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Journal of Islamic Studies 3:1 (1992), pp. 57-71.

It is a coincidence of history that perhaps the greatest sovereign of the Fatimid dynasty, al-‘Aziz billah, and the most powerful representative of Buyid rule, ‘Adud al-dawla, were contemporaries. It was in the time of these 2 great rulers that Fatimid-Buyid diplomacy reached its high watermark. This article seeks to examine the reasons for the inception and termination of diplomacy between these 2 powers.

Keywords

Fatimid, Buyid, initiation of diplomacy, Adud al-dawla, al-‘Aziz billah, strengthening Buyid rule, terminating the alliance

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The emergence of the Fatimids in North Africa ushered in a major revolution in the Islamic world. For the first time in Muslim annals, there were two rival caliphates, the active and expanding caliphate of the Fatimids and the waning authority of the Abbasids of Baghdad, effectively controlled by their Buyid protectors. When the Fatimids moved east to Egypt (in 358/969), interaction between these two caliphates became inevitable.

It is a coincidence of history that perhaps the greatest sovereign of the Fatimid dynasty, al-‘Aziz billah, and the most powerful representative of Buyid rule, ‘Adud al-dawla (338/944-372/983), were contemporaries. It was in the time of these two great rulers that Fatimid- Buyid diplomacy reached its highwater mark. Prior to ‘Adud al-dawla’s appearance on the political scene at Baghdad and after his departure from it, the other Buyid amirs were too involved in interfamilial strife to have any contact - friendly or otherwise - with the Fatimid ruler al-‘Aziz.

An examination of the sources on Fatimid- Buyid diplomacy during the reign of al-‘Aziz billah reveals certain discrepancies in the information they provide. Consequently, they raise certain important questions as to the need for diplomacy between the two powers in the first place and the subsequent termination of relations between them. This article seeks to discuss these issues.

Exchange of embassies
The first recorded instance of diplomacy between al-‘Aziz and ‘Adud al-dawla is to be found in a letter the Buyid ruler supposedly wrote to his Fatimid counterpart c. 367-8/977-8. Unfortunately, this letter does not seem to have been preserved in its entirety by any of the extant sources. Ibn Taghri Birdi, however, gives a summary of its contents. He says:

‘Adud al-dawla had written a letter to him [i.e. al-‘Aziz] acknowledging in it the excellence of the ahl al-bait and confirming to al-‘Aziz that he [i.e. al-‘Aziz] was from that pure source. He addressed him [i.e. al-‘Aziz] as al-hadrat al-sharifa and words to that effect.’

The gist of the letter that ‘Adud al-dawla wrote to al-‘Aziz can also be ascertained from al-‘Aziz’s reply to it which arrived at the Buyid court in 369/979-80. Fortunately, Ibn Taghri Birdi has reproduced this letter of al-'Aziz in far greater detail than that of the Buyid amir. He says:

... his [i.e. al-‘Aziz's] letter to ‘Adud al-dawla who was in the company of the ‘Abbasid caliph al-Ta‘i‘ points to his [i.e. al-‘Aziz ’s] merit and strength. The contents of the letter, after the Basmala were [as follows]: ‘From the slave and wali [friend] of Allah, Nizar Abi l-Mansur al-Imam al-‘Aziz billah amir al-mu‘minin to ‘Adud al-dawla, al- Imam the protector of the Amazon Appstore Fast Scan com For Pdf Document Scanner Android SS5wr1nY [community] of Islam, Abi Shuja‘ b. Abi‘ Ali, greetings to you. The amir al-mu‘minin praises Allah - there is no god but He - to you and asks Him to bless his [i.e. al-‘Aziz’s] forefather Muhammad, the messenger of the Lord of both worlds and the proof of Allah for all creation, continuous, increasing and everlasting prayers through his right guiding, pious and pure progeny.

And now to our subject: Your envoy has come in the presence of the amir al-mu‘minin with the messenger sent to you. He has reported what he was to convey of your sincerity concerning loyalty to the amir al-mu‘minin, your friendship and your acknowledgement of his right to the Imama and your love towards his pious and rightly guided forefathers. The amir al-mu‘minin has been pleased with what he has heard from you and it was in accordance with what he has come to expect of you. You do not deviate from the truth.’ Then he said many words in the same vein until he said: ‘I have found out what has happened at the Muslims' borders at the hands of the Polytheists and the destruction of al-Sham, the weakening of its people and the rise in prices. If that was not the case, the amir al-mu‘minin would personally march to the thughur [borders]. He will go to al-Hira. His letter will come to you shortly. So prepare for jihad [holy war] in the path of Allah.

Both the précis of ‘Adud al-dawla’s letter and al-‘Aziz’s reply to it offer valuable information on the nature of diplomacy between the two powerful dynasts of the medieval Muslim world. They also offer interesting insights into the terms of negotiation between the two rulers.

According to Ibn Taghri Birdi, 'Adud al-dawla acknowledged in his letter the excellence of the ahl al-bait and affirmed that al-‘Aziz was ‘from that pure source’. Moreover, he addressed the Fatimid ruler as al-hadrat al-sharifaShephard Apex William Clay Nc Obituary 516q1BT. This appellation, that the Buyid amir uses to address his Fatimid counterpart, clearly denotes his acceptance of the Fatimid sovereign as a descendant of Ali b. Abi Talib.

These sentiments of ‘Adud al-dawla are further confirmed in al-‘Aziz’s reply to the Buyid ruler. After the Basmala al-‘Aziz thanks the Buyid amir for ‘the sincerity and loyalty to the amir al -mu‘minin [i.e. al-‘Aziz], your friendship, your acknowledgement of his right to the Imama and your love towards his pious … ancestors’. He adds that he is pleased with what ‘Adud al-dawla has to say about him and his progeny and that it is in conformity with what he expects from the Buyid Disney To Pin Trading Guide Ultimate amir.

The military manoeuvres of the Founder Hoffman Khan Of video Linkedin Academy Reid 5d6qwFd forces on the borderlands of the Muslims appear to be a matter of particular import to the Fatimid ruler. Accordingly, he expresses his disapproval of the suffering meted out to the Muslims of the thughur (Muslim-Byzantine frontier) by Byzantium. He then urges the Buyid ruler to join him in a jihad which he intends to undertake personally against the Byzantine forces in retaliation for the havoc which they have caused in al-Sham.

‘Adud al-dawla’s response to the above dispatch of al-‘Aziz has been preserved in a tadhkira (memo) addressed to the Buyid envoy, al-Qadi Abu Muhammad al-‘Ummani, who was to accompany the Fatimid emissary Abu‘1-Walid ‘Utba b. al-Walid to the Fatimid court. Cahen has edited this memo from a collection of Buyid documents which Hilal al-Sabi incorporated in one of his works. As the memo has already been translated into French by Cahen, it has been thought unnecessary here to retranslate it into English. In view of its importance, however, a detailed analysis of its contents has been undertaken below.

The earlier part of the memo is characterised by the same kind of respectful tones denoting the noble ancestry of al-‘Aziz as are found in the BuyidTo Guide Ultimate Trading Disney Pin amir's previous correspondence. It praises al-‘Aziz’s outstanding merit, generosity, friendship, and goodwill. ‘Adud al-dawla then states that the dispatches of the Fatimid sovereign do not offer clear evidence of peaceful relations, friendship, and fulfilment of promises that the Buyid amir expected from him. He therefore urges his envoy, al-Qadi al-‘Ummani, to take up these issues with al-‘Aziz and seek clarification for them. We are left in the dark as regards the exact terms of conciliation that the Buyid ruler was seeking from his Fatimid counterpart. These were probably transmitted orally, for it is quite clear in the text of the letters themselves that they were to be accompanied by oral messages. In their letters, both al-‘Aziz and ‘Adud al-dawla instruct their envoys to take up certain issues in person with the respective sovereigns.

The Buyid amir continues by confirming vehemently the need to wage a jihad against the enemies of Allah, the Byzantines. However, he makes his co-operation on the matter with the Fatimids conditional on the latter's fulfilment of his ‘demanded conditions of friendship, obligation of trust and peaceful affairs’. ‘Adud al-dawla then refers to the activities of the Ismaili da‘is in his realm. He confirms that the da‘is can continue propagating their message. The da‘is of al-Basra are an exception to the above ruling, however, for they have transgressed their limits. He then gives instructions to the Qadi to deal with this matter upon his return from the Fatimid court.

‘Adud al-dawla then alludes to an ‘Uqaili with whom he disclaims any ties of friendship and, in fact, repudiates him. It is quite possible that al-‘Aziz may have questioned ‘Adud al-dawla’s involvement in the desertion of the banu ‘Uqail at a critical juncture of the battle which resulted in the defeat and death of one of 'Adud al-Dawa’s avowed enemies and a protégé of the Fatimids - the Hamdanid Abu Taglib.

Finally, the Buyid amir makes a vague reference to the hijriyyun, assuring that he will fulfil his promises to them, provided his conditions of ‘agreement and friendship’ are complied with. Cahen remarks that he knows of ‘no text that explains what this is about’. It may well be a reference to one of Bakhtiyar’s brothers and a cousin of ‘Adud al-dawla, Abu Ishaq Ibrahim and his entourage, who had eventually taken refuge in Egypt after suffering at the hands of ‘Adud al-dawla in 367/977. Either their safe return to the Buyid court without being persecuted by ‘Adud al-dawla or their being kept away from it, as suggested by Busse’' could well have been a matter of negotiations between the two powers.

Proposed confrontation and subsequent breakdown of relations

The next reference to Fatimid- Buyid relations is to be found in the year 369/979. Historians report the aggressive designs of ‘Adud al-dawla against al-Sham - where the Fatimids were involved in gaining ascendancy over other powers, and against Egypt - the very base of Fatimid power. Curiously enough, that was the very year in which the above-mentioned Fatimid embassy had arrived at the Buyid court and had returned to Cairo with the Buyid amir’s emissary. According to the sources, the main obstacle that held ‘Adud al-dawla back from marching to Syria and then Egypt was the eruption of hostilities between him and his brother Fakhr al-dawla. ‘Adud al-dawla was consequently compelled to divert his energies and resources to deal militarily with his brother first.

The diplomatic negotiations between the two powers appear to have come to a complete full stop. In Safar 371/August 981 al-‘Aziz is reported to have hired a henchman to spirit away a silver l ion which was placed on top of the zabzab (a pectoral in the shape of a boat), belonging to ‘Adud al-dawla. This zabzab formed part of the royal emblems of 'Adud al-dawla and by having it stolen the Fatimid sovereign was ridiculing the Buyid ruler's authority, pride, and alertness.

‘Adud al-dawla appears to have retaliated by sending spies to the Fatimid capital and inspiring awe among the people there. Under the year 372/982-3 al-Rudhrawari reports at length the tale of a confectioner in Cairo who refused to accept a Buyid coin in payment for some confectionery that one of the men working for ‘Adud al-dawla had purchased. Further, the confectioner is reported to have abused the Buyid amir. When the matter was reported to ‘Adud al-dawla, he secured the presence of the confectioner at his court and severely reprimanded him. The Buyid amir then let him return to Cairo on condition that he would never repeat the offence. Al-Rudhrawari ends the report by saying that the confectioner’s story became well known in Cairo. As a result, the people there refrained from mentioning ‘Adud al-dawla.

The issue of genealogy

To my knowledge, Ibn Zafir’s kitab akhbar al-duwal al-munqati’a is the only source which offers an explanation for the deterioration of Fatimid-Buyid relations. It places the blame squarely on the issue of Fatimid genealogy. Ibn Zafir reports that ‘Adud al-dawla had supposedly questioned the Fatimid ruler on his true genealogy. As he was not quite satisfied with the Fatimid response, he had subsequently threatened to attack Fatimid lands.

The Buyid amir is also supposed to have questioned the ‘Alids of Iraq on the matter of the genealogy of the Fatimids. In response to the Buyid amir’s persistent enquiries, al-‘Aziz, in consultation with his vizier Ya‘qub b. Killis, supposedly had a genealogy prepared, linking himself to Muhammad b. Isma'il - a lineal descendant of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib. The genealogy thus prepared was apparently to be sent to Baghdad with the Buyid envoy. This envoy did not reach the Buyid court, however, for he was murdered at Tripoli by a Fatimid envoy who had accompanied him.

Trading Ultimate To Guide Pin Disney Ibn Zafir contends that the Fatimids hoped by their above action to spread their genealogy in the various countries. He claims further that according to the Fatimids the genealogy did not reach Baghdad because of the death of the Buyid envoy and not because it was false.

If ‘Adud al-dawla did question the genuineness of the Fatimid descent from ‘Ali b. Abi Talib, that is not evident from the extant correspondence exchanged between him and al-‘Aziz. On the contrary, in the written correspondence ‘Adud al-dawla clearly acknowledges the ‘Alid descent of the Fatimids. It could be argued that the Buyid To Ultimate Guide Pin Disney Trading amir may have questioned Fatimid genealogy in the oral messages that accompanied the letters. If that were the case, though, it is surprising that the Buyid amir should have felt the need to assent to these claims, and indeed to reiterate them, in the letters themselves. He could just as well have omitted them. It is possible that the issue of genealogy may have been raised in later dispatches between the two rulers. However, that appears highly improbable as the sources are totally silent in the matter.

What can be clearly concluded from the events as they have unfolded so far is that Fatimid-Buyid relations began on very amicable terms c. 367/977-8, but within a span of 3 years, that is by the year 371/981, they had deteriorated completely. The question then arises as to what were the reasons that may have prompted the most powerful of all Buyid amirs, ‘Adud al-dawla, to enter into negotiations with his Fatimid counterpart, al-‘Aziz, in the first instance.

Buyid acceptance of ‘Alid descent of the Fatimids

Perhaps an answer to the above question lies in the supposed ‘temporary’ acceptance of the Fatimid claims of ‘Alid descent by the Buyid ‘Adud al-dawla. It must be borne in mind that both the Fatimids and the Buyids belonged to different denominations of the Shi‘i branch of Islam. The Fatimids asserted themselves as Imams of the Isma‘ilis while the Buyids were either of Zaydi or Ithna‘Ashari persuasion. Moreover, as the claimed descendants of 'Ali b. Abi Talib and the Prophet’s daughter Fatima, the Fatimids presented themselves as the legitimate political as well as spiritual leaders of the Aamva Standard id Dl Design Card q48wO in general, embodying all its hitherto unfulfilled hopes and aspirations.

The Buyids, on the other hand, made no claims to religious authority for themselves. In fact, most of them do not appear to have been very zealous about their religious beliefs. It follows that, had the Buyid amir chosen to accept the Fatimids as the descendants of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib and consequently the legitimate Imams, they would then necessarily have had to bow to their authority in religious as well as political matters.

It is noteworthy that the Buyids, being Shi'a, did not replace the Sunni ‘Abbasid caliph with a Shi'ite one. However, as Kennedy has pointed out, the Buyid amirs faced the same problems as any ruler who wished to establish an ‘Alid caliphate. If the Buyids were twelver Shi'a, then they acknowledged that their last Imam had gone into occultation some 70 years earlier, while if they were Zaydis, then the only Imam whose leadership could be accepted as valid had to be a descendant of al-Husain or al-Hasan, who had secured power for himself by his own efforts.

In any case, the first Buyid ruler over Iraq, Mu‘izz al-dawla, contemplated appointing an ‘Alid to the caliphate after he had deposed the reigning ‘Abbasid caliph al-Mustakfi in 334/945. He was persuaded to abandon the idea by his vizier al-Saimari who pointed out to him that an ‘Alid caliph whose claims were accepted as valid would have greater authority than the Buyid amir himself. Moreover, as relative outsiders in the Islamic world, and with no real claims to nobility, the Buyids could not afford to throw off the yoke of legitimacy which the ‘Abbasid caliphate embodied without facing repercussions with which they were not yet powerful enough to cope.

All things considered then, it is difficult to imagine that an astute and ambitious politician of the stature of ‘Adud al-dawla would place himself under an Ismaili Imam out of choice. Furthermore, by maintaining the nominal authority of the Sunni ‘Abbasid caliph, ‘Adud al-dawla placated the majority of his subjects who were Sunni. Hence the acceptance that the Fatimids belonged to the progeny of the ahl al-bait does not at all appear to be in the interests of the Buyid amir. Conversely, recognition of Fatimid claims by the mighty ‘Adud al-dawla would certainly have been most prestigious for the Fatimid al-‘Aziz.

In keeping with his views on kingship and the vesting of total authority in the shahanshah (king of kings) - that is, himself - ‘Adud al-dawla may have contemplated using his supposed allegiance to the Fatimid caliph as a threat to the total annulment of the ‘Abbasid caliphate. In this way he may have compelled the ‘Abbasid caliph to accept the supreme position of the Buyid amir, with the caliph being a mere figurehead. There is ample evidence that upon his accession to power at Baghdad, ‘Adud al-dawla made the ‘Abbasid caliph grant him unprecedented honours and powers.

However, the very fact that ‘Adud al-dawla was desirous and capable of exercising total authority in his domains makes his overtures to the Fatimids all the more strange, for that would undoubtedly place him in a subsidiary position vis-à-vis the Fatimid ruler.

If, on the other hand, the motives of ‘Adud al-dawla for courting the Fatimid caliph were based purely on the grounds of gaining legitimacy for his own rule, then the position of the ‘Abbasid caliph as the religious head of the Sunni world, yet possessing very little secular power, appears to be a much more suitable choice than that of the politically and religiously virile Fatimid caliph. The answer to the question posed above as to the Buyid amir's need to initiate diplomacy with his Fatimid counterpart has then to be sought elsewhere.

Most sources are reticent on the issue of the overtures made by ‘Adud al-dawla to al-‘Aziz. Ibn Taghri Birdi finds it most astonishing that ‘Adud al-dawla began communications with al-‘Aziz. What he offers by way of explanation provides a clue, however, to the Buyid amir's possible reasons for doing so. He states that ‘Adud al-dawla only corresponded with al-‘Aziz because of his inability to oppose him. This chance remark of Ibn Taghri Birdi also sheds interesting light on the historiographical aspects of the issue of Fatimid-Buyid diplomacy at this time.

Historiographical aspects

It is rather curious that although Hilal al-Sabi, the court historian of the Buyids, is the original source of information on the overtures of ‘Adud al-dawla to al-‘Aziz as well as the latter's response to the Buyid amir, subsequent historians of the Buyid court, such as Ibn Miskawaih and al-Rudhrawari, significantly underplay the issue of the wooing of al-‘Aziz by ‘Adud al-dawla. Nonetheless, they rely considerably on Hilal al-Sabi for other information.

So marked is the omission on the part of these historians that not a trace of it is to be found in either of their works except a mention in passing by Ibn Miskawaih that an embassy arrived from the ruler of the west (i.e. Egypt) at the Buyid court in Sha'ban 369/February-March 986, and that it left in Dhu l-Qa‘da/May of the same year. Not a word is said about the contents of the message brought by the Fatimid envoy nor the fact that his embassy was sent in response to the one dispatched by the Buyid amir to the Fatimid court earlier.

Under that very year Ibn Miskawaih also mentions that, after ‘Adud al-dawla had overpowered all his real and potential enemies,‘'his thoughts were redirected to the conquest of Egypt especially, and after that to the territory of the unbelievers, the Byzantines and such as lie beyond them’. Although Ibn Miskawaih then states that ‘Adud al-dawla had by this time dropped his intention of marching against Egypt, he does not state at this point - or for that matter earlier on in the work - when ‘Adud al-dawla had initially resolved to wage war against Egypt. It is the latter historians such as Ibn Taghri Birdi and Ibn Zafir who, deriving their information either directly or indirectly from Hilal al-Sabi, discuss the issue of the initial attempts by 'Adud al-dawla to court the Fatimid al-‘Aziz.

This deliberate attempt at suppressing information on the part of Buyid court historians such as Ibn Miskawaih and al-Rudhrawari may well be due to the fact that, writing as they were in the heyday of the mighty ‘Adud al-dawla, they, as well as their patron, may have wished to blot out any memories of actions that the Buyid amir may have taken in his moments of weakness, during the earlier part of his reign. The unusually friendly advances to al-‘Aziz on the part of ‘Adud al-dawla would certainly appear to lend weight to such an interpretation.

The interest of ‘Adud al-dawla vis-à-vis the Fatimids in al-Sham

As Cahen has pointed out, it was inevitable that 2 expansionist dynasties like the Fatimids and the Buyids would clash, as they were both aiming at the domination of common territories - those that lay between Iraq and Egypt. This was particularly true of the militarily active times of al-‘Aziz and ‘Adud al-dawla.

The Buyid amir turned his attention to al-Sham soon after his accession to power at Baghdad. The interest shown by ‘Adud al-dawla in al-Sham sprang from the interlinked considerations of politics and commerce. Politically al-Sham at this time was in a fragmented state. The Fatimids were successful only from time to time in asserting their authority over the central and southern parts of the country, whilst its northern territories were either under direct Byzantine rule or at least under its nominal tutelage: the Hamdanids of Aleppo were one such dynasty. In relative terms, then, al-Sham was free to be taken by anyone who felt powerful enough to exert his authority in the region.

For ‘Adud al-dawla, the commercial advantages of controlling parts of al-Sham were clearly evident. The years of misrule over Iraq by his cousin and predecessor Bakhtiyar ‘Izz al-dawla had left the country’s commerce as well as agriculture in total disarray. Predictably the economic situation in Iraq was on the verge of total collapse when ‘Adud al-dawla took over as the next Buyid amir. Undoubtedly, therefore, one of the very first concerns of ‘Adud al-dawla was to look for alternative sources of revenue to supplement the depleted economy of Iraq. The various towns of al-Sham - with its centres of commerce and trading, and its considerable agricultural output - must certainly have appeared to the Buyid amir as a suitable source of desperately needed revenues.

Moreover, since the Fatimids had conquered Egypt, they had endeavoured and largely succeeded in diverting trade from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea. This had dealt a further blow to the Iraqi economy. If, on the other hand, ‘Adud al-dawla managed to secure a foothold in some of the coastal towns of al-Sham - such as Tripoli, which formed part of this newly established, thriving trade route - he would stand to benefit considerably from it.

Another significant problem from the reign of ‘Izz al-dawla with which ‘Adud al-dawla had to grapple was the total mistrust and enmity between the two major blocks of the armed forces - the Turks and the Dailamis. Channelling this divided force's energies into fighting a war in a foreign territory would certainly be a constructive and profitable manner of dealing - at least temporarily - with them.

It could be argued that ‘Adud al-dawla could just as well have diverted his energies eastwards towards the lucrative lands of Khuraasan - then under the Samanids. There were a number of factors that deterred him from doing so, however, not the least of them being the fact that the Samanids were still a considerable force to be reckoned with in his own time. Moreover, in the earlier stages of his career at Baghdad, the Buyid amir lacked both the resources and the manpower that challenging the Samanids would entail.

It must also be borne in mind that in 342/955-6, during the reign of Rukn al-dawla, the Buyids had been forced to sign a humiliating peace treaty with the Samanids according to which they would pay tribute to the latter. Although the treaty had been revised to terms that were more favourable to the Buyids, nonetheless this treaty was still valid in the time of ‘Adud al-dawla. By this time, however, the main clause of the treaty was that neither of the two parties would encroach upon the other's territories. This was seen to be in the mutual interest of both the dynasties. Al-Sham, then, would have appeared a far more tempting proposition to ‘Adud al-dawla than the East.

Balance of power

The politico-military activities of the two powers in the strategic lands of al-Sham c. 367/977-8 - the time when ‘Adud al-dawla made the preliminary overtures to al-‘Aziz - clearly reveal that the balance of power was certainly in favour of the Fatimids. A few examples may be given to illustrate the point. By 368/978-9, Alptegin, a former mawla of the Buyids, who had earlier seized control of Damascus and had declared the khutba there in the name of the ‘Abbasid caliph, withstanding all previous attempts by the Fatimids to oust him, had finally been defeated and won over by al-‘Aziz. According to Ibn Khallikan, once Alptegin had established himself in Damascus, he sought the assistance of ‘Adud al-dawla in attacking Egypt. He sent the following communication to the Buyid amir: ‘Syria is free [from the presence of foreign troops]. It is now within our grasp and the rule of the monarch of Egypt has ceased therein; aid me therefore with money and soldiers so that I may attack those people even in the seat of their power.’ Nabia Abbott made some valid comments on this request of Alptegin: ‘Adud, in these critical years [365-7/975-7 ] of Buyid history, coupled perhaps with mistrust of Aftakin discouraged the idea ...’ Consequently, ‘Adud al-dawla replied as follows: ‘Thy power has misled thee, and the result of that undertaking would be thy disgrace; fear therefore the dishonour which may attend it. By this, perhaps, thou mayest be guided.’

Qassam succeeded Alptegin in ruling Damascus. Though not a loyal supporter of the Fatimids, he nevertheless accepted the suzerainty of the Fatimid al-‘Aziz and had the khutba pronounced in his name. Meanwhile, al-Mufarrij b. Daghfal b. al-Jarrah had established his hold over al-Ramla and its environs. He too paid nominal allegiance to al-‘Aziz, during the period under discussion. Similar was the case with Abu Taghlib, the former ruler of Diyar Bakr, Diyar Rabi‘a, and parts of the Jazira. He had previously forged an alliance with ‘Adud al-dawla but by this time had fallen out with the latter and had joined al-‘Aziz’s camp instead. Ibn Miskawaih mentions an interesting tale of the manner in which ‘Adud al-dawla attempted to dissuade the Fatimid al-‘Aziz from assisting Abu Taghlib. Until the year 368/978-9 the Hamdanid ruler of Aleppo, Abu’l-Ma'ali Sa’d al-dawla, had also acknowledged the nominal suzerainty of the Fatimid sovereign over his domains.

The one group that had seriously challenged Fatimid authority and had been a constant source of anxiety to them was the Qaramita. They had joined Alptegin in fighting the Fatimid forces. They had also co-operated with ‘Adud al-dawla in the latter’s wars against the Buyid princes. After the joint defeat of Alptegin and the Qarmatian forces in 368/979, al-‘Aziz managed to buy off the Qarmatians by giving them an annual pension. Consequently, at least during the reign of al-‘Aziz, we do not hear of any serious hostilities from their side.

It emerges therefore that by 368/979 al-‘Aziz had either managed to win over a number of forces that had previously opposed him or had at least neutralised them. This would explain why ‘Adud al-dawla may have felt the need to initiate good relations with the Fatimids.

The Byzantine angle

The other possible reason for the negotiations may be sought in the relations of the two powers with Byzantium. The one common professed goal of the Fatimids and the Buyids was to wage a jihad against the Byzantines. The need to do so became particularly imperative for al-‘Aziz and ‘Adud al-dawla because of the aggressive policy that the Byzantine rulers pursued against the dar al-Islam in the tenth century - especially in the territories of al-Sham. As can be ascertained from the correspondence exchanged between the 2rulers, the subject of jihad comprised an important part of the negotiations. There is a possibility that fighting against a common enemy, the Byzantines, would have contributed to the joining of forces of the two Shi‘i powers - at least temporarily - had it not been for the sudden change in the balance of power c. 369-70/979-80.

The defeat of Bardas Skleros

The one major factor that tipped the scales of power in favour of the Buyids was the crushing of the rebellion of Bardas Skleros in 369/979 by the forces of the Byzantine emperor. Skleros had been the chief lieutenant and a brother-in-law of John Tzimiskes - the previous Byzantine emperor. On the latter's death Skleros himself aspired to the imperial crown. When he was thwarted in his attempts, he rebelled. After his defeat Skleros appealed for assistance to ‘Adud al-dawla. In return he pledged allegiance to the Buyid amir. He also promised to hand over to the Buyids all the fortresses at the thughur that had earlier been under Muslim control but which had subsequently been seized by the Byzantine forces.

The presence of Bardas Skleros at the Buyid court transformed the hitherto hostile attitude of the Byzantines into seeking a pact with the Buyids. Al-Rudhrawari gives a graphic account of the Byzantine envoy and the representative of Skleros vying with each other in their promises to ‘Adud al-dawla. Clearly the main aim of the Byzantines in undertaking these negotiations was the handing over of Skleros to Byzantium. ‘Adud al-dawla was thus presented with an opportunity to achieve by way of diplomacy what would otherwise have necessitated confrontation. As time elapsed, he increased his demands, using Skleros as a bait. Agreements were on the verge of being concluded between the Buyids and the Byzantines when 'Adud al-dawla died in 372/983.

Meanwhile Buyid influence was in the ascendant in al-Sham. The Buyid amir succeeded in 369/979 in getting rid of Abu Taghlib through the services of al-Mufarrij b. al-Jarrah - who had by now been won over to the Buyid side. Consequently, he rebelled openly against the Fatimids in 370/980-1. Moreover, by 371/982-3 ‘Adud al-dawla was able to diffuse and defeat the syndicate formed against him by his brother Fakhr al-dawla.

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To conclude, it appears that for a short period of time, the two most powerful of the Muslim rulers of the late tenth century had chosen the path of negotiation rather than confrontation. However, within a couple of years after these diplomatic contacts began, they were brought to a standstill. The major reason for that would seem to have been the rising politico-military authority of ‘Adud al-dawla. Thereafter he may not have felt the need to pursue further diplomatic contacts with the Fatimids. As the Buyid amir had initiated these negotiations in the first place, he was probably the one who terminated them. Had these negotiations been consolidated into an alliance, however, it would have had a substantial impact on the subsequent course of events. It would also have been a unique occasion in the history of Fatimid-Buyid diplomacy. However, that was not to be.

* I would like to thank Dr Carole Hillenbrand, Reader in Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Edinburgh, for her valuable comments on this article.