XI.- XII. yüzyıllarda (1040-1171) Selçuklu-Fatimi ilişkileri
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The Ismaili movement is based on a pre-lslamic model of Iranian origin. The role of the mahdi (which has been interpreted by some scholars in such a way that the origins of the mahdi-idea, being of course Iranian, and Isfahan, where this idea came to the surface first, always had been associated with the coming of a new Iranian dynasty overthrowing the Abbasid (Arab) caliphate) within this movement has been the aim of many a criticism; according to the teachings of the sect, the mahdi does not bring a new religion but returns the present-day Islam to its original, paradisical conditions; according to that the Islamic law will also lose its function and validity, and will be abrogated. In order to spread this new belief, border areas of the Islamic world were chosen; propaganda was made among those groups having no or only loosely knit ties with the official (sunni) version of Islam. In the earliest times, especially two regions were of importance for missionary activities, namely the province of Daylam on the borders of the Caspian Sea and the marshes of Southern Irak; two other important mission areas were the Gulf coast and the Yemen. The success of the missionaries was due to the fact that the masses were subjugated by the rulers, in North-Africa as well as in Irak. This missionary activity to spread the Ismaili faith has often been compared with the Abbasid propaganda in Khorasan which led to the downfall of the Omayyads; even the title of da'i already appears in the Abbasid mission in Khorasan. We see that especially in North-Africa the success of the Fatimid state rests solely on the activities of the missionaries who are working independently, only bound in their orders to the imam (of time). The da'i is in that way able to develop himself into some sort of (limited) religious authority, treating affairs according to his own interpretation. But from the earliest times on we observe schisms in the movement : the first one concerning the separation of the Carmathians from the Ismaili sect, around the year 900 A.D.; this schism had its origin in a different interpretation about the existence in/or hiding of Muhammad b. Ismail, the grandson of Ca'far b. Sadık, who gave the sect its name; he was considered to be the mahdi appearing at the end of time. Later on in Ismaili history we see more schisms to come; after the death of the 8. Fatimid caliph al-Mustansir, the question arose who was tobecome his successor : his eldest son, Nizar, or his younger son, Ahmad; the latter was favoured by the vizier al-Afdal to whose influence Ahmad owed his succession to the throne under the name of al-Musta'li. After the murder of the caliph al-Amir, his son at-Tayyib, who went into hiding, was recognized by the Yemenite community only; in Egypt, a cousin of al-Amir, al-Hafiz, came to power (the fact that a cousin was able to exercise his influence to become caliph met at first with heavy opposition; later on it was argued that AN, as successor to the prophet Muhammad, was his cousin). From that moment on the actual rule of the Fatimids was confined to Egyptian lands only, the dynasty having lost its grip of power over most regions being won over to the Fatimid cause at the beginning. Fatimids and Buyids were, in contrast to their common beliefs, political enemies; therefore the Fatimid cause was never actually supported by the Buyids, although some minor advances were made on both sides in order to prevent a growing Turkish influence on the Abbasid caliph which made itself felt very soon after the Turks under the leadership of Tuğril Bey had been advancing towards Baghdad. The all-important role the da'i al-Mu'ayyad played as intermediator between Fatimids and Buyids may not be overlooked, but nonetheless in the end his cause was lost, and Shiite beliefs were again for a long time suppressed all over the Islamic world. Also the fact that among the North-African Berber tribes no institution existed allowing for a furthering and deepening of Shiite beliefs among those peoples is an important factor concerning the vanishing of Shiite creeds on African soil soon after the Fatimids left for Egypt and delegated the power to the Berber tribe of Sanhaca, in this way upholding the Fatimid state in North- Africa until the middle of the XI. century. The conquest of Egypt has to be considered as a logical result arising out of the aim of the Fatimids to convert all the Islamic world to the Shiite cause. During this period of conquest the weakening of the Abbasid caliphate was all-important because it probably prevented, after the death of Kafur and the break-down of Ikhshidid power in Egypt, the sending of new governors by the Abbasid caliph to rule over Egypt; thus we can speak of a power vacuum in the lands of the Nile. But the rich ressources of the country, too, have to be considered as a strategical point. The bringing-down of the Abbasid caliphate (being aimed at by both Fatimids and Carmathians), was probably made easier from Egypt, being nearer to the Islamic mainlands than the far region of North-Africa. At that time, the Abbasid caliphate was also weakenedby the foundation of many small Arab principalities (i.e. tribal foundations) in Mesopotamia, among which we have to point out the Shiite Hamdanids and their role they were playing as a strong regional force in Aleppo and Mossul for more than 150 years. The conquest of Syria and Palestine was considered to be a necessity for the protection of the Fatimid state against the Abbasid caliphate, but a conquest of Syria also meant to be even more near to Baghdad, the final aim for the Fatimids before they could be able to think of a conquest of Constantinople. From time to time revolts arose on Syrian soil, trying to get rid of Fatimid rule, but until the advance of the Turks and their final settlement in the area towards the end of the XI. century these revolts could always be suppressed. According to several of the sources, the downfall of the Fatimid empire was in the main the result of three factors : the first one concerns the actual delegation of power to the viziers which began during the reign of al- Mustansir (1036-94) who, following a series of revolts arising in the country and an ever-growing discontent of the population, was forced to call the governor of Akka, Badr al-Cemali, to his help in 1074 and conferred upon him the title of vizier. The wide powers which this function gave to its bearer were later misused by the son of Badr, al-Afdal, who tactically took the power to reign out of the hands of the caliph and was ruling according to his own will, as did ail the later viziers until the end of the dynasty. The second factor shakening the foundations of the Fatimid state were the crusaders. The crusading forces, after having recognized the weakness of the Fatimids, were trying several times to conquer the lands on the Nile, but without success; due to the actions of Amalrich I., king of Jerusalem, the last caliph al-Adid was forced to ask Nur ad-din for assistance, thus enabling the Zengids and later the Ayyubids to place themselves on Egyptian soil and finally put an end to Fatimid power. The third factor is, according to most historians, the frequent change of viziers, contributing to political instability of the country and rendering it impossible to govern. According to the doctrine and concept of the Ismaili imamate, the function of vizier is foreseen nowhere in the hierarchy of a state governed by an imam-caliph, the vizier being a purely worldly function. The Nizari branch of the Ismailis under the leadership of Hasan as- Sabbah were a group of people spreading fear in their surroundings : fear because they were assassinating persons of Sunni faith, and fear alsobecause they were planning revolutionary actions which, would it have come to the point of realisation, would have brought down the other states of the Near East. Besides, a destroying of the Islamic creed and a return to old Iranian religions as well were expected from them. The state of the Nizaris has nonetheless to be considered as bearing Islamic attributes; that is why a centralisation of authority was aimed at. The Nizaris at all time formed a group against the outside world, and the feeling of group solidarity was highly developped. The founding of madrasas has to be valued as a counter-offensive to these movements, trying to beat Ismailism with its own weapons. The first of this kind was the Nizamiyye, opened in Baghdad in the year 1067, following Shafiite rites. Philosophy was officially banned because it was, according to the Sunni view, the tool used by the Ismailis to undermine Islam. The Ismailis in Iran were able to hold on to their position until the Mongols under the leadership of Hülagü dispersed them after 1256. The break-down of the Fatimid empire in the year 1171 was a result of all the weaknesses and inner disturbances as well as of outer pressures. From the moment Salah ad-din took over as nominal ruler and governed Egypt in the name of Nur ad-din, the so long hoped-for unity of Islam in its Sunni form was finally reached. After the Fatimids were wiped away, no other independent state of Shiite creed was able to establish itself in the Near East again, except for Twelver-Shii Iran which saw its origins in the year 1501 A.D. under shah Ismail I.