He was Hârun Ar-Rashîd the leader-of-the-believers, the son of another leader-of-the-believers whose name was Abu Abdillâh Muhammad Al-Mahdî also a son of the leader-of-the-believers Abu Ja’far Al-Mansûr Abdullah bn Muhammad bn Alî bn Abdullâh bn Abbâs bn Abdul-Muttalib Al-Qurashî Al-Hâshimî; Ar-Rashîd was known with the agnomen Abu Muhammad; some said he was Abu Ja’far.
He reported hadith from his father and grandfather; he also narrated from Al-Mubârak bn Fadâlah who told from Al-Hasan then from Anas bn Mâlik that the Messenger of Allâh – Sallallâhu Alayhi wa Sallam – said:
‘Be wary of the Fire even if it were with a slice of date.’
He used to give charity from his real wealth; every day, he would give about one thousand dirhams. And whenever he went on Hajj, he would sponsor about one hundred scholars and their children with him to Hajj, and if he did not go to Hajj, he would sponsor about three hundred persons to Hajj with full provisions and right clothes. He loved to imitate his grandfather, Abu Ja’far al-Mansûr, except in the matter of giving grants; he was very swift and generous in doing that; he used to love the scholars and the poets, he would provide them with a lot of wealth and would not allow any good deed and righteousness to become wasted with him.
What was engraved in his ring was: Lâ’ilâha illâ Allâh (‘No deity worthy of worship except Allâh’). He would observe about one hundred units of supererogatory prayer in a day; he used to do this until he left the world except if he was sick.
One of the people said: I entered upon Hârun Ar-Rashîd while a man whose neck had been cut off was before him, the executioner was cleaning his sword on the man’s nape. Then Ar-Rashîd said: ‘I killed him because he was saying the Qur’ân was created, so I killed him to seek nearness to Allâh the Mighty and Majestic.’
One of the people of knowledge said: ‘O leader-of-the-believers, see these people that love Abu Bakr and Umar while they put them first (among all the Companions), honour them with your authority.’ Then Ar-Rashîd said: ‘Am I not like that? By Allâh, so also do I love both and love those who love them while I punish whoever shows hatred towards them.’
Amr bn Bahr Al-Jâhidh said: Ar-Rashîd had the gift of seriousness and joke the kind of which was not bestowed on those after him; Abu Yûsuf was his judge, the Barmicides were his ministers, his chamberlain was Al-Fadl bn Ar-Rabî’ who was most informed and severest of men (to him) in terms of honour. His drinking companion was the uncle of his father, Al-Abbaas bn Muhammad, the ruler of Al-Abbâsiyyah. His poet was Mar’wân bn Abî Hafsah, his musician was Ibrâhîm Al-Mausulî who there was no equal to him in the time in the art of music. His beater was Zalzal while his piper was Bar’suma. His wife was Umm Ja’far – that is, Zubaydah; she was a lover of all goodness and was swift in engaging in pious and righteous deeds; she made water from entering the Sacred Precinct after water could not get there. There were other good things (about her).
Al-As’maî’ said: Ar-Rashîd summoned me one day; he had beautified his place while there was plenty of supply of food and drinks and other things of enjoyment. Then he invited Abu Al-Itâhiyyah and said to him: ‘Describe to us the kind of enjoyment and bliss we are upon.’ Then the man began to compose: ‘Live what appears to you in peace/under the shade of towering palaces. It is all that you desire of comfort/that comes your way in the evenings and mornings. But when the souls rattle in the hollowness of the hearts/that is when you will know certainly that you are in nothing but delusion.’
He said: Then Ar-Rashîd cried profusely and severely. Al-Fadl bn Yahyâ then said to him: ‘The leader-of-the-believers called you to make him happy, but you have caused him sadness.’ Then Ar-Rashîd said to him: ‘Leave him; he indeed saw us blind, but he detested that he should increase us in the blindness.’
It was said that his last statement at the point of death was: ‘O Allâh, benefit us with goodness and forgive us of our sins; O You that will not die, be merciful to he that will die.’
His sickness was blood-related; it was said his illness was tuberculosis. Jibrîl bn Bukhtayshû the physician was concealing his sickness (even from Ar-Rashîd himself) such that Ar-Rashîd commanded a man to take his water (that is, Ar-Rashîd’s urine) in a vial to Jibrîl to see (and diagnose), and that he should not be told whose urine it was if he should ask he should be told that it was the urine of a sick man among the people. But when Jibrîl saw the urine, he said to a man beside him: ‘This is like that man’s urine.’ The man carrying the vial could easily decipher what that meant; therefore, he said: ‘I beg you in the Name of Allâh, tell me the condition of this man who owns this urine because he has some money to pay me; if there is hope that he will remain in life otherwise I should quickly take my wealth from him.’ He said: ‘Go and take your money from him because he will only live for some days.’ When the man got back to Ar-Rashîd, he informed him what he had heard from Jibrîl.
Ar-Rashîd sent to Jibrîl, but he hid from him until the former died. It was in this state that Ar-Rashîd composed these lines of poetry: ‘I am in Tûs staying; there is no friend for me at Tûs/I hope my God, for what is wrong with me, will be merciful to me/His Decree has come definitely upon me at Tûs/There is nothing except my pleasure, patience and submission (to His Decree).’
He died at Tûs on Saturday three days into the month of Jumada-Aakhirah year 193 Hijrah. It was said that his death occurred in the month of Jumaadal-Uula; some said it was in the month of Rabiul-Awwal. When he died, he was forty-five some said forty-six, some said forty-seven while some said he was forty-eight. His caliphate lasted twenty-three years, a month and eighteen days. Some said it was three months (plus the years). It was his son, Sâlih, that led the funeral prayer on him; he was buried in one of the villages of Tûs; the name of the village was given as Sanâbâdh. May Allâh bestow mercy upon him, may He pardon him and make him enter the Jannah.