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This subject contains information from the "Lovecraft Circle" Myth Cycles, and while guided by HPL are not based on his work alone. Abdul Alhazred, or the Mad Arab, is a recurring character in the works of H.P. Lovecraft. He is frequently cited as the author of the fabled Necronomicon, an occult text containing knowledge from beyond the Earth.

Name

Abdul Alhazred is not an Arabic name. The more proper Arabic form might be Abd al-Hazred or simply Abdul Hazred, although these are still anomalous, as Hazred is not one of the 99 Names of God. In Arabic texts, his name has appeared as Abdullah al-Ḥaẓrad (عبدالله الحظرد).

The term "Mad Arab" in reference to Alhazred is always capitalised and used as a title, and the term can actually be used in lieu of Alhazred's name.

Biography

[A] mad poet of Sanaá, in Yemen, who is said to have flourished during the period of the Ommiade caliphs, circa 700 A.D. He visited the ruins of Babylon and the subterranean secrets of Memphis and spent ten years alone in the great southern desert of Arabia — the Roba el Khaliyeh or "Empty Space" of the ancients — and "Dahna" or "Crimson" desert of the modern Arabs, which is held to be inhabited by protective evil spirits and monsters of death. Of this desert many strange and unbelievable marvels are told by those who pretend to have penetrated it. In his last years Alhazred dwelt in Damascus.
~ HPL: "History of the Necronomicon"



In 730, while still living in Damascus, Alhazred supposedly authored in Arabic a book of ultimate evil, al Azif, which would later become known as the Necronomicon.

Those who have any dealings with the Necronomicon usually come to an unpleasant end, and Alhazred was no exception. According to the account:

Of his final death or disappearance (738 A.D.) many terrible and conflicting things are told. He is said by Ibn Khallikan (13th century biographer) to have been seized by an invisible monster in broad daylight and devoured horribly before a large number of fright-frozen witnesses. Of his madness many things are told. He claimed to have seen fabulous Irem, or City of Pillars, and to have found beneath the ruins of a certain nameless desert town the shocking annals and secrets of a race older than mankind. He was only an indifferent Moslem, worshipping unknown entities whom he called Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu.
~ HPL: "History of the Necronomicon"



According to another accout, he dead in 731 A.D. August Derleth later made alterations to the biography of Alhazred. Dr. Laban Shrewsbury and his assistant Naylan Colum discovered Alhazred's burial site. More specifically, they were heading a caravan from Salalah, Oman, and crossed the border into Yemen. (AWD: "The Keeper of the Key")

There, Shrewsbury and Colum found the unexplored desert area the Necronomicon names as "Roba el Ehaliyeh," or "Roba el Khaliyeh" -- perhaps a form of "Rabia al-Awliya" (which, again, is not proper Arabic, but could be an allusion to the Sufi Saint Rabia). It may be a reference to the "Rubʿ al Khali", or "The Empty Quarter", the vast southern portion of the Arabian Desert. At the center of the area they discovered the Nameless City, a domain of Hastur. (AWD: "The Keeper of the Key")

Shrewsbury, as an old agent of Hastur and devoted enemy of his half-brother Cthulhu, crossed its gates in search of Alhazred's burial site. He indeed found the gate of Alhazred's burial chamber and learned of his fate. Alhazred was kidnapped in Damascus and brought to the Nameless City, where he had earlier studied and learned some of the Necronomicon's secrets. As punishment for his betrayal of their secrets, Alhazred was tortured. Then they blinded him and severed his tongue, and finally executed him. The entrance to the chamber warned against disturbing him. But Shrewbury proceeded in entering the chamber and opening the sarcophagus. (AWD: "The Keeper of the Key")

Though only rugs, bones and dust remained of Alhazred, the sarcophagus also contained an incomplete personal copy of the Necronomicon, written in the Arabic alphabet. Then Shrewsbury used necromancy to recall Alhazred's spirit and ordered it to draw a map of the world as he knew it. After obtaining the map, which revealed the location of R'lyeh and other secret places, Shrewsbury finally let Alhazred return to his eternal rest. (AWD: "The Keeper of the Key")

According to another account, Abdul Alhazred is Howard Phillips Lovecraft's literary equivalent of Mad Arab Khalid ibn Yazhid, also known simply as Hali, using a made up name from his youth. Hali, is the author of the Kitab Al-Hikmah Al-Najmiyya later translated as Liber Stella Sapiente or Hali's Booke of the Wisdom of the Stars. Hali was killed by invisible djinns and eventually became a Lake. (EXP: Providence)

Behind the Mythos

"Abdul Alhazred" was a pseudonym used by Lovecraft from when he was a child. (HPL: Selected Letters 1.160) He may have come up with it when he had read 1001 Nights at 5 (HPL: Selected Letters 3.421) or got it from a lawyer friend of his family (HPL: Selected Letters 4.521)

Marvel Comics

In the Marvel Universe, Abdul Alhazred was born in the 8th century in the Umayyad Caliphate . He created the legendary and powerful black magic tome known as the Necronomicon, patterned after the Darkhold, or inspired by it, though both occult books, as well as the Oracles of Zoroaster and other mystic scrolls and tomes were hypothesized to be in fact imperfect copies of the ancient writings etched on the walls of R'llyeh, the city of the Aqueos, produced by ancient beings in elder times.

Alhazred's spirit became trapped in the realm Pellucidar, a pocket dimension accessed within subterranean Earth. It has been hypothesized that he died there, or that his spirit was transported there by the Great Race of Yith. Alhazred's spirit was stored within the crystal of the reptilian Mahars of Pellucidar.

Around 1920, the portal to Pellucidar was found, and Alhazred's mind took control of a man, reshaping his form into a more powerful version of Alhazred's own body. Alhazred took command of a band of slavers and used them in his plans of regaining his full power via sacrifices to the crystal. Tarzan became involved and foiled his plans, and the crystal began feeding off Alhazred's own energies and leaving him vulnerable to other assaults. He was driven into the crystal, which drained him into ashes.

Alhazred later returned in modern days and tried to take over Madripoor's syndicate. He confronted Wolverine, his plan backfired, and he was banished to a demonic realm.

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