Ibrahim ibn ar-Raqiq

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Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn al-Qāsim ar-Raqīq al-Qayrawānī (Arabic: أبو إسحاق ابراهيم ابن القاسم الرقيق القيرواني‎) known as Ibn ar-Raqīq or even just as ar-Raqīq, 11th century courtier and author (d. after 1027-8) in the court of the Zirids in Ifriqiya (now Tunisia).[1]

ar-Raqiq served as Secretary to two Zirid princes[2] for over a quarter of a century and gained a reputation as a diplomat, poet and historian. He enjoyed wine, women and song, and in fact wrote treatises on each of those subjects. His work on the enjoyment of wine (Quṭb as-Surūr) is the only one of his prose works to survive in its entirety, but Yaqut has preserved some of his poems. The following is a few lines from one:[3]

And at the convent[4] of al-Quṣayr, what nights have I passed not knowing
Morning from evening, without ever waking from drunkenness!
An innocent virgin presents me with nectar
As soon as the bell chimes at dawn.
Slender Christian beauty, at her slightest movement
Her waist slays me, so slim in size!

He wrote a history of North Africa (Tārīkh Ifriqiyya wal-Maghrib) which enjoyed a very high reputation, and was quoted from by later authors such as Ibn Idhari, Ibn Khaldun and Al-Nuwayri. This is fortunate, as the complete work is now lost. In 1965, a Tunisian scholar working in Morocco discovered a manuscript which he believed might be a small part of ar-Raqiq's Tarikh, dealing with the Umayyad conquest of North Africa. This was rushed[5] into print by someone else who got hold of a photocopy and published it as definitely the work of ar-Raqiq.

This has been the cause of controversy. Tunisian historian Mohamed Talbi stated that he believed it to be the work of a later anonymous compilator who used ar-Raqiq as well as later historians as a source. The work itself (unlike many contemporary histories) contains no indication of who wrote it, and is very fragmentary. According to Talbi (1971), the style does not display the refinement expected of someone like ar-Raqiq. There are also anachronisms.[6] Nevertheless, many modern historians quote the work as being of ar-Raqiq when forced to use it from lack of other sources.

A further controversy erupted between Tunisian historians Talbi and H.R. Idris when the latter criticised Talbi's article on ar-Raqīq in the Encyclopaedia of Islam.[7] Apart from the authorship of the published fragment of the Tārīkh, Idris also took issue with the description of ar-Raqīq as having 'Shi'ite sympathies'. The argument raged over several papers in the journal Arabica in the early 1970s.[8]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ M. Talbi's article 'al-Raqīq', Encyclopaedia of Islam 2nd edition.
  2. ^ Badis ibn Mansur and Al-Muizz ibn Badis
  3. ^ translated from the French of M. Talbi (1970), who quotes from Yaqut
  4. ^ one may guess that 'convent' and 'virgin' in this poem in fact refer to the opposite.
  5. ^ Talbi (1971), who documented the process by which it was published, called it 'a race against the clock'; the editors of the later critical Arabic edition criticised it as a 'rough and ready edition ... we decided to ignore that edition'.
  6. ^ Talbi (1971) notes it contains the phrase 'sultan of the Romans' where near contemporary works use 'king of the Romans'. The title 'sultan' was not used in the Maghrib until the 13th century.
  7. ^ Idris (1970)
  8. ^ Talbi (1970) points out that the Zirids and their court were in fact Shi'ite, Idris (1970) believed they were secretly Sunni

References[edit]

  • Idris, Hady Roger (1970). 'Note sur Ibn al-Raqīq (ou al-Raqīq)'. Arabica vol. 17 p. 311-312.
  • Talbi, Mohammed. (1970). A propos d'Ibn al-Raqīq'. Arabica vol. 19 p. 86-96.
  • Talbi, Mohammed. (1971). 'Un nouveau fragment de l'histoire de l'Occident musulman (62-196/682-812) : l'épopée d'al Kahina'. Cahiers de Tunisie vol. 19 p. 19-52.
  • Tārīkh Ifriqiyya wal-Maghrib lil-Raqīq al-Qayrawānī, ed. al-Monji al-Kaābī, Tunis, 1968. The 'rushed' edition.
  • Tārīkh Ifriqiyya wal-Maghrib, ed. A.A. al-Zaydān and I.U.A. Mūsa, Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī, Beirut, 1990. Critical Arabic edition with short English preface.