From Revolutionary Violence to State Violence: the Fāṭimids (297–567/909–1171)

Yaacov Lev

in Public Violence in Islamic Societies

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780748637317
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653164 | DOI:
From Revolutionary Violence to State Violence: the Fāṭimids (297–567/909–1171)

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This chapter focuses on the Fātimids. It uses the Qādī al-Nu'mān's Iftitā al-da'wa wa-ibtidā' al-dawla which centres on the Fātimid state. The aim of this chapter is to provide perceptions of how the events took place during the Fātimid period. It discusses the different images, the attitudes of the writers who produced them and the impact they intended to make on their readers. Although violence is central in all of the accounts on the rise of the Fātimids to power, they differ in regard to its causes and present it differently. While state violence sustained the Islamic medieval polity, it was only one of the elements that maintained social and political order. Since there was a persistent tendency to seek divine and religious legitimization for state violence and political power, with emphasis on the rule of law and dispensation of legal justice, charity and charitable deeds in fact complemented state violence. Like other medieval Muslim state, the Fātimid state came to power through violence and was brought to an end by violence. It sought divine legitimacy for its existence and for violence it exercised by placing emphasis on its dispensation of justice and benevolence.

Keywords: Fātimids; Qādī al-Nu'mān'; violence; state violence; Islamic medieval polity; justice; benevolence

Chapter.  8986 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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