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North West Africa and the Imamat

Chapter III

11th Imam Mowlana Muhammadinil Mahdi
12th Imam Mowlana al-Qaim
13th Imam Mowlana al-Mansoor

History of the Ismaili Imams Tarikh-e Imamat
By Al-Waez Alijah Hasan Husayn Nazar Ali
Table of Contents

Firman Mubarak
Message from The Chairman
Chapter I - Arabia and Imamat 1
Chapter II - Syria and Imamat 14
Chapter III - N.W. Africa and Imamat 21
Chapter IV - Egypt and Imamat 26
Chapter V - Alamut and Imamat 67
Chapter VI - Persia and lmamat 67
Chapter VII - Indo-Pak and lmamat 74
Chapter VIII - Mowlana Shah Karim Al-Husayni Aga Khan IV 86
Holy Ginan

Mowlana Muhammadin il Mahdi
11th Imam

1st Fatimid Caliph - ( 268 A. H. - 322 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Muhammadinil Mahdi was born at, Askar Mukram on 12th Shawwal, 260 A.H. On his father's death, in 268 A.H., he took over the charge of Imamat at Salamiya, at the age of eight years.

Imam al-Mahdi married his uncle Said al-Khair's daughter, who became the mother of the future Imam, al-Qaim.

From Salamiya to Egypt:

Imam al-Mahdi continued his ancestors' policy of keeping on good terms with the local Governor of Salamiya. He remained there in the guise of a Hashimid merchant, but as his presence there was getting exposed, he prepared to leave Salamiya. Moreover, the time for the establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate had also come. Imam had decided to go to Yemen as planned, but on reaching Egypt, changed his mind and made preparations to proceed to North Africa.

From Egypt to North Africa:

The Governor of Egypt received orders from the Abbasid Caliph to arrest the Imam, but a highly placed Ismaili in the Egyptian Government gave this information to Imam al-Mahdi, which made it possible for the Imam to leave the country in time. Imam al-Mahdi then went to Tripoli, but he was forced to leave the town by local Governor. Therefore, the Imam proceeded to Sijilmasa; there he was arrested along with his followers, until he was rescued by his Dai Abu Abdullah al-Shii.

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Dai Abdullah al-Shii:

Dai Abu Abdullah al-Shii was sent by the Imam to Yemen, but when the idea of establishing the Fatimid Caliphate in Yemen was given up, he was asked to go to North Africa. On the way, he met some Kutama tribesmen in Mecca. They were impressed by his piety and invited him to go with them to their home in North Africa. Dai Abu Abdullah accepted their invitation.

During the time of the fifth Imam, Mowlana Ja'far as-sadiq, the Kutama tribesmen had been visited by Dais Halwani and Sufiyani, and these Dais had died there. Other Ismaili Dais had also visited the place.

Therefore when Dai Abu Abdullah came there in 280 A.H., he found no difficulty in gaining the support of the local population for Imam al-Mahdi. The whole of North Africa, including its capital, Qairawan, was now conquered by the Kutama soldiers under the leadership of Dai Abu Abdullah, who then prepared to invade Sijilmasa and release the Imam from captivity.

The Governor of Sijilmasa, on hearing about Dai Abu Abdullah's arrival, fled from there. The Dai entered the town, released all the prisoners, including the Imam whom he greeted with tears in his eyes. He took the Imam to his army and told them to pay their respects to the Imam, for he was their Lord.

The Fatimid Caliphate:

The Imam and the Dai, along with their men, travelled to Raqqada, where in 297 A.H., the Fatimid Caliphate was established and Imam al-Mahdi was proclaimed as the first Fatimid Caliph. Here, all his family and treasures were brought to the Imam.

After having established the Fatimid Caliphate at Raqqada, Imam al-Mahdi began to build his Empire. He brought the Island of Sicily under his control and founded new towns Mehdiya and Muhammadiya. All this was in preparation for his final move, the invasion of Egypt.

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Imam al-Mahdi and Dai Abu Abdullah:

The relationship between the Imam and Dai Abu Abdullah was very good, but it began to deteriorate. The Dai's two brothers were unhappy because Abu Abdullah had surrendered his hard-won victory and authority to the Imam. The two brothers conspired against the Imam. At first, Dai Abu Abdullah did not join in, but he soon began to whisper doubts about the position of the Imam. This automatically led him to join his brothers in a conspiracy against the Imam.

As soon as Imam al-Mahdi came to know of this, he had Dai Abu Abdullah and his brothers killed in 298 A.H. Imam knew that although in the later part of his career, Dai Abu Abdullah got misled, in his earlier days, he had served the Imam well with love and loyalty. Therefore, the Imam decided to give the Dai a public burial, thus honouring him with gratitude.

Imam al-Mahdi's Death:

Imam al-Mahdi died on 15th Rabbi-ul-Awwal, 322 A.H. He had six sons, of whom al-Qaim was appointed as the next Imam. The news of Imam's death was publicised for more than three months so that imposters might not claim to flourish as Imam al-Mahdi.

Mowlana Al-Qaim

12th Imam
2nd Fatimid Caliph (322 A.H. - 334 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Abu al-Qasim Muhammad al-Qaim bi-Amrillah was born in 275 A.H., in Salamiya, where his father, Imam Muhhamadinil Mahdi was in hiding. In 303 A.H., Imam al-Mahdi proclaimed Imam al-Qaim as his successor, and upon Imam al-Mahdi's death in 322 A.H., Imam al-Qaim became our 12th Imam and the second Fatimid Caliph.

During his father's life time, Imam al-Qaim subdued various Berber and Kharajide uprisings. He carried out two invasions on Egypt, which unfortunately had to be withdrawn.

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Imam al-Qaim as Caliph:

During his own Caliphate, Imam al-Qaim sent his slave Raydan with an army for another invasion in Egypt. Raydan was unable to proceed against Fustat and had to withdraw from Egypt.

Some of the Moroccan Berber tribes tried to revolt against the Imam, but they were subdued by another slave of the Imam, called Maysur.

A man called Ibne Talut revolted, claiming to be Imam al-Mahdi's son; he was soon brought under control by Imam al-Qaim with the help of his own Berber following.

In 323 A.H., Imam al-Qaim's fleet carried out a raid on some Mediterranean ports, such as Sardinia, Genoa and Circassia (Turkey), and brought back much booty.

The Revolt of Abu Yazid:

Half of Abu Yazid's career falls in Imam Qaim's lifetime, but as the rest continues in Imam al-Mansoor's time, we will discuss it in the next chapter.

Imam al-Qaim's Death:

Imam al-Qaim died during Abu Yazid's siege of Mehdiya. He died on 13th Shawwal, 334 A.H., at the age of 59, having ruled for 12 years. He was buried in Mehdiya. The news of Imam's death was kept secret until Abu Yazid's revolt was over, although Imam al-Mansoor had succeeded as the next Imam upon Imam al-Qaim's death.

Mowlana Al Mansoor

13th Imam
3rd Fatimid Caliph (334 A.H. - 341 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Abu Tahir Ismail al-Mansoor bi-Allah was born at Qairawan in 302 A.H. His entire upbringing was in North Africa, amid an atmosphere of battle and revolts, which helped him to develop a military spirit and discipline. He succeeded to the Fatimid throne at Mehdiya in 334 A.H., at the age of 32. Abu Yazid's revolt, one of the most dangerous the Fatimid Caliphs had faced, was still on. It was left to Imam al-Mansoor to complete the task which his father, Imam al-Qaim had so courageously undertaken.

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Abu Yazid:

Among the many Berber tribes of North Africa, one of the most important was the Zanata tribe. They were at rivalry with the Kutama tribe, which had supported the Fatimids and brought them to power. To this Zanata tribe belonged Abu Yazid, who was born in Sudan. He accepted the Kharajide faith, converted his tribe to it and spread it all over North Africa and Sudan. Thus he became a great challenge to the Fatimid Caliphate.

During Imam al-Qaim's time, Abu Yazid conquered many important towns, including Baja, Raqqada and Qairawan. Imam al-Qaim sought refuge in Mehdiya, at which Abu Yazid laid a siege in 334 A.H. Due to the high morale which the Imam inspired and due to the large reserves of food, which were wisely stocked in the town in advance, the Fatimid capital was able to outlive the siege and tire out the besiegers, who under Abu Yazid, withdrew to Susa.

During Imam al-Mansoor's time, Abu Yazid continued to make trouble and Imam laid a seige at Susa. A battle was fought in which Imam al-Mansoor himself took part. The Imam defeated Abu Yazid and drew him away to Morocco. However, Abu Yazid continued to harass Imam's forces. He was finally defeated at Fort Kutama, where he was seriously wounded. He died soon after in a prison in 336 A.H.

Imam al-Mansoor respected the memory of Abu Yazid as he was a brave enemy and looked after all his family. Qadi Numan, the chief Fatimid Judge and author in the service of the first four Fatimid Caliphs, wrote an entire book on Abu Yazid; the book, however, has been lost. Besides Abu Yazid's revolt, Imam al-Mansoor had to face another revolt, but he was finally able to supress this revolt in 336 A.H.


The Fatimid army in Sicily was torn in quarrels between its two parties - the Arabs and the Berbers and due to this, Sicily was almost out of control. Imam al-Mansoor sent a very able governor, Hasan bin Aly, who succeeded in putting down all opposition and brought peace to the country.

Death of Imam al-Mansoor:

After seven years of rule, Imam al-Mansoor died on 28th Shawwal, 341 A.H., at the age of 39. He was buried at Mehdiya. Before he died, he appointed his son al-Muiz as the next Imam and Caliph.


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