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The Fatimids-An Empire of Faith

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Published on Sep 14, 2013

The Fatimid Caliphate (Arabic: الفاطميون, al-Fāṭimiyyūn) was the fourth Islamic caliphate. Its sovereignty spanned a large area of North Africa, from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. Originally based in Tunisia, the dynasty ruled across the Mediterranean coast of Africa and ultimately made Egypt the center of the caliphate. At its height, the caliphate included in addition to Egypt varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz.
The Fatimids were mainly descended from Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad. The Fatimid state took shape among the Berber Kutama, the people of Algeria. In 909 Fatimid established the Tunisian city of Mahdia as their capital. In 948 they shifted their capital to Al-Mansuriya. In 969 they conquered Egypt and built the city of Cairo, which became the capital of the caliphate, and Egypt became the political, cultural, and religious centre of the state.
The ruling elite of the state belonged to the Ismaili branch of Shi'ism, as were the leaders of the dynasty. They are also part of the chain of holders of the office of Caliph, as recognized by orthodox Muslims. Therefore, this constitutes a rare period in history in which the descendants of Ali via the daughter of the prophet, Fatimah (hence the name Fatimid), and the Caliphate were united to any degree, except for the final period of the Rashidun Caliphate under Ali himself. The term Fatimite is sometimes used to refer to citizens of the caliphate.
The caliphate often exercised a great degree of religious tolerance towards non-Ismaili sects of Islam as well as towards Jews, Maltese Christians, and Coptic Christians.[3] The Fatimid caliphate was also distinguished by the central role of Berbers in its initial establishment and development especially on military and political levels.

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