One of history's most controversial characters is Al Hakim Bi Amr Allah. Seen as God incarnate by some, as an eccentric "mad" ruler by others, and vilianised by yet others.
Al Hakim was a Caliph of the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt, North Africa, Palestine and Syria. Contrary to the majority of their subjects, who were Sunni, the Fatimids were Shia of the Ismaili branch. They engaged in missionary work to spread their sect's belief as wide as possible.
Al Hakim reigned from 996 C.E. to 1021 C.E, having acceded to the throne at the young age of 11, he lived to be only 36 and ruled for 25.
Some pro-Fatimid sources are too lenient on him, and do not elaborate on his character and eccentricities, such as Wikipedia's entry, or the Institute of Ismaili Studies in the UK, or the quasi official Ismaili.Net web site.
On the contrary, most Sunni sources take a very hostile attitude to him, saying that he claimed divinity for himself.
The truth is somewhere in between. Balanced and objective historians have wrote extensive accounts on him. One such source is the Egyptian Historian, al-Maqrizi المقريزي, himself being a descendent of the Fatimids. Al-Maqrizi dedicated one of his work to the Fatimid dynasty, it is called إتعاظ الحنفاء Iti'az al-Hunufa in it, he chronicles the origin of this dynasty, detailed biographies of its rulers, and events during their reign. The section on al-Hakim is quite comprehensive.
He sums up the bias of sources on Fatimids at the end of his book as: "you will find that the worst histories of them are found only in the Mashreqi books, the Iraqis and Levantines", and then lists examples of those, then continues: "But you will not find any of that in books authored by Egyptians on the Fatimid dynasty".
ومما يدلك على كثرة الحمل عليهم أن الأخبار الشنيعة لا سيما التي فيها إخراجهم من ملة الإسلام لا تكاد تجدها إلا في كتب المشارقة من البغداديين والشاميين
كالمنتظم لابن الجوزي والكامل لابن الأثير وتاريخ حلب لابن أبي طي وتاريخ العماد لابن كثير وكتاب ابن واصل الحموي وكتاب ابن شداد وكتاب العماد الأصفهاني ونحو هؤلاء.
أما كتب المصريين الذين اعتنوا بتدوين أخبارها فلا تكاد تجد في شيء منها ذلك ألبتة.
What is certain is that al-Hakim was very generous, giving away money to people who asked. He was also pious, and fought consumption of alcoholic drinks. But he was also erratic, unpredictable, and very cruel.
Al Maqrizi sums him up as: "he did not stick to one thing. If he inclines to something, he would show it and then force people on it. Then he would abandon it, and then force people to abandon it to whatever he is now inclined to".
وكان قليل الثبات سريع الاستمالة إذا مال إلى اعتقاد شيء أظهره وحمل الناس عليه
ثم لا يلبث أن يرجع عنه إلى غيره فيريد من الناس ترك ما كان قد أهم به والمصير إلى ما استحدثه ومال إليه.
I will include here excerpts about al-Hakim's deeds, trying to draw conclusions from there acts as appropriate. They are in Arabic, with a summary in English.
See the links below for details: