Al‐Ma˒mūn, Abul’‐˓Abbās ˓Abdallāh ibn Hārūn, was born in 786 in Baghdad, and died in 833 near Tarsus, in a campaign against the Byzantines.
Al‐Ma˒mūn was not himself a scientist. He was the seventh caliph of the dynasty of the Abbassids, son and second successor of the famous caliph Hārūn al‐Rashīd (well known from the tales of the Arabian Nights). He ruled the Islamic empire from 813 to 833, at first from Marw (in the Eastern province of Khurāsān, where he was based before his accession), and from 819 from the capital of Baghdad (founded in 762 by the caliph al‐Manṣūr). In the intellectual history of the Islamic world and in the history of science, al‐Ma˒mūn played an important role as an instigator and patron of many important activities. He was a firm adherent of the Mu˓tazila, a rational school of Islamic theology which was strongly influenced by Greek philosophy; in 827 he declared Mu˓tazilism the official doctrine for the whole empire. His interest in philosophy and the sciences...
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