Harun al-Rashid

Born on 786

Died on 809

Harun al-Rashid;

(/hɑːˈrn ɑːlrɑːˈʃd/; Arabic: هَارُون الرَشِيد‎ Hārūn Ar-Rašīd; “Aaron the Orthodox” or “Aaron the Rightly-Guided”, 17 March 763 or February 766 – 24 March 809 (148–193 Hijri)) was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. His birth date is debated, with various sources giving dates from 763 to 766. His epithet “al-Rashid” translates to “the Orthodox”, “the Just”, “the Upright”, or “the Rightly-Guided”. Al-Rashid ruled from 786 to 809, during the peak of the Islamic Golden Age. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma (“House of Wisdom”) in Baghdad in present-day Iraq, and during his rule Baghdad began to flourish as a center of knowledge, culture and trade. During his rule, the family of Barmakids, which played a deciding role in establishing the Abbasid Caliphate, declined gradually. In 796, he moved his court and government to Raqqa in present-day Syria.

A Frankish mission came to offer Harun friendship in 799. Harun sent various presents with the emissaries on their return to Charlemagne’s court, including a clock that Charlemagne and his retinue deemed to be a conjuration because of the sounds it emanated and the tricks it displayed every time an hour ticked. Portions of the fictional One Thousand and One Nights are set in Harun’s court and some of its stories involve Harun himself. Harun’s life and court have been the subject of many other tales, both factual and fictitious.

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