Abdullāh al-Mahdi Billah (873 – 4 March 934) (Arabic: أبو محمد عبد الله المهدي بالله), was the founder of the Ismaili Fatimid Caliphate, the only major Shi'a caliphate in Islam, and established Fatimid rule throughout much of North Africa, Hejaz, Palestine and the Levant.
عبد الله المهدي
Gold coin of Caliph al-Mahdi, Mahdiyya, 926 CE
|Caliph of the Fatimid Dynasty|
|Reign||November 909 – 3 April 934|
|Predecessor||None (caliphate founded)|
|Died||3 April 934 (aged 61)|
|Father||Husain (Rabi Abdullah)|
|Religion||Ismaili Shia Islam|
At the beginning of the Abbasid realm in Baghdad, the Alids faced severe persecution by the ruling party as they were a direct threat to the Abbasid Caliphate. Owing to the political complexities, the forefathers of Imam Abdullah opted to conceal themselves which helped them maintain the Dawa's existence. As a result, these Imams travelled towards the Iranian Plateau to distance themselves from the epicentre of their political difficulties. Al Mahdi's father, Imam al Husain al Mastoor returned in secrecy to Syria and began to control the Dawa's affairs from there in complete concealment. He sent two Da'is of great calibre, Abul Qasim and Abu 'Abdullah Al-Husayn Al-Shi'i to Yemen and North Africa, respectively, to build the foundation for what was to later be the Fatimid Caliphate.
Imam al Husain al Mastoor died soon after the birth of his son, Al Mahdi. A trustworthy system of informers helped Al Mahdi to be updated on developments which were taking place across North Africa which was to be the launching pad of his Empire.
After establishing himself as the first Imam of the Fatimid dynasty, Al Mahdi claimed to have genealogic origins dating as far back as Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, through Husayn, Fatimah's son, and Ismail.
Al Mahdi established his headquarters at Salamiyah in western Syria before later travelling to western North Africa, which at the time was under Aghlabid rule, following the propagandist success of his chief da'i', Abu 'Abdullah Al-Husayn Al-Shi'i. Al-Shi'i, along with laying claim to being the precursor to the Mahdi, was instrumental in sowing the seeds of sedition among the Berber tribes of North Africa, specifically the Kutamah tribe in Algeria.
It was Al-Shi'i's success which was the signal to Al Mahdi to set off from Salamyah disguised as a merchant. In 905 he started proselytising. However, he was captured by the Aghlabid ruler Ziyadat-Allah due to his Ismaili beliefs and thrown into a dungeon in Sijilmasa. In early 909 Al-Shi'i sent a large expedition force to rescue the Mahdi, conquering the Khariji state of Tahert on its way there. After gaining his freedom, Al Mahdi became the leader of the growing state and assumed the position of imam and caliph. Al Mahdi then led the Kutama Berbers who captured the cities of Qairawan and Raqqada. By March 909, the Aghlabid Dynasty had been overthrown and replaced with the Fatimids. As a result, the last stronghold of Sunni Islam in North Africa was removed from the region.
Al-Mahdi established himself at the former Aghlabid residence at Raqqada, Al-Qayrawan (in what is now Tunisia). After that his power grew. At the time of his death he had extended his reign over the Maghreb, but campaigns into Egypt (in 914–915 and 919–921) faltered against the resistance of the Abbasids, with heavy casualties.
Al-Mahdi founded the capital of his empire, Al-Mahdiyyah, on the Tunisian coast sixteen miles south-east of Al-Qayrawan, which he named after himself. The city was located on a peninsula on an artificial platform "reclaimed from the sea", as mentioned by the Andalusian geographer Al-Bakri. The Great mosque of Mahdia was built in 916 on the southern side of the peninsula. Al-Mahdi took up residence there in 920.
In 922 the Bulgarian emperor Simeon I sent envoys to al-Mahdi to propose a joined attack on the Byzantine capital Constantinople with the Bulgarians providing a large land army, and the Arabs — a navy. It was proposed that all spoils would be divided equally, the Bulgarians would keep Constantinople and the Fatimids would gain the Byzantine territories in Sicily and South Italy. As a result of the Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927, by 922 the Bulgarians controlled almost the whole Balkan peninsula but Simeon I's main objective to capture Constantinople remained out of his reach because he lacked a navy. Although the Byzantines and the Fatimids had concluded a peace treaty in 914, since 918 the Fatimids had renewed their attacks on the Italian coast.
Al-Mahdi accepted the proposal and sent back his own emissaries to conclude the agreement. On the way home the ship was captured by the Byzantines near the Calabrian coast and the envoys of both countries were sent to Constantinople. When the Byzantine emperor Romanos I learned about the secret negotiations, the Bulgarians were imprisoned, while the Arab envoys were allowed to return to Al-Mahdiyyah with rich gifts for the caliph. The Byzantines then sent their own embassy to North Africa to outbid Simeon I and eventually the Fatimids agreed not to aid Bulgaria.
After his death, Al-Mahdi was succeeded by his son, Abu Al-Qasim Muhammad Al-Qaim, who continued his expansionist policy.
In a letter sent to the Ismāʿīlī community in Yemen by Abd Allah al-Mahdi Billah, which was reproduced by Ja'far bin Mansūr al-Yemen, ʿAbd Allāh al-Aftah ibn Jaʿfar al-Sadiq was referred as Sāhib al-Haqq or the legitimate successor of Imām Jaʿfar al-Sadiq. According to ʿAbd Allāh al-Mahdi bi'l-Lāh, ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ja'far had called himself Ismāʿīl ibn Jaʿfar for the sake of taqiyya, and each of his successors had assumed the name Muhammad. ʿAbd Allāh al-Mahdi Billah explains the genealogy of the Fatimid caliphs and he claims Fatimid ancestry by declaring himself to be ʿAli ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿAbadullāh ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Jaʿfar al-Sadiq. But the Imamah (Ismaili doctrine) had later been formulated in a different manner since ʿAbd Allāh's explanation of his ancestry was not accepted by his successors.:108
According to Bernard Lewis there were two lines of Mustawda‘ - Qaddāḥid Trustee Imāms and Mustaqarr - Alid Imāms; Hamdani and de Blois constructed two parallel lines of descandants of Jāʿfar al-Sādiq.:115 Maymūn Al-Qaddāḥ was the chief da'i and the guardian of Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘il and ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maymūn Al-Qaddāḥ who succeeded his father as the chief da'i in trust and bequeathed it to his own descendants and to ʿUbayd Allāh al-Mahdi bi'l-Lāh. These were Mustawda‘ or Qaddāḥid Trustee Imāms. There was a second line of Hidden or Mustaqarr Alid Imāms starting with Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘il and ending with the second Fatimid caliph Al-Qa'im Bi-Amrillah.
Abdullah al-Mahdi BillahBorn: 873 Died: 934
|New title|| Caliph of the Fatimid Dynasty
al-Qa'im bi-Amr Allah
Year 873 (DCCCLXXIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.909
Year 909 (CMIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.910s
The 910s decade ran from January 1, 910, to December 31, 919.913
Year 913 (CMXIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.916
Year 916 (CMXVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.934
Year 934 (CMXXXIV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.Abdullah al-Aftah
Abdullah al-Aftah ibn Ja'far al-Sadiq (d.766 CE / 149 A.H.) was the eldest surviving son of Ja'far al-Sadiq (after al-Sadiq’s death) and the full-brother of Isma'il ibn Jafar. Abdullah’s title "al-Aftah" derives from the Arabic words "aftah al-ra’s" (broad-headed) or "aftah al-rijlayn" (broad-footed) used to describe his appearance.Abu Abdallah al-Shi'i
Abu Abdallah al-Husayn ibn Ahmad ibn Zakariyya al-Shi'i (Arabic: ابو عبد الله الشيعي, Abū ʿAbd Allāh ash-Shi'ī; died 28 February 911) was a Da'i for the Isma'ilis in Yemen and North Africa, mainly active among the Kutama Berbers, whose teachings and conquest of Ifriqiya gave rise to the Fatimid Caliphate.
He was born in Kufa in Iraq (or Sanaa, according to some accounts) and was active in the administration of the Abbasid Caliphate, before he began to associate with Ismaili teachers. At first he proselytised under the guidance of Ibn Hawshab in Yemen and Mecca.
During a pilgrimage to Mecca in 279 A.H./892 CE, he met some Kutama Berbers that boasted of their independence and autonomy from the Aghlabids. Abu 'Abdullah sensed a chance and decided to follow their invitation to the Maghrib, where he arrived in 280/893. After successfully preaching the Ismaili doctrine among the Kutama Sanhajas (known today as Kabyles), he was able to form a powerful army consisting of Berber peasants. He began conquering the cities of Ifriqiya up to the point where he finally took over ar-Raqqada, the palace city of the Aghlabids near Kairuan, in 909.
All this had been done by him to prepare for the appearance of Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah, the imam-caliph of the Fatimids. Al-Mahdi was rescued from a prison in Sijilmasa (present-day Morocco) and proclaimed as caliph, ruling from the former residence of the Aghlabids.
Al-Shi'i had hoped that al-Mahdi would be a spiritual leader, and leave the administration of secular affairs to him,his brother al Hasan instigated him to overthrow Imam Al Mahdi Billah but he was unsuccessful. After disclosing the plot against al-Mahdi by the Kutama Berber commander Ghazwiyya, who then assassinated Abu abdallah on February 911.Imam Mehdi then prayed on his Janaza and forgave him while praying lanat for his brother.Book of the Highest Initiation
The Book of the Highest Initiation (also known as “The Book of the Policy and the Highest Initiation” - Arabic: “Kitab as-Siyasa wa’l-Balagh al-Akhbar”) is a text that falsely claims to be of Ismaili origin and is wrongfully attributed to ‘Ubayd Allah, or Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah, the first Fatimid Caliph-Imam. The work is a false account of Ismaili initiation and was written with the intent of denigrating Ismaili beliefs and practices. It is included in the polemic work of the 10th-century anti-Ismaili writer Akhu Muhsin.Da'a'im al-Islam
Da'a'im al-Islam (Arabic: دعائم الإسلام) is an Ismaili Shia Islam Muslim book of jurisprudence.The book was written by Al-Qadi al-Nu'man. He served as da'i of four imams (from Ismaili 11th Imam Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah to 14th Imam Al-Aziz Billah the first four Fatimid caliphs of Egypt). The book emphasizes what importance Islam has given to manners and etiquette along with Ibadah, the worship of God, citing references of first four Fatimid imams and earlier Shia imams, Muhammad al-Baqir and Jafar-as-Sadiq.Subsequent Fatimid imams and caliphs and Ismaili dai's have relied on Da'a'im-ul-Islam'. The 16th Fatimid imam - Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (996-1021) ordered his da'i, Harun bin Mohammed in Yemen, to give decisions in light of Da'a'im al-Islam only.List of 10th-century religious leaders
List of 9th-century religious leaders - List of 11th-century religious leaders - Lists of religious leaders by centuryThis is a list of the top-level leaders for religious groups with at least 50,000 adherents, and that led anytime from January 1, 901, to December 31, 1000. It should likewise only name leaders listed on other articles and lists.List of 9th-century religious leaders
List of 8th-century religious leaders - List of 10th-century religious leaders - Lists of religious leaders by centuryThis is a list of the top-level leaders for religious groups with at least 50,000 adherents, and that led anytime from January 1, 801, to December 31, 900. It should likewise only name leaders listed on other articles and lists.List of Mahdi claimants
In Muslim eschatology, the Mahdi is a Messianic figure who, it is believed, will appear on Earth before the Day of Judgment, and will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny. People claiming to be the Mahdi have appeared across the Muslim world – in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East – and throughout history since the birth of Islam (AD 610).
A claimant Mahdi can wield great temporal, as well as spiritual, power: claimant Mahdis have founded states (e.g. the late 19th-century Mahdiyah in Sudan), as well as religions and sects (e.g. Bábism, or the Ahmadiyya movement). The continued relevance of the Mahdi doctrine in the Muslim world was most recently emphasised during the 1979 seizing of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, by at least 200 militants led by Juhayman al-Otaibi, who had declared his brother-in-law, Muhammad bin abd Allah al-Qahtani, the Mahdi.Mahdia (disambiguation)
Mahdia is a city in Tunisia.
Mahdia may also refer to:
Mahdia Governorate in Tunisia
History of Mahdist Sudan
Mehdya, a city in MoroccoMahdiyya or al-Mahdiyya may refer to:
The Fatimid caliphate of Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah (909–934)
Mahdia, Tunisian coastal city and former center of the Fatimid caliphate
Mahdist Sudan (1885–1899)Qarmatians
The Qarmatians (Arabic: قرامطة, translit. Qarāmiṭa; also transliterated Carmathians, Qarmathians, Karmathians) were a syncretic branch of Sevener Ismaili Shia Islam that combined elements of Zoroastrianism. They were centered in al-Hasa (Eastern Arabia), where they worked to create a religious utopian republic in 899 CE. They are most known for their revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate. Mecca was sacked by the sect’s leader, Abu Tahir al-Jannabi, outraging the Muslim world, particularly with their theft of the Black Stone and desecration of the Zamzam Well with corpses during the Hajj season of 930 CE.Radi Abdullah
ʿAbdullāh ar-Raḍī, (actual name Abu ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn Ismāʿīl (Arabic: ﺍلحسين بن أحمد بن عبد اللّه بن محمد بن إسماعيل; born 219 AH, died 268AH or 881 AD in Askar, Syria; Imamate: 225-268AH) surnamed al-Raḍī/al-Zakī) is the tenth Isma'ili Imam. He is successor to the ninth Imam, Muhammad at-Taqi (Ahmed ibn Abadullah), and the father of Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah, the Imam who founded the Fatimid Caliphate.
The eighth to tenth Isma'ili Imams were hidden from the public because of threats from the Abbasid Caliphate and were known by nicknames. However, the Dawoodi Bohra in their religious text, Taqqarub, claim to have the true names of all 21 imams in sequence, including those of the hidden Imams: the eighth Imam Ahmad al-Wafi (Abadullah), the ninth Imam Muhammad at-Taqi, and the tenth Imam, Raḍī Abdullah.Raqqada
Raqqāda (Arabic: رقّادة) is the site of the second capital, in Tunisia of the 9th-century dynasty of Aghlabids, located about ten kilometers southwest of Kairouan, Tunisia. The site now houses the National Museum of Islamic Art.Salamiyah
Salamiyah (Arabic: سلمية Salamīya) is a city and district in western Syria, in the Hama Governorate. It is located 33 kilometres (21 miles) southeast of Hama, 45 kilometres (28 miles) northeast of Homs. The city is nicknamed the "mother of Cairo" because it was the birthplace of the second Fatimid Caliph Muhammad al-Qaim Bi-Amrillah, whose dynasty would eventually establish the city of Cairo, and the early headquarters of his father Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah who founded the Fatimid Caliphate. The city is an important center of the Shi'ite Nizari Isma'ili and Taiyabi Isma'ili Muslim schools and also the birthplace of poet Muhammad al-Maghut. The population of the city is 66,724 (2004 census).Shia Islam in Algeria
Shia Islam in Algeria is composed of minority Shia Muslim community of Algeria.
Part of a series on Shīa Islam
Branches / sects
States / region
|The genealogy of the Fatimid caliphs according to Abu Muḥammad ʿAlī / ʿAbd Allāh al-Mahdi bi'l-Lāh|
|The genealogy of the Fatimid caliphs according to Bernard Lewis, Hamdani, de Blois, and ʿUbayd Allāh al-Mahdi bi'l-Lāh|