Al-Mu’tasim was the eighth Abbasid caliph, ruling from 833 until his death in 842. A younger son of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, he rose to prominence through his formation of a private army composed predominantly of Turkish slave-soldiers. His armies defeated Emperor Theophilos and sacked the city of Amorium, cementing his reputation as a warrior-caliph.
About Al-Mu’tasim in brief
Al-Mu’tasim was the eighth Abbasid caliph, ruling from 833 until his death in 842. A younger son of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, he rose to prominence through his formation of a private army composed predominantly of Turkish slave-soldiers. His reign marks a departure and a watershed moment in Islamic history, with the creation of a new regime centred on the military, and particularly his Turkish guard. He continued many of his brother’s policies, such as the partnership with the Tahirids, who ruled Khurasan and Baghdad on behalf of the Abbasids. The rise of the Turks would eventually result in the troubles of the \”Anarchy at Samarra\” and lead to the collapse of Abbasid power in the mid-10th century. His armies defeated Emperor Theophilos and sacked the city of Amorium, cementing his reputation as a warrior-caliph. He also implemented the rationalist Islamic doctrine of Mu’tazilism and the persecution of its opponents through the inquisition. The abrupt downfall of the Barmakid family in 803 hinted at the political instability of the previous decades, while at the same time hinting at the highest levels of the court’s political instability. He was succeeded by his half-brother, Caliph al-Ma’mun, who died unexpectedly on campaign in August 833.
His son al-Abbas succeeded him as caliph in 838, but was overthrown in a purge of his inner circle by his enemies at court in 8401. The ghulām-based system would be widely adopted throughout the Muslim world. In 836, a new capital was established to symbolize this new regime and remove it from the restive populace of Baghdad. The two major internal campaigns of the reign were against the long-running Khurramite uprising of Babak Khorramdin in Adharbayjan, which was suppressed by al-Afshin in 835–837, and against Mazyar, the autonomous ruler of Tabaristan. While his generals led the fight against internal rebellions, al-Mu’tasim himself led the sole major external campaign of the period, in 8 38 against the Byzantine Empire. He died in 841, and was buried in the Al-Mansur Palace in Baghdad. He is buried alongside his father, Harun, and his mother, Marida bint Shabib, a slave-wife of the fifth Abbasid Caliph, Shabubine bint Marida, who is usually considered to have been of Turkic origin, but her family hailed from Soghdia, and she is usually thought to have lived in Kufa in Iraq. The date of his birth is unclear, but his birth was either in 180 AH or 180 AH, according to the historian al-Tabari, or either Sha’ban AH’ in AH 179.