by Sanderson Beck
This chapter has been published in the book Mideast & Africa to 1700.
For ordering information, please click here.
The 'Abbasids began by taking power from the Syrian Arabs as 'Abd Allah ibn 'Ali hunted down the Umayyad leaders. In 750 eighty nobles of the Umayyad house were invited to a banquet in Syria. All were murdered except Rahman ibn Mu'awiya, who escaped and made his way to Spain, where he became an independent Umayyad governor in 756 with his capital at Cordoba. In the rest of the Islamic empire under the 'Abbasids many Persians gained prominent positions. The religious Shi'a, led in Iraq by Abu-Salamah, reluctantly accepted the 'Abbasid chief as Caliph. The 'Abbasids justified their claim to the caliphate as the descendants of the prophet Muhammad's uncle al-'Abbas. The first 'Abbasid Caliph's name al-Saffah means "the bloodshedder;" he did not trust Kufa and built his palace at al-Anbar north of the Euphrates, but he died in 754. His brother Abu Ja'far succeeded him, taking the name al-Mansur, which means "the victorious." He agreed to make his nephew 'Isa ibn Musa his heir but later in 764 terrified him into retiring on a pension. Al-Mansur persuaded Abu Muslim to lead his army against the rebelling forces of 'Abd Allah, who was defeated at Nisibin in 754 and fled to Basra. Then the Caliph invited Abu Muslim to his court and had him killed by his guards; his followers in Khurasan also had to be quelled.
After two Chinese prisoners revealed the secret of making paper, the first Muslim paper mill was founded at Samarkand in 751. Ibn al-Muqaffa' wrote in Basra while Sulayman governed there (751-757); but he was executed soon after Sulayman was removed. In his Risala fi'l-sahaba (Epistle on the Companionage), ibn al-Muqaffa' advised separating fiscal and military duties because collecting the land tax (kharaj) was a corrupting occupation. He recommended religious and ethical education for officers and regular salaries. Ibn al-Muqaffa' advised the Caliph to compile the laws so that judges would not be guided merely by their own opinions. The common people should also be educated by professional teachers.
Al-Mansur (r. 754-775) sent out armies against the Byzantines that recaptured forts in Armenia and Cilicia and penetrated into Tabaristan. Further east Muslim troops captured Qandahar in Afghanistan and went through the Khyber Pass into India, raiding Kashmir. According to a Chinese history of 758, Arabs and Persians sacked and burned Canton, causing this port to be closed to foreign shipping until 792. 'Alid revolts in Arabia and Basra were violently put down by 763. Al-Mansur also had other religious extremists killed, including the Rawandiya, who worshipped him as Caliph, and he persecuted the Manichaeans. Al-Mansur kept on the capable Khalid ibn Barmak, who had been the chief advisor of his predecessor. Khalid's father was said to have been a Buddhist priest at Balkh, and he was well educated. In 762 the Caliph began building a new capital at Baghdad near the sites of the illustrious ancient cities of Akkad, Babylon, Seleucia, and Ctesiphon, using 100,000 laborers. To gain funds he appropriated 2,700,000 dirhams from his own brother Abbas that he had gained as Governor of Mesopotamia, and he took nine-tenths of the assets from the wealthy descendants of Abu Bakr at Basra. Baghdad would soon become home to about 400,000 people, the largest city outside of China. Al-Mansur centralized power by appointing judges himself and established a network of spies; but he was fairly parsimonious and left a rich treasury to his son, who took the presumptuous name of al-Mahdi, "the guided one."
When the Jewish Exilarch Solomon died in 761, the Geonim leaders,
Judah the Blind at Sora and Dudai at Pumbeditha, prevented Anan
ben David from succeeding by choosing his younger brother Chananya.
Anan rejected the Judaism of the Talmud and wanted to return
to a strict adherence to the Bible, which had recently been made more available to non-scholars by adding a system of vowel points. The followers of Anan called themselves Karais and their adversaries Rabbanis, meaning "partisans of authority." Anan was put in prison; but he was released by the Caliph when he claimed that he was not a rebel against Judaism but the founder of a new religion. After the time of Anan the Exilarchate was no longer hereditary; but the presidents of the academies directed the election of the Exilarch. For many centuries the Arab conquerors ruled as an elite, and conversion of Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians to Islam was gradual. Muslims did not become a majority in their empire until the eleventh century. In northern Mesopotamia and Syria, Christians remained the majority until the late 13th century.
Muqatil ibn Sulayman (d. 767) suggested that the Qur'an could be interpreted historically and allegorically as well as literally. Ja'far al-Sadiq (d. 765) was the sixth imam in the line of 'Ali. He and others found four levels of meaning. After Ja'far died, the Shi'i community divided into followers of his sons 'Abdallah and Isma'il. In the 9th century the Isma'ilis proselytized peasant tribes in Arabia, Syria, Iraq, North Africa, and Iran, preaching reform and trying to organize them politically.
The Mazdakis formed the Shi'i sect Khurramiyya. They also believed in reincarnation and embodiment of the divine in periodic prophets. After the Umayyad caliphate collapsed, the Mazdakis supported Abu Muslim, who was murdered by the 'Abbasid al-Mansur in 755. His general Sunbad took up the revolt in Ray and was accused of being a libertine. In 777 al-Muqanna was called "the veiled prophet of Khurasan" and led the Mazdaki rebellion in Transoxiania for eight years before they were defeated. After the Khurrami Javidan ibn Shahrak died about 816, Babak claimed that Javidan's soul had passed into his body. He revolted against the 'Abbasid Caliph Al-Ma'mun and his successor for twenty years in Jibal and Azerbaijan; but his defeat and execution in 837 ended Mazdaki hopes to overcome the aristocratic 'Abbasids.
The Kaisani Shi'is changed their loyalty to the lineage of Isma'il ibn Jafar, and the Khurramis developed their theories of esoteric interpretation and became known as Batinis. The city of Kufa became a center for these ideas, and in the 9th century Hamdan Qarmat formed the first communistic villages there. They formed a union and chose one reliable person to receive and distribute goods for the needs of all. People worked hard for the honor of benefiting the community. The impoverished or indebted were helped to become solvent, and they only had to repay the capital.
Like the Manichaeans, the Mazdakis believed in the two basic principles of Light and Darkness. They sought to practice the four divine powers of discernment, understanding, perseverance, and joy. These were analogous to the king, the chief priest or judge, the army commander, and the entertainment master. The human who becomes godly is no longer subject to religious rituals. In the tenth century Naubakhti and Maqdisi described the tenets of the Khurrami. Maqdisi wrote they believed that souls return and that revelation by prophets comes from one source and never ends. They avoided shedding blood except when revolting and expected heavenly rewards if they did not injure community or religion. Some of them engaged in free sex and believed in enjoying all pleasures as long as they did not harm others. Naubakhti explained that their interpretation of the resurrection is that souls transmigrate and thus receive the rewards of heaven and the punishments of hell in this world. God can incarnate as imams, prophets, apostles, and angels. The writing of Shahristani also indicates that the Khurramis replaced the day of judgment with reincarnation.
Al-Mahdi (r. 775-785) made Khalid's son Yahya al-Barmaki his vizier (prime minister), and he also appointed him to tutor his son Harun. This Caliph patronized the arts and sciences and built Baghdad into a thriving commercial center. Ibadi Khariji leader 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Rustam founded an independent state in the central Maghrib (Algeria) by 778; but al-Mahdi suppressed the messianic movement led by al-Muqanna (the Veiled One) in the east in 778 and had the Persian prophet Salik ibn Abdul Quddus crucified as a Zindiq (extremist) in 783. Yet he tried to mollify the 'Alids with gifts and positions at court. In 782 al-Mahdi left his son Musa as regent in Baghdad while he led his army against Constantinople. His younger son Harun gained the name al-Rashid (the upright) for advancing to Chrysopolis and forcing Empress Irene to pay an annual tribute of 90,000 dinars.
Al-Mahdi died while hunting and was succeeded by his oldest son Musa in 785. Musa imprisoned Vizier Yahya ibn Khalid al-Barmaki for recommending Harun as the next caliph, and he turned to military leaders to put down an 'Alid rebellion at Medina led by al-Husayn ibn 'Ali; but when he plotted against his own younger brother Harun, their mother apparently had Musa suffocated in 786. Harun was proclaimed Caliph, and he had Musa's son Ja'far arrested and Yahya al-Barmaki released from prison. Hasan's grandson Idris ibn 'Abd Allah escaped from the Medina battle, and in 788 he and his son Idris II founded the Idrisid dynasty in Morocco. East of there in 793 the people of Tunis rebelled and marched on the Ifriqiya capital at Qairawan, ending the government by the Hatim family. Harun sent his General Harthama, who restored order but resigned as Governor in 797, being replaced by Harun's foster brother Muhammad ibn Muqatil. People rebelled against his rule, and in 800 Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab established his Aghlabid dynasty at Qairawan.
Harun al-Rashid (r. 786-809) ruled at the height of 'Abbasid wealth and power in Baghdad, and his court became the setting of the popular Thousand and One Nights. Government was even more centralized under the powerful viziers Yahya al-Barmaki and his son Fadl. Many governors were replaced, and Egypt was investigated to make sure that revenues were sent to Baghdad. Ja'far al-Barmaki sent 'Umar ibn Mahran to replace the Governor of Egypt, and he only accepted gifts in bags. Then later those saying they could not pay taxes were given their bags back so that they could. Yahya was appointed Governor of Khurasan, where he recruited 50,000 new men, and 20,000 of these were sent to North Africa. Strife between two tribal groups broke out at Damascus in 792 and lasted two years. In 794 a Khariji rebellion led by Walid ibn Tarif in Jazira prevented the collection of taxes in that region until the Bedouin chief Yazid ibn Mazyad al-Shaybani was able to defeat the rebellion and kill Walid. The Barmaki family was dominant for sixteen years; but after al-Fadl gave Yahya ibn 'Abd Allah safe conduct from his mountain refuge, the Caliph had the 'Alid executed. After that, Harun turned more to his military commanders such as Yazid ibn Mazyad.
Harun conferred generous gifts on the celebrated musician Ibrahim al-Mawsili and the poet Abu-Nuwas. The Caliph sponsored the construction of numerous academies and universities, beginning the work of translating the great books from Greek and Sanskrit. In 791 Harun ordered all provincial governors to encourage learning by giving prizes in state examinations. An outstanding book on Arabic grammar was written by al-Kisa'i, and jurisprudence was advanced by discussions with his chief judge Abu-Yusuf, the most distinguished jurist after the liberal Abu-Hanifa (700-767) of Iraq. Harun asked Abu-Yusuf to write a book defining religious tax collection so that human rights could be preserved. At Medina the influential jurist Malik ibn Anas (d. 795) formulated a comprehensive collection of legal precedents based on the traditions of the prophet and his Medina community.
Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i (d. 820) studied with Malik at Medina. While an official in Yemen al-Shafi'i joined a moderate Shi'i rebellion and was imprisoned during the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid. After learning from Baghdad jurists, al-Shafi'i went to Egypt to teach. In his major work, Kitab al-Umm, he tried to show that the entire Muslim law (Shari'a) could be derived from the Qur'an in order to eliminate the arbitrary use of personal judgment (ra'y) by using reason ('aql) and analogies (qiyas) from the accepted traditions. For the ultimate authoritative principle he suggested the consensus (ijma') of the Muslim community (umma). Whatever all the accepted Muslim scholars ('ulama) recognized became binding law. Al-Shafi'i also sought to establish the credibility of the traditions (hadith) by authenticating its transmitters (isnad). As an alternative to Malik the legal ethics of al-Shafi'i became an established system of jurisprudence (fiqh). The four sources of this jurisprudence are the Qur'an, the traditions, consensus, and analogy.
Although the Qur'an forbade drinking wine, the Hanifi legal view allowed alcoholic drinks made from dates, honey, or figs. Apparently Harun began to drink more in the later years of his reign. The Caliphate government took ten percent of imported merchandise as customs dues, but most of the revenue came from the imperial land tax and the poll tax on non-Muslims. During Harun's reign the annual government income has been estimated at 42,000,000 gold dinars, and the historian Tabari stated that when Harun died, the treasury contained 900 trillion silver dirhams, though 100,000,000 dinars is a more reasonable estimate. Harun married his cousin Zubayda, who like his mother (her aunt), had extensive estates to manage all over the empire. Zubayda used her own resources to build canals, mosques, hostelries, and monasteries; she had the pilgrims' 900-mile road from Kufa to Mecca improved. As affluence spread in Baghdad, more people wanted to borrow money, which was loaned by Jews not bound by the Qur'an's injunction against usury.
Harun's two regular projects were attacking the Byzantines in the north and leading the pilgrimage south to Mecca. In 797 the Abbasids' first prisoner exchange with the Byzantines freed 3,700 captives. Although Muslims could not be made slaves, many were imported from outside the empire or were captured in war. Slaves actually lived rather well among Muslims who followed the ethic of making them part of their families. This provided security, and religious merit was gained by freeing them. Males were often adopted as sons, and females who bore a child became respected mothers in the household run by the women. Yet male slaves could be beaten for being disobedient or idle.
Besides his prominent wife Zubayda, Harun's closest companion was al-Fadl's brother Ja'far, who was educated by the famous judge Abu-Yusuf and married Harun's favorite sister Abbasa. So jealous was the Caliph over Ja'far's companionship that he forbade him from being alone with his own wife, and he was very upset when he learned that Abbasa had borne Ja'far two children. The Barmakis had their own palaces, and Ja'far's cost twenty million dirhams to build and an equal amount to furnish. In 798 when 'Abd Allah al-Ma'mun was 12, Harun made Ja'far his tutor, and together they began governing Khurasan. Yahya's elder son al-Fadl became the mentor of al-Amin. In 802 Harun divided his empire in half between his two 16-year-old sons, giving al-Amin Iraq and the West, while al-Ma'mun maintained Khurasan and Persia. In Mecca that year Harun gave away a million gold dinars in charity. Harun had Musa al-Barmaki and Ja'far arrested.
In 803 Harun had his best friend Ja'far suddenly killed, probably because he suspected that the powerful Barmaki family was fomenting a Shi'i rebellion in Khurasan. Yahya, his three other sons, and their relatives were put in prison, and the inventory of their estates came to 36,676,000 dinars. Believing his former Vizier was still holding out, Harun had al-Fadl given 200 lashes, which nearly killed him. Behind these arbitrary actions may have been a dispute over the succession. Harun favored his oldest son Muhammad, who later became al-Amin; but the Barmakis and Khurasani soldiers wanted his other son 'Abd Allah (al-Ma'mun) at least to rule over Khurasan as an independent province. Harun sent an enemy of the Barmakis, 'Ali ibn 'Isa ibn Mahan, to govern Khurasan.
In 805 a rebellion broke out in Samarkand led by Rafi ibn Layth, grandson of their last Umayyad Governor Nasr ibn Sayyar. Harun's Governor 'Ali ibn Mahan had exploited the resources there and had to be replaced by General Harthama ibn A'yan. Mahan's son Isa had stolen 30,000,000 dirhams before he was killed fighting Rafi, and Mahan was found with another 80,000,000 dirhams himself. In 806 Harun with about 135,000 men led the largest military expedition against the Byzantine empire during the Abbasid era; the raids captured Heraclea and Tyana while the Muslim navy plundered Cyprus in 805 and Rhodes in 807. Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus agreed to pay an additional 300,000 dinars tribute in exchange for a truce. With revolts in Syria and North Africa as well as in Khurasan, Harun became increasingly paranoid and even suspected his two sons of plotting against him. Harun marched east from Baghdad with his army in 808. He sent 10,000 men to suppress a revolt by Khurramiya heretics in Azerbaijan; all prisoners were killed, and their property was sold at auction. Harthama was besieging Rafi at Samarkand; when Rafi's brother was captured and sent to Harun, the Caliph had him executed. Harun was the only reigning 'Abbasid caliph to visit Khurasan, and he died there of illness in 809.
Harun's son by his wife Zubayda became Caliph with the name al-Amin while Harun's son by a Persian slave named al-Ma'mun continued to govern Khurasan. Al-Ma'mun proclaimed himself imam, the spiritual leader, and in 811 al-Amin appointed 'Ali ibn 'Isa Governor of Khurasan and sent him east with an army of 40,000; but they were defeated at Ray by a much smaller force led by al-Ma'mun’s General Tahir. Then the next year Tahir's forces were augmented by a large army commanded by Harthama ibn A'yan, who defeated Shi'i rebellions in southern Iraq. Rebellions against al-Amin also occurred in Egypt and Arabia. Tahir's army besieged Baghdad for more than a year, and al-Amin was killed. Al-Ma'mun (r. 813-833) tried to rule from Marv in Khurasan for several years. Al-Fadl ibn Sahl's brother al-Hasan governed in Baghdad but was disliked. When al-Fadl persuaded the Caliph to imprison Harthama, al-Hasan was temporarily driven out of Baghdad. After these rebellions al-Ma'mun proclaimed 'Ali ibn Musa, an 'Alid descendant of Husain as his heir in 817. That year the Caliph had his Vizier al-Fadl ibn Sahl put to death, and his court arrived at Baghdad in 819.
Syria, Palestine, and Egypt still remained outside his control. Al Ma'mun appointed Tahir governor of the West, then police chief at Baghdad in 820, and Governor of Khurasan in 821; though Tahir died the next year, he was succeeded by his son Talha. The Caliph sent his brother 'Abd Allah ibn Tahir to force a reconciliation on northern Syria in 824, and 'Abd Allah also brought Egypt back into the Caliph's empire before returning to the capital in 827. When his brother died the next year, 'Abd Allah ibn Tahir was appointed Governor of Khurasan. Ifriqiya was not regained and was controlled by the Aghlabid family, though the Muslim navy dominated the Mediterranean Sea. Muslims from Spain conquered Crete in 825 and ruled it until 961 while the Aghlabids occupied all of Sicily by 831.
At Baghdad al-Ma'mun established a hall of wisdom to promote science and philosophy, sponsoring translations from Greek, Syriac, Persian, and Sanskrit. He provided endowments for several colleges and encouraged free discussion on theological and other issues. Children of both sexes were taught the Qur'an in mosque elementary schools, but few girls had education beyond that. Aristocrats usually were educated by private tutors. Al Ma'mun appointed Jews, Christians, Zarathustrians, and Sabaeans to his council in equality with Muslims. His edict of 827, declaring the Qur'an a creation rather than the eternal word of God, challenged the fundamentalists, allowed for future change, and acknowledged free will; thus he favored the Mu'tazili. However, in his last year he may have gone too far in ordering an inquisition (mihna) to hunt down recalcitrant traditionalists. Professionals had to acknowledge that the Qur'an is a creation or lose their jobs. The jurist Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855) was persecuted, and he became imam for a dissident legal school. In the north the schismatic Babak had revived the ideas of al-Muqanna and allied with the Byzantine army of Theophilus, beginning a major revolt in 816. Al Ma'mun died on a campaign against them after capturing Tarsus in 833.
Al-Mu'tasim's mother had been a Turkish slave and as Caliph he fortified his rule (833-842) by acquiring an army of Turkish slaves. Khurasan’s Governor 'Abd Allah ibn Tahir sent him 2,000 each year as tribute. Azerbaijan’s Governor Hatim ibn Harthama ibn A'yan had revolted when he learned that his father had been imprisoned and killed by al-Ma'mun; joining with Babak, they controlled most of Aberbaijan and some of Jibal by 833. Al-Mu'tasim sent Ushrusana’s King al-Afshin, and Babak was finally defeated in 837. Al-Afshin probably encouraged Tabaristan’s Governor Mazyar to revolt against the Tahirids in 839 by refusing to pay the land tax, and many peasants overthrew their village chiefs to plunder their goods. Seeing the danger of this revolution, the Caliph helped 'Abd Allah ibn Tahir to defeat them. Al-Mu'tasim accused al-Afshin of conspiring with this revolution, and he was tried and executed in 841. Al-Mu'tasim had built a new capital at Samarra in 836. Salaries that had traditionally gone to Arab Muslim families now went to Turkish soldiers. Government was even more centralized as even fairly independent Khurasan sent funds to Iraq. The rich merchant Muhammad ibn al-Zayyat became Vizier in 836 and held that important position also through the reign of al-Mu'tasim's son al-Wathiq (842-847). Both these caliphs continued the inquisition began by al-Ma'mun.
Al-Wathiq also tried to force his liberal views on the clergy and even had the fundamentalist Ahmad ibn Nasr Khuzai beheaded; but his successor al-Mutawakkil (r. 847-861) reasserted the orthodoxy of the Sunni majority. He ended the inquisition in 848 but persecuted dissent and non-Muslims. Professional schools of law developed, and no theology was considered legimitimate if it was not associated with one of the four Sunni schools. The Turkish Itakh became Governor of the West in 844, but the Caliph and the Tahirids had him assassinated in 849. When Khurasan’s Governor 'Abd Allah ibn Tahir died in 845, he was succeeded by his son Tahir, continuing that family's control of the east during al-Mutawakkil's reign. Three caliphal armies were sent to defeat a rebellion in Azerbaijan, and they were victorious in 849. In his Book of Proof al-Jahiz (776-869) wrote that Arabs could be preserved from decline if they did not fall prey to the fools' sense of honor, which is to regard forgiving another as wrong. His "Merits of the Turks" and other essays were written for the sophisticated Arabs who feared the Turks. When the Caliph confiscated the estates of Turkish leader Wasif to give them to al-Fath, Wasif and other Turks murdered al-Mutawakkil and al-Fath in 861.
In the next nine years four different Caliphs attempted to rule from Samarra, and three of them were murdered. Utamish became the first Turkish Vizier; but he was assassinated in 863 by troops doing the bidding of his rivals Wasif and Bugha the Younger. Caspian provinces rebelled and gained their independence in 864. A vigilante leader named Ya'qub ibn Layth in 861 had seized the provincial capital of Zaranj, and by 865 the coppersmith (saffar) had defeated kharijis and controlled Sistan, founding the Saffarid dynasty. Two years later he invaded Taharid Khurasan; the Saffarids took Kirman and Fars, and in 870 Ya'qub's forces invaded Ghazna, Kabul, and Bamyan. Al-Muntasir (r. 861) had lasted only six months as Caliph; but the Turks chose his brother al-Mu'tazz to challenge Caliph al-Musta'in, who had been selected by Wasif, Bugha, and the Tahirids in 865. They besieged Baghdad, forcing al-Musta'in into exile at Wasit, where he soon died. In 867 Wasif was murdered by rivals, and the next year Bugha the Younger died in prison while Bugha's elder son was exiled to Hamadhan. As Tahirid power declined, al-Mu'tazz was murdered in 869. His successor al-Muqtadi, son of al-Wathiq, was soon deposed by Turkish officers led by Musa ibn Bugha, who appointed as Caliph al-Mutamid, the eldest surviving son of al-Mutawakkil.
Although al-Mutamid was Caliph 870-892, the real power was gained by his brother al-Muwaffaq. A revolution of mostly African slaves called Zanj (who had worked sugar cane in wretched conditions) began in 868 led by 'Ali ibn Muhammad, who claimed to be a descendant of the 'Alid family. In 871 the ex-slaves aided by the Banu Tamim and the Banu Asad destroyed the large city of Basra, slaughtering a reported quarter million inhabitants in one day. 'Ali founded a new capital called Mukhtara east of Basra. In 873 Musa ibn Bugha fought the Zanj for a while but had to resign as Governor of the East. That year Ya'qub's forces took Nishapur, ending a half century of Taharid rule. Al-Muwaffaq and a third party of rebels fought Ya'qub's army in 875, and Ya'qub was defeated trying to take Baghdad the next year. In 879 Ya'qub died and was succeeded by his brother 'Amr. That year al-Muwaffaq and his son Abu'l-'Abbas led an army of 50,000 against the Zanj; but Mukhtara was not taken until 883 when 'Ali ibn Muhammad was killed in the fighting.
After the eleventh Shi’i imam died in 874, the Banu Nawbakht family in Baghdad suggested that the twelfth imam was hidden; but after 941 this became an expectation for the future Islamic messiah called the mahdi, and those hoping for this are called Twelvers. During the decline of the ‘Abbasid Caliphate, the Shi’i faction of the Banu Furat in Baghdad was opposed by the Banu Jarrah, which was mostly Nestorian Christians wanting freedom of religion.
Ahmad ibn Tulun, son of a Turkish slave, governed Egypt from 868 and hired a large army to take over Syria and attack the Byzantines. When Tulun died in 884, al-Muwaffaq sent his son Abu'l-'Abbas to challenge Tulun's son Khumarawayh ibn Ahmad and forced the Tulunids to pay 300,000 dinars in annual tribute to the caliphate. Al-Muwaffaq now held the real power until he died in 891. Then his son Abu'l-'Abbas took over, and as the next Caliph he took the name al-Mu'tadid (r. 892-902). He regained territories taken by the Tulunids, increasing Egypt's tribute to 450,000 dinars per year. Al-Mu'tadid also used his armies to bring Jazira back under Abbasid control by occupying Mosul in 893; but Armenia and Azerbaijan remained independent. In 898 the Caliph appointed the Saffarid 'Amr ibn Layth to replace the Samanid Isma'il ibn Ahmad in Transoxiana; but Layth was defeated and captured, and Isma'il was acknowledged as the ruler of Khurasan.
Al-Mu'tadid died and was succeeded by his son al-Muktafi (r. 902-908), who made peace in the east with Samanids in Ray and the Saffarids in Fars. As soon as he arrived in Baghdad, the new Caliph ordered the prisoners released and the underground dungeons demolished. The Qarmatian sect was founded by Hamdan Qarmat with an eclectic philosophy and secret initiations, and they appointed their own caliph. Their "Lords of Purity" sent Abu Said ibn Bahram al-Tannabi to conquer Bahrayn and Zikrawayh al-Dindani with Bedouin forces that devastated Syria and even besieged Damascus. In 903 an Abbasid army led by Muhammad ibn Sulayman was sent against the Qarmatians in Syria and defeated them, though the Qarmatians continued to raid cities in Syria and Iraq. The Tulunid dynasty was ended in 905, and Egypt was finally subdued the following year. Increased tribute from these regions enabled al-Muktafi to leave a treasury of 15,000,000 dinars when he died in 908.
Officials chose al-Muktafi's 13-year-old son Al-Muktadir as the next Caliph. He was challenged by Amir al-Husayn ibn Hamdan's appointment of ibn al-Mu'tazz; but his supporters abandoned him, and he was executed after one day. Al-Muktadir's Vizier al-'Abbas was also killed in the fighting, and 'Ali ibn al-Furat became the powerful vizier of the young Caliph. His General Mu'nis not only saved his throne but led the campaigns that regained Fars from the Saffarids in 910 and defended Egypt against a Fatimid invasion, though little revenue was now coming in from these provinces. The Caliph took to confiscating estates of deposed viziers, taking 2,300,000 dinars from ibn al-Furat. Respect for law declined, and religious wars between the Sunnis and Shi'as increased. Ibn-Jarir al-Tabari wrote an extensive commentary on the Qur'an, and his comprehensive history left extraordinary details of Arab and Muslim history up to the year 913.
Sajids led by Yusuf ibn Abi'l-Saj had taken Ray; but after several attempts the army of Mu'nis finally defeated them in Azerbaijan in 918, though the new governor Sabuk did not send funds to Baghdad either. When Sabuk died in 922, the captured Yusuf was released and returned to govern Azerbaijan, Ray, and other Iranian provinces. Al-Muktadir was deposed twice temporarily, and it became increasingly difficult to raise revenues from the provinces. The Madhara'i brothers agreed to collect taxes and pay one million dinars per year to the treasury while paying the Syrian and Egyptian armies themselves; but after 918 the threat of a Fatimid invasion diverted income from Egypt, and by the end of al-Muktadir's reign in 932 no revenue had come in from Egypt or Syria in four years.
In 923 the Qarmatians began to invade Iraq from Bahrayn, and led by Abu Tahir al-Jamnabi only 1,700 men were needed to sack the recovering city of Basra. In 926 Vizier al-Khasibi could only offer revenues from western Iran to Azerbaijan ruler Yusuf ibn Abi'l-Saj to add to his Armenia and Azerbaijan’s if he would fight the rebels threatening the Sawad fields. General Mu'nis got help from Hamdanids in defending Baghdad in 927, but that year his Caliph began plotting against him. Already controlling Arabia, the Qarmatians attacked Mecca in 930, smashed the black stone of the Ka'ba and took the fragments to their capital at al-Ahsa. At the same time their allied Fatimids were occupying Alexandria and the Fayyum in Egypt, and Hanbalis were rioting in Baghdad. Abbasid rule over central Iran ended in 931. After three years of struggles in the capital, Mu'nis defeated and killed Caliph Al-Muktadir in 932. He was succeeded by his brother al-Qahir, who had ruled briefly after an earlier deposition. His violent methods and negotiation with the defeated Muhammad ibn Yaqut stimulated Mu'nis to revolt; but the General's throat was cut in 933. However, the next year the previous Vizier ibn Muqla seized al-Qahir while he was drunk and put out his eyes.
In 934 Al-Muktadir's son al-Radi became Caliph over a decaying and shrinking empire. Egypt and Syria were controlled by the ikhshid Muhammad ibn Tughj while the Hamdanids had Mosul and Jazira, and western Iran was in the hands of Daulami soldiers. In 935 some fanatical Hanbalis raided people's houses in Baghdad, pouring out wine, breaking the instruments of singing girls, and stopping men from going with girls or boys. Badr al-Kharshani, the chief of police, prohibited the Hanbalis from congregating; but their zealous rioting continued, and Caliph al-Radi had to denounce them. The Caliph appointed ibn Ra'iq commander of commanders in 936, but the next year he damaged the Nahrawan canal that watered the Sawad in order to block the invasion of Bajkam's army, affecting future productivity. The command passed from the Turk Bajkam (938-941) to the Hamdanid Nair al-Daula (942-943) and then to the Turk Tuzun (943-945). Al-Radi died in 940 and was succeeded as Caliph by his brother Al-Muttaqi; but he declined to flee to Egypt and was blinded and deposed by Tuzun. When Tuzun died in 945, the Buyids took power even though he had appointed a new caliph.
The last remaining Umayyad leader 'Abd al-Rahman had won over the Yemeni party and taken control of Muslim Spain in 756. An Abbasid expedition led by al-Ala ibn Mughith sent to Spain was defeated in 761, and the heads of its leaders were sent to the Caliph. In 767 'Abd al-Rahman made a 20-year truce with the northern kingdom of Asturias. An attempt by Charlemagne in 778 to take Zaragoza failed. 'Abd al-Rahman piously tolerated Christians and allowed Jews to return; but his son Hisha I (r. 788-796) attacked and defeated Christians in Castile and Alava, though he was not victorious against Asturias in 791. His succeeding son al-Hakam I (r. 796-822) suppressed rising religious dissent with force, using Mamluk slaves in his palace guard to intimidate people and to build up a permanent army. Zaragoza, Toledo, and Mérida had to be violently reconquered. Many fled Spain to Morocco or Alexandria, and refugees conquered Crete in 825.
While 'Abd al-Rahman II (r. 822-852) devoted himself to learning and poetry, his wife and the Spanish renegade eunuch Nasar ruled Spain. Famines were relieved by the distribution of wheat in 823 and again in 846. Toledo revolted in 829, and it took eight years to subdue them. Scandinavian pirates were fought off in 844 at Gijon, La Coruña, and Seville. When the Christian priest Perfecto denounced the prophet Muhammad, he was executed; soon 44 others imitated his martyrdom until a Christian council condemned this behavior in 852. During the reign (852-886) of Muhammad I rebellions broke out in Toledo and Mérida, and several Bani Qazi lords became independent on the northern frontier. Southern cities also gained independence during the era of 'Abd Allah (r. 888-912).
Young 'Abd al-Rahman III (r. 912-961) began ruling only over the state of Cordoba. He suppressed the rebellion in the south led by the apostate 'Umar ibn Hafsun that had lasted more than thirty years. Revolts in Seville, Badajoz, and Toledo were quelled, and he defeated Christians in the north at Mentona in 918 and at Valdejunquera in 920. Pamphona, the capital of Navarre, was destroyed in 924; this region as well as most of Spain was now forced to pay tribute. In 929 'Abd al-Rahman declared himself the Caliph al-Nasir (the Conqueror). He was defeated by the combined armies of Navarre and Leon in 939; but when Leon’s King Ramiro II died in 950, discord between Leon, Castile, and Navarre caused the Christian kings to submit. The Jew Chasdai assisted in the diplomacy and was minister of trade and finance. 'Abd al-Rahman III spent a third of the revenues on government, deposited a third in the treasury, and used a third for building. A fleet of 200 ships was built at Almeria. The treasury had 20,000,000 dinars, and 'Abd al-Rahman used 10,000 workers for twenty years to build the extravagant palace of al-Zalra. Cordoba's thriving population passed 500,000, created many books with its paper industry, and had 70 libraries and 3,000 mosques.
His son and successor al-Hakam II (r. 961-976) established free schools, expanded the university at Cordoba his father had founded and increased its library to 400,000 volumes, making Spain Europe's greatest center of learning and attracting thousands of students. Al-Hakam II attacked Castile in 963 and then negotiated truces with Christian kings, and he ended his father's war with the Fatimids in Tunisia by 973. Jews were tolerated and prospered in Spain, and their traders provided the Slavonian slaves for the Caliph's bodyguard. Hisham II (r. 976-1009) was only twelve when he succeeded his father, and the government was dominated by his mother Subh and her lover Muhammad ibn Abi 'Amir. To please some religious leaders ibn Abi 'Amir had all the books related to philosophy in the library burned. He won spoils in victories over Christians, was made prefect of Cordoba, and married general Galib's daughter. When he and Galib quarreled, ibn Abi' Amir seized his treasure and killed the General in battle. Calling himself al-Mansur (Victorious), he attacked Christians, sacking Zamora in 981, chasing them to Leon, burning Barcelona in 985, and razing Leon in 988. Al-Mansur died in 1002 after fighting in fifty campaigns, and in a chronicle a monk recorded that he was buried in hell.
The Spanish caliphate gradually broke up into independent states. Al-Mansur's position was taken by his son 'Abd al-Malik, who continued to fight the Christians until he died and was succeeded by his brother 'Abd al-Rahman. Turkish bodyguards came to dominate the Spanish caliphs too, and Hisham II was forced to abdicate in 1009. In the south 'Ali ibn Hammad governed Andalusia (1016-1018), declared himself Caliph at Cordoba, and was succeeded by relatives until 1027. That year the Umayyad Caliph Hisham III came out of his harem, where he had been in retirement for thirty years; but after four years he was defeated and imprisoned in a dungeon by nobles, who set up a council of state in 1031.
Berbers from Africa established the kingdom of Granada, where Badis ruled 1038-1073, repulsing attacks from the powerful kingdom of Seville, where the son of its judge (qadi) proclaimed himself al-Mutadid in 1042. His son al-Mutamid was King of Seville 1069-1091, and he ended the republican council. Al-Mutamid formed an alliance with Alphonso VI, King of Leon and Castile. When Alphonso did not aid him against the incursions of the Cid, al-Mutamid turned to Morocco's Murabit ruler Yusuf ibn Tashufin in 1086, and together they defeated the armies of Alphonso VI at Zalaca. Four years later Yusuf returned to Spain, took al-Mutamid prisoner, and annexed all of Muslim Spain except for Toledo and Zaragoza. Granada’s King 'Abd Allah was also deposed by the Almoravid Yusuf in 1090.
In the East in 875 Caliph al-Mu'tamid recognized the Persian Samanid state in Transoxiana rather than the Saffarids. The Samanid ruler Isma'il (r. 892-907) defeated the Saffarids and took over Khurasan, Gurgan, Tabaristan, and Ray. He corrected his own government's cheating by systematizing weights and measures. His son Ahmad conquered most of Sistan by 911; but when Tabaristan and Gurgan revolted, Ahmad was assassinated by his slaves in 914. His eight-year-old son Nasr ibn Ahmad relied on his Prime Minister Abu 'Abd-Allah al-Jaihani until 922, Abu'l-Fadl al Bal'ami 922-938, and al-Jaihani again 938-941. Tabaristan was not reconquered until 940. Nasr's court sponsored Persian Muslim culture in both Arabic and Persian. A library was assembled at the capital Bukhara, and even slaves through education could rise to positions of authority. Such Turkish officials and generals imported more slaves and came to dominate the administration. The Samanids extended their power by vassal relationships. Nasr was succeeded by his son Nuh ibn Nasr in 943. Abu 'Ali was reappointed governor of Khurasan in 948, and he, instigated by the Ziyarids of Tabaristan, attacked the Buyids; but his compromise with the Buyids in Ray caused him to be deposed.
After Nuh’s death in 954 his son 'Abd al-Malik was dependent on the Turks, and Alp-Tegin was appointed governor of Khurasan. The death of 'Abd al-Malik in 961 split the Turks, and Alp-Tegin left Khurasan's capital Nishapur for Ghazna, where his independence enabled his son Sebuk-Tegin to found the Ghaznavid empire in 977. The Khurasan army dominated the Samanid empire and attacked the Buyids in 982, but it was defeated. Khurasan’s Governor Tash was summoned to restore order in Bukhara. When his governorship was taken away, Tash called in the Buyids; but they were defeated in 987. Struggles in the capital led to Qarakhanid ruler Bughra Khan invading and taking Bukhara in 992. Ghazna's Sebuk-Tegin was called in and defeated the rebels in Khurasan in 994; his son Mahmud was appointed Governor of Khurasan. Mahmud gained power in Ghazna by defeating his brother and others, and in 999 he deposed and blinded the Samanid ruler Mansur II. The last Samanid ruler Muntasir appealed to Oghuz Turks; but after defeating the Muslim Turks, the Qarakhanids, his army deserted him. The Qarakhanids came back to defeat Muntasir, who fled to Marv and was killed by their chief in 1005.
Mahmud (r. 998-1030) expanded the militaristic Ghaznavid empire by conquering Sind and the Punjab of India in the east, Khwarazm in the north, and Khurasan as far as Ray in the west. While he was in India in 1006, the Qarakhanids occupied Balkh; but he returned and defeated them in 1008. However, his campaign against 'Ali-Tegin in Transoxiana failed. Mahmud invaded and annexed Khwarezm in 1017. Mahmud’s forces sacked Ray in 1029, deposing the Buyid Governor Majd al-Daula Rustam ibn ‘Ali (r. 997-1029) and annexing the province of Ray and Jibal. Ghaznavids practiced an aristocratic militarism that dominated the civilian population while adhering to conservative Sunni orthodoxy. The army was reported to have had as many as 54,000 cavalry and 1,300 elephants near Ghazna in 1038. Plunder from their conquests enabled them to pay their army with cash while the Buyids and Seljuqs resorted mostly to granting revenues from land. However, Ghaznavid tax collectors caused misery and depopulation in Khurasan, supporting a standing army of 50,000. Mahmud entertained at court and patronized the poet Firdausi, the geographer al-Biruni, and historians.
Mahmud wanted to be succeeded by his son Muhammad, but Muhammad was imprisoned after a few months by Sebuk-Tegin's choice, the more capable Mas'ud. The Seljuq Turks defeated the Ghaznavids at Dandanqan in 1040, and Mas'ud retreated to India, where he was killed by rebels in 1041. Muhammad came out of prison to rule again; but the Seljuqs continued to fight the Ghaznavids, and their kingdom was diminished to eastern Afghanistan and northern India. There Ibrahim (r. 1059-1099) was able to exploit the wealth of the Hindus to pay his mountain military men.
The mountain people south of the Caspian Sea called the Daulamis arose between the Samanids and the declining Abbasid caliphate to fight the Turkish General Yaqut from Baghdad who was exploiting the revenues with his private army. Three sons of Buyeh joined Mardavij and then headed their own forces in 933 when the wealthy landowner Zayd supported them in Fars; Yaqut's larger army was defeated by them the next year, enabling the Buyids to enter the Fars capital at Shiraz. The Caliph recognized the Buyid 'Imad al-Daula's claim to Fars, but he still gave Khuzistan to Yaqut. Mardavij was murdered in Isfahan in 935, and his officers Tuzun and Bajkam fled to Baghdad. Internal disputes there facilitated a Buyid attack on that capital in 945, and the last effective Abbasid Caliph they replaced named the three Buyid brothers Mu'izz al-Daula, 'Imad al-Daula, and Rukn al-Daula. The next year the Hamdanids failed to expel the Buyids from Baghdad, and in 947 Mu'izz defeated the Baridis and governed in Iraq.
Rukn al-Daula had established control over central Iran, ruling from Ray and Isfahan, while the oldest brother 'Imad ruled Fars from Shiraz. 'Imad died in 949 and was succeeded by 'Adud al-Daula. Rukn had to agree to pay the Samanid Governor of Khurasan tribute in 955, though this was decreased in 971. Rukn was served by the Vizier Abu l-Fadl ibn al-'Amid for thirty years. When 20,000 men from Khurasan wanted to pass through his realm to fight the Byzantines, al-'Amid advised they be permitted to go only in groups of 2,000. Rukn rejected this advice, and at Ray the Khurasanians demanded money and attacked the city, defeating Rukn al-Daula. Ibn al-'Amid died on an expedition to the Jabal aimed at pacifying the Kurdish leader Hasanawayh in 974.
At Baghdad conflict arose between the Daulami infantry and the Turkish cavalry because the infantry were paid only six dinars a month, while the cavalry received forty. The Daulamis rebelled in 956; but Mu'izz favored the Turks, and the Daulamis were dispersed to live on revenues from poor farmers and merchants in southern Iraq. The historian Miskawayh criticized Mu'izz al-Daula for allocating the Sawad land in grants, which caused irrigation to be neglected and revenues to decline. He also wrote that Mu'izz's gifts to the army made the demand for greater emoluments grow uncontrollably into extortion. Mu'izz died in 967 and was succeeded in Baghdad by his son 'Izz al-Daula Bakhtiyar, who tried to attack Mosul in 973 and was beaten so badly he had to retreat to Wasit as Sabuktakin's Turks occupied Baghdad. Sabuktakin organized Baghdad's Sunnis into attacking the Buyid Shi'a as heretics in a jihad.
Bakhtiyar was helped by 'Adud, who took over Baghdad in 978 and ordered his cousin Bakhtiyar executed. 'Adud's army conquered northern Mesopotamia, and the Hamdanids left in Aleppo had to pay tribute. 'Adud was crowned shahanshah (king of kings) in Baghdad and built an imperial palace, as he had sponsored much building, trade, and communications during his many years in Fars. 'Adud maintained good relations with the Caliph, favoring neither Sunni nor Shi'a, and he banned inflammatory preaching. 'Adud tolerated the minority religions, and his Vizier Nasr ibn Harun was a Christian. When Muslims plundered the homes of Mazdaeans in 979, 'Adud punished them severely. 'Adud al-Daula made his court at Shiraz a center for the cultural activities of theologians, grammarians, and poets. His library filled a palace of 360 rooms. He founded a hospital in West Baghdad that was staffed by 24 physicians. 'Adud used force to drive out marauding tribes and replaced them with peaceful farmers. Bedouins, Qufs, and Balach were attacked in 970, and his army besieged the Banu Shayban, the Kurds north of Mosul, and the Asad bands in 979.
When 'Adud died in 983, he was succeeded by his brother Fakhr, whom he had sent into exile at Nishapur. Some wealthy exiles from Iraq in 987 persuaded 'Adud's son Sharaf to attack Iraq so they could regain their estates. Baghdad had been impoverished by frequent fighting and had difficulty paying soldiers, while peaceful Fars had larger revenues; so the Daulami troops mutinied and went over to Sharaf. The next year Sharaf died at Baghdad when he was only 28. His sons were too young to rule, and the throne was passed to the last effective shahanshah, 'Adud's son Baha' al-Daula. Samsam al-Daula, partially blinded, had escaped and controlled Fars, Kirman, and Khuzistan. Samsam agreed to give Ahwaz to Baha'; but the Daulamis in Fars would not relinquish the province, and the Fars army took possession. The Turks of Baghdad then drove out the Daulamis with great slaughter. This caused the Daulamis to massacre the Turks in Fars. By 995 Fars had a Daulami army while Baha' in Baghdad was dependent on Turks.
Yet when Fakhr tried to sever Baghdad from Shiraz by invading Khuzistan, Samsam and Baha' joined forces and made him withdraw. Fakhr still ruled Iran for the Buyids and attacked the Ghaznavid Sebuk-Tegin in Khurasan but failed and died two years later in 997. Baha' was aided by the Kurd Badr ibn Hasanwaih when he invaded Fars in 998; while Samsam was fleeing Shiraz, he was assassinated by a son of 'Izz al-Daula, who had escaped captivity. Baha' took Shiraz and subdued the opposition of 'Izz's sons; Baha' remained in that capital until his death in 1012. Powerful Bedouin tribes surrounded Buyid control in Baghdad, and in 1002 Daulami leader Abu 'Ali ibn Ustadh-hurmuz entered Baghdad, punished its numerous bandits, and abolished provocative religious activities. After 1007 Fakhr's Kurdish widow Sayyida entrusted the government of Isfahan to the Kurdish prince Ja'far 'Ala' al-Daula. The Kurds' Marwani family established a dynasty in southeastern Anatolia at Mayyafariqin, where Nasr al-Daula ruled from 1011 to 1061.
Although the Buyids were Shi'a, the absent Baha' allowed the Hanbali Caliph al-Qadir (991-1031) to codify Sunni doctrine and rituals in a way that conflicted with Shi'i ideas. In 1003 the Caliph was able to block the appointment of an 'Alid as chief judge. Caliph al-Qadir spoke for both Sunnis and the Shi'i Twelvers when he challenged Fatimid theology and genealogy in 1010. He condemned both Shi'i and the compromising Mu'tazili doctrines in 1018, and in 1029 he denounced the doctrine that the Qur'an was created. Muslims now tended to be either Sunni or Shi'a. His Caliphate coincided with Sunni champion Mahmud's conquest of Iran.
After Baha' died in 1012, Buyid control deteriorated. In 1016 Fakhr al-Mulik was executed by his son and successor Sultan al-Daula. After sporadic warfare Sultan died of drink at age 32 in 1021. While Abu Kalijar governed Fars, the Turks in Baghdad appointed his uncle Jalal al-Daula, who governed there 1025-1044. Jalal was so poor that in 1031 he had to dismiss his servants and free his horses because he could not afford to maintain them. Baghdad was terrorized by the bandit al-Burjumi from 1030 to 1034 until the 'Uqaili Bedouin leader Qirwash finally drowned him. When the Turkish General Barstoghan mutinied in 1036, Abu Kalijar marched on Baghdad but failed to occupy it. Instead the 'Uqailids and another Arab tribe reinstated Jalal. After Jalal died, Abu Kalijar tried to sustain Baghdad with his resources from Shiraz; but when he died in 1048, the Buyids had to give way to the advancing Seljuqs. Al-Malik al-Rahim claimed to rule from Baghdad while Abu Mansur Fulad Sutun succeeded Abu Kalijar; but these two fought each other, and Abu Mansur turned to the Seljuq Tughril-Beg for help. In 1055 Tughril-Beg entered Baghdad and founded the Seljuq regime, and much of Fars was controlled by the Kurd leader Fadluya ibn 'Ali.
Al-Qadir was succeeded as Caliph by his son al-Qa'im, who outlasted the Shi'i Buyids and welcomed the Sunni Seljuqs before he died in 1075. Al-Mawardi (974-1058) wrote Principles of Power
for al-Qa'im about 1050, and his Conduct in Religion and the
World was on courtly ethics. He argued that in a religious society the Caliph should be in control, but he can appoint a vizier to administer the government and a commander of the army. If a sultan usurps power contrary to religion and justice, then the Caliph may call for aid in ending his domination. Thus he justified the Seljuq overthrow of the Buyids.
The Seljuqs are named after a chief of the Ghuzz Turks who led his tribe down from the steppes of Turkistan. Seljuq's grandsons Tughril-Beg and Chaghri-Beg led the conquest of Khurasan in 1037, defeating the Ghaznavid Mas'ud in 1040. They claimed power as Sunni Muslims, and they respected Sufi pirs. Ibn al-Muslima, acting as the declining Abbasid Caliph's Vizier, invited Tughril-Beg into Baghdad in 1055, and the next year Caliph al-Qa'im crowned Tughril-Beg King; but ibn al-Muslima's attempts to gain money for his intrigues resulted in his being killed by Tughril-Beg's rival al-Basasiri in 1059. Al-Basasiri occupied Baghdad for forty weeks, favoring the Fatimids; but Tughril-Beg brought the Abbasid Caliph back to Baghdad, defeating and killing al-Basasiri near Kufa.
Chaghri-Beg governed Khurasan and was succeeded by his son Alp-Arslan about 1060. Tughril-Beg appointed his nephew Sulayman as his heir, and his Vizier al-Kunduri proclaimed Sulayman sultan in Ray; but they were defeated by Alp-Arslan's forces, and al-Kunduri was put to death. The other Seljuq cousin Qutlumush of Rum was defeated in 1063. Other contenders for power then governed provinces under the sovereignty of Alp-Arslan (r. 1063-1072), who expanded the Seljuq empire by attacking the Fatimids in Syria and the Byzantines in the north. In 1071 at Manzikert the Seljuqs gave the Byzantine army its worst defeat ever. Roman Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes was captured and promised a ransom of a million gold pieces; but raising only 200,000, he died a captive. Alp-Arslan now ruled over 1,200 princes and had an army of 200,000, but he did not attempt to destroy the Byzantine empire. Alp-Arslan’s daughter married Caliph al-Qa’im’s son al-Muqtadi, who became Caliph in 1075.
Alp-Arslan crossed the Oxus River with his army in 1072 but was killed by a prisoner. Qarakhanid ruler Shams al-Mulk Nasr (r. 1068-80) then invaded the Seljuq side of the Oxus, capturing Tirmidh and pushing Ayaz ibn Alp-Arslan out of Balkh. Alp-Arslan’s son Malik-Shah (r. 1072-92) became sultan and forced the Qarakhanids to retreat. Nizam al-Mulk got him recognized in Baghdad, and Malik-Shah went to Nishapur to gain its treasure, which Nizam used to win over the soldiers with 700,000 dinars. Qavurt argued that he should succeed as Alp-Arslan’s oldest brother before a youthful son; but he was defeated, captured, and strangled with a bow-string at the insistence of Nizam. Qavurt’s sons were partially blinded, but later they were allowed to govern Kirman. Malik-Shah expanded the Seljuq empire. His General Atsiz conquered Jerusalem in 1073 and Damascus in 1076; but two years later Malik-Shah’s brother Tutush was appointed Governor of Syria and killed Atsiz. While the Byzantines were busy with a struggle for power that made Alexius Emperor in 1081, Malik-Shah’s sons Sulaiman and Mansur invaded Anatolia. The Sultan himself led the campaign that secured Syria by conquering Mosul, Harran, Aleppo, and Antioch, and he campaigned in Arabia. Malik-Shah visited Baghdad twice. Malik-Shah’s daughter married Caliph al-Muqtadi. In 1089 Malik-Shah invaded Transoxiana and took Samarkand by force from the Qarakhanids.
Both Alp-Arslan and Malik-Shah were aided by the capable Vizier Nizam al-Mulk, who was devoted to learning and was tutor (atabeg) to prince Malik-Shah. He sponsored madrasas (religious law schools), and the Nizamiyya he founded at Baghdad in 1067 was named after him. He patronized both Hanifi and Shafi‘i legal schools by endowing madrasas in every major city in the Seljuq empire, providing free education with generous living allowances for the students. Property dedicated to such schools, mosques, hospitals or other public service called waqf could not be inherited nor seized by the government. Nizam placed his many sons and grandsons in powerful positions and collected as much as ten percent of the revenue for his own use. He restored the barid, a central intelligence service, though the real power lay with the Turk military that crushed any rebellions. In 1079 two of Nizam al-Mulk’s enemies, the shahna of Baghdad and the Governor of Fars and Khuzistan, killed his Jewish tax collector in Basra and took his wealth. After Malik-Shah dismissed 7,000 Armenian mercenaries against the advice of Nizam, two rival parties emerged. The court jester satirized Nizam, whose son Jamal al-Mulk, the Governor of Balkh, cut out his tongue and killed him. Malik-Shah then had his Khurasan Governor secretly poison Jamal al-Mulk and grieved with Nizam.
During this era a nefarious group of secret Assassins arose from the Isma’ili sect led by the Fatimid propagandist Hasan ibn Sabah, operating from a fortress in the Elburz mountains. He used hashish and pleasant gardens to persuade his followers to commit assassinations. They were responsible for killing Nizam; when Malik-Shah attacked them in retribution, he died too about a month later. After these two were killed in 1092, the Seljuq empire broke up in a power struggle. Malik-Shah’s brother Tutush proclaimed himself Sultan in Baghdad in 1093, and he crushed the Arabs of Mosul. Caliph al-Muqtadi crowned 12-year-old Berkyaruq Sultan in 1094 and died the next day. The Caliph was succeeded by his son al-Mustazhir, but the rivalry between the Seljuqs left him little control. Partisans of the child Mahmud nearly blinded Berkyaruq but changed their minds when the child Sultan died of small pox. Tutush withdrew to Ray but was defeated and killed in 1095 after Berkyaruq raised 30,000 troops. The sons of Malik-Shah became independent governors of Iraq, Anatolia, Azerbaijan, Mesopotamia, Syria, Kuzistan, Fars, Kirman, and Khurasan.
Probably the first major Islamic work in the genre of advising
rulers was Ibn al-Muqaffa's al-Adab al-kabir, which discussed
the conduct of government by the ruler and his associates and
also friendship. He was the private secretary to the uncle of
Caliph al-Mansur but was murdered at the age of 36 in 759. Al-Muqaffa
translated a Sasanid royal chronicle and other treatises from
Persian into Arabic, including the Testament of Ardashir,
which suggested the unity of religion and monarchy. He argued
that knowledge was more important than justice, and he attempted
to codify laws through the Caliph so that judges in various provinces
would be applying the same laws.
Abu Yusuf (731-98) wrote Kitab al-kharaj for Caliph Harun al-Rashid as a handbook for juristic administration, emphasizing that the ruler must be pious and just as he is responsible to God. Al-Jahiz (776-868) was from Basra, and his writing justified the 'Abbasids' overthrowing of the Umayyad dynasty. The duty of subjects to obey their sovereign ends if he neglects his duties and abuses his power. In those circumstances they have the right and duty to depose and replace the ruler. Al-Jahiz wrote that the imam should have excellent intellectual and moral qualities with deep and broad religious knowledge.
In 1070 Yusuf Khass Hajib, a Qarakhanid Turk from Balasaghun, presented to Kashghar prince Tavghach Bughra Khan his book Wisdom of Royal Glory (Kutadgu Bilig), and he was rewarded with the title Privy Chamberlain (Khass Hajib). The Qarakhanids were a northern confederation of Turkish tribes that had yielded to the more powerful Seljuqs. The Qarakhanids had become Muslims in the middle of the tenth century but continued to use the Turkish script now called Uighur. Yusuf's book begins by praising God, the creator of all and then the prophet Muhammad and the first four caliphs. He valued the intellect and wisdom greatly and believed that the main source of inequality among people is the amount of wisdom. He advised using wisdom to control criminals and civilian turmoil; but if that failed, he approved the use of force to restrain fools. Doing good will result in being praised; but doing wrong will get one cursed. Yusuf warned against anger and misuse of the tongue. His book displays dialogs between four main characters-the king Rising Sun stands for Justice; his advisor Full Moon represents Fortune; after he dies, he is replaced by his son Highly Praised, signifying Intellect; his reclusive brother Wide Awake is described as the Last End.
Full Moon comes to serve Rising Sun and with his skill and patience helps the King to maintain justice. Full Moon knows the value of speech, and he recommends listening to the wise and speaking to the ignorant. He teaches his son Highly Praised not to be heedless like he was in acquiring wealth. Before he dies, Full Moon writes a testamentary letter to the King advising him to avoid what is forbidden, not commit injustice, not shed blood, not seek revenge, and not indulge in alcohol or sex. After mourning for Full Moon, Rising Sun summons his son Highly Praised, who also serves the King. Highly Praised recommends good character, modesty, and uprightness while avoiding stubbornness, telling lies, and miserliness. He describes the intellect and suggests that the lovers' hearts may be seen by looking at the eyes. He agrees with his father that the prince needs wisdom to keep the people in check and that by modesty he can avoid what is improper. Justice and wakefulness are the root of government and hold the state together. He also tells the prince that troops gain the treasure that pays them. This wealth is maintained by prosperous people, who must have justice in order to prosper. Justice makes the people happy, and silver satisfies the soldiers. Highly Praised summarizes the good qualities of a prince as follows:
The prince should be intelligent, wise, and just;
also cunning and courageous to gain good repute.
He must be generous and forbearing, modest and pure;
kindly and protective, full-eyed, patient, and humble;
sparing and forgiving, and quiet-mannered.
He must be a paragon of virtue among men,
and deal justly with people.1
Highly Praised says the vizier should be of good character, literate, intelligent, upright, modest, compassionate, honest, alert, knowledgeable, discerning, dutiful, devoted, self-effacing, and trustworthy. He says the cavalry commander should be truthful, generous, courageous, clever, and determined. The chamberlain should not take bribes because that makes the prince a laughing-stock. He should be humble, merciful to the poor, skillful and knowledgeable about customs and etiquette, patient, self-restrained, alert, broad-minded, even-tempered with his tongue and heart in accord, with writing ability, and wise in executing duties. A king should make sure that he does not give any offices to those who lie or are crooked. Envoys need to be wise, intelligent, courageous, loyal, reliable, sincere, upright, modest, discreet, knowing how to read, write, listen, and speak well. The royal secretary must be able to keep secrets, and the treasurer must be honest, upright, of sound character, loyal, alert, vigilant, good at arithmetic, and wise. Highly Praised also explains the qualifications of the chief cook, cupbearer, and other servants. In return the prince is obligated to treat them with kindness and consideration.
When King Rising Sun learns that Highly Praised has a wise brother named Wide Awake, he writes him a letter inviting him to serve in his court. However, Highly Praised is unable to persuade him to give up his ascetic life of religious devotion. Wide Awake argues that the faults of the world are not worth the allure of the city because the next life after death is all important. The King sends Highly Praised to his brother a second time, and he explains to him the proper way to serve the prince and how to conduct himself with all sorts of people; but Wide Awake has renounced the world and will not go there. The third time Rising Sun asks Wide Awake to come only for a visit to give him advice, and Wide Awake consents to this Muslim duty.
Wide Awake advises the King to scatter his wealth in order to gain religious merit while staying on the path of rectitude and justice. He should keep his spiritual heart alive and not fall into carnal passion but be compassionate to all his people. By straightening his own conduct, their conduct will straighten itself. The king should be like a physician, healing the poor, the hungry, the naked, and those suffering various ills. He should not make enemies nor spill blood. He should be aware of what is going on in his realm and let his compassion flow everywhere. An evil king destroys the realm because no one will restrain him. Wide Awake advises him to eat little and pray much, taking care of the needy, widows, and orphans. He should seek to benefit the people rather than himself because his benefit comes from theirs. Passion can be overcome with the intellect. After Wide Awake leaves, the King is disheartened. He still believes that a ruler cannot govern without troops and that to hire troops he needs money. So Highly Praised advises him to give his troops treasure and ask them to spread Islamic law without fighting other Muslims. He says the king has three basic duties to his people-keeping the coinage pure, giving them just laws and not allowing violence to each other, and maintaining secure roads. His three claims upon his subjects are that they must carry out his commands, pay their taxes on time, and bear arms against his enemies and love toward his friends.
Highly Praised regrets his past life and decides to repent by taking refuge in God. He goes to Wide Awake for counsel. Yet he advises Highly Praised to continue his benefits to the realm because for him to leave his work would cause harm. Wide Awake becomes ill and dies. The King consoles Highly Praised. Yet customs are decaying, and the world is becoming more corrupt. The author Yusuf concludes that wisdom needs to be learned, and he prays to God. Wisdom of Royal Glory has much sound practical wisdom for monarchical government. Yet it also contains the mystical themes of the Sufis, who transcend the sorrows of this world with spiritual wisdom.
In 1082 Kai Ka'us ibn Iskandar wrote Qabus-nama (A
Mirror for Princes) as advice for his son Gilanshah. The author
was the prince of Gurgan and part of the Ziyarid dynasty that
ruled provinces south of the Caspian Sea. His grandfather Qabus
ibn Washmgir was a cruel warrior but also a patron of poets and
knowledgeable in Arabic sciences and arts; even the great Avicenna
had spent time at his court. The prince Gilanshah was the last
of the Ziyarid line; after ruling for seven years, he was overthrown
in 1091 by Hasan ibn Sabah and his Assassins.
In the preface to Qabus-nama Kai Ka'us asks his son to benefit from this book he wrote even though the current fashion is for sons to ignore the advice of their fathers. In the first chapter he observes that everything can be known by humans except the Creator of all. Nothing can adequately describe the oneness of God. Everything else has duality, but God is free of association and likeness. As one increases in wealth, he should employ his bounty to carry out the Lord's work. He should help those worse off than himself. If he is poor in material things, he should seek wisdom, which is better than riches and helps one gain wealth. In addition to the five physical senses, one can use the five faculties of thinking, memory, observation, imagination, and speech. By studying the faults and merits of the virtuous he can learn from their successes and failures. One can even convert an enemy or rival into a friend by helping to deliver one from difficulty. Some things should not be understood nor spoken, such as those that imperil the faith. Those that benefit the faith should be both understood and spoken. The blunder of a friend or public person may be understood but should not be spoken, and fourthly the traditions of Muhammad that are not comprehended may be spoken. Do not utter unpleasant remarks which may produce enmity. The wise realize that they do not know, and the gates of instruction open to them.
Chapter 8 recounts many proverbial sayings of the Sasanid Shah Nushirwan that were inscribed on the wall of his tomb. One advises not being friends to those without merit. Do good on your own so that you will be free of the lawgiver. Speak the truth even if it is bitter. If you do not want your enemy to know your secret, do not tell your friend. Do not rely on the untrustworthy. Slaves bought and sold are freer than one enslaved by one's gullet. To be happy, be free of envy. To gain respect, be just. Be generous if it is in your power. Do not argue with fools.
The prince realizes that his son will act like a young man, but he urges him to practice self-restraint. Be prudent when young and compassionate to the aged. Life ascends to the age of forty and then declines. He warned his son not to get drunk away from home. Hospitality is an important duty. He warns him that romantic passion is a kind of madness. He discusses the etiquette of games such as chess and polo, hunting, bathing, and sleeping. He should not be eager to shed blood, and it is not lawful to kill Muslims unless they are brigands or criminals. He advises saving money to acquire wealth and gives his philosophy on how to purchase slaves. Be careful about loaning money to a friend, and do not ask for it back. No matter how much money one has, if one has a bad reputation and does not speak the truth, then one is poor. Those who are trustworthy and honest have the wealth of the whole world. People receive the treatment they give to others. A pretty woman can be a mistress, but a wife should be chaste, of good faith, capable of managing the household, fond of her husband, modest, laconic, and economical. The prince discusses how to raise children and the importance of friendship. Punishment may be inflicted for serious crimes, but pardoning is better.
Kai Ka'us describes the appropriate behavior for various occupations. A religious judge should be self-controlled, pious, and able to explain the law. A merchant who is dishonest will not be trusted again. A physician must understand the body and the regimens of health. Astrology is complicated and requires detailed calculations. Poets and musicians should develop their own talent, and telling amusing tales is helpful. To be the boon companion of a king requires much knowledge and many abilities. A secretary must have excellent literary skills and avoid forgery. A vizier needs to maintain his authority and appoint suitable people to offices. Finally Kai Ka'us advises his son on the conduct of a king. He should be wise, avoid haste, be circumspect, speak rarely and only the truth, be merciful except to those who are merciless, maintain discipline, and make sure his commands are effectual. The six most important qualities of a king are awesomeness, justice, generosity, respect for law, seriousness, and truthfulness.
In the last chapter of Qabus-nama Kai Ka'us emphasizes wisdom, truth, and virtue as he discusses the errant knights, who benefit the poor at the expense of the rich, and the poor Sufis, who seek God and virtue. These noble knights are neither selfish nor obedient like soldiers. The Sufi master al-Qushayri died in 1074 but left behind rules for the dervishes and their supporters. Being free of possessions is the essence of Sufism. The dervish should be trustworthy, polite, pious, clean, and pure in regard to sexuality. He travels with only a staff, water-pot, loin-cloth, shoes, prayer-mat, cowl, comb, tooth-brush, needle, and nail-clippers. He should make no demands and be accommodating. He understands five aspects of things: quiddity (essence), quality, quantity, reason, and purpose. The prince warns his son to control his eye, his tongue, and his hand; never lie; do not avenge past injury nor plan treachery; be kind; but if you cannot do good, at least do no harm; and to be content, never be envious. After giving his son all this advice, the prince realizes that he can not make him wise and intelligent because they do not come by compulsion. He must learn to the best of his ability, and he hopes that he will apply his advice and thus avoid folly.
Nizam al-Mulk (1018-1092), whose name is a title meaning harmony of the kingdom, governed the Seljuq empire as Vizier for thirty years. His father had been a tax collector for the Ghaznavids. The renowned Sufi Shaikh, Abu Sa'id ibn Abi'l-Khair, was Nizam al-Mulk's teacher, and later the Vizier founded several hospices for the Sufis. Nizam al-Mulk became an advisor to Alp-Arslan when he was Governor of Khurasan. He may have been responsible for ordering the death of al-Kunduri after Alp-Arslan won the succession struggle in 1063. Nizam al-Mulk gained prestige in the military campaigns in Fars. His influence as Vizier became especially important in 1072 when Malik-Shah came to the throne at the age of 18.
In 1086 the King commanded Nizam al-Mulk to consider the condition of the country and make a digest of past and present principles and laws so that the duty of the king could be correctly discharged, and all the wrong practices could be discontinued. Within a few years Nizam al-Mulk had written the first 39 chapters of his Siyar al-Muluk (Rules for Kings), which is also known in Europe as the Siyasat-nama (The Book of Government). In 1090 Nizam al-Mulk quarreled with Sultan Malik-Shah and may even have been replaced by Taj al-Mulk, who was favored by Tarkan Khatun in her hopes to have her son Mahmud succeed to the throne instead of the elder son Berk-yaruq. Eleven additional chapters criticized current conditions more strongly and were probably never read by Malik-Shah because the librarian recorded that he did not reveal the book until the troubles ended, probably in 1105 when Muhammad became the undisputed Sultan.
In the prolog Nizam al-Mulk described the purpose of the book as requested by Sultan Malik-Shah. Nizam al-Mulk began by suggesting that in every age God chooses one person endowed with virtues to rule as king. Disobedience or disregard of the divine laws results in retribution for deeds, and in the resulting calamities innocent people may be killed until again one human being acquires power and employs subordinates according to merit. A good king has a pleasing appearance, is kind, has integrity, is manly, brave, and skilled in arms and arts, is merciful, keeps promises, has sound faith and worships God with devotion, prays, fasts, and respects religious authorities, honors the devout, patronizes the learned and wise, gives to charity regularly, does good to the poor, is kind to subordinates, and relieves the people of oppressors.
Justice is the most important virtue, and Nizam al-Mulk recommended the king hold court on two days of the week to hear complaints personally and redress wrongs so that oppressors would curb their activities from fear of punishment. Tax collectors should take only the amount due and with civility. Any peasant in need of oxen or seed should be given a loan to keep him viable. Even viziers should be investigated secretly to make sure they are fulfilling their function properly. If impropriety is found in the conduct of any officials, they should be removed from office and chastised according to the crime. A story is told of the just King Nushirvan (Khusrau I), who complained that his doors were open to oppressors but not to the peasants. The palace doors should be more open to the givers (peasants) than to the takers (soldiers).
Judges should also be monitored, and those that are covetous and dishonest should be replaced by the learned and pious. In addition to the tax collectors and judges, the conduct of the prefect of police and the censor should be investigated. The mystic Abu 'Ali Daqqaq asked the Governor of Khurasan if he loved gold more than his enemy and then pointed out that he will leave gold behind him but will take his enemy into the next world. Then the story is told of how Sultan Mahmud, afraid that he was not handsome, was advised by Ahmad ibn Hasan to take gold as his enemy so that men will regard him as their friend. Mahmud then became generous and charitable, and the whole world adored him.
Nizam al-Mulk illustrated his points with numerous stories. In one an amir (commander) borrows 600 dinars from a man and promises to pay back 700 in one year; but the man is not able to get any money back for many months and finally goes to a poor tailor, who sends a servant to the amir. The tailor is successful and tells how a previous amir took a woman by force; he made the call to prayer during the night so that she could return, and her husband would not divorce her. Mu'tasim called in the tailor and asked why he made the call to prayer at the wrong time, and he told him of the amir's offense. The amir was severely punished, and the tailor was told to make the call to prayer at the wrong time whenever the Sultan's attention was needed. Thus the new amir knew that he had better pay back the money.
Luqman the Wise noted that knowledge is better than wealth because you have to take care of wealth; but knowledge takes care of you. Nizam al-Mulk believed that sound judgment is better for a king than having a powerful army. He quoted the Qur'an to show that God commanded even Muhammad to seek advice and counsel. Nizam recommended having different races among the troops so that they would compete with each other to excel. He described Alp-Tegin's rise to power from a slave and page of the Samanids to a commander. He punished a page for taking hay and a chicken from a peasant without paying for it as he ordered. This made other soldiers afraid, and the peasants were safe. His justice led the citizens of Ghaznain to take Alp-Tegin as their king. Because the Samanids tried to destroy the worthy Alp-Tegin, they declined and were overcome by Alp-Tegin and his successor Sebuk-Tegin, who founded the Ghaznavid empire.
Nizam al-Mulk believed it was the perfection of wisdom not to become angry at all; but if one does become angry, intelligence should prevail over wrath. The wise have said that patience is good, but it is even better during success. Knowledge is good, but it is even better with skill. Wealth is good, but it is even better with gratitude and enjoyment. Worship is good, but it is even better with understanding and reverence for God. Yet nothing is better than generosity, and kindness, and hospitality.
In the second part (chapters 40-50) Nizam al-Mulk seems to write from the bitterness of his retirement. He wrote that two appointments should not be given to one man nor should one position be given to more than one person. He complained that many worthy people remain unemployed when some persons are given several positions each. He lamented that it used to be that those hired followed the Hanafi or Shafi'i teachings and were from Khurasan or Transoxiana or a Sunni city, and Shi'as were refused; but now someone (probably Taj al-Mulk) wants to economize by reducing 400,000 men on the pay-roll to 70,000 in order to fill the treasury with gold. Nizam argued that a larger empire required more employees and that even more men would enable them to govern India too.
Nizam told stories from history to show that a good era replaces a sick time when a just king does away with evil-doers, has right judgments, and a vizier and officers of virtue; every task has the proper worker; heretics are put down, and the orthodox are raised up; tyrants are repressed; soldiers as well as peasants fear the king; the uneducated and base are not given positions; the inexperienced are not promoted; advice is sought from the intelligent and mature; men are selected for their skill, not because of their money; religion is not sold for worldly things; everything is ordered according to merit; thus all people have work according to their capability; and all things are regulated by justice and government by the grace of God.
Those under the king should not be allowed to assume power. Nizam was particularly critical of women, and his prejudice even went so far as to assume that one should always do the opposite of what a woman recommends. Nizam has Buzurjmihr complain that Khusrau gave power to his Queen Shirin. He believed the Sasanians fell from power because they entrusted important affairs to petty and ignorant officers and because they hated learning and learned people. Thus instead of having wise officers, Buzurjmihr said he had to deal with women and boys. Buzurjmihr Bakhtgan advised the King to banish the bad qualities from himself, which he listed as "hatred, envy, pride, anger, lust, greed, desire, spite, mendacity, avarice, ill temper, cruelty, selfishness, hastiness, ingratitude, and frivolity."2 The good qualities he should exercise are "modesty, good temper, clemency, forgiveness, humility, generosity, truthfulness, patience, gratitude, mercy, knowledge, intelligence, and justice."3
Nizam al-Mulk expressed his sharpest venom against the heretics by recounting his version of history, showing how they have arisen and have been destroyed. He goes back to the Mazdak revolution in the last century of the Sasanian empire. They offended him not only by their sharing their property but because they believed in sharing their wives also. Nizam would also accuse some Shi'i heretics of practicing the same evils, charging them with incest, for example. He described how the evil Qarmatis and Batinis arose and were put down in various regions. He noted that the Batinis were called by different names in different places.
In Aleppo and Egypt they call them Isma'ilis;
in Qum, Kashan, Tabaristan and Sabzvar they are called Seveners;
in Baghdad, Transoxiana and Ghaznain they are known as Qarmatis,
in Kufa as Mubarakis, in Basra as Ravandis and Burqa'is,
in Rayy as Khalafis, in Gurgan as The Wearers of Red,
in Syria as The Wearers of White, in the West as Sa'idis,
in Lahsa and Bahrain as Jannabis, and in Isfahan as Batinis;
whereas they call themselves The Didactics and other such names.
But their whole purpose is only to abolish Islam,
to mislead mankind and cast them into perdition.4
Nizam commended al-Mu'tasim for his three victories over the Byzantines, Babak's revolt in Azerbaijan, and the Zarathustrian Mazyar in Tabaristan. Nizam cited the early Caliph 'Umar's response to the last Sasanian King Yazdijurd Shahryar to show that the latter's empire was declining because his court was crowded with complainers; his treasury was full of ill-gotten wealth; and his army was disobedient. Nizam thus became a conservative voice for the Sunni tradition and ruled by an absolute monarch.
Firdausi was born about 935 at Tus in Khurasan into a land-owning family. He spent 30 years writing the nearly 60,000 couplets of his epic poem on Persian monarchy entitled The Book of Kings (Shah-nameh). Based on chronicles, Firdausi took over and incorporated about a thousand lines that Daqiqi wrote before he was murdered by a slave. Firdausi's Shah-nameh was completed about 1010. He wrote the poem hoping that the patronage of the Sultan Mahmud would provide a dowry for his daughter; but he was so disappointed by the 20,000 dirhams he received that he gave them to a bath-man and beer-seller. Firdausi then wrote a satire of Mahmud, but his friend Shahreyar purchased this short poem for 100,000 dirhams. Later Mahmud granted the poet 60,000 dinars worth of indigo; but when this arrived, Firdausi was dead. His daughter would not accept this gift, and it was used to repair a rest-house near Tus.
After a prolog invoking God, praising wisdom and Muhammad, acknowledging his use of Daqiqi's lines, and praising the Sultan Mahmud, Firdausi began with the first King Kayumars, who establishes laws and battles demons. His son Seyamak is killed by a demon, but Seyamak's son Hushang defeats the demons. Hushang discovers fire and founds its worship, and he teaches his people how to make bread. Hushang's son Tahmuras is called the capturer of the demons and is succeeded by his son Jamshid. During his reign of seven hundred years a palace is constructed, fields are plowed and reaped, garments of silk are worn, and swords and armor are invented. The Arab King Mirtas gives the milk of his animals to the poor, and his son Zahhak has ten thousand horses. Zahhak is seduced by an evil spirit Eblis, who invents the art of cooking. After Zahhak lets Eblis kiss his naked body, two serpents possess him and have to be fed daily on human brains. Zahhak gathers into an army the nobility who resents Jamshid's arrogance, and he executes Jamshid. Jamshid's sisters Shahrnaz and Arnawaz are put in Zahhak's harem; but they are later released by Faridun when he overthrows Zahhak with the help of the blacksmith Kaveh.
Faridun rules wisely and divides his kingdom between his three sons, giving the west to Salm, the north to Tur, and Iran to Iraj. Salm and Tur plot against Iraj, and Faridun responds that if they do not fear him, at least they should fear God; he counsels peace. Iraj agrees with his father and would rather sacrifice his kingdom than go to war. Iraj renounces his throne and retires; but Tur beheads him nonetheless. Iraj's daughter gives birth to Manuchehr, who kills the two brothers Salm and Tur, becoming King of Persia, which throughout its history would be fighting Greeks and Romans in the west and Turks in the north. Sam, the ruler of Sistan, pledges his loyalty to Manuchehr and has a white-haired son named Zal, who is left on a mountain but is saved by the fabulous simorg bird. Zal persuades Manuchehr not to attack Kabul and marries the Kabul princess Rudabeh; their son is the strong and heroic Rostam. Manuchehr is succeeded on the Persian throne by his son Nowzar, who misrules his people with such oppressive violence that they appeal to Sam. He causes Nowzar to reform; but Turan’s King Afrasyab, who kills his own brother, invades and pillages Persia, killing Nowzar. Zal and Rostam fight for Persia, and the nobles elect the just Qobad King, who makes peace.
Qobad is succeeded by his son Kavus. He disregards Zal's advice, goes to war with Mazandaran, and is captured; in Hamavaran Qobad is imprisoned by the father of the bride he seeks, and his attempt to fly with eagles leaves him stranded in enemy territory. From each of these three disasters Qobad is rescued by Rostam, who performs seven heroic labors. With the Persian King imprisoned, Afrasyab's army invades again; but when Kavus returns, Afrasyab has to retreat to Turan. While hunting in Turan, Rostam sires a son called Sohrab, who is raised in Turan and becomes their army's champion. Sohrab challenges the great Rostam in combat, and only when he is dying does he realize that Rostam is his father. The horrified Rostam ends the war.
Persian King Kavus has a son Seyavash, who is seduced by his step-mother, Queen Sudabeh; but he declines. After she accuses him of attempted rape, he proves his innocence in an ordeal of fire. Bad dreams persuade the aggressive Afrasyab to give up a war and make peace with the victorious Seyavash. Kavus rejects the treaty and wants to kill the hostages; so Seyavash goes over to the Turanians and marries Afrasyab's daughter Farangis. The indignant Rostam retires to Sistan. Seyavash is treacherously killed by Afrasyab's brother and commander, Garsivaz. Turanian counselor Piran saves the pregnant Farangis from the cruel Afrasyab. She gives birth to Khusrau, who escapes to Iran and becomes the next king when Kavus retires. To revenge his father Seyavash, Khusrau fights a long war against Turan with the help of the mighty Rostam. Farangis and Khusrau manage to save the life of Piran by persuading Giw not to kill him. Eventually Piran advises Afrasyab to escape to remote Tartary. The Persian warrior Bizhan falls in love with Afrasyab's daughter Manizheh; but he is imprisoned by her father. She cares for him, and he is rescued by Rostam, who is stopped from killing Barzu, his grandson. Finally Afrasyab is defeated and killed, and Kavus also dies.
Khusrau abdicates and retires to a religious life on a mountain-top, where he disappears in a snowstorm. Not having a son, Khusrau had selected as king Lohrasp, who is succeeded by his son Goshtasp. The prophet Zarathustra preaches an advanced religion that is accepted by Goshtasp and his court. (This section is the thousand lines Firdausi took from Daqiqi.) Goshtasp crowns his son Esfandyar his successor. Esfandyar spreads the Zarathustrian religion by invading the Rum in the west, Arabia in the south, and Hindustan in the east; but he quarrels with his father and is put in prison. When Turan led by Arjasp attacks Persia, Goshtasp calls forth Esfandyar to fight, and he performs seven heroic deeds but kills the simorg bird that had protected Rostam. Esfandyar also defeats and kills Arjasp. Khusrau had appointed Rostam to rule Zabul, Kabul, and Nim-ruz. Goshtasp was so upset that Rostam had not helped in the campaign against Arjasp and the Turanians that he sent his son Esfandyar to bring Rostam to him in chains. Rostam would go in loyalty but not as a prisoner. Esfandyar's traps wound Rostam and his horse; but Rostam is healed by the Simorg bird and then kills Esfandyar.
Rostam takes care of Esfandyar's son Bahman but is killed by a plot of his own brother Shagad, and Bahman takes revenge on Rostam's family, killing Rostam's father Zal. Rostam's son Faramarz is also defeated and killed. Bahman marries his daughter Homai and dies; but she bears his son Darab, who is put in a basket on the Euphrates River. Homai rules until she discovers the adult Darab and makes him king. In Firdausi's story Darab marries the daughter of the Greek King Filqus (Philip), making Darab the father of Eskandar (Alexander). Darab is succeeded by his second son Dara. Eskandar attacks Persia, defeats Dara, and becomes King. After Eskandar dies, the kingdom is broken into pieces for two centuries until Ardavan unites Persia. Ardavan is killed by Ardeshir, the founder of the Sasanian dynasty.
The romantic adventures of the Sasanian kings are treated more than the political history. During the reign of Shapur Du'l Aktaf the prophet Mani comes from China as a painter, miracle-worker, and religious teacher. The cruel Yazdegerd the Unjust is an example of how not to rule, but he is succeeded by his romantic son, Bahram Gut. During the reign of Kasra Anushirvan the communism of the reformer Mazdak is squelched with the aid of the King’s Vizier Bozorjmehr. The kings Hormozd and his son Khusrau Parviz have to contend with the rebellion of their champion Bahram Chubineh. Khusrau Parviz escapes from the dungeon his father put him in and has two ministers blind and later kill Hormozd. The fading old loyalty is represented by Chubineh's sister Gordyeh, who eventually marries Parviz. Bahram Chubineh is defeated and finally assassinated after fleeing to the Chinese court. Khusrau Parviz has a romance with Shirin, but he is eventually killed by a slave hired by discontented nobles. The final heroism occurs when the astrologer and soldier Rostam, son of Hormozd, predicts the defeat of Persia by the Muslims but fights loyally until his army is defeated, and the last Sasanian King Yazdegerd is murdered by a miller.
Firdausi's great epic leaves out the great Achaemenian kings Cyrus and Cambyses as well as the massive invasions of Greece led by Darius in 490 and Xerxes in 480, and the Greek-Persian wars of three kings named Artaxerxes. Alexander is even portrayed as the son of a Persian king. Yet the violent struggles of hereditary monarchy versus leadership by the most able are heroically described. The stark metaphor of a father killing his son or causing the death of his son as with Rostam and Sohrab, Kavus and Seyavash, and Goshtasp and Esfandyar, makes even more vivid the lament of Herodotus that in war the fathers bury their sons. The ambition to rule over others by force causes numerous wars and immense human suffering; yet Firdausi shows that the wiser kings are those who are just and can make peace.
Mystics called Sufis, after their woolen robes they originally wore as a form of social protest, began as ascetics who remained aloof from the lower material life. The movement seems to have begun at Basra, where al-Hasan (d. 728) lamented that the good had departed. He grieved because only the reprehensible seemed to be left. Al-Hasan preached to his companions,
The lower world is a house whose inmates labor for loss,
and only abstention from it makes one happy in it.
He who befriends it in desire and love for it
will be rendered wretched by it,
and his portion with God will be laid waste.5
Al-Hasan believed that piety is the essence of religion, and he outlined three grades. First, a person should speak the truth even when excited by anger. Second, one should control one's bodily organs and refrain from what God has forbidden. Third, one should desire only those things that lead to God's pleasure. A little piety is better than much praying and fasting; but lust for the world and greed can destroy piety. The ascetics and new converts to Islam were given equality by the Caliph 'Umar II (r. 717-720) to whom al-Hasan wrote that he should beware of the world because it is as deadly as a snake's venom; its hopes are lies, and its expectations false; its ease becomes harsh, and its pleasures end in pain.
The first man to be called a Sufi was Abu Hashim (d. 776) of Kufa. Sufis were soon gathering at a monastery established by a wealthy Christian at Ramlah in Syria. Sufism also spread to Khurasan, where the influence of Buddhism was felt. Ibrahim ibn Adham (d. 777) recommended other-worldliness, celibacy, and poverty. He believed the true saint covets nothing in this world or in the next but is devoted only to God. He found that in adopting poverty one should not consider marriage since one could not fulfill the needs of a wife. Adham said that when a Sufi marries, he boards a ship; but when he gets a child, his asceticism shipwrecks.
The most famous woman Sufi was Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya of Basra. She was born in 713 or 717 into a very poor home. After her mother and father died, during a famine she was sold into slavery. Even when she broke her hand while fleeing and was re-captured, she still wanted only to please God. When her owner perceived her illumination while she was praying, he freed her so that she could pursue her spiritual path. Rabi'a remained celibate, rejecting several offers of marriage from prominent Sufis because she was essentially already married to God; she died in 801. Stories and sayings of hers were later written down by the 13th-century Sufi 'Attar in his Memorial of the Friends of God. He justified including a woman by noting that God does not regard your forms but is more concerned with right intention. In the unity the mystics seek there is no male or female. It was said that Rabi'a prayed a thousand times a day. When someone said she was fit to be an abbess, she replied,
I am abbess of myself.
Whatever is within me, I do not bring out.
Whatever is outside me, I do not let in.
If anyone enters and leaves, it has nothing to do with me.
I watch over my heart, not mud and clay.6
Rabi'a said that a servant of God is contented when one is as thankful for tribulation as for bliss. She taught that God should be worshipped without fear of punishment or hope of reward but for its own sake. She said,
O Lord, if I worship you out of fear of hell, burn me in hell.
If I worship you in the hope of paradise, forbid it to me.
And if I worship you for your own sake,
do not deprive me of your eternal beauty.7
When she was asked why she carried fire and water, Rabi'a replied that she was going to burn paradise and douse hell-fire so that both veils might be lifted from the seekers; then they will have sincere purpose. At the present time she lamented that if hope for reward and fear of punishment were taken away, no one would worship or obey. When asked why she worshipped if she had no hope for paradise, Rabi'a replied that she preferred the Neighbor to the neighbor's house. Her goal was union with God. Once when someone asked her to come outside and enjoy the flowers of spring, she invited them to come inside and contemplate their Creator; for her contemplation of the Creator had turned her from contemplation of the creation.
Harith Muhasibi (781-857) was a theologian of the Shafi'i school. He was concerned about the many sects and sub-sects claiming the way to salvation. After studying the Qur'an and the traditions of the prophet Muhammad, he concluded that desires blind people and lead them astray from the truth. Muhasibi gained his name by turning to self-examination (muhasabah) along with self-discipline and moral transformation. He often conversed and answered the questions of his disciple Junayd (d. 910), who became a prominent Sufi himself. Muhasibi argued that wealth is better for the mystic than poverty because it is more characteristic of God. He found asceticism only valuable in order to purge the soul for companionship with God. He urged those who wish to be near God to abandon everything that alienates them from God. His major work was The Book on the Observance of the Rights of God, which is on moral psychology. He described four kinds of egotism as conceit, pride, vanity, and self-delusion. Each of these may also express as competitiveness, rivalry, acquisitiveness, and self-vaunting.
In self-delusion one becomes blind to one's sins and over-rates one's actions, thus decreasing the fear of doing wrong. In his Book of Counsels, Muhasibi suggested warding off vanity by realizing that God sets you into action by granting you grace. Sincere action is completely rooted in God without any praise or blame of humans. The conceited person is zealous in front of others but lazy when no one is watching, wanting to be praised in one's actions.
In The Book on the Observance of the Rights of God Muhasibi wrote that inclinations come from three sources - the ego-self, the enemy Iblis (Satan), and God. The ego-self tends to operate from desire while illumination by God uses reason. Holding the ego-self back from rushing into action is called patience. To see where one is going, one must have eyesight, light, and look at the path. Healthy sight is like reason; a lamp is like knowledge; and watching where one is going is like confirmation (by the religious teachings). Muhasibi described how preparation for death can focus awareness on what is fundamentally important. One must also be wary of the enemy. Arrogance comes from pride out of fear of being lorded over or from love of lording it over others. Love of aggrandizement and lust for power look down on others and want always to be above others or put before them. Muhasibi advised not entering into an action until one knows that God wills it.
Dhu al-Nun Misri (796-859) practiced extreme asceticism and believed that temptations of the self were the greatest veil. He found seclusion indispensable for the Sufi. He said that the lesser path is to avoid sin, leave the world, and control passion; but the greater path is to leave everything but God and to empty one's heart. Dhu al-Nun emphasized trust in God, and he suggested that even the elect need to repent of their negligence. He found a certainty in intuition that was beyond the knowledge of sense perception. He defined three kinds of religious knowledge. First is knowing the unity of God that is common to all believers; second is knowledge based on proof and demonstration that belongs to the wise and learned; and third is knowing the attributes of God which comes to the saints who contemplate God in their hearts.
Yahya ibn Mu'adh ar-Razi (d. 871) was from Ray and expressed his message with such enthusiasm that he was called "the preacher." Yahya taught divine love, saying, "Real love does not diminish by the cruelty of the beloved, nor does it grow by His grace, but is always the same."8 He also preached forgiveness, and he believed that death is beautiful because it joins the friend with the Friend.
Bayazid Bistami (d. 874) was a Persian who wandered in the deserts of Syria for thirty years living ascetically in search of God. Bayazid was the first to write about the annihilation of the self (fana) which became a cardinal doctrine of Sufism. He became controversial for exclaiming his own greatness when he came out of his self and experienced the oneness of the lover and the beloved in God. He held that paradise is of no concern to the people of love because they are loved through their love. He described how he passed through the unseen worlds and met angels and the souls of prophets.
In 885 Ghulam Khalil accused the Sufis in Baghdad of heresy, which could bring capital punishment. Abu'l-Husayn an-Nuri (d. 907) offered his life to save his companions; but when the Caliph investigated, he found the Sufis were good Muslims and released them. Thus Nuri demonstrated his brotherly love as the genuine spiritual poverty of preferring others to oneself. Some theologians called him a heretic because he referred to himself as a lover of God. He described the psychological stages of love in his The Stations of the Hearts. He likened the heart to a garden nourished by the rain of God's mercy. Junayd criticized Nuri's exuberance and startling miracles. For example, to conquer his fear of lions, Nuri lived in the lion-infested forests along the Tigris. He was said to have died after cutting his feet on sharp reeds when he ran into a reed-bed after being enraptured by the recitation of a verse.
Junayd of Baghdad (d. 910) studied law under abu Thaur and Sufism with Muhasibi. As a theologian he advocated sobriety rather than the mystical state of intoxication that can lead to loss of sanity and self-control. It was for this reason that he refused to accept al-Hallaj as his disciple, arguing that sobriety means one's spiritual relation with God is sound while intoxication indicates excess of longing. Junayd wore the dress of the 'ulama'
scholars rather than the woolen garb of the mystics, and his prudent
behavior as well as his ideas made him more acceptable to the
theologians. His writings became so widely accepted that he was
considered the master of the Sufi sect. He reprimanded the devil
for not obeying the commands of the one God, thus emphasizing
that moral behavior is the basis of the religious life. Junayd
believed that trust was neither acquisition nor non-acquisition
but faith in God's promise. He described three stages of repentance
as expressing regret at the wrong done, resolving to avoid that
wrong in the future, and purifying oneself of evils and impurities.
He wrote extensively on the affirmation of unity, cautioning the
reader, "Know that you are veiled from yourself by yourself."9
One does not attain God through oneself but through God.
Al-Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj (858-922) was the Persian son of a wool or cotton carder. He became a disciple of Sahl ibn 'Abd Allah of Tustar but received his Sufi gown from 'Amr ibn 'Uthman Makki at Basra. He married a woman who already had a daughter by another Sufi, who belonged to a family that had supported the 'Alid slave rebellion of Zaidi against the 'Abbasid Caliphate; she bore al-Hallaj three sons. Al-Hallaj himself remained a Sunni and studied with Junayd for about six years but left him to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca, where he spent a year praying and meditating by the Ka'ba. Then al-Hallaj traveled through Persia to Kashmir and India, eventually reaching the frontier of China. He returned with paper from the Chinese on which his disciples later inscribed his sermons with gold ink. He would weep and give sermons in the marketplace. In one he explained that God sometimes shines forth to people and sometimes is veiled from them; God is revealed so that humans can be helped but is hidden lest they all become spellbound.
Al-Hallaj was about fifty when he announced in the mosque of al-Mansur at Baghdad to his friend, the Turkish poet Shibli, "I am the truth (or the real)." Believing he needed to die in God, al-Hallaj told people in that mosque that God had made his blood lawful to them and that they should kill him so that they will be holy fighters, and he will be a martyr. However, the only ones who were really hostile to him were the fundamentalist Hanbalis. Al-Hallaj continued to preach that his death would be a coming to life and an awakening. He noted the miracle that he had become a father to his mother and that his daughters had become his sisters. He was ordered arrested in 908 for being involved in the Sunni plot of the Caliph ibn al-Mu'tazz, but he escaped to Susa. Some of his followers were arrested, but al-Hallaj was not found and taken to Baghdad in chains until 911, though no charges were brought then. Two years later the Vizier 'Ali ibn Isa tried him; but his case was suspended by the influence of ibn Suraij. Instead of being charged with the serious crime of heresy, he was convicted of being a charlatan and was humiliated and imprisoned.
Al-Hallaj was kept a prisoner in the royal palace for eight years and was much appreciated by the Queen Mother. Fear of a Hanbali revolution caused the Vizier Hamid bin al-'Abbas and the Greek eunuch army commander Munis to put al-Hallaj on trial again. Al-Hallaj had written to a friend advising him to destroy his Ka'ba, meaning sacrifice his life, and the mystic was convicted of advocating the destruction of Mecca. Al-Hallaj had also recommended that those unable to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca celebrate it at home with prayers and by giving a feast and clothes to thirty orphans. A drunk Caliph Muqtadir signed his execution order. When his servant Ibrahim asked for a keepsake word, al-Hallaj said, "Yourself," because unless you enslave it, it will enslave you. Al-Hallaj spent half the night before execution repeating the word "illusion," and then near dawn he began shouting, "The truth." He was taken to the execution ground while ecstatically dancing and laughing. He asked God to pardon those who were punishing him. Al-Hallaj received a thousand lashes; his hand and foot were amputated, and he was hanged in a noose until morning, when he was decapitated. All booksellers were summoned and had to swear not to sell any work by al-Hallaj.
The sayings of al-Hallaj were collected together, but the only complete text is The Tasin of Before-Time and Ambiguity, which defends the position of Iblis for having refused to worship Adam on the ground that he should not worship anyone but God. Al-Hallaj wrote that things are known by their opposites, and so whoever does not know vice will not know virtue. He spoke to those who might not be able to recognize the real directly to recognize him as the trace of the real. Even though his hands and feet were cut off, and he was killed, al-Hallaj did not go back on his proclamation.
Many Sufis influenced by al-Hallaj moved to Khurasan and Transoxiana, where the Samanids were more tolerant of mystics. Abu Nasr as-Sarraj (d. 988) was from the city of Tus in Khurasan and described the Sufi way of life in his Book of Flashes. In that work he outlined seven stations of repentance, watchfulness, renunciation, poverty, patience, trust, and acceptance. He quoted numerous Sufi teachers as he defined each of these qualities on three different levels of experience—the novice seekers, the select, and those with mystical knowledge.
Repentance is returning from what knowledge condemns to what knowledge praises. For the knowers it is turning away from everything except God. Seekers are watchful of the uncertain things between the prohibited and the permitted; knowers are watchful of everything that distracts one from God. Renunciation goes beyond the prohibited which is obligatory to what is permitted and at hand. Junayd said that in renunciation the hands are free of possessing and the hearts are free of craving. For novices poverty means not owning anything and refusing anything offered. Junayd said that the truly poor do not ask and do not argue while Sahl ibn 'Abdullah said that one does not ask nor refuse nor hoard. The highest reality of poverty is described by al-Jariri as refraining from requesting what is not lest one lose what is. Junayd said that patience is bearing a burden for God's sake during the time of hardship; but the truly patient in God does not weaken or waver in all trials. Trusting in God is sufficient, and Junayd said that the best trust is the heart's relying on God in all its conditions. Ibn 'Ata' said that acceptance is letting God choose for the servant, who accepts it gladly knowing that God knows best.
Al-Kalabadhi, who died in Bukhara about 990, tried to find a balance between orthodox Islam and Sufism. He summarized the ten principal elements of Sufism he heard from Abu 'l-Hasan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Farisi as the following:
1) isolation of unification (believing in one God),
2) understanding of audition (listening to mystical experience),
3) good fellowship,
4) preference of preferring (preferring what another prefers),
5) yielding up of personal choice,
6) swiftness of ecstasy (clearing conscience from what would prevent experiencing God),
7) revelation of the thoughts (examining every thought and following only what is God's),
8) abundant journeying (seeing warnings in heaven and earth),
9) yielding up of earning (trusting God),
10) and refusal to hoard.
Abu Sa'id ibn Abi Khayr (d. 1049) was the abbot of a large
Sufi monastery in Khurasan and upheld the idea of human divinization.
He encouraged Sufis to dance and feast, and he wrote poetic quatrains
called ruba'iyat. He urged people to shine like the sun
on the face of all and suggested that bringing joy to a single
heart is better than many religious shrines, and enslaving one
soul with kindness is better than freeing a thousand slaves. Al-Qushayri
(d. 1074) was also from Khurasan and wrote a comprehensive treatise
on Sufism that combined many views.
Abu'l-Qasim al-Qushayri was born in July 986 near Nishapur in Khurasan. After his father died, he inherited a village while quite young. He studied mathematics at Nishapur and worked in the Ghaznavid financial administration. Qushayri was won over to Sufism by Abu Ali al-Duqqaq, who came from a line of teachers influenced by Junayd and al-Hallaj. Qushayri married Duqqaq's daughter Fatima, and she also became a Sufi scholar. After Duqqaq died, he sat with 85-year-old Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami (d. 1021). Sulami wrote a two-volume history of Sufis. After the Seljuqs took over Nishapur from the Ghaznavids, Shafi'i jurists persuaded Tughril Beg's vizier Amid al-Mulk al-Kunduri to order Shi'as and fundamentalist Abu'l Hasan al-Ashari (873-935) cursed in the mosques. In 1044 Qushayri issued a decree (fatwa) that Ashari was a faithful leader of Sunni teachings and that he and his followers should not be cursed. A decade later Qushayri wrote an open letter to the 'ulama of the Muslim world, and Tughril-Beg ordered Kunduri to arrest and deport the dissidents. However, Abu Sahl, the Shafi'i ra'is (chief) gathered armed men and forced the soldiers to release the prisoners in order to free Qushayri, who fled to Baghdad on pilgrimage. Caliph al-Qaim bi-Amrilla (1031-75) had approved the stopping of an official procession at the site of al-Hallaj's martyrdom when his Vizier Ali ibn al-Muslima was appointed in 1046. Qaim had a school built for Qushayri. After Tughril-Beg died in 1063, Qushayri returned to Nishapur, where he died in 1072.
Qushayri wrote a commentary on the Qur'an and was very
influential in spreading the traditions (hadith). He wrote
many treatises, and his major book Risala, which he wrote
in 1046, spread the teachings of Sufism. In this long letter to
the Sufis he often quotes from the Qur'an and the conversations
of Muhammad and his companions as well as from numerous Sufi teachers
to reveal through actual conversations and anecdotes the Sufi
message. He emphasized that the moral character of the inner nature
is the most important part of a person and the essence of Sufism.
A good moral character does not cause harm to others and bears
the injuries they cause. The people with the worst characters
have the most worries. He recommended accepting harsh treatment
from others as the will of God without sorrow or anxiety. Muhammad
said that an angry person should sit down until the anger subsides.
A good-natured spirit bears adversity. A sign of a bad character
is one who focuses on the bad character of others.
The prophet Muhammad described three stages of repentance-remorse for past violations, immediate abandonment of the moral lapse, and a firm resolve not to repeat the error. Renunciation combines trusting God and loving poverty. Qushayri wrote that the root of chivalry is being attentive to the cares of others. Sulami reported that Junayd found chivalry in Syria, eloquence in Iraq, and honesty in Khurasan. Duqqaq's teacher Nasrabadhi observed that every person is selfish; but the chivalrous oppose their passions, and Muhasibi suggested that chivalry is being fair to others while not demanding fairness for yourself. Junayd observed that chivalry is restraining yourself from causing trouble while giving freely. Poverty is what distinguishes the saints and adorns the pure, whom God chooses to be prophets. Junayd said that a Sufi is like the earth-every ugly thing is thrown upon it, but everything that grows out of it is beautiful. Qushayri also wrote about striving, seclusion, being wary of God, abstaining from wrong acts, silence, fear of God's punishment, hope, sorrow, abandoning passion, humility, opposing the ego's faults, envy, gossip, contentment, trusting God, gratitude, certainty, patience, vigilance, satisfaction, service, desire for God, persistence, sincerity, honesty, shame, freedom, remembering God, insight, generosity, jealousy, prayer, correct behavior, knowing God, love, and longing for beloved God.
'Abdullah Ansari (1006-1088) taught Sufis in Herat, and his lectures in Persian were recorded by his students, who for a long time did not know that he was indigent because he wore fine clothes while teaching. Ansari was imprisoned in irons for five months in 1046 because of a petition by theologians. As his fame spread, his students provided him with gifts. Ansari was banished briefly in 1066, but four years later Vizier Nizam al-Mulk sent him a robe of honor. In the last eight years of his life Ansari continued to teach even though he was physically blind. Ansari was one of the Sufis who supported the more conservative Hanbalis. He described one hundred spiritual stations in groups of ten, which are listed as follows:
1. Beginnings: awakening, repentance, appraisal, turning (to God), reflection, self-admonition, holding fast, escape, austerity, listening.
2. Doors: sorrow, fear, apprehension, humility, serenity, renunciation, abstaining, devotion, hope, aspiration.
3. Behaviors: watchfulness, heedfulness, respect, sincerity, correction, perseverance, trust, reliance, confidence, submission.
4 and 5. Virtues: endurance, contentment, thankfulness, decency, truthfulness, preference, character, modesty, generosity, expansion, aspiration, resolution, will, seemliness, certitude, intimacy, remembrance, poverty, wealth, stage of being erect.
6: Valleys: excellence, knowledge, wisdom, insight, perspicacity, veneration, inspiration, soothing, appeasing, endeavor.
7. Spiritual states: love, jealousy, longing, anxiety, thirst, ecstasy, alarm, bewilderment, lightning, taste.
8. Guardianships: glance, instant, purity, delight, secret, breath, exile, submersion, absence, establishment.
9. Realities: unveiling, contemplation, observation, life, grasping, stretching, intoxication, lucidity, association, dissociation.
10. Fulfillments: knowing, annihilation, subsisting, realization, covering, finding, casting aside, isolating, concentration, and unification.
Although Christians, Syriacs, and physicians had spread Greek philosophy into Islamic culture, Abu Ya'qub al-Kindi (c. 801-c. 873) was the first major Muslim philosopher to be influenced by Greek thought. Most of his many treatises are lost, but he defined the philosopher's goal in theoretical knowledge as gaining the truth and in practical knowledge as behaving in accordance with truth. Al-Kindi found harmony between religion and philosophy. He wrote that the purpose of every useful science is to get away from anything harmful by taking care against it and in acquiring what the prophets have proclaimed, which is the unity of God and the practice of virtues acceptable to God while avoiding the contrary vices. In the extant Art of Dispelling Sorrows al-Kindi explained that sorrow is caused by the loss of what is cherished or the failure to attain what one desires. Wishing to hold onto material possessions, which are perishable, is in vain. Unnecessary sorrow can be avoided by cultivating moral courage and detachment. The reasonable person is content to enjoy temporary things but does not grieve over what is lost. Socrates said he never grieved. Al-Kindi suggested the Stoic method of discerning what is in our power from what is not. What we can do is our duty, but what happens beyond our control we can accept with fortitude. To fear death is irrational, because it is natural and inevitable.
Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi (865-925) was born at Ray and injured his eyes practicing alchemy. Al-Razi then studied to become a doctor and directed the hospital at Ray; he directed a hospital at Baghdad during the reign of Muktafi (902-908) but returned to Ray, where he gathered many students in circles. If all the circles failed to answer a question about science, then al-Razi answered it. He assisted students needing stipends and treated the poor for free. He wrote an influential medical text. Much of what is known about al-Razi comes from writings that opposed him. He admired Plato and believed that Aristotle had corrupted philosophy. Al-Razi held that the five eternals are God, soul, matter, space, and time. God has perfect wisdom and is pure intelligence. Life flows from souls attaching themselves to matter. Souls remain in this unreal world until they are awakened by philosophy to the real world. He described matter as the creation of the Creator in absolute space and eternal time. In a major book on the philosophical life, al-Razi wrote that the supreme purpose for which humans were created was not for physical pleasures but to acquire knowledge and practice justice.
Al-Razi emphasized reason as God's greatest gift to humans. He did not believe that religion and philosophy could be reconciled, and he considered prophecy and revelation unnecessary because reason is sufficient. Al-Razi opposed authority and considered all people equal; differences are only caused by development and education. He found that prophets contradict each other. People become attached to religion because they imitate tradition; they are influenced by clergy serving the state, and their imaginations succumb to ceremonies and rituals. Al-Razi showed the contradictions between Judaism, Manichaeism, Christianity, and Islam. He denied that the Qur'an was miraculous and believed a better book could be written. Al-Razi preferred scientific books to all sacred books because they are more useful to people. Prophets even do much harm by causing religions to war against each other.
In ethics al-Razi believed that a philosopher should follow a moderate life between excessive asceticism and too much indulgence in pleasures. He himself lived so, not serving a monarch; he was a doctor and counselor and quite generous and tolerant of others. Al-Razi used Plato's psychology of the rational, pugnacious, and appetitive aspects of the soul, and he believed that people should control their passions and appetites by using their rational faculty. Because people do not usually see their own defects, he suggested asking a reasonable friend or neighbor. When told about them, one should not be sad but joyful and encourage the person to describe more of one's faults. He was influenced by Galen's treatise "How Good People Benefit from Their Enemies."
Al-Razi described pleasure as a return to nature. He criticized vanity as preventing one from learning more or doing better. Anger is a natural emotion for self-defense, but in excess it does much harm. He considered lying a bad habit; but when it's purpose was good, he praised it. Too much worry is harmful. Desire brings pain and harm, and drunkenness leads to calamity. Al-Razi felt that no more wealth should be acquired than was needed and spent, except for a small emergency fund. Ambition that leads to dangers should be renounced. Other vices he warned against are arrogance, envy, miserliness, gluttony, erotic passion, frivolity, avarice, and fear of death. Like Socrates, he argued that death is not to be feared because it is either another life in a better world or nothing.
Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi (870-950) was born of Turkish descent in Transoxiana; he studied in Khurasan and at Baghdad, and one of his teachers was the Syriac Christian Yuhanna ibn Haylan. Al-Farabi gave philosophical support to the revolutionary Isma'ili movement of his era. He argued that a virtuous person should not remain in a corrupt state but should migrate, as Muhammad did to Medina. Al-Farabi went from Baghdad to the court of Sayf al-Daula at Aleppo in 942 but continued to wear his Sufi garb. Al-Farabi was honored by the presence of this emir and his entourage at his funeral in Damascus. Unlike al-Razi, al-Farabi believed that human natures are different, and so he recommended esoteric teachings for the elite, who should govern social and political hierarchies. He also combined religion with philosophy and suggested that the best philosopher king should also be a religious prophet. He found that every revealed religion is based on revelation and inspiration; a prophet is endowed with a special gift from God to express the divine will. Al-Farabi believed that miracles validate prophecy but that they do not contradict natural laws. The prophet has a spiritual power by associating with what al-Farabi called the active intelligence. Happiness is found by using this highest part of the intelligence to commune with the celestial world. What emanates from the active intelligence to the passive intellect is revelation. Those governed by this are happy.
Al-Farabi wrote numerous philosophical works and applied his ethical theories to political philosophy. His views were much influenced by the writings of Plato. Society depends on mutual cooperation; but he went beyond the city-state to the nation or world-state, and he believed that a religious state founded by a prophet was more enlightened than a pagan or purely philosophical state, which he called ignorant. His three grades of souls are celestial (angels), rational animals (humans), and irrational animals. He suggested that happiness depends on combining the four virtues that are speculative, theoretical, moral, and practical. The speculative virtue enables humans to receive knowledge that they cannot reach by their own efforts while theoretical knowledge can be gained by logic. The practical side of the rational faculty decides moral issues and is skilled in arts and crafts. The appetitive faculty inclines humans to desire or avoid and expresses emotions such as affection, hatred, fear, and anger. Al-Farabi's imaginative faculty combines these impressions to perceive what is useful and harmful, pleasant and unpleasant. The faculty of sense perception uses the five senses without distinguishing good from evil. When one does not use the rational faculty to obtain true happiness, the appetites and imagination pursue pleasures. The latter al-Farabi called voluntary evil.
Al-Farabi believed that these natural dispositions require a teacher to prepare people for the highest perfection. Teaching creates the speculative virtue in individuals and nations while upbringing develops the moral virtues and scientific arts. The higher method of teaching is by certain demonstration, and the lower is by persuasion. Practical arts need to become habits, and al-Farabi even recommended the use of force against disobedient and revolutionary citizens if they do not behave voluntarily or by persuasion. The first chief excels in virtue and enables the state to achieve the highest happiness. This chief or Imam of the ideal state should have the following twelve characteristics: sound health, intelligence, good memory, prudence, eloquence, devotion to learning, dislike of sensual pleasures, love of truth, magnanimity, indifference to wealth, devotion to justice, and courage. The second chief who succeeds the first should be philosophical, learned in the laws and customs, expert at deriving principles, far-sighted, persuasive, and skilled in warfare. Laws may be changed to fit new conditions; but generally one should govern by the written laws received by past chiefs.
When citizens do not direct their activities to true happiness,
there are bad results, making the souls sick. The function of
the governor is to manage affairs so that people can eliminate
the evils and acquire the goods. In the virtuous state everyone
knows the higher principles and acts on them. When the state is
not virtuous, it can be either ignorant, immoral, or erring. Al-Farabi
described six kinds of ignorant states. The indispensable state
is governed by one who enables the people to acquire their indispensable
necessities. The vile state concentrates on acquiring wealth.
The base state is preoccupied with sensual pleasures. The timocratic
state seeks honors. When this becomes too extreme, it results
in the despotic state that is dominated by a tyrant. In the democratic
state freedom is the greatest value, and the people rule so as
to maximize their variety of expression. Authority is only given
to those who favor the people or give them money. A virtuous person
who tries to direct them toward happiness is either neglected
or may be deposed or killed. The immoral states are like ignorant
states, but they hold differing beliefs. Those in erring states
are given imitations and thus hold false beliefs.
Saadia ben Joseph (882-942) was born in Egypt but moved to Palestine when he was about 23. He has been called the founder of scientific Judaism. Saadia compiled a Hebrew-Arabic dictionary, and he translated the Bible into Arabic. He moved to Babylon and refuted the ideas of the Karais, who did not accept the teachings of the rabbis. Saadia defended the traditional Jewish calendar. In 928 he was appointed the Gaon of Sora, where he used philosophy to systematize the Talmud. When he refused to sign a decree of Exilarch David ben Zacchai regarding a large inheritance, Saadia was removed from his position. Saadia proposed Josiah Hassan as a new prince of the captivity; but the resulting conflict in 933 caused the Caliph to depose Saadia and banish the rival Exilarch Hassan to Khurasan. Saadia lived in retirement at Baghdad writing. His major philosophical work, The Book of Doctrines and Beliefs had one part on divine unity and another on divine justice. He agreed with the Mu'tazilis in believing in human freedom as the basis for moral responsibility. Saadia explained the good reasons for the laws against killing, stealing, adultery, false testimony, and other trespasses, and he distinguished these from the religious laws and traditions that he considered rationally neutral.
Saadia was reconciled with David and restored to his office in 937. Three years later David died, and Saadia helped his son Judah be appointed Exilarch; but he died and left his 12-year-old son with Saadia. Because of his age a relative filled the office, but he was executed for having disparaged Muhammad. The next Exilarch was the last, as he was assassinated by fanatical Muslims while riding in his carriage even though the Caliph tried to prevent his murder. The Sora school was closed about 948 after seven hundred years, but copies of the Talmud were sent to Spain. The school at Pumbeditha went on for another century until the last Gaon Chiskiya was imprisoned and then executed in 1040. Chiskiya's two sons escaped to Spain.
Yahya ibn 'Adi (893-974) was a Jacobite Christian. Influenced by al-Farabi, ibn 'Adi studied Pythagorean metaphysics. He believed that the Greeks were superior in wisdom and in propagating the arts and sciences but that this inequality between peoples could be eliminated by education. The unity of humanity implies the imperative to love all people. Those seeking perfection are friends to all and compassionate. The divine power is in every rational soul, which is what makes people human. Ultimately all people are a single entity in many individual souls. When humans restrain their irascible soul and are guided by the rational soul, then all people become friends. One should love the virtuous for their virtue and feel compassion for the base. Even the king is only a king so long as he loves and pities his subjects.
Abu 'Ali 'Isa ibn Zur'a (943-1008) was also a Christian and studied with ibn 'Adi. He translated Aristotle and other Greek works from Syriac versions. Ibn Zur'a asserted that the blameworthy ethical qualities are anger, mendacity, ignorance, injustice, and vileness; but Abu Sulayman al-Sijistani argued that anger and lying are suitable in some circumstances. Al-Hasan ibn Suwar ibn al-Khammar was a Christian physician, who also made translations and wrote philosophical treatises. Ibn Suwar recommended a balance between the contemplative life and civic virtue; the true philosopher loves the real essence of all things and is not tempted by material concerns, being temperate and generous.
Although Abu 'Ali ibn al-Samh (d. 1027) was also in ibn 'Adi's school, he believed that natural dispositions were strong and free will weak. The Melchite Christian physician Nazif al-Rumi believed that the three pleasures of eating, drinking, and sex become tedious; but the pleasures of perfume, clothing, and music do not. The family of 'Isa ibn 'Ali (d. 946) had converted from Christianity to Islam. Inclining toward Sufism, 'Isa ibn 'Ali believed that dispensing with something is better than acquiring it, that a rough life in company with the intelligent is better than an easy life with fools, that one should spare no effort in improving one's soul, and that since deceit is used to catch birds, fish, and beasts, one can also use it to guide and purify humans. The poet Abu l-Hasan al-Badihi was also associated with the school of Yahya ibn 'Adi, and ibn al-Nadim (d. 990) compiled an encyclopedic catalog of literature available at Baghdad for that circle.
Another prominent circle of philosophers was led by Abu Sulayman al-Sijistani, who died at Baghdad about 985 after teaching there for fifty years. His group commented on a saying of Alexander, each agreeing in different ways that while a father is a cause of life, one's teacher is a cause of improving one's life. Like the Neo-Platonists, the Sijistani circle considered philosophy a way of life and the path to happiness and perfection, and the teacher is the guide to their goal. When 'Adud al-Daula died in 983, those in Sijistani's circle agreed that he had succumbed to the world's deceit and questioned what he had accomplished with his wealth, slaves, retainers, and armies just as sages had commented upon the death of the "great" Alexander. They also discussed the usefulness and validity of astrology, and Sijistani concluded that it may be pursued to advantage only by those with the needed intellectual and moral virtues.
The Sincere Brothers were led by Abu Sulayman al-Maqdisi, who wrote their philosophy in fifty letters. Souls are saved from the defilement of matter by a celestial ascent that is preceded by three levels. First, the rational faculty masters the urban arts at age fifteen. Second, the ruling faculty learns to govern brothers with generosity and compassion at age thirty. Third, the legal faculty helps kings exercise command and control with kindness and moderation at age forty. The brothers assembled in sincere friendship for sanctity, purity, and good counsel. They believed the religious law had been contaminated by error and folly and that it must be purified by philosophy. Perfection could be achieved by combining Greek philosophy with Islamic religious law. The sick require the religious law while the healthy need philosophy. Virtue is acquired by philosophy and leads to the divine life. The religious virtues based on authority and opinion are corporeal and temporal, aiding in recovery from illness; but virtues based on demonstrative proof are certain, spiritual, and eternal, preserving health.
The school of Abu 'Abdallah al-Basri was criticized for teaching the skeptical doctrine that various proofs are equivalent. Another circle was led by Abu 'Abdallah ibn Sa'dan, who was Vizier for 'Adud al-Daula's son Samsam for the first year of his rule to 984. He tried to calm the rivalry between 'Adud's successors and recommended the lessons of the ascetics to discoursing philosophers. When ibn Sa'dan tried to appoint his father to office, his rival ibn Yusuf was able to replace ibn Sa'dan and get him executed during a revolt led by Asfar.
The historian and ethical philosopher Abu 'Ali ibn Miskawayh (c. 936-1030) studied the histories of al-Tabari with abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Kamil al-Qadi and philosophy with the Aristotelian commentator ibn al-Khammar. For seven years Miskawayh served as librarian for abu al-Fadl ibn al-'Amid, and he probably served Buyid princes such as 'Adud al-Daula. Miskawayh wrote a history of the world. He believed that history is a mirror of society in each era, and the historian must be careful not to mix facts with fiction. Facts should be interpreted according to human interests that show creative hopes and aspirations. History is like a living organism that is guided by nations' ideals, and it even affects the future. Miskawayh shared the same theory of evolution as the Brothers of Purity (Sincerity) with the four stages of mineral, plant, animal, and human, culminating with the prophet imbibing the celestial soul within.
Miskawayh also adopted Plato's psychology and the traditional virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice, and he elucidated Aristotle's ethical doctrine of the mean. Wisdom he divided into intelligence, retention, rationality, understanding, clarity, and capacity for learning. Courage includes greatness of spirit, fearlessness, composure, fortitude, magnanimity, calmness, manliness, and endurance. Temperance he divided into modesty, tranquility, self-control, liberality, integrity, sobriety, goodness, self-discipline, good disposition, imperturbability, stability, and good deeds. Justice includes friendship, concord, family fellowship, recompense, fairness, honesty, amiability, and piety. He further divided liberality into generosity, altruism, nobility, charity, and forgiveness. Miskawayh believed that wisdom is the noblest aim in life and achieves the most happiness. The other goals people seek are honor and pleasure. He recommended humanistic education as the way to salvation, perfection, and happiness. Perfection of character begins with ordering one's faculties and actions so that they are in harmony within. The intelligent person examines imperfections and makes effort to remedy them. A youth should be trained in law to carry out duties until it is a habit. Then ethical studies establish the habits firmly as virtues in the soul by proofs. However, education by obscene poetry can result in the false values of lying and immorality.
Miskawayh criticized asceticism and withdrawal from society as unjust because they want services without rendering any themselves. He noted that ascetics sever themselves from moral virtues. He believed that people are social and need to learn mutual cooperation with others to perfect humanity. Humans need others in order to survive, and they naturally desire friendship. Those who serve others much may demand much, but those who serve little can ask for little. Human affairs need to be ordered by government, which removes misfortunes. The highest law is from God, followed by the law of the ruler, and the law of money. The four causes of harm are the baseness that results from passion, wickedness resulting from injustice, grief caused by error, and anxiety resulting from misfortune. Humans should love each other and contribute to each other's perfection like different organs in a single body. Miskawayh rejected the idea that happiness only comes after death; he believed we must search for happiness in this world and in the world to come.
Miskawayh found that human love for God is too high to be attained by mortals; but the student's love for the teacher is even more important than a son's love for his parents because teachers educate souls and guide them to happiness. Friendship he considered most sacred, and he noted that even a king needs friends to give him information and carry out his orders. One should please one's friends without hypocrisy or flattery. Miskawayh disagreed with Aristotle that love is an extension of self-love, for he found that one must limit self-love in order to love another. He contrasted the pleasure of animal love with the virtue or goodness of spiritual love. Love is the best sovereign; but when it fails, justice must be brought about by fear and force.
Miskawayh recommended practical disciplines for diseases of the soul such as anger, vanity, contentiousness, recklessness, cowardice, pride, self-indulgence, deceit, fear, and sadness. Some of his remedies are similar to those of al-Razi. One may control the passions by not dwelling on the memories of pleasurable sensations. Rational deliberation can help one avoid being driven by the force of habits. Like Pythagoras, he recommended reviewing one's actions at the end of the day to examine one's shortcomings. The cure of many ills is achieved by eradicating anger and arrogance. Anger is caused by vanity, pride, bickering, importunity, jesting, conceit, derision, treachery, wrong, ambition, and envy, but they all culminate in the desire for revenge. Anger also accompanies greed. The self-respecting and courageous person overcomes anger with magnanimity and discernment. Fear is of future events which may not occur. Fears that cannot be prevented such as old age or death can be relieved by understanding that death is an escape from pain. Grief is caused by attachment to material possessions and by not attaining physical desires. The remedy is realizing that nothing in the world of generation and corruption is stable nor endures. Those who learn how to be satisfied with what they find and are not grieved at loss will be happy.
Abu 'Ali al-Husayn ibn Sina (980-1037), known in Christian Europe as Avicenna, was the son of the Bukhara governor. Avicenna was taught literature and had memorized the Qur'an by the age of ten. He studied Islamic law with the Hanafi jurist Isma'il al-Zahid and philosophy with al-Natili. Avicenna also studied medicine, and by the time he was sixteen he was leading legal and medical discussions. He read Aristotle's Metaphysics forty times but admitted that he did not really understand it until he bought al-Farabi's book On the Objects of Metaphysics. When Nuh ibn Mansur became seriously ill, Avicenna was consulted; upon the Emir's recovery the young physician joined the Samanid staff and now had access to its library. At this time he wrote a commentary on the philosophical legacy called Sum and Substance and a book on ethics entitled Innocence and Guilt. In the latter he defended the naturalistic theodicy that enables good and truth to win over evil and falsehood. He argued in favor of the popular belief in retribution and recompense, which operate through nature, human action, and seemingly by chance; but in reality they descend ultimately from God.
When his father died, Avicenna was given a government position and became independent; but he was compelled to leave Bukhara after the last Samanid 'Abd al-Malik ibn Nuh was deposed in 999. Avicenna moved to Gurganj and stayed there until 1012. Avicenna was summoned to the court of Mahmud; but faced with the Ghaznavid's cruel policies of conquest, persecution for deviating from orthodoxy, high taxes, and military conscription, the philosopher fled south. He was given refuge by Qabus after curing a member of his family; but Qabus was imprisoned and died in 1013. In Jurjan Avicenna began writing his great medical Canon. With his loyal disciple Juzjani he traveled to the court of al-Saiyida and her son Majd al-Daula at Ray, which also soon fell to the Ghaznavids. After Shams al-Daula recaptured Ray in 1015, Avicenna medically treated the prince and joined his court. Mutineers demanded the life of Avicenna but were mollified when Shams al-Daula banished him for forty days. The philosopher-physician was reinstated after treating the prince's colic.
Avicenna was at Hamadhan until 1023; there he was vizier twice and completed his Canon. In the second part he suggested seven rules for scientific experimentation in order to isolate causes and quantify effects. His pharmacopoeia included 760 drugs. When Shams al-Daula died, Avicenna negotiated with Isfahan’s monarch 'Ala' al-Daula and was imprisoned by Shams' son Taj al-Mulk for four months in a castle, where he wrote his Hidayah (Book of Guidance). Avicenna, his brother Mahmud, Juzjani, and two slaves managed to escape disguised as Sufis to Isfahan. Avicenna recognized Sufi experiences as a valid subject for philosophical study. In 1029 Mahmud captured nearby Ray and destroyed the library in the Buyid palace. The following January Avicenna was forced to flee Isfahan as his baggage was plundered. Avicenna never married; but some blame his frequent sexual intercourse with slaves as a contributing factor in his fatal illness of 1037. Avicenna wrote at least a hundred books, and his medical book al-Qanan (Canon) became the standard text in Europe until the 17th century. His major philosophical work is called al-Shifa (The Healing) and discusses comprehensively logic, physics, mathematics, and metaphysics.
In his Book of Hints and Pointers Avicenna asked the reader to reflect that absent any sensory experience one could still realize one's existence. Thus he posited that the conscious subject or soul is independent of the body. He also noted that mathematical and other theoretical knowledge transcend the temporal. Since the soul does not depend on the body for its existence, it is not necessarily destroyed with the body. Avicenna agreed with al-Farabi that the active intelligence knows in the same way as God knows, though not as completely. The soul is what receives the reward since it survives the body's perishing and is unmolested by passing time. In a mystical treatise On Love Avicenna went beyond the language of conjunction to the Sufi idea of unity. He wrote that every being loves the absolute good with innate love and that the absolute good manifests itself to all who love it, though their receptivity may vary. Avicenna argued that the soul can cure another body without instruments, and he cited evidence from hypnosis and suggestion. These demonstrate that what are called miracles can occur.
Avicenna explained how prophets bringing revelation can impel people to good actions by more than intellectual insight and inspiration. Thus the prophet should be the law-giver, and some can understand the laws by philosophical methods. However, those who are unable to understand philosophical truth behind the law have to accept revelation of the law as literal truth. Avicenna's social and political philosophy are discussed in relation to prophecy. Humans are a species that needs to be complemented by others of the same species since an isolated individual has difficulty fulfilling basic needs. Thus humans require partnerships and reciprocal transactions, which in turn demand law and justice. The creation of the laws may come from a prophet, who lays down laws by God's permission. The first principle is to teach people they have a single omnipotent Creator who knows all and that the commands of God must be obeyed. Those who do obey will obtain an afterlife of bliss, but the disobedient will be miserable. Avicenna warned that not everyone can understand the more complex philosophical knowledge of God and that if those unable to do so try, they fall into dissension with multiplying doubts and complaints.
To ensure the preservation of the laws the prophet should teach people to pray so that they will be reminded of God and the afterlife. Avicenna also stated his belief that worldly interests could be enhanced by holy war (jihad) and the pilgrimage, though the noblest act of worship is prayer. He argued that happiness in the hereafter is achieved by the soul's detaching itself by piety from what is acquired by the bodily dispositions. This purification is achieved by ethical states and moral habits of character that turn the soul away from the body and its senses and toward the memory of its true essence.
Avicenna suggested that the legislator divide the state into administrators, artisans, and guardians with a leader for each group. The common fund comes from duties on acquired and natural profits, such as agricultural fruits. Property may also be taken from those who resist the law, and Avicenna includes war booty in this category. These funds are required to meet the needs of the guardians (soldiers) who do no productive work and of the sick and aged unable to work. Avicenna condemned gambling as unproductive, usury as seeking excessive profit, and fornication and sodomy as detrimental to the sacredness of marriage. What is most conducive to the general good is love, which is achieved through friendship and long association. He considered women less rational but needing protection from separation. Thus judges and the law should decide about divorces in order to protect the woman from mistreatment. Avicenna observed that sexual relations of women are considered shameful while those of men only arouse jealousy. Thus he approved of the veiling of women and their seclusion from men. Men should be the bread-earners, but women share in the proper upbringing of children. He argued that the man's work is compensated by his exclusive use of the woman's genitalia.
The prophet's successor may be designated by the legislator or by the consensus of the elders. Avicenna recommended the decree that if someone secedes or claims the caliphate by power or because of wealth, it is the duty of every citizen to fight and kill him. Those who do not do so disobey God, and only belief in the prophet is more important to God than killing such a usurper. Avicenna suggested that those who oppose the laws should be called upon to accept the truth; if they resist, they should be destroyed by war. Their property and women should be administered according to the constitution of a virtuous state. He justified this slavery because some people must be forced to serve others. Those not capable of acquiring virtue he argued are already slaves by nature. Thus the legislator must impose prohibitions, penalties, and punishments for disobeying the divine law.
Avicenna taught the traditional moderation of the cardinal
virtues in temperance and courage. Excessive indulgence harms
human interests, and a deficiency of courage harms the state.
Wisdom guides practical action, and the sum of wisdom, courage,
and temperance is justice. These include the virtues of contentment,
generosity, patience, forgiveness, tolerance, moral strength,
keeping confidences and promises, eloquence, kindness, firmness,
honesty, loyalty, friendliness, mercy, modesty, magnanimity, and
Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi (994-1064) was born at Cordoba into a wealthy family that had recently converted from Christianity to Islam. His family fled the Berber invasion. His mother, brother, sister-in-law, and father had all died by the time he was 18, and Ibn Hazm himself suffered from heart palpitations and an enlarged spleen. The family's property had been lost during a civil war at Cordoba in 1009, but Ibn Hazm became Vizier to the Caliph at Valencia and was Vizier at Cordoba under Caliph al-Mustazir in 1023. However, the continuing civil war destroyed the Umayyad caliphate as Spain broke up into petty states. He spent three years studying jurisprudence in order to answer criticism he received from eminent jurists. He was imprisoned several times for his politics and eventually retired to write. According to his son he wrote 400 books, though fewer than forty survived. His critical writings were often unpopular, and some of his books were burned in public.
Ibn Hazm wrote about romantic love in The Ring of the Dove, and his greatest work was an encyclopedic study of comparative religion. He rejected the current notion that women are more susceptible to corruption. Ibn Hazm defended the rights of women and slaves and argued that everyone should have a free education. In politics he rejected the Shi'i ideas that the imam (leader) should be chosen by heredity and that he is infallible. Ibn Hazm believed that the ruler must be just, but he ranked the scholar who teaches the people as deserving an even higher place in the hereafter.
Near the end of his life Ibn Hazm wrote A Philosophy of Character and Conduct. In considering that life is a continual process of reducing anxiety, Ibn Hazm discovered a method for arriving at what all people seek. He described it eloquently as follows:
I discovered that this method consists in nothing else but
directing one's self towards a Supreme Goodness
by means of good works conducive to immortal life.
For, as I investigated, I observed that all things tended to elude me,
and I reached the conclusion that the only permanent reality possible
consists in good works useful for another, immortal life.
Every other hope that I desired to see realized was followed by melancholy,
sometimes because what was ardently desired escaped me,
sometimes because I decided to abandon it.
It seemed to me that nothing escaped these dangers
but good works, directed by a Supreme Goodness.
These alone were always followed by pleasure
in the present and in the future;
in the present because I was freed from numerous anxieties
which disturbed my tranquillity,
and, moreover, friends and enemies concurred in commending me;
and in the future because these works promised immortality.10
This virtuous work is free of defects and the most effective way to stop anxiety. Ibn Hazm observed that those who worked for this end were joyful and free of cares, even when they underwent unpleasant tests, because of the hope that the end of their life would bring what they sought. He compared the spiritual life to sensual pleasures.
The pleasure which the intelligent man experiences
in the exercise of his reason, the learned man in his study,
the prudent man in his discreet deliberation,
and the devout man in his ascetic combat
is greater than the delight which is felt by the glutton in his eating,
the toper in his drinking, the lecher in his incontinence,
the trader in his painful bargaining, the gamester in his merriment,
and the leader in the exercise of his authority.
The proof of this lies in the fact that intelligent, learned, prudent,
and devout men also experience those other delights
which I have just enumerated in the same way
as one who lives only to wallow in them,
but they tend to abandon and separate themselves from them,
preferring instead the quest for permanent release from anxiety
through good and virtuous works.11
Ibn Hazm advised his readers to listen to the Creator more than to what other people say. He believed that those who think they are safe from all criticism are out of their minds. Those who study deeply and discipline the soul not to rest until it finds the truth are more glad to receive criticism than praise because praise can lead to pride, while criticism may result in correction. Even unjust criticism can help a person to learn how to control oneself with patience. He put those seeking eternity on the side of the angels, those striving for evil on the side of the demons, those striving for fame and victory on the side of the tigers, and those seeking pleasures on the side of the beasts. Those who seek only money are too base to be compared even to beasts but resemble collected slime. The person with a strong intellect with extensive knowledge, who does good deeds, should rejoice, because only the angels and best people are superior.
Ibn Hazm encapsulated the whole of virtue in the saying of the prophet Muhammad on the golden rule—"Do as you would be done by."12 From the prophet's forbidding of all anger Ibn Hazm inferred that the soul should turn away from greed and lust while upholding justice. He considered the person misguided who would barter an eternal future for a passing moment. The person who harms is bad, and anyone returning evil for evil is just as bad. Anyone refraining from returning evil is their master and the most virtuous. Ibn Hazm warned against gaining a reputation for being devious. The person who knows one's own faults better than others know them is blessed. Security, health, and wealth are only appreciated by those who lack them; but the value of a sound judgment and virtue is known only to those who share them. The wise are not deluded by a friendship that began when one was in power. He recommended trusting the pious.
Too much wealth causes greed, and Ibn Hazm defined the supreme objective of generosity as giving away the entire surplus of one's possessions to charity. He defined courage as fighting in defense of religion, women, ill-treated neighbors, the oppressed who seek protection, for a lost fortune, when honor has been attacked, and for other rights. Ibn Hazm defined continence as turning away all one's organs of sense from forbidden objects. He defined justice as giving spontaneously what is due and knowing how to take what is right. Nobility is to allow others their rights willingly. "One hour of neglect can undo a year of pious effort."13 During civil war the blossom does not set fruit. He considered it a virtue of self-discipline to confess faults so that others may learn from them. Then Ibn Hazm described how he worked to overcome his faults of self-satisfaction, sarcasm, pride, trembling, love of fame, disliking women, and bearing grudges. He believed that the best gift from God is justice and the love of justice and truth. He observed that anyone who cares about your friendship is willing to criticize you while those who make light of faults show they do not care.
Ibn Hazm warned against giving advice, interceding, or giving gifts only on the condition that they be accepted; one should not insist. He considered the highest aim of friendship to have all things in common without constraint and preferring one's friend to all others. He characterized love as longing for the loved one, fearing separation, and hoping that one's love will be reciprocated. He believed that jealousy is a virtuous feeling made of courage and justice, and he claimed that a jealous person never committed adultery. He described the five stages of love as making friends, admiration, close friendship such that one misses the other terribly, the obsession of amorous affection, and finally passion. For Ibn Hazm the four roots of virtue are justice, intelligence, courage, and generosity, and their contrary vices are unfairness, ignorance, cowardice, and greed. He considered honesty part of justice, and temperance part of generosity. He noted that the good do have a hard time in this world, but they find rest in their calmness that others worrying about the vanities of this world do not know.
The wise see their own faults and fight against them in order to overcome them. The fool ignores them, or even worse, takes them for good qualities. One should avoid speaking of the faults of others except when counseling someone face to face. One should also be careful not to praise people to their face lest one be taken for a vile flatterer. Ibn Hazm warned against being proud of intelligence, good works, knowledge, and courage because there are always others who are superior in these good qualities; being proud of wealth, beauty, praise, ancestry, and physical strength is ridiculous because they have no lasting value. If your pride causes you to boast, you are doubly guilty because it shows that your intelligence was unable to control your pride. He reminded us that it is harder to tame oneself than it is to tame a wild beast, and it is also more difficult to guard against other humans than it is against wild animals. Ibn Hazm believed that to the well-born honor is more important than gold. The well-born should use gold to protect one's body, one's body to protect one's soul, one's soul to protect one's honor, one's honor to protect one's religion, and one's religion should not be sacrificed for anything. A person wishing to be fair should put oneself in the adversary's position in order to see the unfairness of one's own behavior.
Solomon ibn Gabirol was born at Malaga in Spain about 1022 and was educated at Zaragoza. By the age of 16 he was already well known for writing poetry. He was protected by the King’s advisor Yekutiel ibn Hasan until Hasan was imprisoned and executed in 1039. Ibn Gabirol was called a Greek for his Neo-Platonic philosophy, and his two ethical works, Choice of Pearls and The Improvement of the Moral Qualities, were written when he was quite young. He became a court poet with the prominent Jewish statesman Samuel ha-Nagid in Granada. Samuel's son Joseph (1031-1066) became the Jewish leader (Nagid) when he was 24; but he was killed when Muslims massacred 1500 Jewish families in Granada on one day. This was the first major persecution of Jews in Islamic Spain, and the Jews in Granada were compelled to sell their property and go into exile. Yet Abu Fadl Chasdai, the son of a poet as famous as ibn Gabirol, was made Vizier in that same year of 1066 by the King of Zaragoza. Ibn Gabirol's major work on metaphysics was called The Fountain of Life, but it only survived in Latin translation with the author's name appearing as Avicebron or Avencebrol; only in 1846 was it realized that this book, which influenced Christian scholasticism, was by ibn Gabirol. His poem The Royal Crown humbly calls upon the grace of God. He may have died as early as 1051, though other authorities say ibn Gabirol died about 1070.
Ibn Gabirol's Choice of Pearls is a collection of aphorisms, some of which were collected from ancient Greek philosophers. He passed on the advice about the four mental types - the wise know and are aware that they know, and one can learn from them; those who know but are unaware that they know need reminding; those ignorant who are aware that they are ignorant can be taught; and those who are ignorant but pretend that they know are fools and should be avoided. He noted that kings may be judges on earth, but the wise judge the kings. If one cannot control one's temper, how much less can one control others. Those who seek more than they need hinder themselves from enjoying what they have. A person's best companion is the intellect, and the worst enemy is desire.
In The Improvement of the Moral Qualities ibn Gabirol commented on various moral qualities. He found that intelligence and modesty go together in people. Those who hate people are hated by them; this may destroy one, as one suffers injury from hostile people. Wrath is reprehensible except when it is used to correct or because of indignation for transgressions. Generosity in moderation is commendable but not when it lapses into prodigality, squandering substance on pleasures and lust. Valor perseveres in the right and overcomes desires. It is better to die in the best way than to live in an evil way.
Another influential ethical work was written by Bahya Ben Joseph ibn Pakuda in the second half of the 11th century. Bahya was a rabbinical judge in Zaragoza. He believed that one must go beyond the duties of the body required by religious traditions, and so he wrote Duties of the Heart, describing them in ten sections called gates. Bahya tried to spiritualize ethics by appealing to conscience as more important than ritualized laws. He himself became a self-denying ascetic. Bahya explained that people are blind for three reasons. First, they are too absorbed in secular affairs and pleasures. Second, they grow up surrounded with such abundance they take for granted that they do not appreciate the wisdom and bounty of God. Third, people do not seem to realize that the various mishaps that occur in the world are valuable trials in order to learn discipline. Bahya described the many blessings of life and perceived in them the miraculous design of a divine creator. He argued that altruism is really in everyone's self-interest, for the beneficiary is under obligation to serve the benefactor.
The famous Arabian tales called The Thousand and One Nights derive from a Persian collection of a Thousand Legends (Hazar Afsana) that was translated into Arabic about 850, though new stories were being added to replace others all the way up to at least the 15th century. Many stories are set in Baghdad at the peak of its wealth and splendor under Caliph Harun al-Rashid (r. 786-809); later stories are often set in Cairo. The prolog suggests that people can look back at the fortunes of predecessors to be admonished about folly.
The Persian original contained the framework story of King Shahzaman, who caught his wife in bed with a black slave and killed them. While his brother King Shahryar was hunting, Shahzaman also found his brother's wife embracing an African in a slave orgy. Shahryar had his wife's head cut off and ordered his Vizier to bring him a virgin girl every night; these he ravished each night and in the morning had them executed until the Vizier could no longer find girls for his King. The Vizier's daughter Shahrazad was very well read and volunteered to be ransom for the other daughters. After King Shahryar ravished the virginity of Shahrazad, she sent for her younger sister Dunyazad, who asked her to tell the King stories to pass the night pleasantly. At dawn Shahrazad discreetly stopped speaking, and the King, wanting to hear the end of the story, postponed her execution. Every night Shahrazad would tell stories and stop when she saw morning approaching, and the King would ask her to complete her story the next night. Finally after a thousand and one nights, Shahrazad had born three children. Both kings Shahryar and Shazaman decided to put aside their resentment of women's treachery, and Shahzaman married Dunyazad.
The stories marvelously describe urban Islamic culture, and magical genies and Ifrits make any fantasy come true. Few stories relate to war and the military while many are frankly erotic. In the "Tale of the Second Sheikh" he tells his Ifrita wife not to kill his brothers because they know that the wicked person suffers punishment enough. In "The Fisherman and the Genie" King Yunan kills his physician Rayyan because he fears the physician may kill him; but the Vizier explains to the Ifrit that God would have preserved Yunan if he had preserved the physician. The Ifrit asks the Vizier to return good for evil by pardoning his wrong. Tales within tales lead eventually to a fisherman becoming the richest man in the country. A brother and sister who committed incest were punished by being burned in a fire, and their punishment in the next world is expected to be even worse. A Christian broker tells how he had his hand cut off for stealing.
"The Tale of King Umar Al-Numan and His Two Remarkable Sons, Sharkan and Du Al-Makan" concerns battles with the Byzantine empire and shows the Christian warriors in a negative light epitomized by the wicked old Mother-of-Calamity. In this story a section on the art of conduct mentions four human ways of government, commerce, husbandry, and craftsmanship. One must beware that pity weakens government but also that lack of pity stirs revolt. The road away from the house of moderation leads to the town of foolishness. One should be just, especially to slaves. Girls give wise discourses to King Umar. A qadi to judge justly should look at both sides and make no difference between rich and poor. His duty is to reconcile people if possible to maintain peace. When in doubt, he should reserve judgment. Justice is the first human duty. It is better for the unjust to turn toward justice than for a just person to remain so. Humans judge only appearances, but God will judge what is hidden. A judge should not try to exact confession by torture or starvation. The three things that make a judge useless are respecting place, loving praise, and fearing to lose one's position. A second girl says,
There are three things which are possible only under three conditions:
you may not know if a man be really good
until you have seen him in his anger;
you may not know if a man be brave
until you have seen him in battle;
and you may not know if a man be a friend
until you have come to him in necessity.
A tyrant will pay for his injustice,
in spite of the flattering words of his courtiers;
and the oppressed will escape perdition, in spite of all injustice.
Deal with people according to their deeds
and not according to their words.
Yet deeds are not worth the intentions which inspire them;
therefore each man shall be judged
according to his intentions and not according to his deeds.
The heart is the noblest member of the body.
A wise man said that the worst of men
is he who allows an evil desire to take root in his heart,
for he shall lose his manhood.14
When King Shahryar asks Shahrazad for a tale to fortify their moral precepts, she tells him of a girl named Sympathy, who was known for her learning as well as her beauty. She advises that a holy war should only be undertaken for defensive purposes when Islam is in danger, and it should never be offensive. To give is to enrich oneself. Sympathy's wisdom includes the following duties of religion:
The branches of Islam are twenty:
strict observance of the Book's teaching,
conformation with the traditions and oral instructions of the Prophet,
the avoidance of injustice,
eating permitted food, never to eat unpermitted food,
to punish evil doers that vice may not increase
owing to the exaggerated clemency of the virtuous,
repentance, profound study of religion, to do good to enemies,
to be modest, to succor the servants of Allah,
to avoid all innovation and change,
to show courage in adversity and strength in time of trial,
to pardon when one is strong, to be patient in misfortune,
to know Allah, to know His Prophet (upon whom be prayer and peace!),
to resist the suggestions of the Evil One,
to fight against the passions and wicked instincts of the soul,
to be wholly vowed in confidence and submission to the service of Allah.15
Faith abides in the heart, the head, the tongue, and in the members. The strength of the heart is joy; strength of the head is in knowing the truth; strength in the tongue is in sincerity; and strength of the members is in submission. In introducing moral anecdotes from a perfumed garden Shahrazad warns the King that to gross and narrow minds they might seem licentious; but to the pure and clean all things are pure and clean, and it is not shameful to speak of things which lie below the waist.
A story about Buhlul the jester in the court of Harun al-Rashid is perhaps one of the earliest references to the medieval court jesters or fools. When the Caliph asks Buhlul to make a list of all the fools in Baghdad, he suggests that it would be easier to make a list of all the wise men and then conclude that all the others are fools. The second-to-last tale attempts to explain why al-Rashid had his body-guard Masrur execute their best friend, Vizier Jafar of the Barmakid family. The rest of that family that numbered nearly a thousand were thrown into dungeons, and their goods were confiscated. The Caliph feared that Yahya al-Barmaki and his sons had taken away the management of the government from him. Also they had previously practiced the Magian cult, and during the expedition to Khurasan they had used their power to prevent the destruction of Magian temples and monuments. Jafar had agreed to marry Harun's sister Abbasah but never see her except in his presence. Al-Rashid became so jealous when he learned that she bore a child that he had his own sister and the baby buried alive.
The tales of the Arabian nights were translated into French in 1704 and since then have provided immense entertainment to western culture that still continues in adventure movies based on the voyages of Sindbad and stories of Aladdin's lamp.
Analysis of his horoscope has indicated that 'Umar Khayyam was born May 18, 1048, and modern investigation has put his death in 1131. He was educated at Khurasan's capital Nishapur and at Balkh. He was most noted in his life as an astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher. He wrote his influential treatise on algebra at Samarkand. In 1074 he was summoned by Seljuq Sultan Malik-Shah and his famous Vizier Nizam al-Mulk to construct an observatory and revise the calendar; the new era was inaugurated on March 16, 1079. His patron allowed 'Umar Khayyam leisure for writing. After Nizam al-Mulk died in 1092, 'Umar Khayyam went on pilgrimage. He made an enemy of Sanjar when he predicted the child would die of an ailment. Sanjar governed Khurasan from 1117 and was Sultan 1137-1157. It was reported that 'Umar Khayyam died while reading Avicenna's chapter on the one and the many, praying to God that he had only his knowledge to recommend himself.
Ruba'iyat means quatrains, and hundreds of these attributed to 'Umar Khayyam were collected after his death. English renderings were made famous by the Victorian poet Edward Fitzgerald. Unlike traditional Islamic belief and Sufi mysticism, these writings question the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. The poet recommended the sensual pleasures of the present rather than asceticism or study. Yet he once wrote, "If the heart could grasp the meaning of life, in death it would know the mystery of God."16 His ethics was not in the least transcendental as this quatrain indicates:
The good and evil that are in man's heart,
The joy and sorrow that are our fortune and destiny,
Do not impute them to the wheel of heaven because, in the light of reason,
The wheel is a thousand times more helpless than you.17
Although 'Umar Khayyam in his quatrains often recommended drinking wine, which is forbidden by the Qur'an, he nevertheless advised doing so wisely.
If you drink wine, do it with men of sense,
Or drink with a tulip-cheeked paragon of girlhood;
Don't overdo it, or make it your constant refrain, or give the show away;
Drink in moderation, occasionally, and in private.18
'Umar Khayyam found responsibility in each person.
It is we who are the source of happiness, the mine of our own sorrow,
The repository of justice and foundation of iniquity;
We who are cast down and exalted, perfect and defective,
At once the rusted mirror and Jamshid's all-seeing cup.19
'Umar Khayyam disliked religious hypocrisy and suggested that if all are not saved, then none will be.
Drinking wine and consorting with good fellows
Is better than practicing the ascetic's hypocrisy;
If the lover and drunkard are to be among the damned
Then no one will see the face of heaven.20
1. Wisdom of Royal Glory by Yusuf Khass Hajib, tr. Robert Dankoff, p. 110.
2. The Book of Government by Nizam al-Mulk, tr. Hubert Drake, p. 187.
3. Ibid., p. 187.
4. Ibid., p. 231.
5. Quoted in Islam ed. John Alden Williams, p. 138.
6. Tadhikrat al- ‘Awliyal’ by‘Attar, tr. Paul Losensky in Early Islamic Mysticism, p. 163.
7. Ibid., p. 169.
8. Hilyat ul-auliya’. Vol. 10 by Abu Nu‘aym al-Isfahani, p. 58 quoted in Mystical Dimensions of Islam by Annemarie Schimmel, p. 51.
9. Some Points on Tawhid in Early Islamic Mysticism by Abu l-Qasim al-Junayd, p. 255.
10. A Philosophy of Character and Conduct by Ibn Hazm, tr. James Kritzeck in Anthology of Islamic Literature, p. 133.
11. Ibid., p. 134.
12. Morality and Behavior by Ibn Hazm, tr. Muhammad Abu Laylah in In Pursuit of Virtue 26, p. 127.
13. Ibid., 93, p. 140.
14. The Thousand Nights and One Night tr. J. D. Mardrus and Powys Mathers, Volume 1, p. 429.
15. Ibid., Volume 2, p. 153.
16. Rub’iyat of Omar Khayyam 5 tr. Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs, p. 48.
17. Ibid., 34, p. 54.
18. Ibid., 202, p. 97.
19. Ibid., 211, p. 99.
20. Ibid., 222, p. 101.
This chapter has been published in the book Mideast & Africa to 1700.
For ordering information, please click here.