Harun al-Rashid

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Hārūn al-Rashīd (Arabic: هارون الرشيد‎; properly spelled Hārūn ar-Rashīd; English: Haroun the Upright, Haroun the Just, or Haroun the Rightly Guided) (17 March 763 or February 766 – 24 March 809) was the fifth and most famous Abbasid Caliph in Iraq. He was born in Rayy in Iran, close to modern Tehran. His birthday remains a point of discussion though, as various sources give the dates from 763 to 766).

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").[citation needed]

Since Harun was intellectually, politically and militarily resourceful, his life and the court over which he held sway have been the subject of many tales: some are factual but most are believed to be fictitious. An example of what is known to be factual is the story of the clock that was among various presents that Harun had delightfully sent to Charlemagne. The presents were carried by the returning Frankish mission that came to offer Harun friendship in 799. Charlemagne and his retinue deemed the clock to be a conjuration for the sounds it emanated and the tricks it displayed every time an hour ticked. Among what is known to be fictional is the famous The Book of One Thousand and One Nights containing many stories that are fantasized by Harun's magnificent court, and even Harun al-Rashid himself. The family of Barmakids which played a deciding role in establishing the Abbasid Caliphate declined gradually during his rule.

Contents

Life

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