Zubayda bint Ja’far al-Mansur

Born on 766

Died on 831

Zubaidah bint Ja`far ibn Mansur;

(Arabic: زبيدة بنت جعفر ابن المنصور) (died 26 Jumada I 216 AH / 10 July 831 AD) was the best known of the Abbasid princesses. She is particularly remembered for the series of wells, reservoirs and artificial pools that provided water for Muslim pilgrims along the route from Baghdad to Mecca and Medina, which was renamed the Darb Zubaidah in her honor. The exploits of her and her husband, Harun al-Rashid, form part of the basis for The Thousand and One Nights.

Zubaidah’s birthdate is unknown; it is known that she was at least a year younger than Harun. Her father, Ja’far was a half-brother of the Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi. Her mother, Salsal, was an elder sister of al-Khayzuran, second and most powerful wife of al-Mahdi, and mother of the future caliphs Musa al-Hadi and Harun al-Rashid.

Zubaidah is a pet name, given by her grandfather, caliph al-Mansur. The name means “little butter ball”. Zubaidah’s real name at birth was Sukhainah or Amat al-‘Aziz”. Later, Zubaidah got a kunya, Umm Ja’far (meaning Mother of Ja’far), which reflects her royal lineage as a granddaughter of caliph Abu Ja’far al-Mansur and a wife of caliph Abu Ja’far Harun al-Rashid.

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