Al-Jahiz is considered one of the best authors of Islamic literature of all time. His work The Book of Misers is considered one of the earliest forms of comic fiction and among his masterpieces. Using his broad knowledge and wit, he was able to present the current status of the 8th and 9th century Middle East society characterized by the miserliness not just by certain people but the one that is innate in everyone. The book exposed the different instances where every individual at one time or another actually conducts avaricious practices.
It can be seen in the literature how ironic the condition was at that time because despite the fact that the Arab’s regarded generosity as one of their main virtues, the author chose to make a satire which demonstrated a miserly society characterized by people taking advantage of each other. He made fun, not just of individuals, but as well as different groups like those of scribes, schoolmasters and singers and occasionally interjected different aspects of culture and real-life practices.
The 8th and 9th century Middle East is actually the height of slave trade practices. Thus, the book indeed provided a glimpse of the then condition which oppresses the less fortunate. In showing how the characters tend to do mean practices, he was able to provide a representation of the common behaviors during that time. Moreover, he also made fun of the idea of ‘generosity’ as he provided a narrative that exaggerated it. He was indeed very cunning in providing such a representation, which helps readers not just of his generation but even those of us today to have a better understanding of the then society.
The use of ordinary people in the book clearly represented that Al-Jahiz saw the misers in everyone. His work is teeming with such practices that readers could possibly relate on several instances because not only then but even at present, and not only in the Arab countries but everywhere else; men retains this character innately.