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Ibn al-Mutazz and Politics: The Question of the Fuūl Qiār

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Scholarship has come full circle in positing a close relationship between the Abbasid prince Ibn al-Mutazz’s writings and his life, especially his political ambitions (he died, in 296/908, in a failed attempt to gain the caliphate). How do his aphorisms, Fuūl Qiār, fit into the picture? Their textual history is complicated. Almost all are appropriated from earlier sources, notably al-Rayānī’s Jawāhir al-kilam. After Ibn al-Mutazz’s death, it seems, they were collected into an anthology, Kitāb al-Ādāb, and most of the authors who subsequently quoted them affirmed their attribution to Ibn al-Mutazz (though some reattributed them to Alī b. Abī ālib). Authors of the century following Ibn al-Mutazz (al-urī, al-Ābī, al-Thaālibī) often showcased them as examples of specifically princely wisdom. This may have been how Ibn al-Mutazz himself saw them: as a princely birthright of wisdom absorbed jointly from the translation and arabiyya movements, which he deployed in his correspondence and other communications with his élite entourage as a means of displaying his fitness to rule.

Affiliations: 1: Université Paris 8 - Saint Denis


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