The Fatimid dynasty ruled Ifriqya from 910 until their departure for Egypt in 973. The dynasty was founded by the Syrian Said Ibn Hussein, who later took the name `Ubayd Allah. `Ubayd Allah belonged to a militant branch of the Shi`a sect called Isma`ilis. Urged by `Ubayd Allah, the Kutama Berbers of eastern Algeria, who were disgruntled with the Aghlabid rule, acknowledged `Ubayda as the Mahdi (divinely guided one) and the caliph. The Aghlabids' defeat at the hands of the Kutama paved the way for `Ubayda Allah's rise to authority. The decision to name itself "Fatimid" indicated the dynasty's search for legitimacy by claiming descent from the Prophet Muhammad by way of his daughter Fatima Azzahra and her husband, Ali Ibn Abi Talib, who was the fourth caliph and cousin of the Prophet. Soon his control extended all over the Maghrib, which he governed from his newly founded capital, Mahdiya, named after him.
   Its rulers' choice of the title "caliph" reflected their wish to challenge the supremacy of the caliphs as the sole leaders of Islam. They launched attacks against Abbasid territories to the east. After several internal and external challenges, especially the Umayyad and their Zanata allies, the Zirids, in the 960s the Fatimids successfully entered Egypt, where they founded the city of al-Qahira (Cairo) in 969. They continued their conquest of the east until they ruled a vast realm stretching from Tunisia through Sicily to the Levant. In 1171, Salah al-Dine (Saladin) attached Egypt to the Abbasid caliphate, and Egypt returned to the Sunni realm of Islam, putting an end to the Fatimids.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.

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