The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Al-Hakim bi-Amr 'The Mad'

Well, it is not exactly anything to do with local history, but I was called to task over yesterdays' entry which reported the absurd lies peddled in Restoration England against Islam. Sometimes, it seems, truth is stranger than fiction, and they don't come much stranger than 'Hakim the Mad', ruler of Egypt, who claimed to be descended from Mohammed's wife Fatima. I quote only from official Egyptian historical sources in the following story, though I cannot help feeling that there is an element of negative spin involved. Spin is nothing old.

Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (Ruler by God's Command) known to history as Hakim the Mad, became the sixth Fatimid khalif of Egypt at the age of eleven (996-1021). He waited four whole years before having his tutor murdered. As he rather disliked women, Al-Hakim forbade them to leave their homes and made sure he never had to see them by banning the manufacture and sale of women's footwear. Once had a group of noisy ladies boiled alive in a public bath. Women were not his only dislike: All the city's dogs were exterminated as he was irritated by the sound of their barking. Al-Hakim also forbade the selling of grapes, wine, beer, meloukhia (Jew's mallow) and even ordered the dumping of honey into the Nile.

He took a rather direct approach to law enforcement. Merchants found guilty of cheating during Al-Hakim's inspections were summarily sodomized by his Nubian slave, Masoud, while the khalif stood upon their heads. Occasionally he improvised, as when he dissected a butcher with his own cleaver. He took particular pleasure in persecuting and torturing any non-Muslims he came across, ordered the total destruction of Constantine’s Basilica of the Anastasis ("Resurrection") ,built over the traditional site of Christ’s tomb, in 1009. an action that, In 1020, led to his followers proclaiming Al-Hakim's divinity in the Mosque of Amr

He had a special passion for the dark, so he ordered shops to open at night and close in daylight.

He lusted after his sister, Sitt al-Mulk (Lady of Power). Believing that she took lovers in Fustat-Masr, he ordered Fustat's destruction, watching it burn from the Muqattam Hills, where he often rode alone on a donkey at night. Only after half of the town was reduced to ashes, Sitt al-Mulk was examined by midwives and pronounced her to be a virgin. , Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah then surveyed the smoking ruins and indignantly asked, "Who ordered this?". Eventuually he became rather too insistant on an incestuous relationship with Sitt al-Mulk so she arranged Hakim's "disappearance" during one of his nocturnal jaunts. The Coptic Christians maintain that Al-Hakim experienced a vision of Jesus, repented, and became a monk.

Al-Hakim's follower Hamza Ibn Ali, and his disciple, Mohammed al-Durzi, persuaded many foreign Muslims that Al-Hakim was a manifestation of God similar to the Christian Messiah. In doing so they founded the Druze faith, whose tightly knit communities still exist in Syria, Lebanon and Israel


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