On July 6, 1038 (Ramadan 429 A.H.) Al-Mu’ayyad al-Shirazi served a feast for a crowd in the courtyard of his house in Cairo.
Al-Mu’ayyad al-Shirazi was an outstanding Ismaili scholar of Persian origin who excelled as a missionary-agent (da’i), statesman, and poet.
Born around 1000 in Iran, al-Mu’ayyad continued the tradition of his forefathers of serving the Fatimids as da‘is. He was first active as the regional leader in his homeland of Fars in southern Iran, eventually moving to Cairo in 1046, where he was appointed as the director of the Fatimid court of justice. He was subsequently sent to Syria as head of a delegation to build an alliance with the local leaders. When he returned to Cairo, al-Mu’ayyad was appointed chief da’i of the Fatimid da’wa by Imam al-Mustansir bi’llah (r. 1036-1094).
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.
Significant among al-Mu’ayyad’s works is his Diwan or collected poems, which is a testimony of his career as a Fatimid da‘i. Comprising a total of sixty-two qasidas of varying lengths, ‘the Diwan covers a wide range of political and religious themes, from al-Mu’ayyad’s philosophical meditations, religious disputations and devotional praise of Prophet Muhammad and his family, to complaints about the da’is misfortunes, persecution, exile from his homeland, and the advance of old age. Among the virtues that he celebrates are knowledge and the intellect, endurance and patience in times of difficulty, and submission to God.’1
Al-Mu’ayyad’s Sira, written between 1051 and 1063, is an authentic source of the political events of the eleventh-century.
Compiled by Nimira Dewji