Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah


Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah

Tāriqu l-Ḥākim, called "bi Amr al-Lāh" (Arabic: الحاكم بأمر الله; literally "Ruler by God's Command"), was the sixth Fatimid Caliph in Egypt, ruling from 996 to 1021.

His reign was notable for several things: the tender age - eleven - at which he succeeded his father Abū Mansūr Nizār al-ʿAzīz as Khalīfa, and the stability of the Fatimid dynasty that this successful transfer of power demonstrated; his extension of Fatimid rule to the emirate of Aleppo; his importance as a central figure in the Druze religious sect; and perhaps most importantly what many have called his "eccentricity."

As one prominent journal has noted, al-Ḥākim has attracted the interest of modern historians more than any other member of the Fatimid dynasty because of Quote|His eccentric character, the inconsistencies and radical shifts in his conduct and policies, the extreme austerity of his personal life, the vindictive and sanguinary ruthlessness of his dealing with the highest officials of his government coupled with an obsession to suppress all signs of corruption and immorality in public life, his attempted annihilation of Christians and call for the systematic destruction of all Christian holy places in the middle east culminating in the destruction of the most holy Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, his deification by a group of extremist Isma'li missionaries who became the forerunners and founders of the Druze religion, [which] all combine to contrast his reign sharply with that of any of his predecessors and successors and indeed of any Muslim ruler.... The question is to what extent his conduct can be explained as rationally motivated and conditioned by the circumstances rather than as the inscrutable workings of an insane mind.cite book|title=Journal of Near Eastern Studies: Vol. 37, No. 3, Pg. 280|author=Wilferd Madelung|url=http://www.jstor.org/view/00222968/ap020144/02a00120/0]

Lineage

Al-Ḥākim was born on Thursday, 3 Rābi‘u l-Awwal in 375 A.H. (985). His father, Caliph Abū Mansūr al-‘Azīz bil-Lāh, had two consorts. One was an "umm al-walad" who is only known by the title "as-Sayyidah al-‘Azīziyyah" or "al-‘Azīzah" (d. 385/995).cite book|title=Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam|author=Delia Cortese & Simonetta Calderini|date=2006|publisher=Edinburgh University Press] She was a Melkite Coptic Christian whose two brothers were appointed patriarchs of the Melkite Church by Caliph al-‘Azīz. Different sources say either one of her brothers or her father was sent by al-‘Azīz as an ambassador to Sicily.

Al-‘Azīzah is credited with birthing Sitt al-Mulk, one of the most famous women in Islamic history, who had a stormy relationship with her half-brother al-Ḥākim and may have had him murdered. Some, such as the Crusader chronicler William of Tyre, claimed that this Coptic woman was also the mother of Caliph al-Ḥākim, though most historians dismiss this. William of Tyre went so far as to claim that al-Ḥākim's destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 400/1009 was due to his eagerness to disprove taunts that he was a Christian born of a Christian woman. By contrast, the chronicler al-Musabbihi recounts that in 371/981, al-Ḥākim's Muslim mother sought the aid of an imprisoned Islamic sage named ibn al-Washa and asked him to pray for her son who had fallen ill. The sage wrote the entire Qur'ān in the inner surface of a bowl and bid her wash her son out of it. When al-Ḥākim recovered, she demanded the release of the sage in gratitude. Her request was granted and the sage and his associates were freed from prison.

Druze sources claim that al-Ḥākim's mother was the daughter of ‘Abdu l-Lāh, one of al-Mu‘īzz li Dīn al-Lāh's sons and therefore al-‘Azīz's niece. Historians such as Delia Cortese are critical of this claim:Quote| [I] t is more likely that this woman was in fact a wife of al-Hakim, rather than his mother. It could be argued that the Druzes' emphasis on al-Hakim's descent from an union served the doctrinal purpose of reinforcing the charisma genealogically transmitted with the "holy family", thereby enhancing the political and doctrinal status they bestow upon al-Hakim.

Rise to power

In 996, al-Ḥākim's father Caliph al-‘Azīz began a trip to visit Syria (which was held by the Fatimid's only by force of arms and was under pressure from both Greeks and Turks). The Caliph fell ill at the beginning of the trip at Bilbeis and lay in sickbed for several days. He suffered from "stone with pains in the bowels." When he felt that his end was nearing he charged Qadi Muhammad ibn an-Nu‘man and General Abū Muhammad al-Hasan ibn ‘Ammar to take care of al-Ḥākim, who was then only eleven. He then spoke to his son. Al-Ḥākim later recalled the event:Quote|"I found him with nothing on his body but rags and bandages. I kissed him, and he pressed me to his bosom, exclaiming: "How I grieve for thee, beloved of my heart," and tears flowed from his eyes. He then said: "Go, my master, and play, for I am well." I obeyed and began to amuse myself with sports such as are usual with boys, and soon after God took him to himself. Barjawan [the treasurer] then hastened to me, and seeing me on the top of a sycamore tree, exclaimed: "Come down, my boy; may God protect you and us all." When I descended he placed on my head the turban adorned with jewels, kissed the ground before me, and said: "Hail to the Commander of the faithful, with the mercy of God and his blessing." He then led me out in that attire and showed me to all the people, who kissed the ground before me and saluted me with the title of Khalif."cite book|title=A Short History of the Fatimid Khalifate|author=De Lacy O'Leary|publisher=Routledge|date=1923] On the following day he and his new court proceeded from Bilbays to Cairo. His father's body proceeded him. Borne on a camel the dead Caliph’s feet protruded from the litter. They arrived shortly before evening prayer and his father was buried the next evening next to the tomb of his predecessor al-Mu‘īzz. Al-Ḥākim was sworn in by Barjawan, a "white eunuch whom al-‘Azīz had appointed as "Ustad" 'tutor'."

Because it had been unclear whether he would inherit his father's position, this successful transfer of power was a demonstration of the stability of the Fatimid dynasty.

Political intrigue

Al-Ḥākim's father had intended the eunuch Barjawan to act as regent until he was old enough to rule by himself. Ibn ‘Ammar and the Qadi Muhammad ibn Nu‘man were to assist in the guardianship of the new caliph. Instead, ibn ‘Ammar (the leader of the Katama party) immediately seized the office of "wasīta" "chief minister" from ‘Īsa ibn Nestorius. At the time the office of "sifāra" "secretary of state" was also combined within that office. Ibn ‘Ammar then took the title of "Amīn ad-Dawla" "the one trusted in the empire". This was the first time that the term "empire" was associated with the Fatimid state.

pouses and children

The woman who birthed al-Ḥākim's heir ‘Alī az-Zāhir was the "umm al-walad" Amīna Ruqayya, daughter to the late prince ‘Abdu l-Lāh, son of al-Mu‘īzz. Some see her as the same as the woman in the prediction reported by al-Hamidi which held "that in 390/100 al-Ḥākim would choose an orphan girl of good stock brough up his father al-Aziz and that she would become the mother of his successor." While the chronicler al-Maqrizi claims that al-Ḥākim's stepsister Sitt al-Mulk was hostile to Amīna, other sources say she gave her and her child refuge when they were fleeing al-Ḥākim's persecution. Some sources say al-Ḥākim married the "jariya" (young female servant) known as as-Sayyidah but historians are unsure if this is just another name for Amīna.

Besides his son, al-Ḥākim had a daughter named Sitt Misr (d. 455/1063) who was said to be a generous patroness and of noble and good character.

Political rivalries and movements

Al-Ḥākim's most rigorous and consistent opponent was the Abbāsid Caliphate in Baghdad, which sought to halt the influence of Ismailism. This competition led to the Baghdad Manifesto of 1011, in which the Abbāsids claimed that the line al-Ḥākim represented did not legitimately descend from ‘Alī.

Al-Ḥākim also struggled with the Qarmatiyya rulers of Bahrain, an island in the Persian Gulf as well as territory in Eastern Arabia. His diplomatic and missionary vehicle was the Ismā'īlī "da‘wah" "Mission", with its organizational power center in Cairo.

Al-Ḥākim's reign was characterized by a general unrest. The Fatimid army was troubled by a rivalry between two opposing factions, the Turks and the Berbers. Tension grew between the Caliph and his viziers (called "wasīta"s), and near the end of his reign the Druze movement, a religious sect centered around al-Ḥākim, began to form. It was the Druze who first referred to al-Ḥākim as "Ruler by God's Command" and members of that sect are reported to address prayers to al-Ḥākim, whom they regard as "a manifestation of God in His unity." [Mortimer, Edward, "Faith and Power: The Politics of Islam", Vintage Books, 1982, p.49]

In 1004, al-Ḥākim founded the "Dār al-Ḥikmah" "House of Knowledge", with its great public library; there philosophy and astronomy were taught in addition to purely Islamic studies of the Qurʾān and "ahādīth". In 1013 he completed the mosque in Cairo begun by his father, the Masjid al-Ḥākim "Ḥākim's Mosque" whose official name is "Jami‘-u l-Anwar". The mosque fell to ruins and was restored to its former glory some twenty years ago by Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin after much research and expense.

Foreign affairs

Al-Ḥākim upheld diplomatic relations between the Fatimid Empire and many different countries. Skillful diplomacy was needed in establishing a friendly if not neutral basis of relations with the Byzantine Empire, which had expansionary goals in the early 11th century. Perhaps the farthest reaching diplomatic mission of al-Ḥākim's was to Song Dynasty era China.cite book|author=Shen, Fuwei|date=1996|title=Cultural flow between China and the outside world|publisher=Beijing: Foreign Languages Press] The Fatimid Egyptian sea captain known as Domiyat traveled to a Buddhist site of pilgrimage in Shandong in the year 1008 AD. It was on this mission that he sought to present to the Chinese Emperor Zhenzong of Song gifts from his ruling Caliph al-Ḥākim. This reestablished diplomatic relations between Egypt and China that had been lost during the collapse of the Tang Dynasty in 907.

Interreligious relationships

According to the religious scholar Nissim Dana, al-Ḥākim's relationship with other monotheistic religions can be divided into three separate stages.cite book|author=Nissim Dana|title=The Druze in the Middle East: Their Faith, Leadership, Identity and Status|publisher=Sussex Academic Press|date=2003]

First period

From 996-1006 when most of the executive functions of the Khalif were performed by his advisors, the Shiite al-Ḥākim "behaved like the Shiite khalifs, who he succeeded, exhibiting a hostile attitude with respect to Sunni Muslims, whereas the attitude toward 'People of the Book' - Jews and Christians - was one of relative tolerance, in exchange for the jizya tax."

In 1005, al-Ḥākim ordered a public posting of curses against the first three Caliphs (Abū Bakr, ‘Umār and ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān) and against ‘Ā'isha (wife of Muhammad) all for opposing the claim of Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law ‘Alī, who had demanded the position of Caliph for himself and his descendants. The founder of the Umayyad caliphate, Mu‘awiyah I, and others among the Ṣaḥābah of Muhammad were also cursed. After only two years of posting the curses, al-Ḥākim ended the practice. During this era, al-Ḥākim ordered that the inclusion of the phrase "as-salāh khayr min an-nawm" "prayer is preferable to sleep", which followed the morning prayer be stopped - he saw it as a Sunni addition. In its place he ordered that "ḥayyi ‘alā khayr al-‘amal" "come to the best of deeds" should be said after the summons was made. He further forbade the use of two prayers - "Salāt at-Tarāwih" and "Salāt ad-Duha" as they were believed to have been formulated by Sunni sages.

Religious Minorities and the Law of Differentation

His attitude towards Christians grew hostile by 1003 when he ordered a recently built church destroyed and replaced by a mosque and went on to turn two other churches into mosques. He also outlawed the use of wine ("nabidh") and even other intoxicating drinks not made from grapes ("fuqa") to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. This produced a hardship for both Christians (who used wine in their religious rites) and Jews (who used it in their religious festivals).

In 1005, following the tradition of the caliphate, al-Ḥākim ordered that Jews and Christians follow "ghiyār" "the law of differentiation" - in this case, the "mintaq" or "zunnar" "belt" (Greek ζοναριον) and "‘imāmah" "turban", both in black. In addition, Jews must wear a wooden calf necklace and Christians an iron cross. In the public baths, Jews must replace the calf with a bell. In addition, women of the Ahl al-Kitab had to wear two different coloured shoes, one red and one black. These remained in place until 1014. [Citation
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Al-Ḥākim engaged in other erratic behaviour in 1005: he ordered the killing of all the dogs in Egypt and had them discarded in the desert. He also forced the inhabitants of Cairo to work at night and go to bed in the mornings and severely punished anyone caught violating his orders.

Following contemporary Shiite thinking, during this period al-Ḥākim also issued many other rigid restrictive ordinances ("sijillat"). These "sijill" included outlawing entrance to a public bath with uncovered loins, forbidding women from appearing in public with their faces uncovered, and closing many clubs and places of entertainment.

econd period

From 1007-1012 "there was a notably tolerant attitude toward the Sunnis and less zeal for Shiite Islam, while the attitude with regard to the 'People of the Book' was hostile."

Third period

From 1012-1021 al-Ḥākim Quote|became more tolerant toward the Jews and Christians and hostile toward the Sunnis. Ironically he developed a particularly hostile attitude with regard to the Muslim Shiites. It was during this period, in the year 1017, that the unique religion of the Druze began to develop as an independent religion based on the revelation ("Kashf") of al-Ḥākim as God.

While it is clear that Hamza ibn Ahmad was the Caliph's chief "IPA|dāʿī", there are claims that al-Ḥākim believed in his own divinity. [John Esposito, "Islam: the Straight Path", p.47] [Nissim Dana, "The Druze in the Middle East: Their Faith, Leadership, Identity and Status" [http://books.google.com/books?id=2nCWIsyZJxUC&pg=PA3&lpg=PA3&dq=hakim+manifestation+druze&source=web&ots=XqdXcE5WXm&sig=U6JOLS_FmFjV2plnMbEmO4OO9us&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=9&ct=result p.3] ] [Mordechai Nisan, "Minorities in the Middle East: A History of Struggle and Self-expression" [http://books.google.com/books?id=keD9z1XWuNwC&pg=PA95&lpg=PA95&dq=hakim+manifestation+druze&source=web&ots=FwcznJutwD&sig=dzrZg5q6g8gkeoaqSqGQWnQFtQI&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result p.95] ] [Cherine Badawi, "Egypt", [http://books.google.com/books?id=r9-_tLE0saAC&pg=PA96&lpg=PA96&dq=hakim+manifestation+druze&source=web&ots=_yQvcnv1HA&sig=pKpWPEvrwMrE1Krmp-e2AZo4th4&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=9&ct=result p.96] ] [Zeidan Atashi, "Druze and Jews in Israel: A Shared Destiny?", [http://books.google.com/books?id=1DescF3BhLIC&pg=PA12&dq=druze+god+hakim&sig=ACfU3U2H6NmorLGZzrxME7egEo_C_NLmAw p.12] ]

Other scholars disagree with this assertion of direct divinity, particularly the Druze themselves, noting that its proponent was ad-Darazi, who (according to some resources) al-Ḥākim executed for "shirk". Letters show that ad-Darazi was trying to gain control of the "Muwahhidun" movement and this claim was an attempt to gain support from the Caliph, who instead found it heretical.Citation
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The Druze find this assertion offensive; they hold ad-Darazi as the first apostate of the sect and their beliefs regarding al-Ḥākim are complex. Following a typical Isma'ili pattern, they place a preeminent teacher at the innermost circle of divinely inspired persons. For the Druze, the exoteric is taught by the Prophet, the esoteric by his secret assistants, and the esoteric of the esoteric by Imām al-Ḥākim.

Confusion and slander by opponents of the Druze were generally left uncorrected as the teachings of the sect are secret and the Druze preferred taqiyya when independence was impossible.

Eccentric behavior

Al-Ḥākim issued a series of seemingly arbitrary laws, including the prohibition of "Mulūkhiyya", a characteristic Egyptian dish, grape eating, watercress eating as well as the prohibition of chess. He forbade the fisherman from catching any fish that had no scales and forbade people from selling or eating such fish.

According to ibn Najjar in "History of Baghdad", al-Ḥākim conspired to draw the attention of the Muslim world towards Egypt by planning to steal the bodies of Muhammad and his companions Abū Bakr and ‘Umar. Al-Ḥākim built an expensive enclosure to hold their remains and sent Abū l-Fatuh to Madina to carry out the plan. When Abū al-Fatuh arrived in Madina, the residents learned of this plot and gathered around him threateningly. Qari Zalbani recited the following verses of the Qur’an to him:Fact|date=February 2008Quote|If they break their pledge after giving their word and revile your faith, fight these specimens of faithlessness, for surely their oaths have no sanctity: They may haply desist. Will you not fight those who broke their pledge and plotted to banish the Apostle, and who were the first to attack you? Are you afraid of them? If you are believers you should fear God more.cite quran|9|12
end=13
translator=Ahmed Ali
style=ref
expand=yes
The residents of Madina became furious and were about to kill Abu al-Fatuh and his soldiers, when he became afraid and said, "I shall never carry out this dirty plan even if the ruler kills me." In the meanwhile, a big storm swept through the area, destroying many houses and killing many animals and people. Abū al-Fatuh fled from Madina and nothing more came of al-Ḥākim's plot.Fact|date=February 2008

In 1014, he ordered women not to go out at all, and ordered the shoemakers not to make any women's shoes. However Said Gafurov considers information about all these measures unreliable because they have same origin of Fatimides opponents and Hakim inheritors, and tries finds rational explanation for these measures. For example, forbade of women shoes production is considered related to necessity of lack of leather mobilisation reserves, necessary for the Fatimid Army before a Large War.

Al-Ḥākim killed many of his officials both high and low in rank: his tutor Abū l-Qasim Sa‘īd ibn Sa‘īd al-Fāriqī, most of his viziers, judges, poets, physicians, bathhouse keepers, cooks, cousin, soldiers, Jews, Christians, intelligence gatherers and even cut the hands of female slaves in his palace. In some cases, he did the killing himself.

In 1009, he destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, then under Fatimid control. The church was later rebuilt by his successor with help from the Byzantine Empire. Said Gafurov denies this fact pointing out that all our sources about it are sharply Anti-Hakimite. In his version the keys of Church of the Holy Sepulchre were simply taken from the Roman Catholics and given to monophysite or Nestorian christians.

Although Christians were not allowed to buy slaves, male or female, and had few other privileges, they were allowed to ride horses on the condition that they ride with wooden saddles and unornamented girths.

Towards the end of his reign he became increasingly erratic and feared by his officials, soldiers and subjects alike. Muslim and Christian dignitaries alike went to his palace kissing the ground, and stood at the palace gates asking him for forgiveness, and not to listen to any rumors that were spreading. They raised a petition to al-Ḥākim and he forgave them.

Death and succession

Al-Ḥākim disappeared in 1021 at the age of age|985|1|1|1021|1|1 on a trip on his donkey to the Muqattam Hills without any guards. The donkey was later found near a well covered with blood. It is believed that his sister Sitt al-Mulk hired assassins to kill him after she became concerned over the continuity of their dynasty and the two quarreled over his behavior. Al-Ḥākim accused her of adultery and then she decided to act first before he punished her. The Druze do not believe he was killed but that he has been hidden away by God and will return as the Mahdi on Judgement Day.

Al-Ḥākim was succeeded by his young son ‘Alī az-Zāhir under the regency of his sister, Sitt al-Mulk.

ee also

*List of Egyptians

References

External links

* [http://www.ismaili.net/histoire/history05/history543.html Al-Ḥākim]
* [http://www.iis.ac.uk/research/encyclopaedias/hakim_bi_amr_allah.htm Institute of Ismaili Studies:] al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allah.
* [http://baheyeldin.com/history/al-hakim-bi-amr-allah-fatimid-caliph-of-egypt.html Al-Ḥākim bi Amr Allah]


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