Memoirs of a Mission: The Ismaili Scholar, Statesman and Poet, al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din al-Shirazi – A Review

Memoirs of a Mission: The Isma’ili Scholar, Statesman and Poet, al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din al-Shirazi By Verena Klemm (I.B Taurus, London, 2003)
Review by Ahmad Amirali

Al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din al-Shirazi (died 1087 CE), was a remarkable and multi-talented Fatimid scholar of Persian origin. He spends his life mostly serving Imam-Caliph al-Mustansir (1036 to 1094 CE) as a chief da’i performing various administrative, diplomatic, military and religious duties. Verena Klemm in her book elaborated a detailed account on the life and achievement of al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din through the lenses of his autobiography Sirat al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din. She believes that this Sira is not only an essential historical source regarding the function of Fatimid da’wa during 11 CE, it also provides a brief overview of Islamic military and political leadership during that time, i.e. Fatimids, Buyids, Seljuqs and Abbasids. The significance of al-Mu’ayyad’s Sira has been highlighted in many forms by Klemm in her book.  She considered al-Mu’ayyad’s Sira as “a masterpiece of medieval Arabic literature” that includes “rhymed prose, interspersed with lively dialogues, self-composed poems, dreams, stories and parables” (Klemm, 2003, p19).  Continue reading