epicentre of their political difficulties. Al Mahdi's father, Imam
Imam
al Husain al Mastoor returned in secrecy to Syria
Syria
and began to control the Dawa's affairs from there in complete concealment. He sent two Da'is of great calibre, Abul Qasim and Abu 'Abdullah Al-Husayn Al-Shi'i
Abu 'Abdullah Al-Husayn Al-Shi'i
to Yemen
Yemen
and North Africa, respectively, to build the foundation for what was to later be the Fatimid Caliphate. Imam
Imam
al Husain al Mastoor died soon after the birth of his son, Al Mahdi. A trustworthy system of informers helped Al Mahdi
Mahdi
to be updated on developments which were taking place across North Africa
North Africa
which was to be the launching pad of his Empire. After establishing himself as the first Imam
Imam
of the Fatimid dynasty, Al Mahdi
Mahdi
claimed to have genealogic origins dating as far back as Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, through Husayn, Fatimah's son, and Ismail. Al Mahdi
Mahdi
established his headquarters at Salamiyah
Salamiyah
in western Syria before later travelling to western North Africa, which at the time was under Aghlabid
Aghlabid
rule, following the propagandist success of his chief da'i', Abu 'Abdullah Al-Husayn Al-Shi'i. Al-Shi'i, along with laying claim to being the precursor to the Mahdi, was instrumental in sowing the seeds of sedition among the Berber tribes of North Africa, specifically the Kutamah tribe in Algeria. It was Al-Shi'i's success which was the signal to Al Mahdi
Mahdi
to set off from Salamyah disguised as a merchant. In 905 he started proselytising. However, he was captured by the Aghlabid
Aghlabid
ruler Ziyadat-Allah due to his Ismaili beliefs and thrown into a dungeon in Sijilmasa. In early 909 Al-Shi'i sent a large expedition force to rescue the Mahdi, conquering the Khariji state of Tahert on its way there. After gaining his freedom, Al Mahdi
Mahdi
became the leader of the growing state and assumed the position of imam and caliph. Al Mahdi then led the Kutama Berbers who captured the cities of Qairawan and Raqqada. By March 909, the Aghlabid
Aghlabid
Dynasty
Dynasty
had been overthrown and replaced with the Fatimids. As a result, the last stronghold of Sunni Islam
Islam
in North Africa
North Africa
was removed from the region. Al-Mahdi
Al-Mahdi
established himself at the former Aghlabid
Aghlabid
residence at Raqqada, Al-Qayrawan
Al-Qayrawan
(in what is now Tunisia. After that his power grew. At the time of his death he had extended his reign over Morocco and into Egypt. Al-Mahdi
Al-Mahdi
founded the capital of his empire, Al-Mahdiyyah, on the Tunisian coast sixteen miles south-east of Al-Qayrawan, which he named after himself. The city was located on a peninsula on an artificial platform "reclaimed from the sea", as mentioned by the Andalusian geographer Al-Bakri. The Great mosque of Mahdia
Mahdia
was built in 916 on the southern side of the peninsula.[1] Al-Mahdi
Al-Mahdi
took up residence there in 920. In 922 the Bulgarian emperor Simeon I sent envoys to al- Mahdi
Mahdi
to propose a joined attack on the Byzantine capital Constantinople
Constantinople
with the Bulgarians providing a large land army, and the Arabs — a navy. It was proposed that all spoils would be divided equally, the Bulgarians would keep Constantinople
Constantinople
and the Fatimids would gain the Byzantine territories in Sicily
Sicily
and South Italy.[2] As a result of the Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927, by 922 the Bulgarians controlled almost the whole Balkan peninsula but Simeon I's main objective to capture Constantinople
Constantinople
remained out of his reach because he lacked a navy. Although the Byzantines and the Fatimids had concluded a peace treaty in 914, since 918 the Fatimids had renewed their attacks on the Italian coast.[2] Al-Mahdi
Al-Mahdi
accepted the proposal and sent back his own emissaries to conclude the agreement.[2] On the way home the ship was captured by the Byzantines near the Calabrian coast and the envoys of both countries were sent to Constantinople.[2] When the Byzantine emperor Romanos I
Romanos I
learned about the secret negotiations, the Bulgarians were imprisoned, while the Arab envoys were allowed to return to Al-Mahdiyyah
Al-Mahdiyyah
with rich gifts for the caliph. The Byzantines then sent their own embassy to North Africa
North Africa
to outbid Simeon I and eventually the Fatimids agreed not to aid Bulgaria.[3] After his death, Al-Mahdi
Al-Mahdi
was succeeded by his son, Abu Al-Qasim Muhammad Al-Qaim, who continued his expansionist policy. The genealogy of the Fatimid Caliphs according to ʿAbd Allāh al- Mahdi
Mahdi
Billah[edit] In a letter sent to the Ismāʿīlī community in Yemen
Yemen
by Abd Allah al- Mahdi
Mahdi
Billah, which was reproduced by Ja'far bin Mansūr al-Yemen, ʿAbd Allāh al-Aftah ibn Jaʿfar al-Sadiq
Jaʿfar al-Sadiq
was referred as Sāhib al-Haqq or the legitimate successor of Imām Jaʿfar al-Sadiq. According to ʿAbd Allāh, ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ja'far had called himself Ismāʿīl ibn Jaʿfar for the sake of taqiyya, and each of his successors had assumed the name Muhammad. ʿAbd Allāh al- Mahdi
Mahdi
Billah explains the genealogy of the Fatimid caliphs and he claims Fatimid ancestry by declaring himself to be ʿ Ali
Ali
ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿAbadullāh ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Jaʿfar al-Sadiq. But the Imamah (Ismaili doctrine) had later been formulated in a different manner since ʿAbd Allāh's explanation of his ancestry was not accepted by his successors.[4] See also[edit]

List of Ismaili imams People claiming to be the Mahdi The Book of the Highest Initiation

References[edit]

^ Hadda 2008, p. 72. ^ a b c d Fine 1991, p. 152 ^ Fine 1991, pp. 152–153 ^ Farhad Daftary, The Isma'ilis: Their History and Doctrines, pg. 108.

Sources[edit]

Brett, Michael (2001). The Rise of the Fatimids: The World of the Mediterranean and the Middle East in the Fourth Century of the Hijra, Tenth Century CE. The Medieval Mediterranean. 30. Leiden: BRILL. ISBN 9004117415.  Halm, Heinz (1996). The Empire of the Mahdi: The Rise of the Fatimids. Handbook of Oriental Studies. 26. transl. by Michael Bonner. Leiden: BRILL. ISBN 9004100563.  Hadda, Lamia (2008). Nella Tunisia medievale. Architettura e decorazione islamica (IX-XVI secolo). Naples: Liguori editore. ISBN 978-88-207-4192-1.  Hitti, Philip K. (1970). "A Shi'ite Caliphate
Caliphate
in Egypt: The Fatimids". History of The Arabs. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 617–619. ISBN 0-06-106583-8.  Fine, J. (1991). The Early Medieval Balkans, A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-08149-7. 

External links[edit]

Imam
Imam
al-Mahdi, the 11th Fatimi Imam. Institute of Ismaili Studies London.

Abdullah al- Mahdi
Mahdi
Billah Born: 873 Died: 934

Regnal titles

New title Caliph of the Fatimid Caliphate 909–934 Succeeded by al-Qa'im bi-Amr Allah

v t e

Fatimid caliphs

al-Mahdi al-Qa'im al-Mansur al-Mu'izz al-Aziz al-Hakim az-Zahir al-Mustansir al-Musta'li al-Amir al-Hafiz az-Zafir al-F

.