This is a work of practical political philosophy that combines penetrating contemporary analysis, the entertainment value of "The Thousand and One Nights", and the deep insight of Sun Tzu. The "Sulwan al-Muta'" is an 800 year-old handbook for statesmen written by a Sicilian Arab who addressed this advice for a "just prince" based on Islamic morality, European realism and a broad-ranging knowledge of different cultures. Warm, wise and witty, the work is explicated using straight philosophical discourse as well as the delirious narrative whirl of fables-within-fables so beloved of ancient and mediaeval Oriental literature. The translators have preceded their presentation of Ibn Zafar's text with a highly original analysis of the qualities any leader needs in order to attain and retain command. They demonstrate that the wisdom found in the Sulwan is comparable to, but far less cynical than, Machiavelli's "The Prince". The authors also show that the notion of a "just prince" is, even today, easily within reach for those who would lead others.
Joseph A. Kechichian is a private consultant on national security affairs within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He obtained a PhD in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia in 1985, and is the author of several works including Succession in Saudi Arabia and Oman and the World: The Emergence of an Independent Foreign Policy. R. Hrair Dekmejian is Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern California and a frequent commentator on world affairs. He is the author of Troubled waters: The Geopolitics of the Caspian Region and Islam in Revolution.
Acknowledgments A Note on Transliteration Maxims from the Sulwan al-Muta' Chapter One Ibn Zafar al-Siqilli: The Significance of His Work Chapter Two Counseling the Prince: An Historical Overview Chapter Three Sulwan al-Muta': Analysis of a Magnum Opus Chapter Four Ibn Zafar and Machiavelli: A Comparative Analysis Chapter Five Ibn Zafar: A Retrospective Assessment Complete Translated Text Index