News story

IIS Publishes Mount of Knowledge, Sword of Eloquence

8th June 2011

The IIS is pleased to announce the publication of one of the significant poetic works in Ismaili literature — the Diwaninfo-icon or collected poems of the eminent scholar, statesman and chief da‘i of the Fatimids, al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Dininfo-icon al-Shirazi (1000-1078 CE).

The Diwan consists of 62 qasidas of varying length composed by al-Mu’ayyad during his time as a Fatimd da‘iinfo-icon in Persia, Iraq, Egypt and Syria. In addition to providing a rare, first-hand account of some of the political and sectarian tensions that polarised the Muslim community of his time, al-Mu’ayyad’s Diwan is a masterpiece of Arabic literature and constitutes the finest expression in Arabic verse of the Ismaili traditions of intellectuality, spirituality and esotericism.
Diwan of al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din al-Shirazi Arabic manuscript, 13th/19th century Collection of the IIS

Al-Mu’ayyad’s Diwan covers a wide range of subjects, from his intellectual disputations and personal experience of persecution to devotions in praise of Prophet Muhammad and his family. It represented the emergence of a new kind of religious poetry that combined political commitment with religious fervour, in contrast to the mystical poetry of Sufis. The work itself is rich in imagery, rhetorical techniques and symbolic allusions to the esoteric lore of the Fatimid Ismailis.

This first complete English translation of the Diwan entitled Mount of Knowledge, Sword of Eloquence by Mohamad Adra, an independent scholar of Ismaili literature based in Syria, seeks to recapture some of the poetic power and flavour of what is undoubtedly one of the masterpieces of medieval Arabic literature.

An introduction by Kutub Kassam provides an historical overview of al-Mu’ayyad’s life, career and writings. This publication will appeal to specialist scholars and students of Ismaili studies, as well as anyone with an interest in early Islamic literature.