Harun Al-Rashid

Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Abbasid Caliph who ruled from 786 to 809. He is known for his patronage of the arts and sciences, as well as his promotion of trade and commerce. Under his rule, the Abbasid Empire experienced a period of cultural and intellectual flourishing, known as the “Golden Age of Islam.” Harun al-Rashid is also famous for his fictional portrayal in “One Thousand and One Nights.”

Harun al Rashid Facts For Kids

  • Harun al-Rashid was a famous Muslim caliph.
  • He ruled from 786 to 809 AD.
  • His reign is known as the ‘Golden Age of Islam’.
  • He was a patron of arts, science, and learning.
  • His court in Baghdad was famous worldwide.
  • He appears in many “Arabian Nights” tales.
  • He sent gifts to Charlemagne, a Western ruler.
  • He built hospitals and schools.
  • He encouraged translations of Greek works.
  • His rule saw advances in medicine and astronomy.

Fifth Caliph

Harun al-Rashid holds a significant place in Islamic history as the fifth Abbasid Caliph. Assuming power in 786 AD, his reign lasted until 809 AD, during which he presided over an era widely celebrated as the Islamic Golden Age. Harun’s rule was marked by unprecedented intellectual growth, cultural exchange, and extensive diplomatic relations with other kingdoms. His tenure as the fifth Caliph represents a high point of the Abbasid dynasty, casting a lasting influence on subsequent Islamic rule and global civilization.


Harun al-Rashid, the 5th Abbasid Caliph, was the father of Al-Ma’mun, who would later become one of the most prominent caliphs in Islamic history. During his reign (786-809 AD), Harun al-Rashid nurtured an environment of knowledge and enlightenment, which influenced his son. When Al-Ma’mun came to power, he continued this legacy, further establishing Baghdad as a center for intellectual pursuits. The father-son duo’s reigns are considered significant periods in the Islamic Golden Age, with substantial contributions to arts, science, and culture.


Harun al-Rashid was the father of Al-Amin, his chosen successor. Upon his death in 809 AD, Harun’s carefully crafted plan of succession took effect, placing the realm in Al-Amin’s hands. However, the succession was fraught with controversy and led to a civil war, known as the Fourth Fitna. Harun al-Rashid’s intentions of maintaining a balanced power structure inadvertently ignited strife between his sons, marking a tumultuous phase in the Abbasid dynasty’s history.


Harun al-Rashid was the son of Al-Mahdi, the third Abbasid caliph. Al-Mahdi’s reign laid the foundations of a flourishing civilization, paving the way for Harun’s own period of prosperous rule from 786 to 809 AD. Under Al-Mahdi’s guidance, Harun acquired the skills and perspective needed to nurture the Islamic civilization, fostering advancements in arts, science, and culture. Their sequential reigns significantly contributed to the intellectual and cultural glory of the Abbasid dynasty.


Harun al-Rashid had a notable connection with Al-Rashid, his grandson. Under Harun’s auspices, the Islamic civilization experienced a Golden Age, marked by remarkable advancements in various fields. This legacy significantly shaped the governance of Al-Rashid, who attempted to emulate his grandfather’s enlightened rule. Although Harun’s reign was a tough act to follow, Al-Rashid’s rule demonstrated the enduring influence of his grandfather’s policies and the long-lasting impact of the Golden Age of Islam.

Al-faḍl ibn al-rabīʿ

Harun al-Rashid had a close working relationship with Al-Fadl ibn al-Rabi’, his chief vizier. Al-Fadl played a crucial role in administrating the caliphate under Harun’s rule, ensuring the smooth functioning of the state. This partnership was instrumental in Harun’s successful reign from 786 to 809 AD. Al-Fadl’s diplomatic skills and administrative expertise, combined with Harun’s leadership, marked a period of prosperity, intellectual growth, and cultural expansion, contributing significantly to the Islamic Golden Age.

Al-mahdī ibn al-manṣūr

Harun al-Rashid was the third son of Al-Mahdi ibn Al-Mansur, the third Abbasid Caliph. Al-Mahdi’s reign was characterized by relative peace and prosperity, providing a stable platform for Harun’s future rule. Following his father’s footsteps, Harun al-Rashid rose to the caliphate in 786 AD, marking the beginning of what would become known as the Islamic Golden Age. The cultural, intellectual, and diplomatic advancements made during Al-Mahdi’s reign served as a foundation for Harun’s reign, reinforcing the significance of their father-son succession in the Abbasid dynasty.

Ibn al-rabīʿ

Harun al-Rashid had an influential relationship with his chief vizier, Ibn al-Rabi’. This association played a pivotal role in shaping the governance of the Abbasid Caliphate during Harun’s rule from 786 to 809 AD. Ibn al-Rabi’s skills in administration and diplomacy, coupled with Harun’s visionary leadership, marked a period of prosperity and cultural efflorescence in the Islamic world. Their collaborative efforts resulted in the epoch now celebrated as the Golden Age of Islam, underscoring the significance of their alliance.

Ibn al-aghlab

Harun al-Rashid played a significant role in Ibn al-Aghlab’s rise to power. Ibn al-Aghlab was appointed as the governor of Ifriqiya (modern-day Tunisia) during Harun’s reign. This appointment marked the start of the Aghlabid dynasty, which ruled the region autonomously while acknowledging the Abbasid supremacy. Harun’s decision to grant semi-autonomous rule to Ibn al-Aghlab was strategic, helping maintain stability and extend Abbasid influence. This marked a unique approach to governance during Harun’s era.

Arabic Legend

His reign from 786 to 809 AD, also known as the Islamic Golden Age, features prominently in many tales and anecdotes. The most famous of these are the stories in “One Thousand and One Nights” (Arabian Nights), where Harun is depicted as a wise and just ruler wandering his city incognito. These tales, which blend history and folklore, have immortalized Harun al-Rashid, reinforcing his legendary status in Arabic and world literature.

Strong Personality

Harun al-Rashid was renowned for his strong personality. His rule from 786 to 809 AD was characterized by dynamic leadership, wisdom, and an indomitable spirit. He displayed exceptional skills in diplomacy, forging ties with distant kingdoms such as the Chinese Tang dynasty and the Frankish Empire. His strong persona was also evident in his patronage of the arts and sciences, turning Baghdad into a global intellectual hub. His charismatic personality and foresight have cemented Harun al-Rashid’s legacy in world history.

Modern Day Iran

Harun al-Rashid had a significant historical impact on modern-day Iran. Although the Abbasid Caliphate was primarily based in Baghdad, its influence extended into Iran. Harun’s reign (786-809 AD), marked as the Islamic Golden Age, saw flourishing Persian literature, arts, and sciences. This period significantly influenced the cultural and intellectual fabric of Iran. Today, Harun al-Rashid’s legacy lives on in Iranian literature and historical narratives, underlining the enduring influence of his rule on the country’s cultural identity.

Harun Studied History

Harun al-Rashid was known for his deep interest in history. This fascination played a significant role in his leadership style and governance. His understanding of historical events and lessons from the past informed his decisions and diplomatic relations, contributing to the prosperity of his reign from 786 to 809 AD. Furthermore, his passion for history contributed to the nurturing of intellectual pursuits during the Islamic Golden Age, leading to significant advancements in historiography and other scholarly disciplines.

The History

Harun al-Rashid was the fifth ruler (caliph) of the Abbasid dynasty. His reign is considered to be the golden age of Islam. Harun’s rule was a time of cultural, scientific, and religious progress. He was very fond of arts and music and patronized artists, calligraphers, architects, and musicians. He also established a huge library called ‘House of Wisdom’ in Baghdad, Iraq.

He developed his capital, Baghdad into a modern city that was the center of cultural, scientific, and trade activities. Later in 796 AD, he moved his capital to Ar-Raqqah in Syria. The famous Arabic work of literature called ‘Book of One Thousand and One Nights’ carried fictional accounts of his splendid court and personal life.

Harun Al-Rashid


Early Life

Al-Rashid was born in 763 in Rey, Tehran Province in modern-day Iran. He was the son of Al-Mahdi, the third Abbasid Caliph. His mother was a Yemeni slave girl who had qualities of both head and heart. She played an important role in the upbringing of his son. She greatly influenced Harun’s decision-making as Caliph till her death in 789 AD.

Harun was brought up with his elder brother Al-Hadi in the court and was tutored by Yahya Barmakid. Barmakid later became his chief minister and advisor. As a young man in his late teens, Harun led military campaigns against Byzantine forces. In a campaign in 782, he reached the outskirts of Constantinople and successfully brokered a treaty with Byzantine rulers on terms that were favorable for Muslims.

In recognition of his achievement, his father gave him the title of Al-Rashid (The one who is on the right path). Harun was also appointed as governor of Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan and was promoted as second in line for succession to the throne. In 785, Harun’s father died and his elder brother Hadi became Abbasid Caliph. However, in 786 Hadi died under suspicious circumstances and Harun succeeded Hadi on September 14, 786.

Harun’s Reign

Harun’s kingdom was enormous. It stretched from the Mediterranean in the west to India in the east. He appointed his tutor and advisor, Yahya Barmakid as his chief minister. During the early years of his rule, Yahya and Harun’s mother exercised significant influence on his decision-making. In 789, Harun’s mother died and then Yahya was calling the shots till he fell from favor with Harun in 803. Throughout his rule, Harun had to face several rebellions and internal strife.

Revolts took place in Egypt, Syria, and other eastern provinces but Harun successfully quelled them. In 803, Harun dismissed Jafar Barmakid, his chief minister and son of Harun’s former mentor and chief minister Yahya. He imprisoned and later executed Jafar and sent his family into exile. Historians believe that Harun was not happy with the Barmakid family’s hold and influence on the administration and their growing power base. In 796, Harun moved his capital to Ar-Raqqah in Syria and spent 12 years of his rule there.

Towards the later part of his reign, the caliphate started to get weak and the number of revolts increased. He had divided his kingdom among his two sons, Al-Amin and Al-Mamun, giving Al-Amin the western provinces and Al-Mamun, the eastern provinces.

Later Life and Death

In 808, Harun decided to lead a campaign to quell a revolt in Khorasan, Iran. During this journey, he fell ill near the city of Meshed and had to stay there for several months. It was there that he died on 24 March, 809 at the age of only 46.

He was succeeded by his elder son Al-Amin. Harun’s reign is known for its magnificence and wealth and the incredible progress made in the fields of arts, science, and culture.