Moayyed od-Dowlah, the statesman, warrior and literary figure
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 27th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani in 448 AH, the statesman, warrior and literary figure, Majd od-Din Osama ibn Murshid ibn Ali ibn Munqidh al-Kinani, titled Moayyed od-Dowlah, was born in Shaizar near Hama in Syria. His life coincided with the rise and fall of several Muslim dynasties, as well as the invasion by the First Crusade and setting up of the illegal crusader states by the European invaders.
He was a nephew of the emir of Shaizar and was a courtier to the Zengids and Ayyubids in Damascus, serving the famous Noor od-Din Zengi, and later Salah od-Din Ayyubi, over a period of almost fifty years. He also served the Fatemid court in Cairo. He often meddled in the politics and was exiled from both Damascus and Cairo.
He wrote many poetry anthologies, such as the "Kitab al-Asa" (Book of the Staff), "Lubab al-Adab" (Kernels of Literature), and "al-Manazil wa'd-Diyar" (Dwellings and Abodes). For modern readers, however, he is most well-known for his "Kitab al-I'bar", which contains lengthy descriptions of the crusaders, whom he visited on many occasions, and some of whom he considered friends, although he generally saw them as European barbarians.
It is sometimes assumed that Osama was a Shi'ite Muslim, because he often writes about and praises Imam Ali (AS). His family cooperated with the Fatemids and other Shi'ite dynasties, and he himself served the Fatemids in Egypt. Researchers are divided, and some think that he had a "secret sympathy" with the Shi'ites, while others believe he was probably Sunni with Shi'ite tendencies. Still others think that his family members were Twelver Shi'ites. He died in Damascus at the age of 96, a year after the liberation of Bayt ol-Moqaddas from the crusaders after 88 years of occupation.