Romance of the Beautiful Slave and the Rebellious Ruler: Al-Khayzuran and Al-Mahdi

Romance of the Beautiful Slave and the Rebellious Ruler: Al-Khayzuran and Al-Mahdi

Arabian Nights conjure up images of romantic love stories of slave girls’ rags to riches journeys of the heart.  We celebrate Valentine’s Day with the real love story of such a slave girl. It was not only Al-Khayzuran’s physical beauty - slender and graceful as a reed - but also her intelligence, wit and sense of humor that conquered the heart and mind of Caliph Al-Mahdi in the mid-8th century.

The Harem Bath by Rudolph Ernst (1854-1931) (Public Domain)

The Harem Bath by Rudolph Ernst (1854-1931) (Public Domain)

Although the subject of strong women in history is always fascinating, it is a widely recognized but often forgotten fact that the greatness of a queen could not have occurred without the positive support of the male population, just as a king’s power could be maintained only because women also supported him. No power would survive for long against the apathy or opposition of half of the population. Therefore, although sons, brothers and grandsons were the only ones with an officially recognized right to inherit power, the ancient East also experienced many female leaders who were successful rulers of kingdoms. In fact, Islamic history is riddled with crises that threatened to destroy a number of dynasties had it not been for the intervention of women.


Become a member to read more OR login here