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In the golden city of Baghdad, under the starlit Arabian sky, there lived a woman of bewitching charm and unmatched intellect. Her name was Al-Khayzuran, and her tale begins with a twist of fate that changed the course of history.
Born in the enchanting town of Jorash, near modern Bisha in Saudi Arabia, Al-Khayzuran's destiny took an extraordinary turn when she was captured and sold as a slave in the bustling markets of Mecca. It was during the sacred pilgrimage that her path intertwined with that of the ambitious Abbasid Caliph, Al-Mahdi.
In a twist of destiny, Al-Khayzuran's beauty and intelligence caught the eye of the Caliph, and she soon found herself in the heart of his splendid harem. But she was no ordinary consort; her wit and wisdom enchanted the Caliph, making her his favorite among all the women.
As the moon waxed and waned, Al-Khayzuran's influence waxed ever stronger. She became the hidden power behind the throne, guiding the caliph in matters of state and strategy. Whenever Al-Mahdi held court, she would be present, hidden behind a shimmering curtain, her soft voice whispering wise counsel in the Caliph's ear.
But Al-Khayzuran's true prowess lay in her brilliant mind and indomitable spirit. She established her own court and bureaucracy, unheard of for a woman in those times. Petitions from officials and common folk alike would be brought before her, and her judgments were fair and just, earning her the love and respect of the people.
Her name echoed throughout the empire, for Al-Khayzuran was the first woman in Islamic history to have gold coins minted in her name. Her vast trade relations with distant lands brought her unimaginable wealth, making her one of the richest and most powerful women of her era.
When Caliph Al-Mahdi passed away during an expedition, Al-Khayzuran's cunning came to the fore. She kept his death a secret, skillfully paying the army's salaries to secure their loyalty for her son, Al-Hadi, as the new caliph. The empire remained none the wiser, and her son ascended the throne, owing his allegiance to the wise and powerful mother who had orchestrated it all.
Yet, as stars sometimes collide in the night sky, so did Al-Khayzuran's power clash with her son's ambition. Al-Hadi sought to restrict her from politics, urging her to retreat to the harem's seclusion. But this was no ordinary woman to be confined by conventions. She fought to maintain her influence, much like a desert storm refuses to be tamed.
Their conflict reached its peak when Al-Hadi lost his temper during an audience, publicly clashing with his indomitable mother. Whispers claimed that Al-Hadi's life ended in tragedy, but the truth lay hidden in the veils of the night.
With Al-Hadi's passing, a new chapter in Al-Khayzuran's tale began, as her second son, Harun al-Rashid, ascended the throne. A caliph wise and just, Harun embraced his mother's brilliance, ruling alongside her as equals. The court of Baghdad gleamed with their combined brilliance, and the people celebrated the reign of the formidable mother-son duo.
But even the brightest stars must eventually fade, and in 789, Al-Khayzuran's final chapter was written. As the city mourned the loss of its revered queen, they knew that her legacy would live on in the stories whispered by storytellers in the alleys and grand bazaars.
And so, the tale of Al-Khayzuran bint Atta echoes through the Arabian nights, a story of a woman who defied norms, wielded power, and left an indelible mark on history. Her name became a symbol of empowerment and influence, shining like a radiant jewel in the crown of the Abbasid Empire. Legends say that her spirit still dances among the stars, guiding the hearts of dreamers and adventurers who dare to seek their destiny under the Arabian sky.
The Birmingham Free Press was established in 1997 as an independent news and entertainment source. We publish a variety of books, magazines, and comics, along with our flagship, broadsheet newspaper.