|Memoirs of a Mission: The Ismaili Scholar, Statesman and Poet, al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din al-Shirazi|
Ismaili Heritage Series 9, London: I. B. Tauris in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2003, pp. xx + 160.
ISBN (Hardback): 1 86064 432 5
Al–Mu’ayyad fi’l–Din al–Shirazi was one of the most distinguished and gifted personalities of the Ismaili da‘wa under the Fatimids. In the heyday of Fatimid power during the 5th/11th century, he spent most of his life serving the caliph–imam al–Mustansir bi’llah (r. AH 427–487/AD 1036–1094) as a da‘i in various capacities – administrative, diplomatic, military and religious – eventually attaining the highest rank of da‘i al–du ‘at (chief da ‘i) in the Fatimid da‘wa.
Al–Mu’ayyad was first active as the regional leader of the da‘wa in his homeland of Fars in southern Iran, about 1,300 miles away from the Fatimid capital of Cairo. Fars was by then a nearly autonomous principality in the realm of the ‘Abbasid caliph in Baghdad. As al–Mu’ayyad’s memoirs – his Sirat al–Mu’ayyad fi’l–Din – reveals, he was attempting to convince the Buyid ruler of Fars, Abu Kalijar, that a shift to the Fatimid cause would generate political and religious advantages for him. This was a highly dangerous task undertaken by the Ismaili da‘i in a hostile environment, during the days of a Sunni ‘restoration’.
After an adventurous flight via Khuzistan, northern Mesopotamia and Syria, al–Mu’ayyad finally arrived at the Fatimid court in Cairo in 437/1045 or shortly thereafter. Despite many setbacks, the ambitious refugee gradually worked his way up the hierarchy of the da‘wa, and was eventually appointed as chief da‘i of the Fatimid da‘wa. Except for a short interruption, al–Mu’ayyad was henceforth the da‘i al–du‘at and lived and worked at the Dar al–‘Ilm, the ‘House of Knowledge’, until the end of his life in 470/1078. There, as the head of the central institution of the da‘wa, he devoted his life to administering the affairs of the da‘wa, teaching missionaries from both inside and outside the Fatimid empire, and composing his theological works.
In his capacity as chief da‘i and executive head of the da‘wa, al–Mu’ayyad also authored 800 lectures prepared for delivery at the majalis al–hikma (sessions of wisdom), sermons he held in front of the community of believers every Thursday in the Fatimid capital. Al–Mu’ayyad is also the author of more than 60 Arabic qasidas, many of them poems of praise addressed to the Fatimid caliph–imam al–Mustansir and his predecessor al–Zahir li–I‘zaz Din Allah.
Among al–Mu’ayyad’s writings, his Sira is of particular historical significance. This work, written in three stages between 443/1051 and 455/1063, covers the years 429–450/1038–1058. Beginning with a very vivid and eloquent autobiographical report about his religio–political mission in late Buyid Iran, the Sira continues to give an account of al–Mu’ayyad’s experiences at the Fatimid court. In a further section of the work, al–Mu’ayyad speaks of his political negotiations with the local Bedouin rulers and the rebellious leader of the Turkish troops at Bagdhad, Abu’l–Harith al–Basasiri, underpinning his report with letters and documents. Thus, al–Mu’ayyad’s Sira is a highly valuable and authentic source, one written by an eye–witness and active participant in the crucial political events of the 5th/11th century. Indeed, the Sira fills and enriches the incomplete and fragmentary information provided by the historiographers of later Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk times.
Interest in al–Mu’ayyad’s works was reawakened in the twentieth century as manuscripts were discovered in the Ismaili libraries of the Yemen and India, opening another chapter in their reception and continuing history. Husain al–Hamdani (1901–1962), sketching the theological tradition of the Fatimids in 1931, considered al–Mu’ayyad to have brought the Ismaili spiritual heritage to its pinnacle and, furthermore, to have been its transmitter to the Yemeni da‘wa.
In this way, al–Mu’ayyad’s memoirs transcend the personal historical sphere of the life and activities of a da‘i and refer to the norms and laws informing the Fatimid da‘wa. The study evaluates the Sira as a source, not only for the history of the Fatimid da‘wa but also for reconstructing the international political dynamics at work at the beginning of the arrival of the Oghuz Turkoman people into the very heart of the Islamic world. This threatening development, anxiously observed by Fatimid officials, finally resulted in the removal of the Buyid military leaders and the establishment of the supreme authority of the Saljuq leader Toghril Beg in Baghdad, the seat of the Sunni caliphate, in the year 447/1055.
In view of the documentary evidence and research work on al–Mu’ayyad, it is no exaggeration to say that we do know a great deal about this multi–talented Fatimid scholar, who excelled as a clever diplomatic emissary, statesman, poet, preacher and philosophical theologian. But even if we know more about him than any of his colleagues in the Fatimid da ‘wa, many aspects of al–Mu’ayyad’s life still remain in the dark.
The aim of the work is not to investigate the theological and intellectual dimensions of al–Mu’ayyad’s writings, nor to delve deeply into his poetry. Rather, the intention is to offer what is known about him, as well as the circumstances surrounding his eventful and active life, to a broader public interested in the history of the Ismailis and in the organisation, strategies and ideals of the Fatimid da‘wa. Beyond this, the book addresses readers interested in the history and the dynamics of Middle Eastern societies in the 5th/11th century, which was a time of relative stability in Fatimid Egypt but one of radical and far–reaching change in the eastern and central parts of the Muslim world.
Part I: Al–Muayyads Mission in Fars
Part II: Al–Muayyad in Egypt and Syria
Part III: Al–Muayyad at the Pinnacle of his Career
Appendix 1: The Works of al–Muayyad fil–Din al–Shirazi
Appendix 2: The Hierarchy and Pedagogy of the Fatimid dawa
Bayhaqi, Abul–Fadl Muhammad b. al–Husayn. Tarikh–i Bayhaqi, ed. Ali Akbar Fayyad. Mashhad, 1971.
al–Hamidi, Hatim b. Ibrahim. Jami al–haqaiq,ed. M. Abd al–Qadir al–Abd al–Nasir. Cairo, 1975.
Hudud al–Alam: The Regions of the World: A Persian Geography; 372 AH/ 932 AD, trans. and explained by Vladimir Minorsky with a Preface by V.V. Barthold. London, 1937.
Ibn al–Adim, Kamal al–Din. Zubdat al–halab min tarikh Halab, ed. Sami al–Dahhan. Damascus, 1370–87/1951–68.
Ibn al–Athir, Izz al–Din Ali b. Muhammad. al–Kamil fil–tarikh. Beirut, 1385–87/1965–67.
Ibn al–Balkhi. Fars–nama, ed. G. Le Strange and R.A. Nicholson. Cambridge, 1921.
Ibn al–Dawadari, Abu Bakr b. Abd Allah. Kanz al–durar wa jami al–ghurar, vol.6: al–Durar al–mudia fi akhbar al–dawla al–Fatimiyya, ed. Salah al–Din al–Munajjid. Cairo, 1380/1961.
Ibn Hajar al–Asqalani. Raf al–isr, in Abu Umar Muhammad b. Yusuf al–Kindi, Kitab al–Wulat wa Kitab al–Qudat. The Governors and Judges of Egypt; together with an Appendix Derived mostly from Raf el–Isr by Ibn Hajar, ed. Rhuvon Guest. Leiden and London, 1912.
Ibn al–Haytham, Abu Abd Allah Jafar. Kitab al–Munazarat, ed. and trans. W. Madelung and P.E. Walker as The Advent of the Fatimids: A Contemporary Shii Witness. London, 2000.
Ibn al–Jawzi, Abul–Faraj Abd al–Rahman. al–Muntazam fi tarikh al––muluk wal–umam. Haydarabad, 1357–59/1938–40.
Ibn Kathir, Abul–Fida Abd Allah. al–Bidaya wal–nihaya fil–tarikh. Beirut and Riyad, 1966.
Ibn Khallikan, Ahmad b. Muhammad. Wafayat al–ayan, ed. Ihsan Abbas. Beirut, 1968–72.
Ibn Muyassar, Taj al–Din Muhammad b. Ali. Akhbar Misr, ed. Ayman Fuad Sayyid. Cairo, 1981.
Ibn al–Qalanisi, Abu Yala Hamza. Dhayl tarikh Dimashq. ed. H.F. Amedroz. Leiden and Beirut, 1908.
Ibn al–Sayrafi, Abul–Qasim Ali b. Munjib. al–Ishara ila man nal al–wizara, ed. Abd Allah Mukhlis. Cairo, 1925.
Idris Imad al–Din b. al–Hasan. Uyun al–akhbar wa funun al–athar, vol.7, ed. with English summary as The Fatimids and their Successors in Yaman, by A. Fuad Sayyid in collaboration with P.E. Walker and M.A. Pomerantz. London, 2002.
Jafar b. al–Mansur al–Yaman. Kitab al–Alim wal–ghulam, ed. and trans. James W. Morris as The Master and the Disciple: An Early Islamic Spiritual Dialogue. London, 2001.
al–Jawdhari, Abu Ali Mansur al–Azizi. Sirat al–ustadh Jawdhar, ed. M. Kamil Husayn and M. Abd al–Hadi Shaira. Cairo, 1374/1954. French trans. Marius Canard as Vie de lUstadh Jaudhar. Algiers, 1958.
al–Khatib al–Baghdadi. Tarikh Baghdad. Beirut, 1967 (reprint of the 1349/1931 edition).
al–Kirmani, Hamid al–Din. Mabasim al–bisharat bil–Imam al–Hakim bi–Amr Allah, in Taifat al–Duruz. Tarikhuha wa aqaiduha, ed. M. Kamil Husayn. Cairo, 1962, pp.55–62.
—–Rahat al–aql, ed. M. Kamil Husayn and M. Mustafa Hilmi. Cairo and Leiden, 1953.
al–Maarri, Abul–Ala. Rasail Abil– Ala al–Maarri, ed. Ihsan Abbas. Vol.1, Beirut and Cairo, 1982.
al–Majdu, Ismail b. Abd al–Rasul. Fahrasat al–kutub wal–rasail, ed. Alinaqi Munzavi. Tehran, 1966.
al–Maqrizi, Taqi al–Din Ahmad b. Ali. Ittiaz al–hunafa bi akhbar al–aimma al–Fatimiyyin al–khulafa, ed. Jamal al–Din al–Shayyal and M.H.M. Ahmad. Cairo, 1967–73.
—–Kitab al–Mawaiz wal–itibar bi dhikr al–khitat wal–athar. Bulaq, 1270/ 1853–54.
al–Muayyad fil–Din al–Shirazi, Abu Nasr Hibat Allah. Diwan al–Muayyad fil–Din dai al–duat, ed. M. Kamil Husayn. Cairo, 1949.
—–al–Majalis al–Muayyadiyya, vols. 1 and 3, ed. Mustafa Ghalib. Beirut, 1974–84; vols. 1 and 2, ed. Hatim Hamid al–Din. Oxford and Bombay, 1395–1407/1975–86.
—–Sirat al–Muayyad fil–Din dai al–duat, ed. M. Kamil Husayn. Cairo, 1949.
al–Mustansir billah, Abu Tamim Maadd. al–Sijillat al–Mustansiriyya, ed. A. Majid. Cairo, 1954.
Nasir–i Khusraw. Safar–nama, ed. M. Ghanizada. Berlin, 1922 . English trans. W.M. Thackston, Jr., Naser–e Khosraws Book of Travels (Safarnama). Albany, NY, 1986; ed. and French trans. Charles Schefer as Relation du voyage de Nassiri Khosrau. Paris, 1881; repr., Amsterdam, 1970.
al–Nisaburi, Ahmad b. Ibrahim. al–Risala al–mujaza al–kafiya fi adab al–duat, facsimile edition in V. Klemm, Die Mission, pp.205–277.
al–Qadi al–Numan, Abu Hanifa b. Muhammad. Daaim al–Islam, ed. Asaf A.A. Fyzee. Cairo, 1951–61. English trans. by A.A.A. Fyzee and revised by Ismaili K. Poonawala, The Pillars of Islam. New Delhi, 2002. vol. 1.
—–Kitab al–Himma fi adab atba al–aimma, ed. M. Kamil Husayn. Cairo, . Abridged English trans. J. Muscati and A.M. Moulvi, Selections from Qazi Noamans Kitab–ul–Himma, or Code of Conduct for the Followers of the Imam. Karachi, 1950.
al–Qalqashandi, Abul–Abbas Ahmad. Subh al–asha. Cairo, 1332–57/ 1914–38.
Sibt Ibn al–Jawzi. Mirat al–zaman fi tarikh al–ayan, ed. Ali Sevim. Ankara, 1968 (years 448/1056–480/1086).
al–Tabari, Abu Jafar Muhammad b. Jarir. Tarikh al–rusul wal–muluk, ed. M.J. de Goeje et al. Leiden, 1879–1901. English trans. by various scholars as The History of al–Tabari. Albany, NY, 1985–99.
Tarikh–i Sistan, ed. Malik al–Shuara Bahar. Tehran, 1314/1935.
al–Yamani, Muhammad b. Muhammad. Sirat al–Hajib Jafar b. Ali, ed. W. Ivanow, in Bulletin of the Faculty of Arts, University of Egypt, 4, Part 2 (1936), pp.107–133. English trans. W. Ivanow, in his Ismaili Tradition Concerning the Rise of the Fatimids, pp.184–223.
Barrucand, Marianne. Des constructeurs de talent, in Trésors fatimides de Caire. Paris, 1998, pp. 60–69.
Bivar, A.D.H. and S.M. Stern. The Coinage of Oman under Abu Kalijar the Buwayhid, Numismatic Chronicle, 6th series, 18 (1958), pp.147–156.
Bosworth, Clifford Edmond. The Ghaznavids: Their Empire in Afghanistan and Eastern Iran 994–1040. 2nd ed., Beirut, 1973.
—–Military Organisation under the Buyids of Persia and Iraq, Oriens, 18–19 (1965–66), pp. 143–167.
Bowen, Harold. The Last Buwayhids, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1929), pp.225–245.
—–Abu Kalidjar, EI2, vol.1, pp.131–132.
Bruijn, J.T.P. de. al–Kirmani, Hamid al–Din, EI2, vol.5, pp.166–167.
Bürgel, Christoph J. Die Hofkorrespondenz Adud ad–Daulas un ihr Verhältnis zu anderen historischen Quellen der frühen Buyiden. Wiesbaden, 1965.
Busse, Heribert. Chalif und Grosskönig. Die Buyiden im Iraq (945–1055). Beirut, 1969.
Cahen, Claude. Buwayhids or Buyids, EI2, vol.1, pp.1350–1357.
The Cambridge History of Iran: Volume 5, The Saljuq and the Mongol Periods, ed. J.A. Boyle. Cambridge, 1968.
Canard, Marius. al–Basasiri, Abul–Harith Arslan al–Muzaffar, EI2, vol.1, pp.1073–1074.
Cortese, Delia. Ismaili and Other Arabic Manuscripts: A Descriptive Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of The Institute of Ismaili Studies. London, 2000.
—–Arabic Ismaili Manuscripts: The Zahid Ali Collection in the Library of The Institute of Ismaili Studies. London, 2003.
Daftary, Farhad. The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines. Cambridge, 1990.
–—ed. Mediaeval Ismaili History and Thought. Cambridge, 1996.
—–A Short History of the Ismailis: Traditions of a Muslim Community. Edinburgh, 1998.
—–Sayyida Hurra: The Ismaili Sulayhid Queen of Yemen, in Gavin R.G. Hambly, ed., Women in the Medieval Islamic World. New York, 1998, pp. 117–130.
The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New edition. Leiden, 1960–2002.
Gacek, Adam. Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in the Library of The Institute of Ismaili Studies. London, 1984–85.
Glassen, Erika. Der Mittlere Weg. Studien zur Religionspolitik und Religiosität der späten Abbasidenzeit. Wiesbaden, 1981.
Gottheil, R. A Distinguished Family of Fatimide Cadis (an–Numan) in the Tenth Century, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 27 (1906), pp.217–296.
Halm, Heinz. Der Wesir al–Kunduri und die Fitna von Nisapur, Die Welt des Orients, 6 (1970–71), pp. 205–239.
—–Die Sirat Ibn Hausab. Die ismailitische dawa im Jemen und die Fatimiden, Die Welt des Orients, 12 (1981), pp.107–135.
—–Das Reich des Mahdi. Der Aufstieg der Fatimiden (875–973). Munich, 1991. English trans. M. Bonner as The Empire of the Mahdi: The Rise of the Fatimids. Leiden, 1996.
—–Die Kalifen von Kairo. Die Fatimiden in Ägypten, 973–1074. Munich, 2003.
—–Shiism, tr. J. Watson. Edinburgh, 1991.
—–The Fatimids and their Traditions of Learning. London, 1997.
—–The Ismaili Oath of Allegiance (ahd) and the Sessions of Wisdom (majalis al–hikma) in Fatimid Times, in Daftary, ed., Mediaeval Ismaili History and Thought, pp. 91–115.
Hamdani, Abbas. The Sira of al–Muayyad fid–din ash–Shirazi. PhD thesis, School of Oriental and African Studies. London, 1950.
—–The Beginnings of the Ismaili Dawa in Northern India. Cairo, 1956.
—–Evolution of the Organisational Structure of the Fatimi Dawah: The Yemeni and Persian Contribution, Arabian Studies, 3 (1976), pp. 85–114.
al–Hamdani, Husain, F. The History of the Ismaili Dawat and its Literature during the Last Phase of the Fatimid Empire, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1932), pp.126–136.
—–The Letters of al–Mustansir billah, Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, 7 (1933–35), pp. 307–324.
—–al–Sulayhiyyun wal–haraka al–Fatimiyya fil–Yaman. Cairo, 1955. Heidemann, Stefan. Die Renaissance der Städte in Nordsyrien und Nordmesopotamien. Städtische Entwicklung und wirtschaftliche Bedingungen in ar–Raqqa und Harran von der Zeit der beduinischen Vorherrschaft bis zu den Seldschuken. Leiden, 2002.
Houtsma, M. Th. Zur Geschichte der Selguqen von Kerman, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 39 (1885), pp.362–402.
Hunsberger, Alice C. Nasir Khusraw, the Ruby of Badakhshan: A Portrait of the Persian Poet, Traveller and Philosopher. London, 2000.
Institute du Monde Arabe. Trésors fatimides de Caire. Paris, 1998. Ivanow, Wladimir. A Guide to Ismaili Literature. London, 1933.
—–The Organization of the Fatimid Propaganda, Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series, 15 (1939), pp.1–35.
—–Ismaili Tradition Concerning the Rise of the Fatimids. London, etc., 1942.
—–Problems in Nasir–i Khusraws Biography. Bombay, 1956.
—–Ismaili Literature: A Bibliographical Survey. Tehran, 1963.
Jiwa, Shainool. Fatimid–Buyid Diplomacy during the Reign of al–Aziz Billah (365/975–386/996), Journal of Islamic Studies, 3 (1992), pp.57–71.
Klemm, Verena. Die Mission des fatimidischen Agenten al–Muayyad fi ddin in 1iraz. Frankfurt, 1989 .
Kraus, Paul. Beiträge zur islamischen Ketzergeschichte. Das Kitab az–Zumurrud des Ibn ar–Rawandi, Rivista degli Studi Orientali, 14 (1934), pp.93–129 and 335–379; reprinted in P. Kraus, Alchemie, Ketzerei, Apokryphen im frühen Islam, ed. R. Brague. Hildesheim, 1994, pp.109–190.
Laoust, Henri. La Pensée et laction politiques dal–Mawardi (364– 450/974–1058), Revue des Etudes Islamiques, 26 (1968), pp.11–92.
Le Strange, Guy. The Lands of the Eastern Caliphate. Cambridge, 1905.
Madelung, Wilferd. Das Imamat in der frühen ismailitischen Lehre, Der Islam, 37 (1961), pp.43–135.
—–The Assumption of the Title Shahanshah by the Buyids and The Reign of the Daylam (Dawlat al–Daylam), Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 28 (1969), pp. 84–108, 168–183; reprinted in W. Madelung, Religious and Ethnic Movements in Medieval Islam. Hampshire, 1992, article VIII.
Makdisi, George. Ibn Aqil et la résurgence de lIslam traditionaliste au XIe siècle. Damascus, 1963.
Margoliouth, David S. Abul–Ala al–Maarris Correspondence on Vegetarianism, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1902), pp.289–332.
Massignon, Louis, et. al. Tasawwuf, EI2 , vol.10, pp.313–340.
Poonawala, Ismaili K. Biobibliography of Ismaili Literature. Malibu, CA, 1977.
Qutbuddin, Bazat–Tahera. al–Muayyad fi al–Din al–Shirazi: Founder of a New Tradition of Fatimid Dawa Poetry. PhD thesis, Harvard University, 1999.
Smoor, Pieter. Maghribi, Banu, EI2, vol.5, pp. 1210–1212.
Stern, Samuel M. Studies in Early Ismailism. Jerusalem and Leiden, 1983.
Walker, Paul E. Abu Yaqub al–Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary. London, 1996.
—–Fatimid Institutions of Learning, Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, 34 (1997), pp.179–200.
—–Hamid al–Din al–Kirmani: Ismaili Thought in the Age of al–Hakim. London, 1999.
—–Exploring an Islamic Empire: Fatimid History and its Sources. London, 2002.
Content Date: November 2003