An Ismaili Shia’ dynasty whose founder, Sa’eed ibn Husein, claimed descent from Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet and wife of Ali bin Abi Taleb, the fourth caliph and first Shi’a imam.

After the overthrow of the Aghlabids in Tunisia by his followers, he established a caliphate in Tunisia , Algeria, Libya (909-71) and took the name Ubaidallah. Fatimid fllet continually ravaged the central Mediterrranean islnds of Malta, Sardinia, and Corsica.

During the reign of the fourth Fatimid caliph Moezz, 9530975, the dynasty reached its height. His generals conquered Egypt in 969 and made Cairo their capital. Later they expanded to include Arabia, Palestine and southern Syria (969-1171). Their ultimate goal was to replace the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad.

From the mid-10th century, the Fatimid kingdom began to crumble internally; the 6th caliph Hakim abandoned his predecessor’ religious toleration of others, and proclaimed himself a reincarnation of God. His claim was accepted by people who became known as Druze in Syria and Lebanon. Hakim was assassinated and Fatimid power declined.

Saladin found it easy to end Fatimid rule in Egypt in 1171. Despite the religious unorthodoxy of the dynasty, most of its subjects remained orthodox Muslims. In the Fatimid period Egypt enjoyed extraordinary economic and cultural vitality.