The Wisdom Of Mercy From Ibn Hazm Al-Zahiri

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We turn now to those founts of wisdom who have lessons to teach us.  Abu Muhammad Ali Ibn Ahmad Ibn Sa’id Ibn Hazm (أبو محمد علي بن احمد بن سعيد بن حزم) is known to history as Ibn Hazm Al-Zahiri.  Born in Cordoba, Andalusia (Spain) in 994, he achieved enduring fame for his incredible intellectual achievements in a number of disciplines, including jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, and poetry.  He even composed a manual on love known as The Ring of the Dove (طوق الحمامة).  Here was a man of substance, a man who could appreciate the virtues of the passions as well as those of the mind.

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The Ointment Of Abu Ayyub

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It is unwise to incur the wrath of a powerful man if such a situation may be avoided.  Sometimes it can; other times it cannot.  Even being in the proximity of power can be perilous, as authority has a way of coloring everything in its field of vision with suspicion.  An illustration of this principle appears in Ibn Khallikan’s Biographical Dictionary on the life of the court official (wazir) Abu Ayyub Al Muryani, who served the second Abbasid caliph, Al Mansur.

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Giving And Receiving

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The minister Al Rabi’ Ibn Yunus (الربيع بن يونس) lived from about A.D. 730 to 785 and served the Abbasid caliphs Al Mansur and his successor Al Mahdi.  Amusing and instructive anecdotes have come down to us from the medieval Arabic historians about the interactions of the minister with his sovereigns.  We will relate two of them here, acknowledging our debt to Ibn Khallikan’s Biographical Dictionary (وفيات الأعيان وأنباء أبناء الزمان).  The stories illustrate the importance of honoring one’s word as well as the power of Fate.

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