At the court of Abu al-Fath b. al-‘Am Id

Al-TawhIdI enjoyed some success in Baghdad, earning a decent living, working as a copyist.299 However, this did not last for long because he lost his savings, his house, and his maid, who died of shock, in the riot in Baghdad in 3 62/973.300 Therefore, driven by poverty and hope of patronage, al-TawhIdI returned again to Rayy after the death of Ibn al-‘Am-Id in 360/970, who had been succeeded by his son Abu al-Fath (d. 366/976), a man of knowledge and culture.301 Al-TawhIdI’s experience this time was no better than before, so he returned to Baghdad.

Al-Tawh. -Id-I had previously met Abu- al-Fath. when the latter visited Baghdad in 364/975. He describes Abu al-Fath’s visit to Baghdad and the scholarly receptions he held there - one day for jurists, another day for litterateurs, another for theologians, and another for philosophers.302 Al-TawhIdI attended the receptions with al-SIrafI. He recalls that the majalis were full of people from all over the Islamic world. Abu- al-Fath. made a good impression on al-Tawhldl as an eloquent, learned, graceful man, noted for his generosity towards people of knowledge and the pride he took in them. He even offered al-Slrafl and ‘AH b. ‘Isa al-Rummanl the opportunity to go with him to Rayy.303 He also approached al-Sijistanl, and a few others.304 Al-Tawhldl continued to think of Abu al-Fath as “a clever young - man, lively, [the author of] pleasant poetry, eloquent, and [having] many excellent traits. He never manifested all of what was inside him, because of his short-life and the disturbances in his vizierate.”305 Al-Tawhldl’s words about Abu al-Fath convey a sense of admiration and respect for the young vizier. He acknowledges the prominent place that Abu- al-Fath. held at a young age as the epitome of the cultured man, who takes into his service righteous followers, and who judges men’s standing according to their piety and knowledge. Al-Tawhldl thus had a right to hope that Abu al-Fath b. al-‘AmId might be the one to save him from poverty.

To contact the vizier, al-Tawhldl composed a letter to him, using laudatory language cast in chaste expressions: “Who am I compared to him [Abu al-Fath] who perceives misery to be an explicit heresy, and who perceives charity to be the right religion”.306 The letter communicates an overwhelming fear of poverty, which is understandable after he had lost all his belongings as a result of the riot in Baghdad as well as a strong sense of entitlement and the right to enjoy the vizier’s generosity, a feeling which could have been based on previous experience of the vizier’s character:

Why should I not incline towards his country ... why should I not reside in his headquarters (rab‘ahu) and request his beneficence. ... Why should I not ask his clouds to rain upon me (astamtiru sahabahu)?307

Al-Tawhldl strongly believed in his absolute right to avoid suffering:

Do not prevent yourself [from enjoying his beneficence] by saying, “I am a stranger in residence, far away from home, remote from a noble hasab and forgotten”, for you are close to home through hope, approach success by endeavour, made welcome (rail-bu al-sahati) by wish, your status has been made evident by [people’s] envy [of you] and famous in speech by achievement.308

However, an ideal reality is not always tangible; often there is a clash between eager expectation and the surprises of reality. Despite his high hopes, al-Tawhldl’s experience with the vizier was another bitter failure. It is not easy to judge the reasons for this failure since it is not clear whether the letter reached the vizier or not, and, if so, whether Abu al-Fath knew who al-Tawhldl was, since he was only one among many whom Abu- al-Fath. had met during his visit to Baghdad. There is no information about any direct contact with the vizier, but what is known is that al-Tawhldl felt badly treated. He returned to Baghdad, avenging himself by collecting stories of the vizier’s deficiencies.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >