أبو محمد موسى بن المهدي الهادي
Amir al-Mu'minin
Dirhem of Al-Hadi, AH 170.jpg
Dirham of al-Hadi minted in 786/787 in al-Haruniya
4th Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate
Reign 24 July 785 – 14 September 786
Predecessor Al-Mahdi
Successor Harun al-Rashid
Born 26 April 764
Rayy (in present-day Tehran Province)
Died 14 September 786 (aged 22)
  • Lubabah bint Ja'far
  • Ubaidah bint Ghitrif
  • Amat-al-Aziz Ghadir
  • Rahim Umm Ja'far
  • Ja'far
  • Al-Abbas
  • Abdullah
  • Ishaq
  • Isma'il
  • Sulayman
  • Musa
  • Umm Isa
  • Umm al-Abbas
Abu Muhammad Musa ibn al-Mahdi al-Hadi
Dynasty Abbasid
Father Al-Mahdi
Mother Al-Khayzuran
Religion Sunni Islam

Abu Muhammad Musa ibn al-Mahdi al-Hadi (Arabic: أبو محمد موسى بن المهدي الهادي‎; 26 April 764 CE  – 14 September 786 CE)[1] better known by his laqab Al-Hadi (الهادي‎) was the fourth Arab Abbasid caliph who succeeded his father Al-Mahdi and ruled from 169 AH (785 CE) until his death in 170 AH (786 CE). His short reign ended with internal chaos and power struggles with his mother.[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.

In 785, Al-Mahdi died during an expedition with his son Harun, who rushed back to Baghdad to inform her. Her two sons were also absent from the city, and to secure the succession for her son, she called upon the viziers and ordered them to pay the wages of the army to secure order, and then had them swear allegiance to her son as their new Caliph in his absence.

Al-Khayzuran reportedly wished to continue to engage in politics during the reign of her son: "Khayzuran wanted to dominate her son. She continued to give audiences in her chambers and discuss state affairs during the reign of her son Al-Hadi:

"She continued to monopolize decision-making without consulting him (al-Hadi), Al-Khayzuran became the most powerful figure in the empire during his son Hadi. She behaved as she had before, during the reign of al-Mahdi ... . People came and went through her door."

Al-Hadi, however, opposed her participation in state affairs , and he was not inclined to allow displays of authority by her and attempted to exclude her from them, reportedly saying: "it is not in the power of women to intervene .. . in matters of sovereignty. Look to your prayers and your prayer beads." He disapproved of the fact that his mother gave audiences to officials and generals and conferred with them and thus mixed with men, which he considered improper, and he publicly addressed the issue of his mothers public life by assembling his generals and asked them:

'Who is the better among us, you or me?' asked Caliph al-Hadi of his audience.
'Obviously you are the better, Commander of the Faithful,' the assembly replied.
'And whose mother is the better, mine or yours?' continued the caliph.
'Your mother is the better, Commander of the Faithful.'
'Who among you', continued al-Hadi, 'would like to have men spreading news about your mother?'
'No one likes to have his mother talked about,' responded those present.
'Then why do men go to my mother to speak to her?'

Until this time period, Muslim women had not yet been fully secluded from society in a harem, but harem system was to become fully institutionalized in the Islamic world under the Abbasid caliphate,[3] when the Abbasid harem was established.[4]


His short reign was fraught 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, the Egyptian postal manager, reached Morocco where he later founded the Idrisi state in 788.[citation needed] Al-Hadi also crushed a Kharijite rebellion and repelled a Byzantine invasion. The Abbasid armies actually seized some territory from the latter.[citation needed]

Al-Hadi died in 786.[citation needed] al-Tabari notes varying accounts of this death, e.g. an abdominal ulcer or assassination prompted by al-Hadi's own mother.[citation needed] 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[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Al-Hadi moved his capital from Baghdad to Haditha shortly before his death.[5]


Al-Hadi had two wives. One was Lubabah, the daughter of Ja'far, son of Caliph Al-Mansur. The second was Ubaidah, daughter of Ghitrif and, niece of Al-Khayzuran.[6] One of his concubines was Amat al-Aziz, who had belonged to Rabi ibn Yunus, the powerful and ambitious chamberlain of caliphs Al-Mansur and Al-Mahdi. She was first presented to Al-Mahdi, who, inturn presented her to Al-Hadi. She was his favourite concubine, and bore him his two oldest sons.[7] After Al-Hadi's death Harun Al-Rashid married her.[8] Another concubine was Rahim, who was the mother of his son, Ja'far.[7] His other sons were Al-Abbas, Abdullah, Ishaq, Isma'il, Sulayman and Musa. Of the two daughters, one was Umm Isa, who married Caliph Al-Mamun, and the other was Umm al-Abbas, who was nicknamed Nunah.[9] All of them were born of concubines.[7] His two sons, Isma'il and Ja'far married Harun-Rashid's daughters, Hamdunah and Fatimah respectively.[10]


Al-Hadi was succeeded by his younger brother, Harun al-Rashid. Upon his accession, Harun led Friday prayers in Baghdad's Great Mosque and then sat publicly as officials and the layman alike lined up to swear allegiance and declare their happiness at his ascent to Amir al-Mu'minin.[citation needed] He began his reign by appointing very able ministers, who carried on the work of the government so well that they greatly improved the condition of the people.[11]

See also


  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. ^ Eleanor Abdella Doumato (2009). "Seclusion". In John L. Esposito (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ El-Azhari, Taef. Queens, Eunuchs and Concubines in Islamic History, 661–1257. Edinburgh University Press, 2019. JSTOR, Accessed 27 Mar. 2021.
  5. ^ Lewis, Bernard (1986). "Ḥadīt̲a". In Hertzfeld, E (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Islam. 3 (Second ed.). BRILL. p. 29. ISBN 9789004081185. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  6. ^ Abbott 1946, pp. 67–68.
  7. ^ a b c Abbott 1946, p. 66.
  8. ^ Abbott 1946, p. 137.
  9. ^ al-Tabari, Muhammad Ibn Yarir (1989). The History of al-Tabari Vol. 30: The 'Abbasid Caliphate in Equilibrium: The Caliphates of Musa al-Hadi and Harun al-Rashid A.D. 785-809/A.H. 169-193. Bibliotheca Persica. State University of New York Press. pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-0-88706-564-4.
  10. ^ Abbott 1946, pp. 157.
  11. ^ New Arabian nights' entertainments, Volume 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
  • Abbott, Nabia (1946). Two Queens of Baghdad: Mother and Wife of Hārūn Al Rashīd. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-86356-031-6.
Cadet branch of the Banu Hashim
Born: 26 April 764 Died: 786
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Caliph of Islam
Abbasid Caliph

Succeeded by
Harun al-Rashid