Harun al-Rashid


Harun al-Rashid

biographical name

(born March 763 or February 766, Rayy, Iran—died March 24, 809, Tus, Iran) Fifth caliph of the 'Abbasid dynasty. Neither a great ruler nor a prepossessing character, Harun ruled (786–809) at a time when Islamic society reached its zenith in terms of wealth, learning, and power. He is best remembered, however, as a central character in The Thousand and One Nights, where he is portrayed as the epitome of the learned and just ruler. In his early years he was strongly influenced by his mother and by his tutor Yahya of the Barmakid line of viziers. He succeeded his brother after the latter's untimely death and ruled over a realm that was torn increasingly by strife, as regional leaders sought autonomy. On his death, his sons al-Ma'mun and al-Amin fell into open civil war.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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