The preface and the intended recipients
The preface provides sufficient information about the intended recipients of the work in 371/982 in Baghdad, but not enough information about the recipients of the final edition. In the opening of this epistle al-Tawhldl declares:
I leave this and say: “the reason for the composition of this epistle on al-Sadaqa wa al-Sadlq was that I mentioned some of it to Zayd b. Rifa‘a Abu al-Khayr, who in his turn reported it to the vizier Ibn Sa‘dan, Abu ‘Abd Allah in the year 71 before he became burdened with the responsibilities of the kingdom (dawla) and managing the matters of the viziership. At that time, his tasks were light and his circumstances continued to move smoothly.” Then Ibn Sa‘dan said to me: “Zayd told me such and such about you.” I (al-Tawhldl) said: “Yes that was true.” Then he (Ibn Sa‘dan) said: “Write down this disquisition and join to it in the appendices [some] of what has been said previously on this matter among the ancients as you think appropriate, because the discourse on friendship is sweet and the description of a helpful comrade is moving.” I then compiled this letter.18
This passage indicates that there were two people involved in the original production of the epistle. These were Zayd b. Rifa‘a Abu al-Khayr al-Hashlml (d. circa 400/1011),19 who occasioned the composition of the work by mentioning some of al-Tawhldl’s lectures to Ibn Sa‘dan Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Husayn b. Ahmad (d. 375/985), who then requested that al-Tawhldl compose the epistle soon before he became vizier. The background of both of these catalysts will be examined next, beginning with Ibn Rifa ‘a.