When people eat dogs, cats and human flesh .. “Al-Shadda Al-Mustansiriya” a famine that devastated Egypt for 7 years

Imagine that the sea and land trade passages are closed, and the streets and markets are deserted, and people dare not wander in them for fear of their lives, especially since there are so many hungry people holding hooks and hooks in their homes. to grab passers-by from the roofs and swallow them because of the great famine that has led to food shortages .. No. We tell you a Hollywood tale from the imagination. Rather, we tell you about a real tragedy that struck Egypt during the reign of Caliph Fatimid Al-Mustansir by Allah, and was known as “Al-Shadda Al-Mustansiriya”.

The hardship of Al-Mustansiriya, the most salient thing that happened during the 60 years of Al-Mustansir’s rule

Caliph Fatimid Al-Mustansir Billah ruled for nearly 60 years, during which King Fatimid collapsed and one of the greatest famines known to Egypt occurred.

Al-Mustansir Billah was the eighth Fatimid caliph and the eighteenth imam in the line of Ismaili Shiite imams, and the Fatimid state was at its peak when he ascended the throne before turning eight years old. At the beginning of his reign, the state expanded tremendously and the coffers were filled with money, but the conditions of the Fatimid state began to change after the death of his powerful minister, Ali bin Ahmed al-Jarjharay.

As the caliph’s mother, Mrs. Rassd, began to interfere in state affairs and appoint overseers and ministers, the country plunged into a state of political chaos, sparking strife and revolutions between army teams and leaders vying for money and power.

Many countries left the Sultan of Caliph Fatimid, so Baghdad returned to the Abbasid Caliphate, Al-Mustansir’s preaching was interrupted in Mecca and Medina, and the Normans took Sicily, and thus the state stretching from the far Atlantic Ocean. until the Euphrates was reduced only to Egypt.

But even Egypt was not the strong state full of generosity as the Fatimids knew it, as it was destroyed by a tragic famine that lasted for 7 years, destroying the country and the people.

Shutterstock image of Shaddah Al-Mustansiriya emoji

From the eating of the dead to the eating of the living

The story began with the drying up of the Nile waters in Egypt for a 7-year period known as the “Seven Weak”. This happened at the end of the era of the Fatimid caliph Al-Mustansir Billah in the eleventh century.

Like any ordinary famine, it began with a severe shortage of food resources as a result of the drying up of agricultural lands and the rise in prices in an unprecedented way. It later developed that the land became desolate and most of the domesticated animals became extinct. People were hungry. and corruption increased.Women took to the streets to demonstrate against the high prices in what was described as the first women’s demonstration in the history of Egypt.

The house, the price of which is 900 dinars, was sold at 90 dinars, for its inhabitants to buy flour, sell bread as antiques, and the price of a drink of water reached one dinar.

The matter did not stop at this point, things then got completely out of control and the people’s hunger got to the point where they started stealing bread and eating cats and dogs, so the caliph’s minister went to investigate one of the accidents. in his mule, so that hungry people took it and ate it according to what is reported in the book “Teachings of the Hanafis on the News of the Fatimid Imams and Caliphs” by the historian Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi.

It was said that the Caliph himself had not spared himself from starvation, so he was forced to sell the marble on the graves of his fathers, and the daughter of one of the scholars of the time gave him alms.

As for the worst and worst, it is what al-Maqrizi also mentioned in his book, and Ibn Iyas ratified it, about the hungry people in Egypt eating the corpses of the dead; They even kidnapped the living and killed them in order to eat their flesh.

Those historians mentioned that people made hooks and hooks and kept them in their homes to hunt pedestrians in the streets from the roofs and eat their meat. After the spread of this phenomenon, the streets were emptied and deserted and the population of Egypt refused to reach . the lowest rate in its history.

Expressive photo Shadda Al-Mustansiriyah

Expressive photo Shadda Al-Mustansiriyah

Ibn al-Haytham’s suggestion to avoid hunger

Muslim scholar Ibn al-Haytham reportedly visited Egypt in the era of the Fatimid state and advised the caliph to build a high dam on the Nile to solve the problem of drought, which could cause famine for years, but the proposal his was. was rejected and historians say that Egypt could have avoided what happened during the difficult days of Al-Mustansiriya.If the Fatimids would follow Ibn al-Haytham’s suggestion.

Note that the low water level of the Nile has always brought crisis to the population of the region, to the extent that Muhammad Ali refused to rule Egypt until the end of the low water crisis, which at that time calculated the consequences of her over his predecessor. , the Ottoman governor Khurshid Pasha.

However, some historians attribute Al-Mustansir’s harshness to political reasons, other than the falling waters of the Nile. bin Al-Hussein Al-Hamdani, who came into conflict with the caliph himself after Al-Mustansir ousted him from the Levant state.Ibn al-Husseini traveled to Egypt and recruited the Bedouins and besieged Cairo, cutting off supplies and food, and this coincided with a time when water levels on the Nile had dropped and hardships had doubled over humans.

Expressive photo Shadda Al-Mustansiriyah

Expressive photo Shadda Al-Mustansiriyah

Historical facts or intimidation based on folk tales?

There is no doubt that Al-Mustansiriya’s hardships actually occurred and lasted for seven years in which people suffered from hunger, high food prices and then their loss, as well as from corruption, insecurity and theft.

Scholars in history believe that Al-Maqriz’s account of Al-Mustansiriya’s concern is dominated by exaggeration and exaggeration, because of his reliance on popular narratives on the one hand, and because he wrote his book that talks about this harshness after nearly 300 years of it. phenomenon.

History and archeology researcher Imad Hamdi told Al-Jazeera Net that there were indications that al-Maqrizi’s novel was full of inaccuracies and exaggerations, including the story of Badr al-Din al-Jamali, al-Mustansir’s minister. Billah who was brought by the Caliph from the Levant to put an end to the unrest experienced by Egypt due to famine.

Al-Mustansir’s people started arguing with each other in Egypt, except for the riots that erupted in the country due to lack of food and high prices, but Al-Jamali was able to put things right and turned them to their right. as he built bridges and cleared canals, so farmers were able to return to agriculture and prices began to improve.

According to the scholar, if the caliph had sold everything he owned, he would not have been able to spend on al-Jamali’s forces, and if the Egyptians had eaten each other, as al-Maqrizi says, they would have eaten the forces. . of Badr al-Jamali and the caliph himself.


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