The Model Life
At moments when we find ourselves confronted with difficult decisions, and not knowing how best to proceed, the wisdom of the past can be a comforting guide. Islamic literature is filled with different kinds of works meant to offer advice. Fables, ethical treatises, and “mirrors-for princes” (a genre containing lessons on rulership) offer explicit maxims, while histories and biographies provide models of past behaviour to aspire toward — or to avoid. Illustrated copies of these texts were often consulted by high-ranking patrons when they sought knowledge about how best to govern. The lessons transmitted in such manuscripts remain relevant today, when ethical behaviour, good governance, and illuminating insights can help us navigate world-shaping challenges.