Abu Muhammad Musa ibn Mahdi al-Hadi (Arabic: أبو محمد موسى بن المهدي الهادي‎; 26 April 764 CE  – 14 September 786 CE)[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). His short reign ended with internal chaos and power struggles with his mother.[2]

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
Reign24 July 785 – 14 September 786
SuccessorHarun al-Rashid
Born26 April 764
Rayy (in present-day Tehran Province)
Died14 September 786 (aged 22)
Full name
Abu Muhammad Musa ibn Mahdi al-Hadi
ReligionSunni Islam


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 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 founded the Idrisi state.[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.[3]

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

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ Lewis, Bernard (1986). "Ḥadīt̲a". In Hertzfeld, E (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Islam. 3 (Second ed.). BRILL. p. 29. ISBN 9789004081185. Retrieved 12 October 2012.


  • 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
Cadet branch of the Banu Quraish
Born: 26 April 764 Died: 786
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Caliph of Islam
Abbasid Caliph

Succeeded by
Harun al-Rashid