The Unique Necklace

Al-'Iqd al-Farid, Volume III

By Ibn 'Abd Rabbih

Contributions by: Issa J. Boullata

Al-'Iqd al-Farid (The Unique Necklace) is one of the classics of Arabic literature. Compiled in several volumes by an Andalusian scholar and poet named Ibn 'Abd Rabbih (246-328 A.H. / 860-940 C.E.), it remains a wealth of information about various elements of Arab culture and letters during the four centuries before Ibn 'Abd Rabbih's death. Essentially, it is a book of adab, a term understood in modern times to specifically mean literature, but in earlier times its meaning included all that a well-informed person had to know in order to pass in society as a cultured and refined individual. This meaning later evolved and included belles letters in the form of elegant prose and verse that was as much entertaining as it was morally educational - such as poetry, pleasant anecdotes, proverbs, historical accounts, general knowledge, wise maxims, and even practical philosophy. Ibn 'Abd Rabbih's imagination and organization saved his encyclopedic compendium from becoming a chaotic jumble of materials by conceiving of it as a necklace composed of 25 'books,' each of which carried the name of a jewel. Each of the 25 'books' was organized around a major theme and had an introduction written by Ibn 'Abd Rabbih, followed by his relevant adab selections of verse and prose on the theme of the 'book.' He drew on a vast repertoire of sources including the Bible, the Qur'an, and the Hadith, and the works of al-Jahiz, ibn Qutayba, al-Mubarrad, Abu 'Ubayda ibn al-Muthanna, and several others, as well as the diwans of many Arab poets, including his own poetry. Volume I of this translation of al-'Iqd al-Farid contains four of its 25 'books.' Volume II, contains two more. Volume III - now available in paperback - contains a further four 'books.' (Series: The Great Books of Islamic Civilization)


330 pages

Publication Date: 6/8/2012
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781859642405

Available in other formats