Publication

  • This publication, edited and translated by Hamid Haji, brings together a new critical edition of the Arabic text, an introduction and a fully annotated English translation of the Sirat al-Ustadh Jawdhar. It contains oral statements, correspondence and other archival material from a period spanning over sixty years of Fatimid rule, providing a biographical account of one of the most prominent statesmen of the early Fatimid period, Ustadh Jawdhar.

    Jawdhar was a confidante of the first four Fatimid Imaminfo-icon-Caliphs who ruled in North Africa (910 - 973 CE). The author of the work, Abu ‘Ali Mansur al-‘Azizi al-Jawdhari, was a private secretary of Jawdhar. Mansur had access to archives held by Jawdhar, including letters he received from the imams, and was also a trusted associate. After Jawdhar’s death in 973 CE, the Fatimid Imam-Caliphinfo-icon al-Mu‘izz appointed al-Mansur to succeed him. The author cherished the memory of his mentor and wished to commemorate him. With this end in view, he compiled the Sirat al-Ustadh Jawdhar during the time of Imam-Caliph al-Mu‘izz’s successor, Imam-Caliph al-‘Aziz billah (r. 975–996 CE).

    The original Arabic text is divided into two parts. The first part contains an account of the life of Jawdhar from entering the service of the Fatimidsinfo-icon under Imam-Caliph al-Mahdiinfo-icon until his installation at the new Fatimid capital, al-Mansuriyya, during the reign of Imam-Caliph al-Mu‘izz. Documents in the first part include sermons of the Fatimid Imam-Caliphs and their letters to Jawdhar on different subjects. The author introduces each item with a brief explanatory note.

    Documents quoted in the work, including the preamble which accompanies them, are of variable length. The longest are the sermons. The second part contains replies of Imam-Caliph al-Mu‘izz to letters of Jawdhar or his replies to letters transmitted to him by Jawdhar on behalf of others.

    The publication also includes maps of North Africa and Sicily, genealogical charts of the Fatimids of Ifriqiyainfo-icon and the Banu Abi al-Husayn al-Kalbi of Sicily, a bibliography, indices in English and Arabic and a chronology summarising relevant events.

    This publication provides a unique insight into the private world and political ethos of one of the major Muslim dynasties of the medieval era, and will be of interest to academics and students alike.

  •  

     
    Acknowledgements
    xvii
     
    Chronology
    xix
     
    Map 1: North Africa (4th/10th century)
    xxiii
     
    Map 2: Sicily (4th/10th century)
    xxiv
     
    Table 1: The Fatimidsinfo-icon of Ifrīqiya
    xxv
     
    Table 2: The Kalbids of Sicily
    xxvi
     
    Introduction
    1
     
    Translation of the Sirat al-Ustadh Jawdhar
     
     
    Part One: Biography
    19
    1
    Jawdhar begins to serve al-Mahdiinfo-icon
    21
    2
    Jawdhar acquires al-Mahdi’s blessing
    24
    3
    Jawdhar left in charge of al-Qa’iminfo-icon’s palace
    26
    4
    Jawdhar becomes official at the Treasury
    27
    5
    Jawdhar made privy to al-Mansur’s designation as heir apparent
    27
    6
    A letter from al-Mansur, heir apparent, to Jawdhar
    28
    7
    The first written directive from al-Qa’im to Jawdhar
    31
    8
    al-Qa’im shuns forbidden goods
    32
    9
    al-Qa’im’s advice to al-Mansur regarding Jawdhar
    32
    10
    Jawdhar left to govern the entire country
    33
    11
    Letter of al-Mansur proclaiming his victory over Abu Yazid
    34
    12
    Letter of al-Mansur announcing the death of al-Qa’im
    36
    13
    Letter of al-Mansur concerning money that Jawdhar had offered to him
    37
    14
    Letter of al-Mansur to Jawdhar
    37
    15
    The defeat of Abu Yazid Makhlad b. Kaydad
    38
    16
    Jawdhar is freed from bondage and receives his honorific title
    42
    17
    Jawdhar’s name is inscribed on embroidered garments and carpets
    43
    18
    al-Mansur honours Jawdhar
    43
    19
    al-Mansur’s treasure stores entrusted to Jawdhar
    44
    20
    Sermon of al-Qa’im delivered by al-Marwazi
    45
    21
    Sermon of al-Mansur announcing the death of al-Qa’im
    47
    22
    al-Mansur gifts newly minted coins to Jawdhar
    53
    23
    Letter of al-Mansur concerning a gift for the Byzantineinfo-icon emperor
    54
    24
    Letter of al-Mansur concerning the inhabitants of the palace
    55
    25
    Another letter concerning the inhabitants of the palace
    56
    26
    Letter from al-Mansur concerning his uncles and brothers
    59
    27
    Letter of al-Mansur concerning certain troublemakers
    64
    28
    Letter of al-Mansur regarding the rebels of Sicily
    66
    29
    Last letter of al-Mansur to Jawdhar
    68
    30
    Letters of al-Mu‘izz informing Jawdhar of the death of al-Mansur
    69
    31
    Letter of al-Mu‘izz in reply to a request that Jawdhar had made to him
    71
    32
    Sermon of al-Mu‘izz announcing the death of al-Mansur
    73
    33
    A note from Jawdhar to al-Mu‘izz and the latter’s reply
    81
         
     
    Part Two: Documents
    86
    1
    On the transportation of barley to Sicily
    86
    2
    al-Mu‘izz’s instructions to have a prayer mat made for a Slav
    87
    3
    Jawdhar’s letter about the conduct of a Slav, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    89
    4
    Disagreement between the Treasury director and an official of the mint
    91
    5
    al-Mu‘izz’s reply to a personal note from Jawdhar
    92
    6
    Horses gifted by Jawdhar to the Banu Abi al-Husayn al-Kalbi
    93
    7
    Jawdhar’s offer of money to al-Mu‘izz, and the latter’s reply
    93
    8
    Another personal note from Jawdhar regarding his plea, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    94
    9
    A governor’s complaint against some Berbers
    95
    10
    Jawdhar seeks permission to accept a gift from the governor of Barqa, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    96
    11
    Jawdhar’s request for a pass to cover expenses for the upkeep of camels, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    97
    12
    Jawdhar’s note about a pledge by a Slav to pay for houses administered by him, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    98
    13
    On litigation about pastures
    98
    14
    Another request from Jawdhar, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    100
    15
    Jawdhar’s request regarding a son of his secretary, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    100
    16
    On materials for shipbuilding
    100
    17
    Interception of letters of two sons of Qasim, son of al-Qa’im, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    101
    18
    Jawdhar’s complaint about a governor, and al-Mu‘izz’s instructions to the commander Jawhar
    102
    19
    On surveillance of correspondence between some members of the Fatimid family
    103
    20
    Abu ‘Abd Allah, son of al-Qa’im, forbidden to engage in wailing
    103
    21
    Jawdhar authorised to have saman mats made for himself
    104
    22
    al-Mu‘izz attempts to reconcile Ja’far b. ‘Ali b. Hamdun and Yusuf b. Ziri
    104
    23
    The director of the naval storehouses forbidden to store supplies in a mosque
    106
    24
    Order to expedite the purchase of maritime provisions
    107
    25
    Another request from Jawdhar, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    107
    26
    A shroud for an official’s son
    108
    27
    Condolences for the death of a servant
    108
    28
    Order to execute captains of ships which left for Sicily in breach of instructions
    108
    29
    Jawdhar’s reminder regarding his request, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    109
    30
    Jawdhar’s complaint about a Slav sent to procure slaves for the palace, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    110
    31
    Jawdhar’s note concerning Ahmad, son of al-Mahdi, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    111
    32
    Jawdhar’s reminder concerning his request, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    112
    33
    Another note of Jawdhar concerning his request, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    112
    34
    Jawdhar’s request for an order to expedite maritime supplies, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    113
    35
    Jawdhar’s indisposition, and al-Mu‘izz’s concern for Jawdhar’s health
    114
    36
    Rumours that Jawdhar would be appointed to govern Ifriqiyainfo-icon after al-Mu‘izz’s departure for Egypt
    115
    37
    Concerning permits for officials travelling to Egypt
    116
    38
    al-Mu‘izz sends to Jawdhar spring water and Fatimid dinars minted in Egypt
    118
    39
    Jawdhar’s illness, his renewed appeal, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    119
    40
    On the building of a wall around Zawila
    119
    41
    Jawdhar’s reminder regarding his request
    120
    42
    al-Mu‘izz gives Jawdhar leggings worn by al-Mansur and himself
    120
    43
    Jawdhar’s note regarding the salary of his protégé, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    121
    44
    Jawdhar’s concern for al-Mu‘izz’s health, and the latter’s reply
    121
    45
    Complaint about the commissioner of al-Mahdiyya, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    122
    46
    Concerning disagreements between some members of the Kalbi family
    123
    47
    A shroud for an employee of the maritime administration
    125
    48
    The use of revenues from the domains of Muzaffar the Slav
    125
    49
    Regarding a letter from the governor of Sicily, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    126
    50
    Concerning a drunken secretary
    127
    51
    Letter from the governor of Tripoli about expenditure for the fleet, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    128
    52
    Jawdhar’s offer to provide wood for shipbuilding, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    129
    53
    Jawdhar’s request concerning the son of a secretary to receive his father’s emoluments
    130
    54
    Prince Tamim’s companionship with Tahir, son of Ahmad b. al-Hasan
    130
    55
    al-Mu‘izz pays tribute to a secretary after his death
    131
    56
    al-Mu‘izz accepts a gift of wood from Jawdhar
    132
    57
    A land dispute between Jawdhar’s agent and a man of the Kutama
    132
    58
    Jawhar’s request relating to inheritance and purchase of property
    133
    59
    Jawdhar’s complaint about abuses committed by a district governor, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    134
    60
    Jawdhar’s report on the activities of an Umayyad agent in al-Masila, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    135
    61
    Jawdhar’s wish not to importune al-Mu‘izz
    136
    62
    On the release of Muslim prisoners from Byzantine Custody
    137
    63
    Jawdhar’s note relating to maritime supplies, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    138
    64
    Jawdhar’s request to grant a domain to a secretary’s son, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    138
    65
    The treatment of some slaves who apostatised after having embraced Islam
    139
    66
    On Ja’far b. Mansur al-Yaman’s financial predicament and al-Mu‘izz’s help to him
    139
    67
    Jawdhar’s request for a ship to replace one that perished, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    140
    68
    Concerning the death of al-Hasan b. ‘Aliinfo-icon in Sicily
    141
    69
    Finances of the governor Ja’far b. ‘Ali b. Hamdun
    142
    70
    al-Mu‘izz allows Ja’far to continue to administer the province in spite of lower financial returns to the Treasury
    143
    71
    Jawdhar’s note to al-Mu‘izz defending the interests of the Treasury, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    144
    72
    Concerning rumours about Jawdhar’s concern for the Kalbi brothers
    145
    73
    Concerning alienation between Jawdhar and Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. ‘Ali al-Kalbi
    148
    74
    al-Mu‘izz binds Jawdhar to Jawhar by a pact of brotherhood
    149
    75
    About an agreement between Jawdhar and the governor of Sicily regarding his ship’s cargo
    150
    76
    Jawdhar asks al-Mu‘izz’s permission to gift a precious rug to Prince ‘Abd Allah
    151
    77
    al-Mu‘izz expresses regret at the loss of Jawdhar’s ship which perished
    152
    78
    Concerning a request to turn a house adjoining Dar al-Bahr into a storehouse for naval equipment
    152
    79
    Concerning a request by al-Hasan b. ‘Ali’s mother to buy a house near the palace
    153
    80
    Concerning a promise made by al-Mu‘izz to al-Hasan b. ‘Ammar
    153
    81
    Jawdhar’s request to al-Mu‘izz for an item of his clothing to serve him as a shroud, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    154
    82
    Jawdhar is received in al-Mansuriyya by al-Mu‘izz’s sons, brothers and dignitaries of the state
    155
    83
    Ja’far b. ‘Ali b. Hamdun’s correspondence regarding raising revenue for the Treasury, and al-Mu‘izz’s reply
    158
    84
    Prince ‘Abd Allah replies to Jawdhar’s letter requesting mules, with al-Mu‘izz’s response
    159
    85
    Account of Jawdhar’s final journey, his frail condition, and his last meeting with al-Mu‘izz at Ajdabiya
    160
    86
    Jawdhar enters Barqa gravely ill; Prince ‘Abd Allah’s letter to Jawdhar on al-Mu‘izz’s behalf; Jawdhar’s death and burial
    162
         
     
    167
     
    English Index
    177
     
    Arabic Index
     
     
    Arabic Text
     

     

  • Mr. Hamid Haji

    English
    Hamid Haji is a specialist in Fatimid literature. He studied at The Sorbonne and is currently Research Associate with The Department of Academic Research and Publications at The Institute of Ismaili Studies. His publications include: A Distinguished Da'i under the Shade of the Fatimids : Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani and His Epistles (1998) and Founding the Fatimid State: The Rise of an Early Islamic Empire (2006).Read more