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An intellectual and religious person ibn tulun

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An intellectual and religious person, ibnTulun founded schools, hospitals, andmosques in Egypt, the most famous beingFigure 8.15 | Mamluk Lancers on HorsebackAuthor: Nick MichaelSource: Wikimedia CommonsLicense: Public Domain
Page | 325CHAPTER 8: ISLAM TO THE MAMLUKSthe eponymous ibn Tulun Mosque. However, he saw weakness back in Baghdad, as the ‘Abbasidssuffered from instability, including palace intrigue, disorderlymamluks, and revolts like theZanj Rebellion, a slave rebellion that threatened the fate of the caliphate. The ‘Abbasids couldnot control ibn Tulun, and, as the caliphate broke down, he managed to secure almost completeautonomy from Baghdad. By the end of his reign, he was so independent that he kept his own taxrevenue and raised his ownmamlukarmy, for he, too, depended militarily and politically on hisloyalmamluksto stay in power.Ibn Tulun’s autonomy in Egypt portended the decline of the ‘Abbasids, whose real authoritycame to an end in 945. The Buyids, an Iranian dynasty, overthrew the ‘Abbasids and relegatedthem to the status of mere religious figureheads; the caliphate continued in name only. Followingthe collapse of the Abbasids, the centralization and political unity of the lands formerly undertheir control broke down; however, economic, cultural, and religious unity remained.8.11 THE FATIMID CALIPHATEWhile Egypt grew increasingly independent of Baghdad under the Tulunids, the rule of the‘Abbasids over their broad empire generally declined. From this vacuum of power, the Fatimids (910– 1171) emerged. Members of the Isma‘ili sect of Shi‘a Islam, the Fatimids traced their genealogyFigure 8.16 | The Ibn Tulun Mosque, Cairo, EgyptAuthor: Berthol WernerSource: Wikimedia CommonsLicense: CC BY-SA 3.0
Page | 326to the relationship between Fatima,the Prophet’s daughter, and ‘Ali.Isma‘ilisbelieve that the divinelyordained spiritual leadership of theIslamic community, or caliphate,descendedfrom‘AlidowntoIsma‘il, the son of Jafar al-Sadiq.They refused to recognize the legiti-macy of the ‘Abbasids and sought toconvert the masses of Sunnis to theirown schismatic brand of Islam. Todo so, Isma‘ili missionaries spreadout to the far flung fringes of theempire and preached a religious rev-olution. These emissaries achievedtheir greatest success in the NorthAfrican Maghreb.‘Abd Allah al-Mahdi, founder of the Fatimids, proclaimed himself themahdi, the precursorto the final judgement, representing an ideology that compelled people to change. Hounded by‘Abbasid agents of persecution who sought to uphold Sunni orthodoxy, he fled from his family’shomeland in Syria and, disguised as an ordinary merchant, traveled westward through the Maghrebto Sijilmasa, where he went into hiding. In 909, local Isma‘ili missionaries rescued him fromSijilmasa. By 920, he had consolidated power and made his capital at Mahdiya, located in presentday Tunisia. As themahdiand a catalyst for change, he converted tribal troops and inspired themto fight on his behalf. ‘Abd Allah al-Mahdi endowed the Fatimids with a new‘asabiyah, providingthem with the unity of purpose necessary to defeat the ‘Abbasids in North Africa. Within fortyyears, ‘Abd Allah al-Mahdi had conquered the whole of Northwest Africa. He aimed his expansionat Egypt but failed to seize it. His grandson, al-Mu‘izz, however, succeeded in this aim.

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