The Fatimid dynasty is originating in Ifriqyya (current Tunisia) and is claimed of an extremist fraction of the Shiism, the ismaelism.
From the death of Jafar Al Sadiq into 765, the Shiits divide into two fractions. The elder son, Ismael, died before his father whereas he of it was the spiritual heir. The rumour which he did not die but simply not occulted starts to run. An occulted Imam is, according to the tradition, the Mahdi (that which one awaits the return). Holding of this option will become the septimians Shiits(by reference to the seventh occulted Imam) or Ismaelians. The partisans of the other wire, Musa Qazam, refute screening. They are in a majority. They will be qualified, later, the duodecimians Shiits(reference made to the twelfth Imam).
One century after the death of Ismael, appears Muhammad who claims to be his son and to have lived hidden. From this moment he takes the head of Ismaelians. In 899, at Salamyya in Syria, Obayd Allah presents themselves as being the grandson of Muhammad and claims with the direction of the movement. A scission occurs. Fatimids (reference to Fatima they claim to be the descendants) recognize Obayd Allah but others reject him. They are named Qarmats, which sends secretly throughout the Moslem world of the preachers who hide (du’at). They are very effective, in particular in towns.
During this time, Fatimids don’t remain inactive. Obayd Allah takes refuge in Ifriqyya. He is stopped on order of the local governor depend on the reigning dynasty, the Aghlabids. Obayd does not remain a long time in prison. He is released from force by a fatimid emissary coming from Yemen, which sympathized with Berber Kutama met during the pilgrimage of Mecca.
Consequently, the events precipitate. In 910, Aghlabides are reversed. Obayd proclaims Emir of believing and Mahdi. He reigns on Ifriqyya until 934. His son Al Qalim succeeds to him and reigns until 945 in his capital, Qayrouan. The capacity stabilizes the area. Kutamas are sedentarized and support Fatimids.
About at the same time the caliphate of Cordoue in Andalousia.
Fatimids don’t hide their intention to conquer Baghdad held by the Abbasids. The conquest of Egypt is a necessary stage for the realization of this project. Several attempts take place. In 919, the town of Alexandria is taken. The decisive victory will occur into 969. Fatimids will be able to join the populations of the delta of the Nile by providing food whereas Egypt passes through a serious economic crisis.
Egypt is directed by a governor of Turkish extraction (Irchidid). After his death, Kafur takes the reins of the state. He’s a freed Ethiopian. He assumes the responsibility for the capacity while waiting for that the son of the former governor can control the power. Kafur dies into 968. The political situation of Egypt becomes unstable. A regent, governor of Syria and Palestine, are named to direct temporarily the country but the disorders in Syria prevent him from taking its new functions. The east of Egypt is in prey with the competition of the factions, in particular between the Irchidid and Nubian armies. Fatimids benefit from ambient chaos to infiltrate spies and agitators in Fustat, the founded Egyptian capital at the time of the Arab conquest. Lampoons anti-Abbasids start to circulate. The capacity of Baghdad is declared illegitimate by referring to the ousting of the partisans of `Ali (Alids) by the Abbasids. The ancestor of the Abbasids, Abbas, is even blamed. The agitators condemn the corruption of the court of Baghdad and reproach to the imperial leaders to have given up the jihad.
Fatimids decide to attack. The attack is done by sea and ground. The army of the general Jawhar, a former slave, camps on the plate of Guizeh. An agreement is made between the civil Egyptians and Fatimids. Jawhar accepts the “Aman”, i.e. the safeguard of the lives and the goods of overcome. He accepts, moreover, the maintenance of the civils servant and the religious schools of malikit and safihit obedience . The winners give up “the ismaelisation” of the Egyptian society.
The Egyptian soldiers refuse the Aman and want to fight. A riot bursts in Fustat. The Aman is broken and the attacks are launched. The Egyptian army is swept in 969.
At once, Jawhar decides the creation of Al Qahira (Cairo, which means the Victorious one) which will be the new capital. The victorious rallyings in Fatimids multiply. The civils servant are left in place but often doubled by civils servant resulting from the rows of the winners. Contrary to Fustat, the remainder of the country resists. The repression is wild. Benefitting from this confusion, a qarmat revolt bursts into 971. A coalition of Syrians sunnits, qarmats and Turkish hirchidids attack the young fatimid power. The attackers reach Cairo but they are pushed back. Much Qarmats settles in the delta and is raised again in 974.
In 975, Al Aziz is Caliph-Imam of Egypt. He will reign until 996. Little by little the army is reorganized but it is the center of tensions between the Turks and the Nubians which come from there to be fought in 1066. The Turks carry it the following year and their force starts to become a threat for the caliphate, so much so that the Caliph calls upon the governor of Palestine to take again in hand the government. Badi Al Jamali, of Armenian origin, arrives with a militia. The order is restored. Al Jamali becomes Vizier and chief of the army.
The university of Al Azhar is created. It becomes a center of teaching of the ismaelism.
Between 996 and 1021, the Caliph Al Hakim launches out in a policy of persecution against the no-ismaelians. He seems to be very influenced by a close relation, Hamza Al Darazi which goes until suggesting with the Caliph who he is of divine origin! One man reports that Al Darazi entered, one day, with horse in a mosque and obliged the readers of Coran to read a text proclaiming that Al Hakim was God! Riots end up bursting. Al Darazi takes refuge in Syria and spreads his ideas there. The companions will become the Druzes.
As for Al Hakim, he is assassinated whereas he walked the night covered of a disguise.
In 1094, after the death of Caliph Al Mustansir, his two sons, Nizar and Al Must`Ali dispute the succession. Nizar is imprisoned and carried out. His partisans, the Nizarits, have left Egypt and join their companions cut off in the south from the Caspian Sea in the fortress named Alamut (History of Hassan Ibn Sabbah). For two years, a series of political assassinations has been ordered by Hassan ibn Sabbah. The authors of these murders are famous “the Assassins”.
Anarchy will lead the Vizier to call upon an external army. Nur Al Din, the son of Zendgui, arrives to Egypt and seizes the power in 1171. The Fatimid Caliphate is destroyed. Salah Ad Din (Saladin), son of a Kurdish governor of Tikrit, restores the authority of the Abbassid and sunnit power in Egypt by marrying the widow of Nur Al Din. Consequently the new leader will undertake the war intended to drive back the Frank ones out of Palestine and Syria.