The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah

Hakim bi-Amr Allah (literally: "Ruler by God's Command") was the sixth Fatimid Caliph in Egypt, ruling from 996 to 1021.

He was born in Egypt in 985 and successfully succeeded his father Abu Mansur Nizar al-Aziz in 996 at the age of eleven in an initial demonstration of the Fatimid dynasty's stability. Nevertheless, in his long reign as caliph he struggled with the Qarmatiyya rulers of Bahrain and extended Fatimid rule to the emirate of Aleppo. His diplomatic and missionary vehicle was the Ismaili da'wa with its organizational power center in Cairo. His most rigorous and consistent opponent was the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad, who were concerned to halt the influence of Ismailism, culminating in the Baghdad Manifesto of 1011, which claimed that the line Hakim represented did not legitimately descend from Ali.

Intrigues and tensions within the army, centered around opposing factions of Turks and Berbers, the tension between the caliph and his viziers (called wasitas), and towards the end of his reign the first stirrings of the Druze movement all characterize the unrest of Hakim's reign.

Ismaili communities in North Africa were massacred by Sunni mobs led by their influential Maliki jurists.

In 1005 he founded the Dar al-‘ilm ("House of Knowledge"), with its great public library; there philosophy and astronomy were taught in addition to purely Islamic studies of the Qur’an and Hadith. In 1013 he completed the mosque in Cairo begun by his father, the Masjid al-Hakim or "Friday Mosque".

In 1009, Hakim destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, then under Fatimid control, and persecuted the Christians and other dhimmis in Palestine.

Although the church was rebuilt by Byzantine emperor Constantine IX in 1048, its destruction was remembered by Christians in Western Europe for the rest of the century. Despite the relatively good conditions in the Holy Land under Hakim's successors in the 11th century, the destruction of the church was used to support the First Crusade; in 1096, after the Council of Clermont, there was even a forged letter published, supposedly written by Pope Sergius IV, calling for a Crusade in 1009.

Hakim disappeared in 1021; he never returned from a trip to the Muqattam Hills. Although he presumably died, a sect of Ismailis, the Druzes, believed he had been hidden away by God and began to worship him in the mountains of Lebanon. Later mainstream Islamic doctrine alleges he encouraged his own deification.

External links

  • Al-Hakim
  • Institute of Ismaili Studies: al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah.

Last updated: 02-19-2005 12:16:07
Last updated: 04-25-2005 03:06:01