Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi

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Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi (Arabic: إبراهيم بن المهدي‎) (779–839) was an Abbasid prince, singer, composer and poet. He was the son of the third Abbasid caliph Al-Mahdi and thus the half-brother of the poet and musician ‘Ulayya bint al-Mahdī.[1] He was not a full brother of Al-Mahdi's sons Al-Hadi and Harun al-Rashid, since his mother was not Al-Khayzuran but rather an Afro Iranian princess named Shikla or Shakla. Historian Ibn Khallikan reported that Ibrahim was consequently "of dark complexion."[2]

During the Fourth Fitna, Ibrahim was proclaimed caliph on 20 July 817 by the people of Baghdad, who gave him the regnal name of al-Mubarak (Arabic: المبارك‎) and declared his reigning nephew al-Ma'mun deposed. Ibrahim received the allegiance of the Hashemites.[3] He had to resign in 819, and spent the rest of his life as a poet and a musician. He is remembered as "one of the most gifted musicians of his day, with a phenomenal vocal range",[1] and a promoter of the then innovative 'Persian style' of song, 'which was characterized inter alia by redundant improvisation'.[4]


  1. ^ a b Kilpatrick, H. (1998). Meisami, Julie Scott; Starkey, Paul (eds.). Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature. Vol. 1. Taylor & Francis. p. 387. ISBN 978-0-415-18571-4.
  2. ^ "Ibrahim Al-Mahdi". Great People of Color. Marcus Garvey web site. 2004. Archived from the original on 2007-11-20.
  3. ^ Bosworth, C.E., ed. (1987). The History of al-Ṭabarī, Volume XXXII: The Reunification of the ʿAbbāsid Caliphate: The Caliphate of al-Maʾmūn, A.D. 813–33/A.H. 198–213. SUNY Series in Near Eastern Studies. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-88706-058-8.
  4. ^ Agnes Imhof, 'Traditio vel Aemulatio? The Singing Contest of Sāmarrā’, Expression of a Medieval Culture of Competition', Der Islam, 90 (2013), 1-20 (p. 1), DOI 10.1515/islam-2013-0001, http://www.goedoc.uni-goettingen.de/goescholar/bitstream/handle/1/10792/Traditio%20vel%20Aemulatio.pdf?sequence=1.