He built Samarra and distinguished his era with rich achievements and facing sedition.. Get to know the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu’tasim Billah and the secret of the number 8 in his life

The historian al-Sawli mentioned that the king of the Romans sent a letter to al-Mu’tasim threatening him, and when the Caliph read it, he said to the writer: Write in the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Al-Mu’tasim Billah is considered one of the most powerful and most famous of the Abbasid caliphs, as he assumed power after the stability of the Abbasid state, the extension of its outskirts, and the unprecedented recovery of economic and commercial life due to the extension of security and ease of movement between the states.

After about 9 years of rule, he died in the city of Samarra on January 5, 842 AD, corresponding to Rabi’ al-Awwal 18, 227 AH, at the age of 48 years.

Satisfied: Despite the weak culture of al-Mu’tasim by God, he is one of the greatest and most revered Abbasid caliphs (Al-Jazeera)

its upbringing

Al-Mu’tasim Billah, the son of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, whose name is Muhammad Abu Ishaq, was born in the year 180 AH, and his mother is of Turkish origin, whose name is Mareda Khatun or Walad, according to the academic and researcher in Islamic history, Dr. Ammar Mardi.

And my patient adds – to Al-Jazeera Net – that Al-Mu’tasim is characterized by being white with a red-faced beard, a quarter of a stature, impregnated with strength, courage and prestige, and this is with regard to his birth and his moral qualities.

As for his culture, Mardi narrates – from history books – that Al-Mu’tasim was limited in culture because he hated education when he was young, and it is narrated that his father made a boy with him in the book to learn with him, so the teacher died. He said, “Yes, sir.” Let him not teach him, so he left education.

The researcher continues: Al-Mu’tasim was weak in culture, writing and reading compared to the Abbasid rulers, but he would have been one of the greatest and most revered caliphs had it not been for the sedition of creating the Qur’an with which scholars like Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may God Almighty have mercy on him, tested him.

The ruins of the Abbasid palaces in the city of Samarra - Al Jazeera NetThe ruins of the Abbasid palaces in the city of Samarra (the island)

pledge allegiance to him

Al-Mu’tasim was pledged allegiance to the caliphate after the death of his brother Al-Ma’mun in Rajab 218 AH – as my disease says. From Tarsus after his brother’s burial.

The researcher notes that Al-Mu’tasim built Samarra in the year 220 AH to be the new capital.

He mentioned on the authority of the historian that the king of the Romans wrote to al-Mu’tasim a letter threatening him, and when he read the Caliph of the Muslims, he said to the writer: Write: In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.. Then, I have read your book and heard your speech, and the answer is what you see, not what you hear, “And the infidels will know who is the end of the house.”

Al-Amiri confirmed that Al-Mu'tasim succeeded in eliminating the sedition and rebellion movements that appeared in his time - Al Jazeera NetAl-Amiri confirmed that Al-Mu’tasim succeeded in eliminating the sedition and rebellion movements that appeared in his time (Al-Jazeera)

Notable Achievements

The era of al-Mu’tasim Billah witnessed rich achievements and great conquests, as his reign was relatively stable, trade, agriculture, and industry flourished, mineral wealth was extracted from the ground, and the resources of the caliphate grew. The state improved public utilities, facilitated life for people, secured state borders, encouraged science and rewarded its people, took care of translation, built scientific institutions, and established libraries.

The specialist in Islamic thought, Dr. Karim Mazhar al-Amiri, talks about the success of al-Mu’tasim in eliminating the sedition and rebellion movements that appeared in his time, the most important of which was the elimination of the Khurmiyya group and their belief that was active in Baghdad, and this is an innovated religion that combines the remnants of the Zoroastrians and Islam.

The construction of the Iraqi city of Samarra was one of the most prominent urban achievements of Caliph Al-Mu'tasim - Al Jazeera NetBuilding the city of Samarra was one of the most prominent urban achievements of the Caliph Al-Mu’tasim Billah (Al-Jazeera)

Al-Amiri indicates – in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net – that the conquest of Amoriyah is one of the most important conquests of Al-Mu’tasim, indicating that it is a city in the country of the Romans in Asia Minor (currently Turkey).

He adds that the most important of his urban achievements is building the city of Samarra and making it his capital, and this matter is due to two important reasons: the first is that history says that the people of Baghdad are fed up with the harassment of the Turkish soldiers, and the second reason is the caliph’s fear of the Khurmiyah movement, so he wanted to be above them whenever they appeared They come from land and sea.

octagonal caliph

The number 8 was associated with many of the stations of al-Mu’tasim’s life, which called some historians to call it the octagon, and about that al-Amiri points out that al-Mu’tasim assumed the caliphate on Rajab 18, 218 AH, and his death was on Thursday, 18 Rabi` al-Awwal, and accordingly the duration of his caliphate will be 8 years and 8 months. Al-Mu’tasim is the eighth caliph.

Some sources add that Al-Mu’tasim fathered 8 sons and 8 daughters, built 8 palaces, and left behind 8 thousand dinars, 18 thousand dirhams, 80 thousand mare, 8 thousand owned, and 8 thousand female slaves.

Rajji pointed out that Al-Mu'tasim was buried in a solemn official procession and was buried in the city of Samarra - Al Jazeera NetAl-Araji: Caliph Al-Mu’tasim sought the help of the Turks to find an equation of balance with the Persian element (Al-Jazeera)

Helped by the Turks

The researcher in Islamic history, Karim al-Araji, attributes the reason for the Caliph al-Mu’tasim’s use of the Turkish element to find a balance equation with the Persian element that prevailed in the army and institutions of the Abbasid state before his arrival to the caliphate.

He adds – to Al-Jazeera Net – that the mother of Caliph Al-Mu’tasim was a Turkish slave girl with his father Al-Rashid, so he freed her. This will certainly play a role in al-Mu’tasim’s nostalgia for his maternal uncles and relatives, and indicates that the family states played a major role in the foreign and internal policies of the Abbasid state, in addition to the fact that the military and physical capabilities of the Turkish soldiers were distinguished.

He points out that as a result of the use of Turkish elements, the mandate of the army and administrative leaders in the Abbasid state became for the Turkish element, not the Persian, as Al-Mu’tasim in the year 220 AH brought in the Turks from Bukhara, Samarkand, Fergana, Ashrushunah and other cities adjacent to the country beyond the river, and their number was – as some historical sources indicate. – 18,000 fighters, and dressed them in special clothes to distinguish them from the rest of the people. And they began to increase dramatically and rapidly through the absolute support of al-Mu’tasim to these Turkish leaders and soldiers within the state and within the institution of the Abbasid Caliphate.

Regarding the repercussions of this, Al-Araji notes the emergence of a military class of the Turks who were manipulating the capabilities of the Abbasid Caliphate, and the ability to isolate or choose a caliph who became afraid of their domination, and did not make a decision until after their approval, so the prestige of the Abbasid Caliphate was lost.

The burial of Caliph Al-Mu'tasim Billah in the dome of the caliphs located in the city of Samarra - communication sitesAl-Mu’tasim Billah was buried in the Dome of the Caliphs in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad (communication sites)


In the year 227 AH, Al-Mu’tasim fell ill and sick, after he performed cupping, but some sources say that he was poisoned by the Turkish elements, and he died on Thursday night of Rabi’ Al-Awwal 18 of that year, according to Al-Araji.

Al-Araji quotes Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti as saying that when al-Mu’tasim was dying, he said, “The trick is gone, I have no trick.” He also said while he was in his last breath, “Oh God, you know that I fear you before me and I do not fear you before you, and I beg of you before you and I do not beg of you before me.”

The researcher continues that after the death of al-Mu’tasim, he was buried in a solemn official procession and was buried in the city of Samarra, in a place called the Dome of the Caliphs, which is present to this day. This shrine is located on the Tigris River in Samarra, about 120 km north of Baghdad.


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