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Al-Aziz Billah

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Al-Aziz Billah

al-Aziz Billah
العزيز بالله
Caliph of the Fatimid Caliphate
Reign 975 – 996
Predecessor al-Mu'izz Li-Dinillah
Successor al-Hakim Bi-Amrillah
Issue al-Hakim Bi-Amrillah
Full name
Kunya: Abu Mansur
Given name: Nizar
Laqab: al-Aziz Billah
Father Al-Mu'izz Li-Dinillah
Mother ?
Born 10 May 955
Died 14 October 996
Religion Shia Islam

Abu Mansur Nizar al-Aziz Billah, commonly known as al-Aziz (10 May 955 – 14 October 996) (Arabic: أبومنصور نزار العزيز بالله‎) was the fifth Caliph of the Fatimid Caliphate (975–996).

History

Since Abdallah, the heir to the throne, had died before his father Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah (953-975), his brother Abu Mansur Nizar al-Azizbillah acceded to the Caliphate with the help of Jawhar as-Siqilli. Under Al-Aziz, the Fatimid Empire stretched as far as Palestine and Syria (from 977/978). Mecca and Medina also acknowledged the suzerainty of the Fatimids.

Developments

The reign of Al-Aziz was primarily significant for the strengthening of Fatimid power in Egypt and Syria, which had then only very recently been conquered (969). In 975 al-'Aziz took control of Baniyas in an attempt to subdue the anti-Fatimid agitation of the Sunni Mahammad b. Ahmad al-Nablusi and his followers.[1] The bedouin Tayy tribe under Mufarrij ibn Daghfal ibn al-Jarrah was defeated in Palestine 982 and finally subjugated at Damascus 983. Towards the end of his reign Al-Aziz sought to extend his power to northern Syria, focusing his attention on the Hamdanids of Aleppo. The fact that they were under the suzerainty of the Byzantine Empire resulted in the outbreak of war with this great power, a conflict which would not be resolved until the reign of al-Hakim (996-1021).

Another notable development during al-Aziz's reign was the introduction of foreign slave armies. When the Berber troops from the Maghreb continued to be successful in the wars against the Carmathians in Syria, Al-Aziz began setting up units composed of Turkish slave soldiers, or Mamelukes.

Through the expansion of the bureaucracy (in which many Jews and Christians acquired important posts) the foundations were laid for the immense power of the succeeding Caliphs. His appointment of a Jewish governor over Syria/Palestine, however, led to grumbling by his Muslim subjects, who claimed they were being pushed out of important posts. As a result, Al-Aziz ordered his Christian and Jewish officials to employ more Muslims in their offices.

The Egyptian economy was also nurtured, and tax revenue thereby increased, through the expansion of streets and canals and the establishment of a stable currency. The general economic well-being was also apparent in an elaborate building programme.

The reign of Al-Aziz was also culturally significant. His grand Vizir Yaqub ibn Killis (979-991) founded the al-Azhar University in Cairo (988) which went on to become the most important centre of learning in the Islamic world. Likewise a library with 200,000 volumes was built in Cairo.

According to Professor Samy S. Swayd Fatimid missionaries made their Dawah in China during the reign of Al-Aziz.[2]

Al-Aziz died on 13 October 996. His son Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (996-1021) succeeded him as Caliph.

Al Aziz amongst Shia Islam

Details of all Ismaili imams are available in List of Ismaili Imams.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Wilson, John Francis. (2004) ibid p 122
  2. ^ Samy S. Swayd (2006). Historical dictionary of the Druzes. Volume 3 of Historical dictionaries of people and cultures (illustrated ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. xli.  
Al-Aziz Billah
Born: 955 Died: 996
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Al-Mu'izz Li-Dinillah
Caliph of the Fatimid Caliphate
975-996
Succeeded by
Al-Hakim Bi-Amrillah
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