Ibrahim al-Mawsili

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Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm al-Mawṣilī (742–804), was a Persian[1][2][3][4][5] Arabic-language singer who was settled in Kufa. In his early years his parents died and he was trained by an uncle. Singing, not study, attracted him, and at the age of twenty-three he fled to Mosul, where he joined a band of wild youths.

After a year he went to Rayy, where he met an ambassador of the caliph al-Mansur, who enabled him to come to Basra and take singing lessons. His fame as a singer spread, and the caliph al-Mahdi brought him to the court. There he remained a favorite under al-Hadi, while Harun al-Rashid kept him always with him until his death, when he ordered his son al-Ma'mun to say the prayer over his corpse.

Ibrahim, as might be expected, was no strict Muslim. Two or three times he was knouted and imprisoned for excess in wine-drinking, but was always taken into favor again. His powers of song were far beyond anything else known at the time. Two of his pupils, his son Ishaq al-Mawsili and the freedman slave Mukhariq, attained celebrity after him.

See the Preface to Ahlwardt's Abu Nowas (Greifswald, 1861), pp. 13–18, and the many stories of his life in the Kitab al-Aghani, V. 2-49.


  1. ^ "Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 23 Sep. 2011. [1]. "Among the finest artists of the period were Ibrāhīm al-Mawṣilī and his son Isḥāq. Members of a noble Persian family, they were chief court musicians and close companions of the caliphs Hārūn al-Rashīd and al-Maʾmūn."
  2. ^ Fatima Mernissi, "The Forgotten Queens of Islam ", University of Minnesota Press, 1997 pg 55: "Ibrahim al-Mawsili and his son were of Persian origin."[2]
  3. ^ E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936 pg 439:"IBRAHIM AL-MAW§ILI, IBRAHIM B. MA- HAN B. BAHMAN, also known as al-Nadlm al- Mawsili, one of the most celebrated musicians of Arab history, a man of Persian origin, was born at Kufa in 125 (742) and died at Baghdad in 188 (804). " [3]
  4. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ibrahīm al-Mauṣilī" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  5. ^ Lecker, Michael. 2005. People, tribes, and society in Arabia around the time of Muḥammad. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. p.75.