Musa ibn Isa ibn Musa al-Hashimi

Musa ibn Isa ibn Musa al-Hashimi (Arabic: موسى بن عيسى بن موسى بن محمد بن علي بن عبد الله بن العباس‎) was an 8th century AD Abbasid prince. The son of Isa ibn Musa, he was posted to various governorships throughout his career, including Kufa, Egypt, Damascus, Mecca, Medina, and Arminiya, and was a leading commander at the Battle of Fakhkh.

Musa ibn Isa ibn Musa al-Hashimi
موسى بن عيسى بن موسى الهاشمي
Governor of Kufa
MonarchHarun al-Rashid
Governor of Mecca and Medina
In office
MonarchHarun al-Rashid
Preceded byMuhammad ibn Abdallah al-Raba'i
Succeeded byIbrahim ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim
Amir al-Hajj
In office
MonarchHarun al-Rashid
Amir al-Hajj
In office
MonarchHarun al-Rashid
Governor of Egypt
In office
787 – 789
(first term)
MonarchHārun al-Rashīd
Preceded byAli ibn Sulayman
Succeeded byMaslama ibn Yahya
Governor of Egypt
In office
791 – 792
(second term)
MonarchHarun al-Rashid
Preceded byDawud ibn Yazid
Succeeded byIbrahim ibn Salih
Governor of Egypt
In office
795 – 796
(third term)
MonarchHarun al-Rashid
Preceded byUbaydallah ibn al-Mahdi
Succeeded byUbaydallah ibn al-Mahdi
Governor of al-Sham (Syria)
In office
MonarchHarun al-Rashid
Preceded byIbrahim ibn Salih
Succeeded byMusa ibn Yahya
Governor of Arminiya
In office
MonarchHārun al-Rashīd
Preceded byAl-Abbas ibn Jarir ibn Yazid al-Bajali[1]
Succeeded byYahya ibn Sa'id al-Harashi
Personal details
Born746 or 747
Umayyad Caliphate
Diedc. 799, 803 or 805 (age 55)
Spouse(s)Ulayya bint al-Mahdi
RelationsAbbasid dynasty
FatherIsa ibn Musa ibn Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Abdallah ibn al-Abbās
RelativesAli (brother)
Isma'il (brother)
Dawud (brother)
Military career
Battles/warsBattle of Fakhkh


Background and succession disputeEdit

Musa was born (according to one account, in c. 746)[2] to Isa ibn Musa, a member of the Banu al-Abbas who served as a long-running governor of Kufa during the first years of the Abbasid Caliphate.[3] An extended relation of the Abbasid dynasty, Musa was a great-nephew of its first two caliphs al-Saffah (r. 750–754) and al-Mansur (r. 754–775);[4] he was also connected to the ruling line by his marriage to Ulayya, daughter of the third caliph al-Mahdi.[5]

Under the succession arrangements made by al-Saffah in 754, Musa's father Isa was originally the designated second heir-apparent to the caliphate after al-Saffah's brother al-Mansur; in 764/5, however, Isa was pressured by al-Mansur into yielding his rights and recognizing the caliph's son al-Mahdi's claims to the throne ahead of his own. According to some versions of this event, Musa feared that al-Mansur would have his father killed if he refused to step aside; he therefore worked together with the caliph and helped to convince Isa to withdraw from the succession.[6]

Under al-Mahdi and al-HadiEdit

During the reign of al-Mahdi (r. 775–785) Isa ibn Musa was permanently stripped of his succession rights to the caliphate,[7] but aside from this Musa and his family appear to have remained in good standing. In 780 he escorted the future caliph Harun al-Rashid on an expedition against the Byzantine Empire,[8] and following the death of Isa in 783 he was given the governorship of his father's old power base of Kufa.[9]

In 786 Musa was one of the Abbasid commanders who successfully put down a pro-Alid rebellion in Mecca at the Battle of Fakhkh, with he and al-Abbas ibn Muhammad ibn Ali leading the left wing of the army during the fighting. Despite having played a prominent role in the victory, he afterwards received criticism for his decision to execute al-Hasan ibn Muhammad, a son of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya who had participated in the revolt. As punishment for failing to keep al-Hasan alive for judgement, the caliph al-Hadi (r. 785–786) ordered that Musa's goods and properties be confiscated, and they remained under sequestration until al-Hadi's death later that year.[10]

Under Harun al-RashidEdit

Musa was particularly active following the accession of his second cousin Harun al-Rashid (r. 786–809), who appointed him to a slew of positions in the early part of his reign. During this period he was again placed in charge of Kufa on three or four separate occasions,[11] and was also appointed governor of Mecca and Medina[12] (and, according to some sources, the Yemen).[13] In 797 and 799 he served as the leader of the pilgrimage in Mecca.[14]

Under Harun Musa had three stints as governor of Egypt, in 787–789, 791–792, and 795–796. During his first governorship he reversed the anti-Christian edicts of his predecessor Ali ibn Sulayman al-Hashimi and allowed the Copts to rebuild the churches that Ali had ordered destroyed. His time in Egypt was otherwise relatively uneventful, although his second governorship was brought to an end after Harun received complaints about his conduct in the province.[15]

In 793 Musa was appointed as governor of Damascus. Upon his arrival in Syria he undertook a monthlong expedition in the Hauran in an unsuccessful effort to hunt down the Qaysi Abu al-Haydham, who had raised the standard of rebellion a few months prior. After subsequent further attempts to kill or capture Abu Haydham likewise ended in failure, Musa was recalled by the caliph and he departed from the region, leaving Abd al-Salam ibn Humayd to manage affairs in his stead.[16]

In 794 Musa was made governor of Arminiya, which had recently been pacified following an extensive campaign undertaken by the central government to defeat several ongoing rebel movements. He remained in the province for a year before a fresh outbreak of unrest caused the region to once again fall into turmoil; as a result he was dismissed and replaced with Yahya al-Harashi.[17]


Various dates are given for Musa's death, including 799 (at the age of 55), 803, and 805.[18]


  1. ^ Nicol 1979, p. 105.
  2. ^ Ibn 'Asakir 1998, p. 193 and Ibn Taghribirdi 1930, p. 98 provide a claim that he died in 182/3 AH at the age of 55, placing his birth at 128 AH.
  3. ^ Sourdel 1978, p. 88.
  4. ^ Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 30: p. xxv.
  5. ^ Ibn Hazm 1982, p. 22; Al-Isbahani 1938, p. 185.
  6. ^ Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 29: pp. 21 ff.; Sourdel 1978, p. 88.
  7. ^ Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 29: pp. 177 ff.; Sourdel 1978, p. 88.
  8. ^ Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 29: p. 211.
  9. ^ Gordon et al. 2018, p. 1141; Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, p. 441. He retained the governorship during al-Hadi's reign; Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 30: pp. 39-40; Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, p. 446.
  10. ^ Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 30: pp. 25 ff.; Al-Mas'udi 1861–1877, v. 6: pp. 266-67 (substituting al-Hasan for al-Husayn ibn Ali); Gordon et al. 2018, p. 1150; Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, p. 445.
  11. ^ Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 30: pp. 100, 304-05; Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, p. 462. His son al-Abbas additionally served several terms as governor during this same period.
  12. ^ Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 30: p. 304; Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, p. 461; Wüstenfeld 1861, p. 179.
  13. ^ Ibn 'Asakir 1998, p. 190, 191. Ibn Taghribirdi 1930, p. 66 claims that Musa was governor of the Holy Cities and the Yemen under al-Mansur and al-Mahdi.
  14. ^ Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 30: pp. 164, 169; Al-Mas'udi 1861–1877, v. 9: p. 67 (calling him Musa ibn Isa ibn Muhammad ibn Ali, and additionally assigning him the pilgrimage of 179 AH); Gordon et al. 2018, p. 1183 (who adds that Musa was also originally selected to lead the pilgrimage of 170 AH, but was intercepted en route by the caliph); Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, pp. 451, 456.
  15. ^ Al-Kindi 1912, pp. 132, 134, 137; Ibn Taghribirdi 1930, pp. 66, 78 ff., 100; Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 30: pp. 134-35; Khalifah ibn Khayyat 1985, p. 463 (referring to only one governorship). According to Yarshater and Ibn Taghribirdi, Musa's second governorship was terminated after he displayed an intent to throw off his allegiance to the caliph. Clifford Edmund Bosworth (Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 30: pp. 134-35), following al-Jahshiyari, considers it more likely that Musa was dismissed for acting in an oppressive manner towards the Egyptians.
  16. ^ Cobb 2001, pp. 86–87, 138; Ibn 'Asakir 1998, p. 190; Yarshater 1985–2007, v. 30: p. 132.
  17. ^ Gordon et al. 2018, p. 1179; Nicol 1979, p. 105.
  18. ^ Ibn 'Asakir 1998, p. 193; Ibn Taghribirdi 1930, p. 98.


Preceded by
Ubaydallah ibn al-Mahdi
Governor of Egypt
Succeeded by
Ubaydallah ibn al-Mahdi
Preceded by
Dawud ibn Yazid ibn Hatim al-Muhallabi
Governor of Egypt
Succeeded by
Ibrahim ibn Salih
Preceded by
Ali ibn Sulayman ibn Ali al-Hashimi
Governor of Egypt
Succeeded by
Maslama ibn Yahya al-Bajali