Did you know that the Fatimid caliphs were also the imams (spiritual leaders) of Shia Ismaili Muslims? Serving as Ismaili imams before becoming Fatimid caliphs, these leaders continued to be acknowledged as imams long after establishing the Fatimid caliphate. Today, the Fatimids continue to be generally referred to as “imam-caliphs.”

In this lecture, Dr. Farhad Daftary investigates the roots of the Fatimids as imams and spiritual leaders of an important Shia community, revealing how the Ismaili connection of the Fatimid caliphs served to extend beyond the borders of the Fatimid state — and ensure the survival of Ismailism long after the decline of the Fatimid dynasty.

Farhad Daftary completed his early and secondary education in Tehran, Rome, and London, before going to Washington, D.C., in 1958. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the American University in Washington, and then continued his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, leading to a Ph.D. degree in 1971. Subsequently, Dr. Daftary held different teaching posts, and, since 1988, he has been affiliated with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, where he is currently Co-Director and Head (since 1992) of the Department of Academic Research and Publications.


The World of the Fatimids

Saturday, March 10 to Monday, July 2

The Tolerance of Fatimid Egypt and its Unnoticed Enigma

Sunday, March 11, 2–4 pm

Electro Chaabi and Tunisia Clash

Sunday, April 8, 2 pm

Fatimids Through the Art of Block Printing

Sundays, April 8 to 29, 1–4 pm

Meet the Fatimids

Thursday, April 12, 1–2 pm

Islamic Architecture of the Deccan: The Bahmanis and the Adil Shahis

Wednesday, April 18, 6:30–8 pm

The World of the Fatimids with Dr. Filiz Çakir Phillip

Tuesday, April 24, 6:30–7:30 pm

The Yacoubian Building

Sunday, April 29, 2 pm

Bowl; probably Cairo, Egypt; 1050–1100. Fritware, lustre-painted overglaze. Copyright © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Spiritual Foundations of the Fatimids

$20, $18 Friends, $12 students and seniors