Al-Khayzuran bint Atta

Country

Iraq

Known for

Abbasid Queen

Dates

Hijri Unknown-174 (AH); Common Era Unknown-790 (CE)

Al-Khayzuran bint Atta

Biography

Al-Khayzuran was kidnapped as girl from her home by Bedouins and was subsequently raised a slave in the Abbasid court and was put in the household of the future Caliph and her husband by Al-Mansur, the Caliph of the time. Known for her beauty and her wits, she bore her husband, Al-Mahdi, two sons and a daughter. The two sons would both become famous Caliphs: Al-Hadi and Harun Al-Rashid. As her husband aged, her power at court grew and she even awarded some of her relatives with positions. It was she who convinced the Caliph to appoint her sons—and not those of other wives—as his successors. However, her power began to cause friction during the reign of her elder son, Al-Hadi which resulted in both parties attempting to poison each other. After Harun al-Rashid became Caliph, following a war against his brother, al-Khayzuran was highly influential during his reign and perhaps it is due to her molding that Harun is remembered so fondly in the line of Caliphs. Al-Khayzuran died in the autumn and as her funeral procession wound through the streets of Baghdad, it is said that Harun al-Rashid, walked barefoot in the mud to honor his mother’s death. Some sources consider the exploits and personality of Al-Khayzuran as the inspiration for the character of Scheherazade of The Arabian Nights.

Sources

<a href="http://en.allexperts.com/e/a/al/al-khayzuran.htm">Al-Khayzuran at AllExperts</a> Waddy, Charis. “Women in Muslim History.” London and New York: Longman, 1980.