A previous article tackled the Abbasid Caliph Al-MustazhirBillah (487-513 AH) (1094-1118 AD), who ruled the Abbasid state for twenty-four years which were filled with turmoil, conflicts and wars east and west, and the spread of the Batiniyya call; which mostly worsened the political and civil conditions all over the Abbasid state. As for Egypt at that time, Al-MustansirBillah died after a sixty-year period rule, was succeeded by his son Ahmed, who is nicknamed “Abu al-Qasim”, he is also known as Al-Musta’liBillah.
Al-Musta’liBillah (487- 495 AH) (1094- 1101 AD)
The sixth Fatimid Caliph of Egypt. He was pledged the caliphate at the age of twenty after the death of his fatherAl-MustansirBillah in 487 AH (1094 AD). Al-AfdalShahinsah Bin Badr Al-Gamali, the Commander of armies was the state affairs incharge at that time. Historians mention that Al-Mustansir entrusted his eldest son, Abu Mansour Nizar, with thecaliphate, however, Al-Mustansir, being attacked by illness, desired his son Nizar to take over the affairs of government, but Al-AfdalShahinsah slackened in carrying out the measures out of their hatred for each other; Historian Ibn al-Taghri mentions: “When Al-Mustansir fell ill, he wanted to assign the caliphate to Nizar, but Al-AfdalShahinsahignored it and procrastinated a day after another until Al-Mustansir died. This was because Al-Afdal hated Nizar, Al-Mustansir’s son, and the reason behind such hatred was that Nizar went out one day while his father was still alive and saw Al-Afdal on the back of a horse entering through one of the palace doors, so Nizar shouted at him saying: “Get down, you filthy Armenian!” As a result, Al-Afdal kept envy and enmity against him and planned to harm him, and since then both hated each other.”
Following the death of Al-Mustansir, Al-Afdal met with the princes and statesmen, agreed in consensus on appointing the younger brother Abu Al Qasim Ahmed, but Mahmoud bin MassalAllaki, who had been promised by Nizar to take over the ministry and armies instead of Al-Afdal, disagreed with them. Al-Afdal hurried to appoint Abu Al-Qasim Ahmed as a ruler after the latter had been pledged allegiance by Al-Mustansir’s sons: Ismail and Abdullah, as well as the countries’ rulers and chief men.
As for Nizar, he departed to Alexandria, which governor Aftkin knew about what happened, and Nizarpromised to entrust him the ministry; the governor and the Alexandrians pledged allegiance to Nizar and was nicknamed Al-Mustafa le Din Allah. Things went as such for one year, pervaded with battles between Nizar and Al-Afdal. Shams Al-Din Youssef bin Farghali speaks about these wars: “Al-Afdal went to Alexandria to besiege it; but was defeated by Aftkin. Returned to Cairo to reorganize his soldiers, Al-Afdal came back to Alexandria and fought its people, conquered it forcefully and killed its chief men, and captured Aftkin and IbnAmmar, the Judge of Alexandria.” Nizar too was arrested with Aftkin, they both were sent to Cairo and were killed there. But, Al-Hadi, the son of Nizar, departed with his followers to Middle Asia and were called “The Nizarians” So, a split occurred between those of “Al-Musta’li” and those of “Nizar”.
Besides divisions of the one family and disputes over ruling, Al-Musta’li’s era also witnessed the advance of the Franks to conquer the east in 490 AH (1097 AD), Nicaea in Istanbul was the first coastal city they captured, then they opened the forts of the paths until they reached the Syrian city Kafartab. In 491 AH (1098 AD), the Franks reached out to a number of countries, killed and captured thousands as mentioned by the historians. They fought Antioch and managed to conquer it, then Al-Maarra city; the rulers of the Levant gathered to confront the danger of the Franks. Some historians mention that Egypt did not participate in that war, and some of them – including Ibn al-Atheer – attribute this to the conflict between the Alawites and the Seljuk State that managed to seize the Levant. The disintegration among rulers and princes was the first reinforcing motive for the Franks in their war! The Franks advanced along the coast until they reached Bayt Al-Maqdis, where a fierce battle took place, ending with the Franks conquering Bayt Al-Maqdis. As mentioned earlier, the Abbasids were not able to counter the aggression or declare war to restore what they had lost as a result of the great strife among the Seljuk princes. As for Egypt… Stories in beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center13 October 2021