The Fatimids created the first alternative Muslim empire to fully challenge the orthodox Sunni Caliphate and ran a highly civilized, assiduously cultured and tolerant outfit.
In early Islamic history the Fatimids (909-1171) created the first alternative Muslim empire to fully challenge the orthodox Sunni Caliphate, which had become the faith’s mainstream, its Vatican equivalent, then based in Baghdad. Initiated by a Syrian imam who converted the Berber tribesmen of what is now Algeria, the Fatimids rolled eastward, founding Cairo where they established their capital. At the empire’s height, their sway ranged from western north Africa via Sicily to Yemen and the Levant. In the process they also created the Al-Azhar University, today the oldest such degree-giving institution in the world. Named after the Prophet’s daughter Fatima, the Fatimids embraced the lineage of the Shiite Ismaili faith from which the Aga Khan descends.
This being the current Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee year as leader of Ismaili Muslims around the world, it seems apt that the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto should dedicate a spacious show to the Fatimids.
More at the source: WSJ / Melik Kaylan / March 19, 2018