The Imam-caliph al-Mu1izz li-Din Allah (r. 953-975), founder of the city of Cairo, transformed the emergent Fatimid state from a regional power of limited influence to an impressive Mediterranean empire whose authority extended from the shores of the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. His vision and dynamism contributed to the high watermark of Fatimid success in establishing a Shi'i empire, which contributed to the cultural and intellectual efflorescence of the Muslim world. Amongst al-Mu1izz's crowning achievements was the conquest of Egypt, a cherished goal of the Fatimids, which they subsequently governed for over two centuries. The writings of the erudite 15th-century Mamluk scholar Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi, document this Fatimid triumph and provide one of the most comprehensive accounts of al-Mu1izz's reign. Al-Maqrizi's "Itti1az al-hunafa bi-akhbar al-a imma al-Fatimiyyin al-khulafa" is an invaluable text on the Fatimid era, compiled from a range of sources, many of which are no longer extant.
In this text, the only complete history of the Fatimids written by a medieval Sunni historian, al-Maqrizi demonstrates a critical discernment regarding the value and limitations of his sources that is unusual amongst Muslim historians of the time. Moreover, he records a number of official documents, letters and sermons in their entirety, often making his writings the only surviving source for this material. The English translation of a section of this rare work, presented here for the first time, together with a comprehensive introduction and annotations, makes a notable contribution to one of the most fascinating periods in Islamic history.
Shainool Jiwa is a specialist in the Fatimid era and Head of the Department of Community Relations at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. She holds degrees from McGill University and the University of Edinburgh, and is the author of several papers and articles in the field of medieval Islamic history.