The brilliant spirit and complexity of the Bu-yid period (334-440/945-1048) exercised a profound influence upon intellectual activities and practices throughout the contemporary Islamic world, especially Iraq and western Iran.1 This book focuses on a largely overlooked area: the political thought, ethics, and social idealism of the fourth/tenth-century philosopher and littérateur Abu-H. ayya-n al-Tawh. ı-dı-(circa 315-414/927-1023), who lived in Baghdad and what is now western Iran under Bu-yid rule.2 It offers a critical assessment of al-Tawh. ı-dı-’s thought, focusing on its connection to the unique socio-cultural contexts of the period, and its relation to the various groups with which al-Tawh. ı-dı-came into contact. Special attention will be paid to his development of concepts such as friendship (s.ada-qa) and knowledge (‘ilm), and how they should be practised to restore social harmony. The book will investigate the intricacy of the system that informed al-Tawh. ı-dı-’s vision of these concepts and their social significance, treating them as social imaginaries – new attitudes of a person in his or her intellectual and cultural settings that aim to resolve political and social tensions. Although modern political thought generally considers friendship a private

affair, or a relationship that should be quarantined from the explorations of politics, a few studies have attempted to retrieve the concept of friendship for philosophical investigation and its importance in the context of politics.3 These studies consider the interconnectedness of the public and private spheres, and how political principles become manifest in private lives.4 They address contemporary concerns about community in the context of philosophical ideas about friendship, drawing on the analysis of thinkers within the history of political thought, starting with ancient Greek philosophers, Christian thinkers, and contemporary thinkers. By analysing al-Tawh. ı-dı-’s ideas of friendship, this book aims to contribute to this ongoing discussion, and to deepen understanding of the inescapable relationship between friendship and politics, and friendship as a necessary means for harmonious human existence. The subject of this book is important not only because it sheds light on a

major figure whose thought reflects the changes and challenges of the Bu-yid period, but it also provides an opportunity to examine the development of cultural and intellectual activities in this period, which was a turning point in

the history of Islamic civilisation.5 This period brought major changes to the concept of the polity – namely the religio-political institution of the Muslim caliphate. With the establishment of this minority Shı-‘ı-kingship, the authority of the powerful Sunnı-caliphate of the ‘Abba-sids that had once ruled over areas extending from Persia to Jerusalem, and from A

- dharba-yja-n to Egypt and

Yemen, collapsed and was relegated to a mere religious authority with no political power. This reduction resulted in a diffusion of power in which the caliph competed with military commanders who wielded political power but enjoyed no claim to prophetic succession. This shift, alongside tensions between one social class and another, between Arabs and non-Arabs, and between different Bu-yid courts, produced polemic in prose and verse. It also necessitated that the Bu-yids legitimise and justify their authority and their new form of polity, creating a need for new moral and political paradigms. Cultural and literary activities progressed significantly in this period. Larger

cities, such as Baghdad, Samarqand, Shı-ra-z and Rayy became centres of knowledge. These cities competed with each other for social prestige and facilitated the establishment of independent intellectual communities. Falsafa was a prominent field of knowledge among scholars attached to different Bu-yid courts and officials who sponsored their activities.6 Major philosophical schools developed, particularly in Baghdad. The following practices resulted in epistemological plurality, intellectual tensions and scepticism about the nature of knowledge between different scholarly disciplines: the continuing translation of many texts of non-revealed knowledge,7 including Greek philosophy, which was one of the major endeavours of the philosophical schools of Baghdad and which seemed to have led to an increased doubt concerning the validity of other forms of knowledge, especially traditional ones; the theological-rationalist debates and rivalry between different theological schools, especially the Ash‘arı-s and the Mu‘tazila who continued to adapt philosophical methods to theology; the interest in jurisprudence and the traditions of Islamic law, which established itself as a counterpart to theology; and the ascetic-mystical movement of tas.awwuf or Sufism. The tension between the different fields of knowledge, and the increasing

efforts of scholars to consolidate their fields generated perplexing questions and concerns about the valid form of knowledge which could save the community. Thus, doubts and debates became integral aspects of scholarly activities.8 The period was also the hub of significant social changes and an age of uncertainty, where ethical values were questioned and became a preoccupation of philosophers and intellectuals. Discussions were held in the vibrant intellectual climates of different maja-lis (sessions) that were sponsored by the various Bu-yid emirs and viziers, in private gatherings held at the households of some scholars, and in the market place of Baghdad. Those sessions offered an opportunity for the communication and exchange of ideas between members of different philosophical and religious circles in a remarkably cosmopolitan atmosphere. Al-Tawh. ı-dı-recorded many ethical discussions that took place, especially in Baghdad in different intellectual gatherings. This is partly

due to his early exposure to most contemporary intellectual disciplines of his time, and his active association with different religious, scholarly, and political circles, including the court of the Bu-yid vizier al-S. a-h. ib b. ‘Abba-d (d. 385/995), the circle of the Bu-yid vizier Ibn Sa‘da-n (d. 375/985), the school of the Christian philosopher Yah.ya-b. ‘Adı-(d. 363/974), the schools of Abu-Sulayma-n al-Sijista-nı-

(d. 375/985) and Ah.mad b. Miskawayh (d. 421/1030), the different Sufi and Sha-fi‘ı-circles and the Ikhwa-n al-S.afa-’ (the Brethren of Purity). Thus this book will show the significance of al-Tawh. ı-dı-’s writings and the complexity of the forces, factors, knowledge, and ways of perception that formed his thought.9