There is a growing body of literature providing a survey of Fatimid history and thought. Principal among these is the comprehensive summary in Farhad Daftary’s The Ismā‘ilīs: Their History and Doctrines (2nd edition: Cambridge, 2007), pp. 137–295. Similarly, Paul E. Walker’s study Exploring an Islamic Empire: Fatimid History and its Sources (London, 2002), pp. 15–91, provides an insightful overview of the Fatimids, along with a bibliography. Marius Canard’s entry on the Fatimids in the Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd edition) as well as Paula Sanders’ ‘The Fatimid State, 969–1171’, in The Cambridge History of Egypt: Volume One, Islamic Egypt, 640–1517, ed. Carl F. Petry (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 151–174, also offer useful coverage of the Fatimids.
For more detailed accounts of the Fatimids, there are the three volumes by Heinz Halm, originally written in German. The first volume, titled Das Reich des Mahdi: Der Aufstieg der Fatimiden (Munich, 1991), covers the Ifriqiyan phase of Fatimid history, and has been translated into English by Michael Bonner as The Empire of the Mahdi: The Rise of the Fatimids (Leiden, 1996). Halm’s second volume, Die Kalifen von Kairo: Die Fatimiden in Ägypten 973–1074 (Munich, 2003), and third volume, Kalifen und Assassinen: Ägypten und der Vordere Orient zur Zeit der ersten Kreuzzüge 1074–1171 (Munich, 2014), cover the Egyptian phase of Fatimid history. The second and third volumes are yet to be translated.
For another important overview of Fatimid history in its initial phase, see Michael Brett, The Rise of the Fatimids: The World of the Mediterranean and the Middle East in the Fourth Century of the Hijra, Tenth Century CE (Leiden, 2001), as well as Farhat Dachraoui’s Le Califat Fatimid au Maghrib, 296–362/909–973: histoire, politique et institutions (Tunis, 1981).
Select Reading List
Brett, Michael. The Rise of the Fatimids: The World of the Mediterranean and the Middle East in the Fourth Century of the Hijra, Tenth Century CE. Leiden, 2001.
_____. The Fatimid Empire. Edinburgh, 2017.
Daftary, Farhad. The Ismai‘lis: Their History and Doctrines. 2nd ed., Cambridge, 2007.
Fyzee, A. A. A. The Pillars of Islam: ‘Ibadat: Acts of Devotion and Religious Observances. Da‘a’im al-Islam of al-Qadi al-Nu‘man, rev. I. K. Poonawala. New Delhi and Oxford, 2002–4.
Haji, Hamid. Founding the Fatimid State: The Rise of an Early Islamic Empire. An annoted English translation of al-Qadi al-Nu‘man’s Iftitah al-Da‘wa. London, 2006.
_____. Inside the Immaculate Portal: A History from the Early Fatimid Archives. A new edition and English translation of Mansur al-‘Aziz al-Jawdhari’s biography of al-Ustad Jawdhar, the Sirat al-Ustadh Jawdhar. London, 2012.
Halm, Heinz. The Empire of the Mahdi, tr. M. Bonner. Leiden, 1996.
_____. The Fatimids and their Traditions of Learning. London, 1997.
Consult Reading Guide
Jiwa, Shainool. Towards a Shi‘i Mediterranean Empire: Fatimid Egypt and the Founding of Cairo. The reign of the Imam-caliph al-Mu‘izz from al-Maqrizi’s Itti‘az al-Hunafa. London, 2009.
Consult Reading Guide
Watch Interview with Dr Shainool Jiwa
_____. The Founder of Cairo: The Fatimid Imam-caliph al-Mu‘izz and His Era. An English translation of the text on al-Mu‘izz from Idris ‘Imad al-Din’s ‘Uyun al-Akhbar. London, 2013.
Consult Reading Guide.
Watch Interview with Dr Shainool Jiwa.
Madelung, Wilferd, and Paul E. Walker ed. and tr. The Advent of the Fatimids: A Contemporary Shi‘i Witness. London and New York, 2000.
Walker, Paul E., ed. and tr. Exploring an Islamic Empire: Fatimid History and its Sources (London, 2002).
_____. ed. and tr. Orations of the Fatimid Caliphs: Festival Sermons of the Ismaili Imams. London, 2009.
Watch Lecture on Fatimid Feasts and Festivals by Prof. Paul Walker.