The Theocrat takes as its subject one of Arab and Islamic history's most perplexing figures, al-Hakim bi-Amr Illah ("the ruler by order of God"), the Fatimid caliph who ruled Egypt during the tenth century and whose career was a direct reflection of both the tensions within the Islamic dominions as a whole and of the conflicts within his own mind. In this remarkable novel Bensalem Himmich explores these tensions and conflicts and their disastrous consequences on an individual ruler and on his people. Himmich does not spare his readers the full horror and tragedy of al-Hakim's reign, but in employing a variety of textual styles--including quotations from some of the best known medieval Arab historians; vivid historical narratives; a series of extraordinary decrees issued by the caliph; and, most remarkably, the inspirational utterances of al-Hakim during his ecstatic visions, recorded by his devotees and subsequently a basis for the foundation of the Druze community--he succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a character whose sheer unpredictability throws into relief the qualities of those who find themselves forced to cajole, confront, or oppose him.
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Prelude to The Smoke
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Abu al-Mahasin Abu Rakwa al-Druzi al-Fadl al-Fayyum al-Hakim bi-Amr Illah al-Hakim the Fatimid Al-Maqrizi Amr ibn al-'As Arabic army asked Banu Qurra Barqa battle blessed blood bring caliph cause command curse death decrees desert devotees donkey Egypt Egyptian enemy eyes faith Fatima fight forgiveness Fustat God's greeted hadith Hamad al-Madi Hammu hands head heart Himmich historian Ibn al-Haytham Ibn Dawwas ibn Jawhar imam inside Islam Khatir al-Mulk killed kissed the ground Kutamis looked lord managed Mas'ud mosque Mukhtar Muqattam Hills murder Muslim Naguib Mahfouz Nasim never night Nile novel old Cairo Once palace peace poet praise prayer Prophet Qur'an Ramadan realize replied secret Shaykh Zaydan Shihab al-Din silence Sitt al-Mulk slaves soldiers soul stars started Sufi sword Syria talk tell tent things told took tribe tribesmen tyranny victory women words Yahya Yanal yelled young Zanata