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A Petition to a Woman at the Fatimid Court

Author(s): Rustow, Marina

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Abstract: The Genizah of the Ben Ezra synagogue in Fustat preserved dozens of petitions addressed to the Fatimid and Ayyubid chanceries in Cairo and decrees that they issued in response. This article provides an edition, trans lation, and discussion of a petition housed among the Genizah documents of the Bodleian Library directed to Sitt al-Mulk, half-sister of the caliph al Hakim (386-411/996-1021) and head of the Fatimid state between his death and her own in 414/1023. Geoffrey Khan had previously identified two petitions to a Fatimid princess housed in Cambridge and New York; it is likely that they, too, were addressed to Sitt al-Mulk. Such documents elucidate Sitt al-Mulk's role in government after her brother's death and provide evidence for the chronicler al-Musabbihfs claim that she received and responded to petitions from subjects. The article offers possible expla nations as to why petitions such as this one, which concerns an Ismaili mosque, should have found their way to the Jewish community of Fustat whose members reused and preserved them. It also suggests some broader conclusions about the dispersal, survival, or disappearance of pre-Ottoman Middle Eastern archives and documents.
Publication Date: 2010
Citation: Rustow, Marina. (2010). A Petition to a Woman at the Fatimid Court. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 73 (1 - 27. doi:10.1017/S0041977X09990322
DOI: doi:10.1017/S0041977X09990322
ISSN: 0041-977X
Pages: 1 - 27
Language: English
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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