This post is dedicated to one of two women who is known as one of the Two Queens of Baghdad.
Her name was Zubaydah bin Ja’far and was an Abbasid queen and wife to Harun ar-Rashid. We often hear about him and what an incredible man and Caliph he was but we don’t hear about his wife who was just as incredible. It is often thought that Zubaydah and Harun are one of the main inspirations behind 1001 Arabian Nights though some do say that his mother, Al-Khayzarun, is the inspiration behind Shahrzad.
She was known for her courage, beauty and wisdom and was a patron of the arts and even wrote poetry herself. She was also eloquent in her speech and charming. Not only was she passionate about the arts but she also gave substantial money towards it to try to bring more poets and literary figures and scientists to Baghdad. She also sponsored teachers to teach Islamic studied to students. She had memorised the Quran and was a student of hadith and Arabic literature.
She had a lot of influence during her rule and was able to make some incredible achievements. Her husband regularly spoke to her and asked her for advice regarding all matters regarding running the court and kingdom and he always believed her decisions were wise and correct.
While her husband was away with his army, she had the authority to run the kingdom. She also accompanied her husband on his military excursions and also went to perform Hajj with him. While they were at Hajj she noticed that pilgrims had difficulty accessing clean water so she had engineers build tunnels along the road to Makkah to provide clean water, this is still known as Zubaydah’s river. Because of this, more and more people started using the road as there was access to water and this road became known as Zubaydah’s road.
This wasn’t merely just tunnels though, she had shelters with deep wells and water pools built along with guest houses, masjids and more to provide safety and security for travellers and their caravans and animals. There was also minarets built along the road which lit fires at night to guide travellers. This was all built travelling in the direction of Makkah. These were so well built that they survived for centuries. This road became an area where people from different places could meet and trade and also exchange stories and histories which allowed the area to flourish and become more a built up. She spent billions building this so that people could benefit for centuries to come.