Mu’ayyad al-Din Abu Isma‘il al-Husayn ibn Ali al-Tughra’i (Arabic: العميد فخر الكتاب الملقب مؤيد الدين أبو إسماعيل الحسين بن علي بن محمد بن عبد الصمد الدؤلي الكناني; Persian: اسماعیل طغرایی اسپهانی) (1061 – c. 1121) was an 11th–12th century poet and alchemist.
Mu’ayyad al-Din al-Tughra’i was born in Isfahan, Persia, and he composed poems in the Arabic language. He was an administrative secretary (therefore the name Tughra’i’). He ultimately became the second-most-senior official (after the vizier) in the civil administration of the Seljuq Empire.
He was, however, executed unjustifiably, according to most historians in 1121. He had been appointed vizir to Emir Ghiyat-ul-Din Mas’ud, and upon the death of the emir a power struggle ensued between his sons. al-Tughra’i sided with the emir’s elder son, but the younger prevailed. In retribution, the younger son accused al-Tughra’i of heresy and had him beheaded.
He was a well-known and prolific writer on astrology and alchemy, and many of his poems (diwan) are preserved today as well. In the field of alchemy, al-Tughra’i is best known for his large compendium titled Mafatih al-rahmah wa-masabih al-hikmah, which incorporated extensive extracts from earlier Arabic alchemical writings, as well as Arabic translations from Zosimos of Panopolis‘s old alchemy treatises written in Greek, which were until 1995 erroneously attributed to unknown alchemists by mistakes and inconsistencies in the transliteration and transcription of his name into Arabic.
In 1112 CE, he also composed Kitab Haqa’iq al-istishhad, a rebuttal of a refutation of the occult in alchemy written by Ibn Sina.
- El Khadem, H. S. (1995). “A Lost Text By Zosimos Reproduced in an Old Alchemy Book”. Journal of Chemical Education. 72 (9): 774. doi:10.1021/ed072p774 (inactive 2019-03-15).
- El Khadem, H. S. (September 1996). “A Translation of a Zosimos’ Text in an Arabic Alchemy Book” (PDF). Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. 84 (3): 168–178. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-10-12.
For his life, see:
- F.C. de Blois, ‘al-Tughra’i’ in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, ed. by H.A.R. Gibbs, B. Lewis, Ch. Pellat, C. Bosworth et al., 11 vols. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960–2002), vol. 10, pp 599–600.
For a list of his alchemical writings, see:
- Manfred Ullmann, Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam, Handbuch der Orientalistik, Abteilung I, Ergänzungsband VI, Abschnitt 2 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972), pp 229–231 and 252–3.
- For details about Zosimos of Panopolis translations, see: El Khadem, H. S. (September 1996). “A Translation of a Zosimos’ Text in an Arabic Alchemy Book” (PDF). Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. 84 (3): 168–178. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-10-12.