Ḥākim Bi-Amr Allah, Al-°

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ḤĀKIM BI-AMR ALLAH, AL- °, the sixth caliph (996–1021) of the Ismāʾīlī *Fatimid dynasty, which ruled in North Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and wide areas of the Arabian Peninsula. In the year 400 a.h. (1009–10 c.e.) a major change took place in al-Ḥākim's attitude toward the Muslim and Ismāʾīlī traditions and he issued proclamations which were decisive for the development of the *Druze faith and community, of which he was the founder. The harassment of Christians, which had begun several years previously, was intensified, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem was burned down. According to Christian and Muslim sources these persecutions also included the Jews, but these reports should be treated with caution. A Megillat Miẓrayim ("Egyptian Scroll") from 1012, which is extant in two versions, mentions al-Ḥākim as the protector of the Jews, who allegedly assembled in the Great Synagogue of Fustat to thank God that the caliph had saved them from a rioting mob. This favorable appraisal is confirmed in letters written by the heads of the Palestinian and the Fustat yeshivot which mention that al-Ḥākim subsidized their institutions. After 1012 the persecution also included the Jews; synagogues were burned, and there were instances of forced conversion to Islam. The difficulties ceased only in the last years of al-Ḥākim (1017–20). Christians and Jews were permitted to rebuild their places of worship and forced converts were allowed to return to their former religion. At that time al-Ḥākim openly presented himself as the incarnation of the deity. The two above-mentioned events undoubtedly were related. Early in 1021 al-Ḥākim disappeared, and it is believed that he was murdered. A rumor spread among his followers that he was hiding on Mount al-Muqaṭṭam (near Cairo) and would appear again in the fullness of time (after a thousand years). The first article of the Druze faith is that al-Ḥākim was the last incarnation of the deity; he cannot have died, and his followers, therefore, are awaiting his return (raj'a). Al-Ḥākim's personality and Druze doctrines influenced later Jewish mystic movements. Joseph *Sambari (17th cent.) recounts in his chronicle Divrei Yosef (Paris, Alliance Israélite Universelle, Hebrew manuscript no. 22–23) the story of al-Ḥākim's persecutions. According to this version, the persecution of the Jews was caused by the Arabic translation of the Passover Haggadah, which tells of the drowning of the Egyptian king. Al-Ḥākim thought that this referred to him and forbade further translations of the Haggadah. Sambari further states that al-Ḥākim was murdered by his sister in the year 411 a.h., i.e., 1021.


S. de Sacy, Exposé de la religion des Druzes, 2 vols. (1838); Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 30–7; 2 (1922), 35–6, 70; H.Z. Hirschberg, in: A.J. Arberry (ed.), Religion in the Middle East, 2 (1969), 332–5; eis2, 2 (1965), S.V. Durūz. add. bibliography: S.D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, vol. 6, index; Y. Lev, in: Asian and African Studies (Haifa), 22 (1988), 73–91.

[Haim Z'ew Hirschberg]