Jawhar Al-Saqli (Arabic: جوهر الصقلى, romanized: Jawhar aṣ-Ṣaqli, lit. 'Jawhar the Sicilian'; fl. 966–992) was a Fatimid general. Under the command of Caliph al-Mu'izz, he led the conquest of North Africa and then of Egypt, founded the city of Cairo and the great al-Azhar Mosque. A Greek slave by origin, he was freed by Al-Mu'izz.
Jawhar was a Sicilian ghulam of Greek ethnicity. His family originated from the Emirate of Sicily (hence the epithet الصقلي = the Sicilian), and came as a slave to North Africa. He was sent to the Fatimid Caliph Ismail al-Mansur on account of his intelligence and cunning. Under Mansur's son al-Muizz (953-975) he gained his freedom and became his personal secretary. Soon he was the vizier and the highest-ranking military commander of the Fatimids. In this role he resumed the expansion of the Fatimids and, together with the Zirids, conquered Fez in Northern Morocco, and pushed towards the Atlantic. Only the strongholds of Ceuta and Tangier could be retained by the Umayyads of Córdoba.
After the Western borders had been secured, Jawhar Al-Saqli 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 1 February 992.
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The architect of his military system was a general named Jawhar, an islamicized Greek slave who had led the conquest of North Africa and then of EgyptCS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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When the Sicilian Jawhar finally entered Fustat in 969 and the following year founded the new dynastic capital, Cairo, 'The Victorious', the Fatimids ...CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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Under Mu’izz (955-975) the Fatimids reached the height of their glory, and the universal triumph of isma ‘ilism appeared not far distant. The fourth Fatimid Caliph is an attractive character: humane and generous, simple and just, he was a good administrator, tolerant and conciliatory. Served by one of the greatest generals of the age, Jawhar al-Rumi, a former Greek slave, he took fullest advantage of the growing confusion in the Sunnite world.
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After the accession of the fourth Fatimid caliph, al-Mu'izz (953- 975), a cultivated and energetic ruler who found an able second in Jawhar, an ethnic Greek, conditions for conquest of Egypt improved.
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Jawhar was a European mamluk (of Greek origin. Arab historians called these Western Byzantines as Rumis), in the sense he was brought as a slave to Qayrwan, the then capital of the Fatimids in the North Western Africa.
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Jawhar was a Greek slave, al-Khitat al-Maqriziya, Cairo, 1324/1906, Vol. II, pp. 205.
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In AD 969, a Fatimid army of 100,000 men entered Egypt, led by the greatest general of the day, Gohar al-Siqilli al-Rumi, who, as his name makes clear, was of Christian slave origin, al-Saqli meaning ‘the Sicilian' and al-Rumi ‘the Greek'.
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a Greek mercenary born in Sicily, and his 100000-man army had little
- Monés (1991), p. 494
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