Religious Tolerance In The Fatimid Empire

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Throughout its 262 year long rule, the Fatimid Empire struggled through continuous changes in its policy due to the different systems and doctrines of its ruling Caliphates. The rise of the Fatimids and their coming to power was a result of their triumph over the Rustamid Dynasty in 909. A new ruling power meant drastic changes in the administration and its operations, which included the adaptation of ruling a Sunni majority by an Ismaili Shi’i minority. The investigation of religious tolerance during the Fatimid Era is significant in its historical context because it was a matter of continuous change, which depended on the Caliph and his regime.
To grasp the ideas and concepts that lay the foundations of the answer to the question of the extent
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Al-Hakim was coronated into power at the young age of 11 after his father, al-Muizz’s death. His upcoming to absolute power, surrounded by viziers, might have been one of the factors to his unusual and cruel reign. Religious tolerance during al-Hakim’s monarchy was somewhat non-existent. Evidence of this is his treatment of non-Ismailis as second-grade citizens, by constantly belittling them when he “forced Christians and Jews to wear black robes, ride only on donkeys and display when in baths a cross dangling from their necks, if Christians, and a sort of yoke with bells, if Jews.” These acts are of most significance when analyzing the extent of religious intolerance occurring during al-Hakim’s Caliphate. Unlike his father, al-Hakim was very keen on the idea of forced conversion of Sunnis, Ithna Ashar and non-Muslims into Ismailism as he was not content with passive acceptance. Religious intolerance in the Fatimid Empire seemed to have kept its concrete position even after al-Hakim’s mysterious disappearance and alleged death, as he was succeeded by his son al-Zahir. After al-Zahir succession, “the repression of Jews and Christians continued in a modified…show more content…
In the early periods of the Empire, al-Mahdi’s, the founder of the Fatimid Empire, policy included complete tolerance towards non-Ismailis thus he “made no attempt to force Ismaili practices on an unwilling populace.” His stand against the forced conversion of his people is a clear sign of how he “developed an inclusive and tolerant policy which allowed other interpretations of Islam to be practiced alongside the official Shi’i Ismaili interpretation.” His regime provided security to those under his rule, and the fact that he was the first of the Fatimid Caliphs provided people with a positive outlook on the new Empire’s policies and

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