Al-Muʾayyad fi’l-Dīn al-Shīrāzī (d. 470/1087) was an outstanding Ismaili scholar of Persian origin. He excelled as a missionary-agent (dāʿī), statesman and poet. Towards the end of his long and active life, al-Muʾayyad became the head of the Ismaili mission (daʿwa) – the chief dāʿī – in the time of the Fatimid Caliph-Imam al-Mustansir in Cairo.

Based on his memoirs, Sīrat al-Muʾayyad fi'l Dīn, this work provides an insight into the remarkable life and achievements of al-Muʾayyad through important stages of his career. Written in a masterful Arabic literary style and rhetoric, the Sīra describes in detail his daring attempt to win over the Būyid rulers of western Iran to the Fatimid cause; his flight to Cairo where his ambitions to be near the Imam are initially frustrated by powerful court officials; and finally, his expedition to Syria and Iraq as a Fatimid plenipotentiary to forge an alliance of local rulers against the Saljūk Turks invading the central Islamic lands from the East.

Through a close analysis of the Sīra, the author of the book demonstrates that, in addition to being a personal account of a highly dedicated Fatimid dāʿī, this is a rich historical source on the organisation and function of the Ismaili mission. It is also an extensive and valuable source for Islamic history in the 5th/11th century, dealing with crucial events in the struggle between the Fatimids, Abbasids, Būyids and Saljūqs for political and military supremacy in the Muslim world. Thus, al-Muʾayyad’s memoirs serve as a unique magnifying glass concentrating the international political dynamics of the age in the narrative of one life and destiny.