Born around 1000 in Iran, al-Mu’ayyad continued the tradition of his forefathers of serving the Fatimids as da‘is. In 1025, following the death of his father, al-Mu’ayyad was appointed as da‘i and began to conduct regular majalis (teaching sessions) at his home. Although al-Mu’ayyad rose to political prominence in the service of the local rulers, his activities resulted in hostility against him from the local Sunni political establishments.
Al-Mu’ayyad escaped from the hostile kingdom, travelling in disguise to safety in the Fatimid domain, arriving in Cairo, the Fatimid capital, in 1045 or shortly thereafter. Despite many setbacks, the da’i rose in the hierarchy of the Fatimid da’wa, eventually attaining the status of chief da’i and director of the Dar al-Ilm (House of Knowledge) academy that was founded by Imam al-Hakim. Al-Mu’ayyad was eventually granted an audience with the Fatimid Caliph-Imam al Mustansir bi’llah (r. 1036-1094) on February 18, 1048 in Cairo. He describes his first audience with the Imam as an overwhelming experience.
Al-Mu’ayyad served the Fatimids for 20 years. As head of the central institution, he devoted his life to administering the affairs of the da’wa, teaching and composing theological works. He authored 800 lectures prepared for delivery at the majalis al-hikma (sessions of wisdom), weekly sermons held for the community in the Fatimid capital. He also authored more than 60 Arabic qasidas, many in praise of Imam al-Mustansir bi’llah.
Among al-Mu’ayyad’s writings, his Sira, written between 1051 and 1063, is an authentic source of the political events of the eleventh century. Al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din al-Shirazi, an outstanding Ismaili scholar, passed away in 1078 and was buried in the Dar al-Ilm.
Compiled by Nimira Dewji