Al-Khayzuran

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Al-Khayzuran bint Atta (Arabic: الخيزران بنت عطاء‎) (died 789) was the wife of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mahdi and mother of both Caliphs Al-Hadi and Harun al-Rashid, the most famous of the Abbasids. She was from Jorash, near modern Bisha, Saudi Arabia.

She was kidnapped from her home by a Bedouin who then sold her in a slave market near Mecca to Al-Mahdi during his pilgrimage. Later the caliph fell in love with her and married her. Al-Khayzuran was a woman of strong personality, and persuaded her husband to appoint her sons as the next caliphs over his sons by his other wives. At the court, she was an ally of the Barmakids. She greatly influenced both her sons and the affairs of the empire to the extent that her son Al-Hadi tried to kill her by poisoning her. She was suspected of involvement in his death.

Al-Khayzuran and her strong personality is believed by many literary historians to be a key influence on Scheherazade,[citation needed] the main character in One Thousand and One Nights. Many of the stories were influenced by Harun al-Rashid and his fabulous court.

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