In the previous article we talked about Pope Zacharias and how he was thrown with one of the monks to the lions which didn’t harm them. In addition to the persecutions that lasted for 9 years filled with sorrow, distress, hardships and demolishing churches until the persecutions against Christians stopped.
Pope Zacharias cared for reconstruction of the demolished churches until his death in 1032 AD, which was during the reign of Az-Zahir the Caliph son of Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah.
Az-Zahir the Caliph (411-427 AH) (1021-1036 AD)
He was Abu’l Hasan Ali the son of Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah the Fatimid and his title was Az-Zahir and he was the fourth Fatimid Caliph to rule Egypt.
He took over the rule after his father Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah disappeared and murdered in 411 AH (1021 AD).
As Ibn Taghribirdi mentioned that Sitt Al-Mulk, the sister of Al-Hakim Bi Amr Allah, was the one who managed all the matters of the rule while he was sixteen years old: “On the seventh day after Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah disappeared, She made Abu’l Hasan Ali, the son of Al-Hakim, wear luxurious clothes and called upon Ibn Dawas and said to him: ‘the stability of this country relies on you, and you are in charge of managing its affairs. In addition, consider this boy as your son, so exert all efforts to serve him.’ Ibn Dawas kissed the ground and promised total obedience. Then she put the crown over the boy’s head – the crown was full of jewels that even a Caliph doesn’t own- it was the crown of Al-Muizz his great grandfather. She rode him on one of the Caliph’s horses, and went around with the vizier and all lords of the state…”
Also Al-Maqrizi wrote: “She let Ali the son of Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah goes out and titled him as Az-Zahir Li-Azaz Din-Illah. She let him wear the crown of Al-Muizz his great grandfather – it was a crown full of glorious jewels – and made for him an umbrella from jewels. She also rode him on a horse with a jeweled saddle, and for the crowned prince (chief of chiefs) to be with him … When he was noticed and seen, the vizier took a step forward and cried out: “servants of the state, our queen tells you: ‘This is your King, Amir Al-Muminin, greet him.’” Ibn Dawas kissed the ground and rolled his cheeks into his hands (as a sign of subordination); and all the ranks of soldiers did the same. Trumpets were heard and there was a percussion of drums, shouts of ‘God is Great’ were loud, while Az-Zahir was greeting the people.”
As for the matters of governance, the period of the governance of Az-Zaher was divided to two phases:
The first phase was since he took over the governance until the death of his aunt “Sitt Al-Mulk” who was handling all authority issues as she was the actual ruler of the state. Historians varied about Sitt Al-Mulk, as it was mentioned that she got rid of all those who helped her for killing her brother Al-Hakim Bi Amr Allah, and also killing the crowned prince “Abd Al-Rahim Bin Elias” who was assigned as a crown prince by Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah instead of his son. In addition she got rid of the rebels against the Fatimid State such as Aziz Al-Dawla the governor of Aleppo because she wanted to protect the Fatimid state from crumbling and weakness.
Other historians mentioned her superiority in handling the matters of the state as she was characterized by firmness, calmness, discretion with insight and intelligence. Those qualities gave her a special position with her father Al-Aziz Biallah as she gained his love and trust. Moreover he was always consulting her in the matters of the state.
Al-Muzaffar wrote: “Az-Zahir Li-Azaz Din-Illah ruled all his father’s kingdoms like Al-Sham, Al-Seghoor and Africa. While his aunt Sitt Al-Mulk managed his kingdom perfectly; she was a good politician who was generous with the soldiers”.
It was mentioned that she cancelled many laws issued previously by Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah, and she gave women their freedom to get out of their homes after Al-Hakim had banned them for approximately seven years. Furthermore some sources mentioned that she used to have compassion for Christians. Not only was her management limited on the internal affairs of the state but also she made a reconciliation and truce agreement with the Caesar of Rome in order to assure the safety of the Egyptian borders, however, she died. Her death date was not assured between 414 AH (1023 AD) and 415 AH (1024 AD).