Mamun ibn Harun al-Rashid (786-833 AD), a caliph of the Abbasid dynasty, although known for his ruthless treatment of political adversaries, was very kind and considerate towards common people. Once an old woman of Baghdad entered his court and approached him. “I am a poor woman,” she complained to the caliph. “I once owned a plot of land, but it has been taken away from me by a tyrant. He would not listen to my cries, so I have come to you to ask for justice.” “Who is it who has maltreated you in this way?” the caliph asked. The old woman pointed to the person sitting next to the caliph. Mamun saw that it was his own son Abbas that she was pointing at. He ordered his Vizir, i.e. his chief advisor, to take Abbas and stand him up next to the old woman. This order was carried out. Now the caliph asked them both to state their cases.
The prince spoke falteringly and in an undertone. But the old woman spoke firmly and in a loud voice. The Vizir admonished her to talk softly and with respect as she was in the presence of the caliph. But the caliph intervened, and said that she should be free to express herself as she wished. It was the truth that had made the old woman speak loudly and falsehood which had made the prince dumb. She was found justified in her claim. The case was decided in her favour and the land returned to her.