Named after the Prophet’s daughter, the Fatimids established their empire in 909 in North Africa when Imam al-Mahdi was proclaimed Caliph. Imams al-Mahdi and al-Mansur reigned from North Africa, founding cities named after them. In 973 Imam al-Mu’izz transferred the capital of the empire to Cairo, a city he founded.
The Fatimid Caliph-Imams adopted an inclusive model of governance that enabled political and economic stability, intellectual advancements, and artistic grandeur for two centuries of their reign, considered a remarkable period in Egyptian and Muslim history.
Upon entering Egypt, the Fatimid General Jawhar, issued the Aman, or ‘peace proclamation’ in June-July 969, on behalf of the Imam al-Mu’izz. The Aman provided “the foundation for respecting the diversity of religious outlooks in a shared quest, inspired by the Qur’anic call:
‘O humanity! Truly We created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you might know each other. Truly the most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most God-conscious of you. Truly God is Knowing, Aware.’ (Qur’an 49:13).”1
The Fatimid dynasty’s ideals of equity and social justice were associated with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad who had issued the Charter of Medina that emphasized inclusion and just governance for all residents.
The Aman included “the nature of the Fatimid mission, which is articulated in their understanding of a divinely designated duty of care and protection of the cosmopolitan Egyptian populace. Accordingly, the Aman underscores the Fatimid commitment to establish just governance for all their subjects including members of the Ahl al-Kitab (The People of the Book, meaning Jews and Christians), and their inclusive and tolerant attitude to all Muslim communities. The Aman has been recounted in full by the erudite and prolific Sunni Egyptian historian, Taqi al-Din Ahmad al-Maqrizi (1364-1442).”1
The Aman proclamation stated that:
“Our lord and master, the Commander of the Faithful, has advised his servant to extend equity and justice and to dispel injustice, to temper aggression, to eradicate transgression, to increase aid, to uphold what is just and to strengthen the oppressed through compassion and beneficence, to supervise fairly, to be generous in companionship, to be kind in associations, to scrutinise living conditions, to offer protection to the inhabitants day and night so that they can strive freely to earn their living and can manage their affairs such that it would restore them.”1
Compiled by Nimira Dewji