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Abbasid Period to Fatimid Rule (750-1099)
Main Jerusalem Timeline > Bayt al-maqdis > Abbasid to Fatimid

After 750, the Abbasid Caliphs move the center of the Muslim Empire further east, to Baghdad (Iraq). Meanwhile, Muslim rule in the west extends all the way to Spain (al Andalus). This leaves the geographic middle, Syria and Palestine (in Arabic: bilad al sham), in the hands of Egypt, which (after 868) emerges as the strongest regional power.

After a period of Arab and Turkish governors (638-868), Egypt attained de facto autonomy under Ibn Tulun and his successors, the Tulunids (868-905). After another thirty-year phase of turmoil, a second dynasty of independent governors rules Egypt and the Levant, the Ikhshidids (935-969). These are displaced by the Fatimids (969-1161), who are in control of the Holy City when the crusading Franj arrive in 1099 (the First Crusade).

The consolidation of Egypt through efficient administration of its argicultural wealth and the revival of trade between Europe (via the Mediterranean) and India (via the Red Sea) also benefits Jerusalem, which becomes the preferred place of burial for Muslim dignitaries. Egypt develops once again as a center of learning (Shafi'i and Maliki schools of law), though not on a par with Baghdad. Jerusalem attracts Sufi mystics, Islamic law scholars, and Karaite and rabbanite Jews, while retaining its character as Christianity's holiest city. Nevertheless, monumental buildings fall into disrepair and the city, as described by Muqqdasi, himself a Jerusalemite, seems sidelined and neglected.

In the late eleventh century, Fatimid rule over bilad al-sham is contested by the Rum Seljuks who are also threatening Constantinople.

The internally divided Muslim powers offer no concerted resistance to the European Franj (Franks), arriving in waves of armed pilgrimages aimed at "liberating the Holy Places from the infidels."

(Image: Minaret of the Great Mosque of Ibn Tulun, Cairo. Source: