05 April 2003, 02:26

al-Lakzi, Yusuf

Al-Lakzi Yusuf ibn al-Husayn ibn Daud Abu al-Fakikh al-babi (died before 1089-90) was a khadis expert and court historiographer of the Aglabide dynasty, the rulers of Bab al-abvab (Derbent). Ash-Shafii school follower. Native of the Country of Lezgins (Bilad lakz). Studied in Baghdad with shafiit Abu-l-muzaffar as-Samani (died in 1096), grandfather of Abu Sad, the author of Kitab al-ansab. Was also acquainted with Abu Bakr as-Samani, Abu-l-Muzaffar's son.

Al-Lakzi's son Abu Abdallah al-Hasan (died in mid-12th century) chose the Sufi path and preached asharit views. He studied in Baghdad with asharit Sufi Ibn az-Zakhra at-Turaysisi (died in 1103), Abul Kasim al-Kushayri's (died 1071) school follower, with whose son Abu Nasr he apperceived the Sufi path in Abu Sad as-Sufi's ribat. Al-Hasan al-Lakzi was especially close with shafiit Sufi Abu Iskhak Ibrahim ibn Muhammad as-Sufi (died in 1148), Abu Hamid al-Gazali's student.

Al-Lakzi is the author of Darband-nama chronicles, one of the most important sources on Islam history in the Caucasus. Until recently, these chronicles were understood to be a compilation composition of 17th century by Muhammad al-Avabi al-Aktashi. Known in many Persian, Arabic, Turkic, and Dagestani manuscripts, they went through a large number of commented editions in English, German, Russian, French, and other languages. However, the issue of its source document of 10th to 12th century whose existence was stated by many researchers still remained unsolved due to the lack of factual data. The study of new sources allows to disclose some aspects of this issue. For instance, one of al-Lakzi's closest students, Abu Nakr Muhammad ad-Darbandi (died in the first half of 12th century) composed a voluminous Sufi encyclopedic dictionary Raykhan al-khaka'ik va-bustan ad-daka'ik (Basilica of Verities and Garden of Delicacies) at the turn of 11th and 12th centuries, which is extant until present. As follows from the manuscript of this composition, there was a power takeover in Derbent with the assistance from the Seljukides in late 11th century: the Hashimides' dynasty rule was cut, and the Aglabides, representatives of the local aristocracy, came to power. This was exactly the reason for which Mammus al-Lakzi, the Hashimides' historiographer and author of Tarikh Bab al-abvab va-Shirvan was forced to cut his chronicles' flow and flee Derbent. The Aglabides needed a serious rationale explanation for their political claims for reigning Derbent Emirate, that is why the emergence of a pro-Aglabide source was logical.

The research shows that al-Aktashi wrote his work indeed using several source documents, one of them being of expressive pro-Aglabide orientation. The existence of a pro-Aglabide source available to al-Aktashi was also admitted by V.F. Minorsky, even though only as one of possible versions. A solution to this issue would, among other things, allow to clarify the degree of Darband-nama's information credibility: some fragments of the document, representing the attempts of the Aglabides' historiographer to intentionally "antiquate" this family's ancestry and frame up their claims to fit the tradition ground, are still regarded by researchers without due critical analysis. The fact that pro-Aglabide source document of Darband-nama contains a load of inaccuracies and errors not present in Tarikh Bab al-abvab va-Shirvan shows that its author was unfamiliar with this chronicle. Thus, the source document for this composition or, rather, the primary version of Darband-nama that gave the title to the later compilation by al-Aktashi, could be written after the Aglabides' takeover in 1075, but before the chronicles were started in Derbent in 1106. Its author should be looked for among Derbent historians sympathizing with the Aglabides. Muhammad ad-Darbandi speaks directly about it in his Raykhan al-khaka'ik: during the political confrontation in the city, some Derbent sheikhs openly backed the Aglabides. Al-Lakzi showed to be a most zealous supporter of the new authorities. A fact to testify for his loyalty to the Aglabides: when the top Sufis, backed up by the people, manifested against the emir in Derbent and demanded to liberate the judge Abu Muammar and his son who had already served their terms in prison, al-Lakzi first sent his student Muhammad ad-Darbandi to watch the events and then went himself to dissuade the Sufi Abul Hasan al-Djurdjani, the main organizer of the demonstration, from the rallies.

A composition by a Yusuf ad-Darbandi, entitled Darband-nama, had already been mentioned in the scientific literature as a historic source created in 19th century. However, this manuscript had never been attributed. The author's persona remained unidentified as well: no 19th-century author mentions Yusuf ad-Darbandi as his contemporary. On the other hand, it is unlikely that a new-time compilation be entitled with such a well-known name. Undoubtedly, al-Lakzi's Darband-nama is connoted here; one of the manuscripts of this composition can easily be dated in 19th century. Knowing that al-Lakzi died before 1089-90, the chronological frames of Darband-nama's primary appearance can be narrowed to 1080s.

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