Jawhar (general)

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Jawhar ibn Abdallah (Arabic: جوهر بن عبد الله‎, romanizedJawhar ibn ʿAbd Allāh; died 28 April 992) was a Fatimid general who led the conquest of western North Africa, and subsequenly the conquest of Egypt, for the Fatimid Caliphate under al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah. He served as viceroy of Egypt until al-Mu'izz's arrival in Egypt in 973, consolidating Fatimid control over the country and laying the foundations of Cairo. After that, he retired from public life until his death.

He is variously known with the nisbas al-Siqilli (الصقلي, al-Ṣiqillī, 'the Sicilian'), al-Saqlabi (الصقلبي, al-Ṣaqlabī, 'the Slav'), al-Rumi (الرومي, al-Rūmī, 'the Byzantine'), and with the titles al-Katib (الكَاتِب‎‎, al-Kātib, 'the Secretary') and al-Qa'id (القائد, al-Qāʾid, 'the General').[1]


The birth date of Jawhar is not known, but as he died in 992, and the peak of his career was between 950 and 975, he cannot have been born earlier than the 900s.[1] He was of Slavic origin (Ṣaqāliba). His father, Abdallah, was a slave, but Jawhar himself is attested in the sources only as a freedman.[1]

Jawhar is first mentioned as a page (ghulām) and possibly a secretary, to the third Fatimid caliph, al-Mansur Billah (r. 946–953).[1] In 958, al-Mansur's son and successor, al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah (r. 953–975) chose Jawhar to lead a campaign to restore Fatimid control over the central and western parts of North Africa.[1] In this campaign, Jawhar first gave proof of his exceptional military talents.[1] He first led the Fatimid armies to victory over the Zenata, a Berber tribe that had allied with the Fatimids' rivals, the Umayyads of the Caliphate of Cordoba, defeating and killing their leader, Ya'la ibn Muhammad al-Yafrani.[1] He then turned southeast towards Sijilmasa, capturing and killing its ruler Muhammad ibn al-Fath ibn Maymun ibn Midrar.[2] It was not until a year later, in October 960, that he moved north towards Fez, taking the city by storm on 13 November and capturing its Umayyad governor, Ahmad ibn Abi Bakr al-Judhami.[3] With this victory, all of the Maghreb, apart from Tangier and Ceuta, came under Fatimid control, or recognized Fatimid suzerainty. As token of his victory, Jawhar is said to have sent jars filled with live fish from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caliph in Ifriqiya.[3]

After the Western borders had been secured, Jawhar as-Siqilli pushed towards Egypt and occupied the land around the Nile in 969 from the Ikhshidids after a siege at Giza. The conquest was prepared by a treaty with the Ikhshidid vizier Abu'l-Fadl Ja'far ibn al-Fadl (by which Sunnis would be guaranteed freedom of religion), so the Fatimids encountered little resistance. Afterwards Jawhar ruled Egypt until 972 as viceroy.

Although Palestine was occupied after the conquest of Egypt, Syria could not be overcome, following a defeat at the hands of the Qarmatians at Damascus. However, when the Qarmatians overran Egypt, Jawhar was able to defeat them north of Cairo on 22 December 970, although the struggle continued until 974. To secure the southern border of Egypt a legation was sent to the Christian land of Nubia.

After the establishment of the residence at Cairo, Jawhar fell into disfavour with al-Muizz. Under his successor al-Aziz (975-996) however, in whose accession to the throne Jawhar played an important role, he was rehabilitated. He was regent again until 979, but was finally stripped of power after a campaign against Syria was once again defeated near Damascus.

Jawhar died on 28 April 992.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Monés 1965, p. 494.
  2. ^ Monés 1965, pp. 494–495.
  3. ^ a b c Monés 1965, p. 495.


  • Brett, Michael (2001). The Rise of the Fatimids: The World of the Mediterranean and the Middle East in the Fourth Century of the Hijra, Tenth Century CE. The Medieval Mediterranean. 30. Leiden, Boston, Köln: Brill. ISBN 90-04-11741-5.
  • Daftary, Farhad (2007). The Ismāʿı̄lı̄s: Their History and Doctrines (Second ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-61636-2.
  • Halm, Heinz (1991). Das Reich des Mahdi: Der Aufstieg der Fatimiden [The Empire of the Mahdi: The Rise of the Fatimids] (in German). Munich: C. H. Beck. ISBN 3-406-35497-1.
  • Mikaberidze, Alexander (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 448–. ISBN 978-1-59884-337-8.
  • Monés, Hussain (1965). "D̲j̲awhar al-Ṣiḳillī". In Lewis, B.; Pellat, Ch. & Schacht, J. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume II: C–G. Leiden: E. J. Brill. pp. 494–495. OCLC 495469475.

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