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Title: Al-Hadi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Al-Mahdi, Harun al-Rashid, Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, September 14, List of Caliphs
Collection: 764 Births, 786 Deaths, 8Th-Century Caliphs, Abbasid Caliphs
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


أبو محمد موسى بن المهدي الهادي
4th Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate
Reign 785–786
Predecessor Al-Mahdi
Successor Harun al-Rashid
Born 764
Died 14 September 786
consort Lubabah bint Ja'far
Ubaidah bint Ghitrif
Full name
Abu Muhammad Musa ibn Mahdi al-Hadi
Dynasty Abbasid
Father Al-Mahdi
Mother Al-Khayzuran
Religion Islam

Abu Muhammad Musa ibn Mahdi al-Hadi (Arabic: أبو محمد موسى بن المهدي الهادي‎) (born: 147 AH [764 AD]; died: 170 AH [786 AD])[1] was the fourth Abbasid caliph who succeeded his father Al-Mahdi and ruled from 169 AH (785 AD) until his death in 170 AH (786 AD).[2]

Al-Hadi was the eldest son of Al-Mahdi and Al-Khayzuran and like his father he was very open to the people of his empire and allowed citizens to visit him in the palace at Baghdad to address him. As such, he was considered an "enlightened ruler", and continued the progressive moves of his Abbasid predecessors.

His short rule was wreaked with numerous military conflicts. The revolt of Husayn ibn Ali ibn Hasan broke out when Husayn declared himself caliph in Medina. Al-Hadi crushed the rebellion and killed Husayn and many of his followers, but Idris bin Abdallah, a cousin of Husayn, escaped and aided by Wadih, Egyptian postal manager, reached Morocco where he founded the Idrisi state . Al-Hadi also crushed a Kharijite rebellion as well as faced a Byzantine invasion. However, the Byzantines were turned back, and the Abbasid armies actually seized some territory from them.

Al-Hadi died in 786. al-Tabari notes varying accounts of this death, e.g. an abdominal ulcer or assassination prompted by al-Hadi's own step-mother. Al-Tabari (v. 30 p. 42f) notes al-Hadi's assertion of independence from his mother, his forbidding her further involvement in public affairs and his threatening Harun's succession. al-Tabari says others refer to al-Hadi's overtures to Harun. One account al-Tabari cites has al-Hadi attempting to poison his mother:

"Yahya b. al-Hasan related that his father transmitted the information to him, saying: I heard Kalisah telling al-'Abbas b. al-Fadl b. al-Rabi that Musa sent to his mother al-Khayzuran a dish of rice, saying, "I found this tasty and accordingly ate some of it, so you have some too!" Khalisah related: But I said to her, "Don't touch it until you investigate further, for I am afraid that it might contain something to your detriment." So they brought in a dog; it ate some and fell down dead. Musa sent to al-Khayzuran afterwards and said, "How did you like the dish of rice?" She replied, "I enjoyed it very much." He said, "You can't have eaten it, because if you had, I would have been rid of you. When was any Caliph happy who had a mother (still alive)?" (v. 30 pp. 43–44)

The note on p. 42 of volume 30 of the SUNY translation of al-Tabari cites pp. 288–289 of the Kitab al-'Uyun for the possibility that al-Khayzuran feared al-Hadi would recover from his illness and thus had slave girls suffocate him. This note continues, "Certainly, his death appears as too opportune for so many people concerned that it should have been a natural one." The famous Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun discredited this claim.

Al-Hadi moved his capital from Baghdad to Haditha shortly before his death.[3]


Al-Hadi was succeeded by his younger brother, Harun al-Rashid.


  1. ^ Al-Souyouti, Tarikh Al-Kholafa'a (The History of Caliphs)
  2. ^ Stanley Lane-Poole, The Coins of the Eastern Khaleefahs in the British Museum
  3. ^  


  • Al-Tabari, volume XXX "The Abbasid Caliphate in Equilibrium," transl. C.E. Bosworth, SUNY, Albany, 1989
  • Al-Masudi, The Meadows of Gold, The Abbasids, transl. Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone, Kegan Paul, London and New York, 1989
Born: ? Died: 786
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Caliph of Islam
Succeeded by
Harun al-Rashid
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