The Empire of the Mehdi

The Empire of the Mahdi : The Rise of the Fatemids

Heinz Halm. Translated from the German by Michael Bonner

In the 9th century, the ismailis — known in the Middle Ages under the name of Fatimeen — arose to play a prominent role in the history of the Near East. Today they are a prominent group for traders and businessmen, a peace loving communtiy known as the Dawoodi Bohra. Their spiritaul head is the 52nd Dail Mutlaq, Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (tus) who is the vicegerent of the Imam of the presnt day. The Dai al-Mutlaq represents the Imam during his Seclusion. In this mesmerising book, Heinz Halm describes the early history of the Fatimids, from the founding and spread of the Ismaili Fatemi society to the rise of the caliphal dynasty to power in North Africa and the founding of Cairo, their capital.

‘Grammarians, linguists, Semiticists, Ethiopianists, students, and curious speakers of Amharic will be well and long served by this exemplary work. For advanced students of the language, it will become an indispensable tool.’

Grover Hudson, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1998.

Good news: Heinz Halm’s excellent outline of the early history of the Fatimids is now available in English…The impression that this volume, despite its high scholarly claim, almost appears like a ‘best-seller’, may be acknowledged with pleasure by everybody expecting from a book in the non-fictional area, in addition to new insights and an increase of knowledge, also a fair deal of literary entertainment.

Sebastian Günther, Bibliotheca Orientalis, 1998.

Readership: All those interested in the history of Islam and the Near East in general.

Heinz Halm, Ph.D. (1967) in Islamic Studies, University of Bonn, is Professor of Islamic History at the University of Tübingen. He specialises in Shi‘ite Iran; his book Shiism appeared in an English translation in 1991.

Michael Bonner, Ph.D. (1987) in Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, is Associate Professor of Medieval Islamic History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His translation of A. Noth, Quellenkritische Studien zu Themen, Formen und Tendenzen frühislamischer Geschichtsüberlieferung was published in 1994 as The Early Arabic Historical Tradition.

This book is available at