Of the many pretenders to this dignity known in all periods of Moslem history the most famous was the first caliph of the Fatimite dynasty in North Africa, `Obaidallah al-Mandi, who reigned 909-933.
Not only was Syria thus weakened by being detached from the body of the Seljukian empire; it was divided by dissensions within, and assailed by the Fatimite caliph of Egypt from without.
A great religious difference divided the Fatimite caliph of Cairo, the head of the Shiite sect, from the Abbasid caliph of Bagdad, who was the head of the Sunnites.
After his death, however, they quarrelled with the Fatimite rulers of Egypt (969) and began to lose their influence.
When the seat of the Fatimite Empire was removed to Egypt, the Zirites, a house of the Sanhaja Berbers, ruled as their lieutenants at Mandia, and about 1050 Mo`izz the Zirite, in connexion with a religious movement against the Shiites, transferred his very nominal allegiance to the Abbasid caliphs.