The historical context of the epistle
The historical circumstances that led to the composition of al-Sadaqa wa al-Sadlq can be determined by considering those passages, mainly in the preface, in which al-Tawhldl refers to his activity as an author, and his reasons for writing the treatise. I will deal with the date of the epistle, especially the two periods in which it was composed and its place among al-Tawhldl’s other works, and discuss the intended recipients and the issue of patronage to underline the social significance of the epistle.
The date of composition and al-Tawhidi’s patrons
In the preface, two points that will affect the understanding of many of the passages in the epistle become obvious:
- (1) The epistle was composed in two stages over a period of thirty years (between 371/982 and 400/1011). It was originally drafted in Baghdad in 371/982 based on the recent lectures that al-Tawhldl delivered in philosophical circles, which he was asked to put together in written form by Ibn Sa‘dan, the Buyid vizier of Baghdad. The final editing of the epistle was completed in 400/1011 and it is then that the preface was reworked and the second conclusion was written.17
- (2) Consequently, the work was probably addressed to two different patrons. This raises an important question about what happened when a work was written at the request of one patron and presented to a second. How would the content of the work change according to different patrons and different circumstances? Thus, in order to define the nature of this work, it is important to consider the situational dynamic of al-Tawhldl’s work which appears to be designed to be received in multiple ways according to al-Tawhldl’s situation in the two periods of composition as will be discussed below.