Licit Magic: The Life and Letters of al-Ṣāḥib b. ʿAbbād (d. 385/995) By
 Maurice A. Pomerantz
Publisher Brill Pub Date 2017 Pub Location US Isbn 0 Course(s)


In this book Maurice A. Pomerantz, explores the biography and literary works of al-Ṣāḥib b. Abbād, a major tenth-century Muslim politician and intellectual. Al-Ṣāḥib b. Abbād ‘s nearly two-decade reign as vizier on behalf of two Buyid amirs was an important period for the flourishing of Arabic literature, Muʿtazilī theology and Shīʿism in Western Iran. Using Ibn ʿAbbād’s large collection of monographs (rasāʾil), Pomerantz explores the role eloquence played in the manner of governing, preserving social relations of elites, and public satisfaction. Examining both the aesthetic and pragmatic aspects of the vizier’s letters, Pomerantz’s book is the first comprehensive study of this serious correspondence collection during the first four centuries of Muslim rule. Reading the vizier’s revised epistles of admiration, flattery, and threats as an example of the state’s “prevalent theoretical style,” shows that letters affirmed, reinforced, and reproduced hierarchies and privileges. Examining these epistles reveals a complex viewpoint of how the vizier’s relation with local elites was intertwined with administrative necessities and obligations, and created bonds by blending sentiments which held the government and society together.