Abenámar (Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ammar) Visir de Sevilla

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أبو بكر محمد بن عمّار

Arabic: أبو بكر محمد بن عمّار, اشبيلية الوزير
Birthdate: (55)
Birthplace: Silves, Portugal
Death: circa 1086 (51-59) (the vanity and feather-headedness of Ibn Ammar drove his master to kill him)
Managed by: Erica Howton
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About Abenámar (Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ammar) Visir de Sevilla

Al-Vizier Abu Bakr Ibn Ammar (Arabic: ابن عمار‎; c. 1031 – c. 1086) was an Iberian Muslim poet from Silves.

Ibn Ammar, descended from a Portuguese Muslim family, became Grand Vizier of the taifa of Seville. Though he was poor and unknown, his skill in poetry brought him the friendship of the young Abbad III al-Mu'tamid, who named him prime minister some time after the death of his father Abbad II al-Mu'tadid. Ibn Ammar was reputed to be unbeatable at chess; according to Abdelwahid al-Marrakushi, his victory in a game convinced Alfonso VI of Castile to turn away from Seville.

He engineered the annexation of the taifa of Murcia to the kingdom of Seville, and convinced Al-Mu'tamid to name him as its governor. He proclaimed himself its king and cut off relations with Al-Mu'tamid. He soon fell from power, was captured in an ambush, and was imprisoned in Seville. Al-Mu'tamid was initially inclined to forgiveness, but was later incensed by something he read in an intercepted letter sent by Ibn Ammar from his prison cell. The king then killed the poet with his own hands.

The Poet-King of Seville

Poetry flourished exuberantly in 11th century al-Andalus. Verse was the common expression of the day, an arabesque of words and meaning the language of love, diplomacy and satire. Andalusians loved poetry and virtually everyone composed it.

The dramatic twists of al-Mu'tamid's life, which took him to triumphant kingship in Seville and then to the bitterness of African exile, are legendary, and they remain a poignant metaphor for the spectacular rise and fall of al-Andalus. The histo­rian al-Marrakushi wrote of al-Mu'tamid:

"If one wanted to list all the examples of beauty produced by al-Ahdalus from the time of the conquest to the present day, then al-Mu'tamid would be one of them, if not the greatest of all...."

Ibn 'Ammar's artful verse captured the fervent admiration of the young prince al-Mu'tamid, who aspired to model himself after the poet. Lovers of pleasure, high adventure and - above all - poetry, the two became inseparable companions. When al-Mu'tamid's father appointed him gov­ernor of Silves (in present-day Portugal) at age 23, the prince named Ibn 'Ammar his vizier, and later, when he ascended the throne, his prime minister.

A Legend

from The Moorish Culture In Spain

One evening, as he was strolling along the banks of the Guadalquivir in the company of his irreplaceable firend, Ibn 'Ammar, he tossed the opening lines of a poem at him:

"The wind turns the river Into a suite of chain mail..."

But even before Ibn 'Ammar could take up the rhyme and develop it further, a girl of the people, who was passing by, continued in the correct meter:

"What a fine suit indeed, If the frost made it freeze."

Taken aback, al-Mu'tamid looked round for the poetess, and, struck by her beauty, he sent his servant to bring her to him. Her name was I'timad, she said, but she was usually called Rumaikiya, as she was the slave of Rumaik, for whom she drove mules. When al-Mu'tamid asked if she were married, she replied that she was not. "Good," said he, "I shall buy you free, and marry you." She was gifted, beautiful, and ablaze with ideas and impulses. Al-Mu'tamid remained devoted to her for the rest of his life, and indulged her every wish to make her happy. He derived his public name, al-Mu'tamid 'ala-Llah (he who trusts in God) from his wife's name, I'timad ("trust").


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Abenámar (Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ammar) Visir de Sevilla's Timeline

Silves, Portugal
Age 55