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Jawhar's career is rather straightforward and great, in the sense that he was the first and the last great generals (Qaid) of the Fatimids, who had made so many conquests and had established the empire, not only in the North Western countries but also in Egypt and Syria. His initiative for the cause of the Fatimids is remarkable. Most of the things that he did, have survived till today. In the following pages we shall see the love and devotion of Qaid Jawhar for his master and Caliph al-Mui'zz li-din-'Allah. He had remained faithful to the Shia Fatimid cause till his death. It is rather difficult to know in detail, the society, of the Fatimids in those days, nevertheless it seems, Jawhar must have been accepted in the multi-society of the middle ages, for he had succeeded in proclaiming and establishing the Shiite cause as far in Egypt and Syria.
Since the year 296 A.H. (909). the Shia Fatimids had succeeded in establishing in Tunis a major Shiite Caliphate of Islam. Da'i Abu Abdullah Shi'i had defeated the then Aghlabid, ruler of Maghrib (North Western Africa) and had proclaimed lmam AI-Mahdi as the first Shiite Caliph of Islam. On Tunisian Coast the Caliph ai-Mahdi had founded his new capital after his name, called al-Mahdiyah near Qayrawan and from here he and his successor had ruled Maghrib and many islands of the Mediterranean sea. The lsmailis had also built a strong fleet and had invaded Spain and Sardinia. After the accession of the 4th Fatimid Caliph lmam al-Mu'izz in 341 A. H., Jawhar was entrusted with the invasions of all lands as far as Atlantic. The following pages will investigate the career of this illustrious Qaid of the Fatimids.
Qaid Jawhar from Birth to the Court.
Most historians remember Jawhar by the name of Jawhar-as-Siqilli, tracing his origin from his country of birth, Sicily in Italy. The Fatimid Caliph lmam al-Mu'izz had given him a Kuniyah of 'Abul Hussain'. Abul Hussain Jawhar bin Abdullah, also called al-Katib, a secretary, also known as a Qaid, was the general of Fatimid forces.
It is pity that history has not preserved for us such records which could provide details of his origin, birth and life of his parents etc. He was probably born between the years 298-300 A.H. in Sicily, which was then an Island of Byzantines. Jawhar was a European mamluk (of Greek origin, Arab historians called these Western Byzantines as Rumis) in the sense he was brought as a slave to Qayrwan, the then capital of the Fatimids in the North Western Africa. It could not be established whether Jawhar was a born Muslim or was later converted. Probably it is true that he was connected with a Muslim family, since Islam had reached Sicily in 212 A.H. Moreover, as mentioned, Jawhar's father's name is given Abdullah and it is quite possible that Jawhar was converted to Islam with his father and that he must have had an Islamic upbringing. Historians are unaware of his ancestors. The reason is this, that Jawhar was connected with a group of Mowlas (Non-Arabs) who were brought to Africa. Generally Mowlas in those days, were not supposed to trace their origin with their unislamic names.
The advent of Islam in Sicily and Jawhar's arrival at the court of the Fatimid Caliphs in Africa, show a discrepancy of over a 100 years. Here it is necessary to give a short sketch of Sicily, the country of his birth, for the surroundings and the environment always influence a person's life and ideas.
The Muslims had made some sporadic attempts to conquer Sicily much earlier than the year 212 A.H. However, during the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Mamun ar-Rashid ( 198-218), the final conquest of Sicily was achieved in 212. With the conquest, it seems, the majority of its population had accepted Islam and many mosques and madrasas were introduced there. Arabic language had also found a flourishing ground there. However, when Sicily was taken away from Arabs by Normans sometime in 460 H, the Norman ruler Roger 11 had continued to follow the ideals of Arab Cavalry, the Arab administrative system etc. There are many Arabic words found in the Italian language. Hitherto combined Arab-Norman culture had surpassed that of Europe.
The point is that, this flourishing Islamic-Christian culture of Sicily must have effected Jawhar's outlook and mentality. He must have reached his youth with rich upbringing and might have imbibed in himself both civilizations. For his later political insight and his military genius reflect his early acquisitions. His background had received great momentum under the Fatimid Society. The Fatimid Caliph ai-Mu'izz-li-din 'Allah knew many languages, including Greek and Sicilian.
In 296 A.H.. when the Fatimid Caliphate was established in North Western Africa, a number of Sicilians had taken shelter there and from time to time had continued to join the Fatimid forces. During the reign of the 3rd Fatimid Caliph al-Mansur (334-41 A.H), Abul Hussain Jawhar was presented as a slave to the Caliph. It is difficult to determine the year of his arrival in Africa. However, he was made as a personal attendant to the Caliph al-Mansur. After receiving his freedom from his son and successor al-Mu'izz, Jawhar soon rose to prominence. In the year 341 A.H. (932 C.E.) the Caliph al-Mu'izz had appointed him as his katib, the secretary, and from that time onwards, Jawhar was known as 'Jawhar al-katib'. The year 341 A.H. is the year of accession of al~Mu'izz of Fatimid caliphate. It goes to prove that al-Mu'izz had recognised Jawhar's genius, a long time before assuming power. In those days, the post of al-katib was only given to an intelligent and trustworthy person, moreover, this was generally a beginning, from where they rose to higher ranks. It seems al~Mu'izz had found some hidden military qualities in his Katib, that by 347 H. he had raised him to rank of a Vazir and a Commander-in-Chief of his forces. This is not surprising, for Jawhar was a very great katib. We can estimate him from the terms of the treaty which he had offered to the people of Egypt at the time of the conquest. These terms show his originality of style and his sagacity which we shall quote later. However, most historians have mentioned his devotion and love of his master al-Mu'izz, to be instrumental for his achievements.
The Conquests of Jawhar in North Western Af rica.
lbn-e-Khallikan writes that al-Mu'izz had sent Jawhar to conquer the remaining provinces in Western Africa in 347 A.H. So Jawhar had started with a large force and in his army there were many inhabitants of the Western provinces (called Maghrib). Soon Jawhar had directed himself towards the provinces of Taharat and Fas which he conquered after fierce fighting. He then, had moved toward Sijilmasa, where a certain person had adopted a title of Shakir Billah and had asked the people to address him as Amir-al-Mominin. However, when this Amir ai-Mominin Shakir Billah had learned about Jawhar's arrival, he had disappeared from the battlefield. Jawhar had followed him and had imprisoned him. Then Jawhar with his forces had advanced towards the far west and had continued conquering one city after another till he had reached the Atlantic Ocean. Here he wanted his master al-Mu'izz to know where his forces had reached. Jawhar had ordered some fish to be put in a pot with water, to be sent to al-Mu'izz, to let him know that whichever cities and countries he had crossed, he had conquered them and that he had reached as far as the ocean.
Having taken these cities, he had stayed in Maghrib to establish the Fatimid authority there and had chastised the disobedient and had subdued all the countries of Maghrib. There remained not a spot in all those regions wherein, the sovereignty of al-Mu 'izz had not been proclaimed. In every one of them, the Friday Prayer was offered up in his name by the congregation and thus he had accomplished the conquests that were begun by Da'i Abu Abdullah as-Shi'i (the founder of the Fatimid Caliphate in Maghrib, particularly in Mahdiya and Qayrawan in 291 A.H./896 C.E.) It is, therefore, obvious that Jawhar's status was raised before al-Mu'izz and he was made Commander General of the Fatimid forces and was hereafter called 'al-Qaid'. In the year 358 A.H. the Caliph al-Mu'izz decided to invade Egypt, so he entrusted the responsibility to his Qaid Jawhar after his return from the Western countries.
The Caliph ai-Mu'izz had made preparations to invade Egypt, long since the year 356 A.H. that is two years before the departure of Jawhar for Egypt. During this period, al-Mu'izz had systematically planned the road which Jawhar was to take There on the road he had ordered wells to be dug at various halting places, where resthouses were also built. The money was collected for the expenses of the war. It is said that the army which was formed, included one lakh swordsmen, who belonged to Banu Katama tribe of Maghrib. Mu'izz had showered gifts and honours on their officers also. There were upwards of one hundred thousand horse-men and more than twelve hundred chests of money to be sent there.
It so happened that amidst these preparations for the march, Qaid Jawhar fell dangerously ill that no hopes were entertained of his recovery. When al Mu'izz had heard of his illness he was very sad and he himself had gone to visit him. This was a great honour which could be bestowed on very few near and dear ones only. Mu'izz's heart was obviously repeating that Egypt could only be conquered by Jawhar. After his visit, al Mu'izz had declared, that Jawhar would survive to conquer Egypt. This prophecy had turned out to be true word by word. During his convalescence, the necessary supplies of money, arms and men were furnished. He was visited almost everyday by al-Mu'izz who conversed with him in private and gave him directions regarding the actual conquests. Finally he had received orders to set out for Egypt.
The departure of Qaid Jawhar for Egypt.
When Jawhar had completely recovered from his illness, al-Mu'izz had ordered for the departure. Before the departure, all his forces were collected at one place, where at-Mu'izz had delivered a Khutba to the Shaykhs of Katama and other tribes. The extracts of which are quoted here. al-Mu'izz is reported to have said:
"We are in need of your bodies and minds. Be it known to you that if you act on what we say, we can hope that God will ease our attack of the Eastern countries, (i.e. Egypt) as he did of the Western parts (Maghrib) with your co-operation" (see Maqrizi itiaz).
"By God, if Jawhar went alone to conquer Egypt, he will be able to take hold of it and alone indeed (Jawhar) you will enter ruins of lbn Tulun and found such a city which could overpower (taqhar) all the cities of the world."
After the Khutba, Mu'izz had formally ordered Jawhar to set out for Raqadah. The Caliph had come as far there to bid Jawhar adieu. There the Caliph had ordered his prince to dismount and give Jawhar the salutation of departure, this had obliged the great officers of the kingdom to dismount also. Then Jawhar kissed the hand of al-Mu'izz and the hoof of his horse; and having mounted on his horse by the order of his master, he put the army in march. When al-Mu'izz returned to his palace, he sent to Jawhar, as a present, all the clothes which he had on, retaining only his drawers and seal ring.
On the 14th of the first Rabi 358 H. Feb., 969 C.E., Qaid Jawhar left for Egypt. lbn-e-Hani Andalusi, the poet of the Fatimids, had to say the following in his long Qasida which he had composed. He himself had seen the marching of the forces, in this way:-
"I saw with my own eyes more than what I had heard about. And what a day it was, that it was more dreadful and astonishing than the day of the resurrection. On the morning of that day, there appeared one garrison on the other, (due to marching of forces) which had hidden the sun rising at the time of its rising."
The condition of Egypt before the Conquest.
Egypt was under the rule of the lkhshids before the advent of Fatimids. The lkhshids had ruled from 323-358 A.H. and in 358 A.H.. the illustrious Jawhar had conquered Egypt and the other attached countries to the lkhshids dominion.
Muhammad lbn Tughj had founded the rule of the lkhshids in Egypt, after defeating the Tulunid dynasty. During Muhammad's rule, there was peace and prosperity prevailing in Egypt. Egypt was then nominally under the Abbasid supremacy. A number of times, the earlier Fatimid rulers of Maghrib had sent their forces to attack Egypt but the lkhshids had repulsed successfully. However. the Fatimids had also sent their Da'is to propagate Shiism in Egypt, which was welcomed by the lkhshids. After some time, the lkhshids had grown dissatisfied with the Abbasid over lordship and had changed to the Fatimid suzerainity by inserting the name of the Fatimid Caliph in their Friday Khutba. Moreover, the Abbasid Cali'phate was then growing weak in its control of distant territories.
In 334 A.H., Abul Misk Kafur, an Abbyssinian eunuch, bought earlier by Muhammad lkhshid, became protector of the minor lkhshid rulers Abu Qasim and Ali who succeeded their father. Kafur, gradually became the virtual ruler of the dynasty. Soon, the Abbasid Caliphs had recognised him as the ruler of Egypt, Syria and al Hijaz (Mecca and Madina) and he had reverted to the Abbasid Khutba also. All the same, Kafur had grown popular in Egypt. Unfortunately in the year 351 A.H., the river Nile had scarcity of water, which had resulted in a famine and pestilence there. Besides. Egypt had fallen into soaring prices and poor conditions. Moreover, the Qarmatians and Nabiyuns had invaded Kafur's territory, in which he had been unsuccessful in defending. There had grown much disorder and anarchy and the army had become dissatisfied. In 357 A. H., Kafur had died and was succeeded by a 12 years old Abul Fawaris Ahmed al-ikhshid. Under his rule, there had started an enmity between the Vazir Abu Ja'far In Furat and Yaqub ibn Killis, the treasurer of Egypt. In this dispute, Shariff Muslim, a great grandson of Hazrat lmam Hussain, who was living there in Egypt, had intervened in the dispute and thereby, Yaqub was released from the imprisonment of ibn-Furat. Yaqub had gone to al-Mu'izz and had informed him of the internal conditions of Egypt and requested al- Mu'izz that it was the right time to invade Egypt. Moreover, the Shia population of Egypt had also invited al-Mu'izz to rescue them.
The Earlier Fatimid Invasions of Egypt.
The Fatimid Caliphs had established themselves in the North Western Africa (al Maghrib) in the year 296 H. From the very beginning they had been anxious to extend their boundaries towards Egypt, Syria and al-Hijaz. The riches of Egypt had always attracted many predatory invaders, but the Fatimids had found these Eastern lands, a fruitful place for their Shiite propaganda. The first Fatimid Caliph Ubaidullah al-Mahdi (297-322 A.H.) had invaded Egypt thrice, that in the years 301 A.H.. 307 A.H., 309 A.H., 321 ,A.H. This last invasion had continued until the beginning of the reign of his successor al-Qaim ibn al-Mahdi (322-334 A.H.) The caliph Qaim's rule was almost parallelled to that of the Abbasid ruler al Mansur (324 - 334 A.H.). However, Qaim's reign was engaged in putting off the rebellion of Abu - Yazid in the Western Africa. This rebellion had continued in the reign of the 3rd Fatimid Caliph al Mansur bin al-Qaim (334-341 A.H.) In the year 355 A.H., the fourth Fatimid Caliph al-Mu'izz (341-365 A.H.) had sent his forces to attack Egypt. His forces had reached Wahat but Kafur Ikhshid had defended his country strongly and did not allow the Fatimid forces to enter Egypt. All these four invasions so far had proved unsuccessful, for Egypt at that time was strong enough to defend itself.
As we have already mentioned, by 357 A.H., the conditions of Egypt had changed completely. Besides. the Caliph al-Mu'izz was determined to conquer Egypt. He had a complete trust in the strength of Jawhar alone and of course he had made careful preparations personally to conquer Egypt, which was accomplished by Jawhar as-Siqilli.
The Conquest of Egypt.
With all his forces, Jawhar had set out for Barqah. The Caliph al-Mu'izz had written orders to his slave Aflah, the Governor of Barqah, that he should set out to meet Jawhar and kiss his hand. Aflah had offered one hundred thousand dinars to avoid performing that ceremony, but he was obliged to submit. Then Jawhar had directed his army towards Alexandria. , He had conquered it without much opposition. After entering the city, Jawhar had ordered his soldiers not to confront the citizens and checked them from creating clamour and devastation which is generally the habit of the conquering forces. Jawhar had given gifts and honours to his soldiers to make them indifferent to loots and war booties.
When the people of Fustat had learned the news of the fall of the Alexandria, a great agitation was caused by the news, and it was agreed, that the Vazir ibn al Furat should write to Jawhar to obtain peace and security for the lives and property of the inhabitants. They had also requested Shariff Muslim al-Hussaini to be their Ambassador and had obtained his consent, provided a number of citizens in a form of a Wafad (Group) should accompany him to see Jawhar. The Vazir had furnished them his conditions in writing for the truce and on Monday, 18th Rajab 358 A.H. (June 969 C.E.) the Wafad had set out to meet Jawhar, who had halted at a village called Taruja, near Alexandria. Wnen Shariff Muslim ' and his companions had arrived, they delivered their message to Jawhar, who had granted immediately, every demand and had confirmed his promise by a written treaty. The terms of the treaty are the original writings of Qaid Jawhar, which. reflect his sagacity and statesmanship. The treaty document which also has an historical significance, is partly translated here from ai-Maqrizi's description.
"I begin in the name of God, the merciful and kind. This document is from Jawhar al Katib - the Servant of Amir al-Mominin al-Mu'izz li-din-A'Ilah to the people of Egypt and its residents. Be it known that the advocates whom you had deputed to discuss with me the terms, have arrived. These gentlemen have informed that you citizens have demanded a peace treaty regarding your lives and property. In this connection, I have informed them of the orders of Amir al-Mominin, which he had issued. I have also informed them about my master Amir-ai-Mominin's kindness on your conditions. So be prayerful to God for His kindness and thank Him for his assistance and succour whatever is binding on you, be always firm in it and try to proceed with the obedience of Amir-al-Mominin and in this lies your safety, peace and pleasure. Be it known also that the Amir al-Mominin has sent his conquering forces to help you and defend you, for you had been, so far, tortured and subdued by the enemy who had only wanted to overpower you of your treasures and pleasures, and deprive you of your independence and, imprison you (Byzantines and the Qarmatians had tried to do so). Hence Amir al-Mominin has sent his conquering forces to defend you against this tyranny and help all those who cry for help and that person who has grieved to know this, had often shed tears and spent sleepless nights over your miseries, is my master Amir al-Mominin.
Qaid Jawhar magnanimously obliged the wafad of Fustat and granted them all that they had asked for. But when Jawhar's forces reached Fustat on the 17th Shaban 358 A.H. i.e. 6th of July 969 C.E., some citizens resisted. In the ensuing skirmish the Egyptians were totally defeated. Nevertheless Jawhar granted them a complete amnesty. Then the victorious Fatimid army, presenting a magnificent spectacle with its drums and banners, entered Fustat in accordance with the Caliph's prediction.
Qaid Jawhar did not quarter his troops in the crowded parts of the city. Instead he occupied the great plain to the north of Fustat. Here on the 6th of July,; 969 he drew the lines of the new city and on the very same night laid the foundation of the city of 'AI-Qahirah at-Mu'izziyah' (the conquering city of al-Mu'izz). Eventually it was abbreviated to al-Qahirah, which remains its name today. Europeans refer to it as 'le Caire', English speaking people as Cairo.
Jawhar had then ordered that the prayers for the Fatimids should be introduced in all the mosques of Misr and the name of the Fatimid Caliph at-Mu'izz was introduced in Khutbah.
Soon Jawhar, had written a despatch to his master al-Mu'izz, informing him of the conquest of Egypt. In this way, the power of lkhshids and the Abbasids had ended in Egypt. The occupation of Egypt was the first step of the Fatimids to spread their influence and power in Syria, Palestine and al-Hijaz. Regarding the foundation of the capital city of ai-Qahirah, we shall speak separately.
As we have mentioned that Syria was then under the lkhshid rulers. So Jawhar, soon after conquering Egypt, had sent some of his forces to conquer Syria in 358 A.H. Within a short-time this territory was brought under the control of the Fatimids but chaos and disquietedness had spread immediately. Taking the advantage of the situation, Oarmatians had attacked the country and murdered Fatimid soldiers and occupied the territory. Later on, Oarmatians from their base of Syria had attacked Misr in 361 A.H., but by then, Jawhar was able to defend his country and had warded off their attacks. After sometime Syria was brought under Fatimid control successfully.
Jawhar's Administration of Egypt.
After the conquest of Egypt, Jawhar had continued to superintend the affairs of the country for nearly 4 years, till the Caliph ai-Mu'izz had arrived in Egypt. During this period, Jawhar had definite policies which he had introduced. As we know, at the time of the conquest, many of the important posts in Government, were in the hands of Sunnis and Egyptians. Jawhar had tried to retain the old order to keep the work going. He had confirmed Ja'far ibn Furat on his post of the Vazir of Egypt. Even the Qadi of Egypt was allowed to retain his post. However, with his plans he had also appointed in every department some slkilled persons from among the Maghribis so that they could get familiar with the office work as well as to help defend his cause of the Shia religious propaganda. He had replaced Shia khutbah reciters in the mosques and had also appointed a Shia Qadi to prosecute Shia Law. The charge of Bait ul mal was given to a Shia. He himself used to hold court on every Sunday for the hearing of grievances of the people at which Ulemas, Qadis and a number of great doctors were invited whilst he himself gave judgements
At the time of the conquest, as we know, Egypt was passing through a period of famine and pestilence. Jawhar had taken precautions to check it. His master al-Mu'izz had sent provisions of grain and treasures to be given to the people. Jawhar, in order to administer, had introduced a Muhtasib System, that is, appointing a superintendent of weights to measure food provisions and to check the hoarding of the provision. It was included in the Muhtasib's responsibilities to keep an eye on the market rates, to bring about a balance in prices, check adulteration of food etc. This Muhtasib had a special place to sit in the market and listen complaints and investigate their wrongs. Later on police corps were kept under his control, to assist him to carry out his reforms.
He had introduced various agricultural methods, whereby people were encouraged to cultivate crops. He had also revalued the lands and had appointed the amils to collect taxes. The amounts of taxes had risen considerable and by the time Mu'izz had arrived in Egypt, the conditions had improved much.
The Muslim conquerors of Egypt had always considered it important after the conquest to construct their own capital city, a mosque etc. Before Jawhar, as we know, the city of Fustat (means camps) was founded by the first Muslim conqueror Umar-lbn al-A'as in 20 A.H. (640 C.E.) He had then built a mosque named Jamia Umrao, which survives even to-day. Asakar and Qattaa were two other cities which were founded later there on similar lines by other Muslim conquerors of Egypt. On 17th of Shaban 358 A.H., Jawhar as-Siqilli had entered Fustat and on its north side had encamped his forces and on the same night, he is reported to have laid the foundation stone of the capital city of al-Qahirah. Later he had also laid the foundation of a mosque Jamia Azhar, and a castle for his master al-Mu'izz. He had also planned a police quarter in the city and the quarters for his mighribi forces.
Regarding the foundation of the city and its name, there are various opinions given by different historians. Some are of the opinion that al-Mu'izz had planned the city before Jawhar's departure and had selected its name as expressed in his Khutbah at the time of Jawhar's departure for Egypt, for the word Qahirah means "One that overpowers"
The other opinion is that al-Mu'izz himself was interested in astronomy and that after coming to Egypt had consulted the particular hour of the foundation and had named it accordingly, for at the hour of the foundation the planet Mars was in the skies. Mars in Arabic is called al Qahirah.
And yet more, the most famous story, which is given by al-Maqrizi is that, Jawhar after reaching Fustat had given orders for a new city to be planned. That a suitable area had been marked off and all the more distant parts of it were connected with a bellpull, so that at the given moment at a sign from the astrologers work might begin everywhere at the same instant. The bell-rope was, however, pulled before the auspicious moment by a raven and the building began at a moment when the planet Mars, the Qahir al-Falak, governed the heavens. The same historian, however, while continuing his above story of the astrologers and the diggers does so in such a way that one is led to believe that the name of 'al-Qahirah' was actually given at the founding of the city. However, fact is that the city was named Mansuriya till The Caliph Al-Muizz himself had come to Egypt and then it was called Al-Qahira al-Muizziya. During the days of Qaid Jawhar, Qahirah was founded a rectangular plan. Its width was about 1200 metres and was spread on 340 miles acres of land, out of which 70 acres were occupied by the big palace. A largo area was kept as gardens and parks. Abol-ti 200 acres were distributed among army people and quarters for the maghribi forces.
Al-Qahirah was surrounded by a strong wall on all sides. Jawhar had constructed strong iron-gates, which had helped him to protect his city against the Oarmatian invasions. In its north was the gate of Nasr, in its south was the gate of Zwelia, on its east was the gate of Barqiya and the gate of Mahruq and on its west were the gates of Saadat, Faraj and Khokhal.
The population of the city was all mixed, but within 20 years time, it became all Shia. In fact the population had increased later on and many beautiful houses were built. When Sayydna Nasir Khursaw, an lsmaili Missionary had visited Cairo in 439 A.H. 1047, he had seen many storeyed buildings, shops, madrisas, taam khanas (sort of Restaurants), Hammams etc.
Qasaral-Mu'izziya, The Castle
On 18th Shaban 358 A.H. Jawhar had laid the foundation of the palace which he had constructed for his master. This castle like palace was constructed in an open space with the boundary wall and was on the Eastern side of the city. It was a spacious castle with many thousand rooms with golden doors. In front of the palace, there was a Sahan, an open space, where his forces used to parade on ceremonious days. From the palace, the view of,the city and its inhabitants were visible. There were gates from which the Caliph could easily teach his people. There was a family graveyard in the Sahan, where al-Mu'izz had buried the corpses of his forefathers which he had brought with himself from Qayarwan. In the palace, there were rooms with all the records of the government and also the stores of the arms, ammunition and treasures. Later on, some addition and changes were made in the castle. However, today this is all in ruins.
Jamia Azhar Mosque
In Egypt, there were mosques built by earlier Islamic rulers. such as Jamia Umarao, Jamia Asscar and Jamia Tulun. But Jawhar, soon after his conquest had felt the need of building a Shia Mosque which should be a central mosque of Egypt. So in 359 A.H. he had begun the construction of Jamia Azhar in his new citadel, which was completed in nearly 2 years and on 7th of Ramadhan, 361 A.H. (22nd June, 972 C.E.) this mosque was consecrated and opened for services. It was situated not far from the "Great Castle." Several other Fatimid rulers built additions to the mosque and endowed it with grants and foundations. The Caliph al-Aziz (365-386 A.H.) for example, made it an academy and erected an armshouse in it for 35 students.
Its name may be explained from the Fatimid origin, al-Zahra-being a title of Fatima, the daugh I ter of the Holy Prophet. Jamia Azhar was divided into two parts, one was fenced and part two was not fenced. The fenced part was called Maqsurah. It had 76 pillars of marble which faced each other. Other pillars were added later on. The roof was a made of strong wood. The unfenced plain was quite spacious and was used for prayers when a large number attended the prayers. All around this Sahan, there were rooms attached where students were given lessons.
Jawhar had constructed one Mahrab in the mosque. Later on 9 more Mahrabs were added. In the mosque there was a wooden pulpit from where the Fatimid Khutbah was recited. At the time of the construction there was only one minaret, later on 5 more were added, from where Azan was recited five times everyday. The timings of the prayer were observed from a sun dial from one of the walls of Sahan, which exists today.
In all other mosques of Egypt. the timings of a]-Azhar were followed. Caliph Mu'izz, after his arrival, used to recite Friday prayers there with all his retinue and forces. This tradition was followed by all other, Fatimid rulers. Later on when the Sunnis had conquered Egypt, al-Azhar had remained as a centre of prayers though paled a little. But it had always remained an educational institute of the middle ages. Today it is known as one of the oldest universities of the world. Its architecture depicts the Fatimid style of architecture of the time.
The Arrival of Mu'izz in Egypt
On 15th of Ramadhan 358 A.H. i.e. 2nd August 969 C.E.. al-Mu'izz had received the intelligence of the conquest of Egypt by his troops. Later on he had received dispatches from Jawhar containing an account of the conquest. After consolidating the empire, Jawhar had written repeatedly to his master requesting him, in the most earnest way, to come to Egypt. He had also informed that Egypt and Syria were brought into perfect order and that the Khutbah was offered up in his name throughout all those countries. This news had given al-Mu'izz the utmost satisfaction and after appointing Balkeen ibn Ziri ibn Menad as his lieutenant governor in lfrikiya. he had set out for Egypt. He had taken with him an immense sum of money and a number of very influential and powerful chiefs. He had with him Yaqub ibn Killis and Aslooj ibn Hasan. He had also his sons and relatives with him besides the coffins of his ancestors.
He had started from his capital city of lfrikiya on Monday, the 21st of Shawal 361. A.H. 5th August, 972 C.E. and had proceeded to Sardinia near Qayarwan. Here he had stopped for a while, in order to rally his followers, officers and all those who wanted to accompany him.
He then, had departed on Thursday, the 5th of Safar 362 A.H. 15th November, 972 C.E., and had continued his march, halting at certain places for a few days, and at other times, proceeding with great speed. On his way, he had passed through the island of Sardinia where he had stayed for a week. and then went to Barqah and had entered Alexandria on Saturday, the 23rd Shabban of the same year i.e. 29th May, 973 C.E.
Here in Alexandria, Abu Tahir, the Qadi of Fustat accompanied by the chief men of the country had come to welcome al-Mu'izz on his arrival there. After reaching Alexandria, Mu'izz had rested for a while and had received all those who had come to pay homage to him. He then had addressed a long Khutbah in which he had said that the purpose of his conquering Egypt was not of augmenting his dominions and his wealth, but it was of maintaining the true faith, protecting pilgrims and making war against the infidels. He had declared his resolution to dedicate his life in the exercise of good works and to act in conformity with the orders he had received from his ancestor, the holy prophet Muhammad. He then preached to them in a manner which drew tears from some of those who were present. After this he had arrayed the Qadi and other persons of the assembly in robes of honour and gave to each of them a horse (or a mule), as a present.
Towards the end of the month of Shabban, he had left Alexandria and on Saturday, the 2nd of Ramadhan (6th June 973 C.E.) he had stopped at Mina, which is the Wharf of Egypt opposite Giza, Qaid Jawhar went forth to meet his master and on drawing near him, dismounted from his horse and had kissed the ground before him. The Vazir Abu Ja'far ibn al-Furat, had also come to receive him. al-Mu'izz had stopped here for 3 days. During that time, the army had prepared for crossing the river to the wharf of Egypt, with their luggage.
Al-Mu'izz had crossed the Nile on Tuesday, the 5th of Ramadhan, or by other account on the 7th of Ramadhan 362 A.H. and had proceeded to al-Qahirah without entering Fustat (old Cairo), although the inhabitants had adorned the streets of the city, thinking he would visit it. On his arrival in the city, he went to the castle and entered a hall of audience where he fell prostrate in adoration of almighty God. He then said his namaz with two rakats and all those who were with him had followed the prayers.
The Darbar in al-Qahirah
Soon, all the citizens had gathered there in the great castle to pay their allegiance to the caliph. During this audience, Jawhar had remained on the right side of the Caliph. and had presented each and every Kabila for their allegiance. al-Mu'izz was seated on his golden throne and had received all the nobles, Qadis, Vazirs and Ulemas of his city. They all had presented Mu'izz with their gifts. Shariff Abu Ja'far Muslim had presented 11 baskets filled with many beautiful things. He had a robe made especially for the Caliph, from a particular yarn that only grew in Tunnis. This material had a special shine and was gilded with gold and silver. He had also presented a Turban of similar material and had requested the Caliph to put on the robe and the Turban, which he had done.
Jawhar, in his turn, had presented the best breed of 150 horses gilded with saddles and bridles of gold and diamonds. Many camels and ponies, saddled with precious stones boxes filled with all kinds of rare things of Egypt. Many swords studded with silver and golden caskets were presented. Then Mu'izz had given his lrshad and had released about 1000 of his prisoners and had presented robes and Khalat to all his nobles and officers. Mu'izz had then, bestowed Jawhar with a golden khalat and a turban and had tied a sword on his waist and had presented 20 horses with golden saddles, 50 thousand dinars and 2 lakhs of dirhams cash.
The Fatimid Da'wa in Egypt
As we know that, from the very beginning, the Fatimid Caliphs were trying to conquer Egypt. Although from military point of view their earlier invasion had remained unsuccessful, but their propaganda of the religion had found a flourishing ground. The population of Egypt, including- Kafur had always respected Ahle-Bait, the descendants of the holy prophet. ln fact, before the arrival of Qaid Jawhar in Egypt, there was a considerable number of Shia population in Egypt. The lsmaili Da'is had continued to propagate their mission among the Berbers and native Egyptians-coptics. Soon after the conquest of Egypt in 358 A.H., Jawhar had ordered that the Abbasid Khutbah to be discontinued and the Fatimid Khutbah introduced in all mosques. Besides he had coins inscribed with the name of al-Mu'izz, and had also discontinued the black colour of the Abbasids and had ordered white colour to be used. Jamia Umrao was painted inside in green colour and all mosques were made centres of Shiite preaching. The Shiite custom of reciting 5 Takbirs on the dead body was introduced. Jawhar had introduced a rank of Da'i ud-Du'at, the chief of the Da'is, with whose help he used to arrange for the propagation of the Fatimid religion. He had twelve Naqeeb (proclaimers) who used to assist him in the work. The Shia Islamic code was formed and the Jurists used to discuss details with Jawhar before promulgating the laws. Soon after his arrival, the Caliph lmam a]-Mu'izz took the charge of the government and appointed Jawhar as the head of the lsmaili Da'wa in Egypt. lmam treated Jawhar with great honour. Imam al-Mu'izz died on 15th Rabisani, 365 A.H. 20th December, 975 C.E. and was succeeded by his son Hazrat Imam al-Aziz bi'l-lah. Qaid Jawhar continued to serve his new master lmam al-Aziz.
Services of Jawhar under al-Aziz
During the reign of al-Aziz we find Jawhar is honoured again to the rank of the commander of the Fatimid forces. Soon after the death of al-Mu'izz. Syria had become a hot-bed of Oarmatians and Aftakin, a Turkish soldier. In 365 A.H., Aftakin had collected his forces and had joined with Hasan Qarmati and had occupied Syria.
Receiving this news, al-Aziz, had written a letter to Aftakin asking him to submit but the latter had replied that his sword would do the justice. Hence al-Aziz had called Jawhar in his court and had entrusted him with a large force to undertake the conquest of Syria. Soon Qaid Jawhar left with his forces and arrived in Ramia and had occupied it without any difficulty. Then he had directed himself towards Damascus. Meanwhile Hassan Qarmati and Aftakin had disappeared. Thus Jawhar had successfully occupied Damascus and had built a fortress and trenches to defend himself. However, after sometime Aftakin had reappeared with his enforcement and a fierce battle had followed in which Aftakin was defeated, and Jawhar retired towards Ascalan. Meanwhile Aftakin and Hassan Qarmati and other tribes had come out to give a battle to Jawhar. They arrived in Ascalan and had beseiged Jawhar from all sides. Considering the situation difficult Jawhar had entered into a treaty with Aftakin and had succeeded in gaining a guarantee of safe retreat. Whereupon Jawhar had gone to the Caliph al-Aziz in Egypt, who now undertook the direction of the operation in person in 368 A.H. Jawhar had commanded the advance guard in this campaign. A fierce battle had followed in which many were killed on both the sides.
At that time, the Fatimid forces had attacked the right wing of the Qarmatians; and Hassan and Aftakin were defeated badly. Hassan ran away but Aftakin was brought before aI-Aziz, who treated him very kindly and had taken him to Egypt, where he had bestowed a Khalat and other honours, Aftakin lived there till he died in 372 A.H.
Finally the power of Aftakin and Oarmatians was broken and Syria was brought under the control of the Fatimids which remained as a Fatimid territory for a long time.
In this encounter, Jawhar had commanded Aziz's forces. He had used his tactics to break the unity of Oarmatians with Aftakin and thereby had crushed them completely so that they never rose to power in Syria again, to disturb the Fatimid Caliphs.
The death of Jawahar and Conclusion
After coming back to Egypt, Jawhar retired to a very quiet life for he was then nearly 70 years old. He used to live in a small house and appeared less in the court. We hear no more of his military activities. He appeared to have passed the remainder of his life in comparative retirement, winning the esteem of the people by his liberality.
In the year 381 Jawhar had fallen ill. He was visited by the Caliph al-Aziz-bi'i-lah, who had sent a sum of 50 thousand dinars to him. However, he died on 20th of Zul Qada 381 A.H. 28th January, 922 C.E. The caliph's relatives had sent aromatics (used for embalming) and coffins etc, which was made of 70 threaded pieces of material. The Caliph al-Aziz himself had recited the Namaz-e-Janaza and he was buried in a big graveyard which is no more there. The tomb which survives to-day in the Northern part of al-Azhar University, is considered by many as Jawhar's tomb, but is in fact a grave of certain Turkish Mamluke by the name of Amir Jawhar Qanqabali. Jawhar as-Siqil li was over 80 years when he died. He had a son named Hussain, who was given a kuniyah of Abu Abdullah. He had inherited all those good qualities of his father, and was also called Qaid ibn Qaid. The Caliph al-Aziz had confered a Khalat to Hussain and had given him honour in his court.
In this way, Jawhar's great career came to an end. Jawhar was a great Katib, a well-experienced Qaid, a clever politician and a great administrator. With his death the greatest of the Fatimid General's life came to an end. It is said that there wasn't a poet at that time who would have composed verses to deplore his loss and celebrate his liberty Jawhar had founded the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt. There he had constructed al-Qahirah and al-Azhar. This was all because his master al-Mu'izz had trusted him and had given him all honour that was due. Qarmatians had nearly destroyed the Fatimid Calipate but it was the sagacity and the war skill of Jawhar, which had given a death blow to them. In Egypt to-day, there are many relics which bring back the memories of this great Qaid. The city of Qahirah al-Mu'izziya known as Cairo and the Jamia Azhar have survived till to-day. The city of Cairo, in those days had surpassed Baghdad and Cordova (of Spain, where Umayyads had established their independent Caliphate). Cairo had also become an intellectual centre of those days. Jawhar had introduced many reforms in Egypt and had started the propagation of Shiite cause very systematically and had succeeded in formalizing the rising empire of the Fatimids. The terms of the treaty are the only surviving examples of his understanding and knowledge of the time. In the world there are very few like him.
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