Hārūn al-Rashid

English

Hārūn al-Rashid (March 17, 763 – March 24, 809) was the fifth and most famous Abbasid Caliph. He was born in Rayy, near Tehran, Iran, and lived in Baghdad, Iraq and most of his reign was in Ar Raqqah at the middle Euphrates. Hārūn was strongly influenced by the will of his mother in the governance of the empire until her death in 789. His vizier, Yahya the Barmakid, his sons, and other Barmakids generally controlled the administration. He ruled from 786 to 809, and his time was marked by scientific, cultural and religious prosperity. Art and music ####also flourished significantly during his reign. He established the library Bayt al-Hikma "House of Wisdom". It was under Hārūn ar-Rashīd that Baghdad flourished into the most splendid city of its period. Tribute was paid by many rulers to the caliph, and these funds were used on architecture, the arts and a luxurious life at court. In 796 the Caliph Hārūn decided to reign his court and the government to his father like he did before Ar Raqqah at the middle Euphrates. Here he spent 12 years, most of his reign. Only once he returned to Baghdad for a short visit. Several reasons might have influenced the decision to move to ar-Raqqa. It was close to the Byzantine border. The communication lines via the Euphrates to Baghdad and via the Balikh river to the north and via Palmyra to Damascus were excellent. The agriculture was flourishing to support the new Imperial center. And from Raqqa any rebellion in Syria and the middle Euphrates area could be controlled. Abu al-Faraj Isfahani pictures in his anthology of poems the splendid life in his court. In ar-Raqqah the Barmekids managed the fate of the empire, and there both heirs, al-Amin and al-Ma'mun grew up. Harun al-Rashid was bitterly opposed to the Sayyids and the Shi'ites and carried the annihilation of them during his reign. Harun was the second Abbasid Caliph to destroy the tomb on the holy grave of Imam Husain (P.B.U.H) in Karbala. The most serious and heinous crime of Harun was the martrydom of Seventh Shi'ite Imam Musa bin Jafar (P.B.U.H) after torturing the Holy Imam (P.B.U.H) in various prisons for a lengthy period of 14 years. He imposed heavy taxes on farmers, traders and artisans. Hārūn is widely considered the greatest of the Abbasid caliphs, presiding over the Arab Empire at its political and cultural peak. Consequently, Islamic literature has raised him to the level of an ideal figure, a great military and intellectual leader, even a paragon for future rulers to emulate. His best-known portrayal in the West, in the stories of the Thousand and One Nights, has little basis in historical fact, but does show the mythic stature he has attained over time.

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