The Composition Secretary (II): Moral and Inner Qualities

Adrian Gully

in The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633739
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653133 | DOI:
The Composition Secretary (II): Moral and Inner Qualities

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This chapter further examines the background of the secretary, with particular focus on the inner moral and spiritual qualities required of him. Aside from the long list of non-negotiable requirements, it also discusses the tab' or natural disposition for writing that is expected of the epistolary secretary. Accompanying the ‘inner qualities’ required of the secretary is the power of invention and innovation, which is only achieved through spiritual process according to Ibn al-Atīr. Of particular significance in the chapter is Ibn Sīt's Ma'Alīm al-Kitāba, which details the more personal aspects of the secretary's character. In addition to discussing the personal characteristics of the secretary, the chapter also examines the relationship of the secretary's political position, within the power structure of the Islamic Middle period, and with that of the vizier and the chamberlain. It ends with a discussion on the issue of confidentiality and the manner with which the secretary maintains it through various modes of cryptography.

Keywords: inner qualities; moral qualities; epistolary secretary; power of invention; power of innovation; Ibn Sīt; al-Kitāba; personal characteristics; confidentiality

Chapter.  16913 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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