Skip to main content


From the Maghrib to the Mashriq through al-Andalus and Norman Sicily. The sacrifice of she-camels among the Fatimids and Safavids

Professor Maribel Fierro is the Al-Qasimi Professor of Islamic Studies

Event details

This paper - based on previous research to which new materials are now added - deals with an innovative ritual that has taken place in different regions of the Islamic world and in different periods, from the tenth century CE until today. It fundamentally consists in the ruler performing publicly the sacrifice on the day of the Festival of Sacrifice, while the animal sacrificed may vary. The earliest example is that of the Fatimids. Shortly after the Fatimid imam-caliph started performing this practice, the Cordoban Umayyad ʽAbd al-Raḥmān III is said to have publicly slain his rebel son on the day of the Festival of Sacrifice, a striking report that has to be related to the relations between the Cordoban Umayyads and the Fatimids, although it also had a precedent among the Umayyads of Damascus. The animal chosen by the imam-caliphs was a she-camel and one of the ways to visualize the powerful spectacle that the sacrifice was is by looking at the mantle of the Norman king of Sicily Roger II, whose iconography must be related to the Fatimid practice. In the late sixteenth century, the Safavid rulers started to sacrifice publicly she-camels, while the King of Morocco still today is the first to sacrifice a ram. In her lecture, Professor Maribel Fierro will discuss how and why such practice came into being in the Fatimid caliphate and the contexts in which it was later adopted by other rulers, and the reasons for the choice of she-camels will be analyzed.


IAIS Building/LT1