al-Mu’tasim, ‘Abbasid Caliph AH 218-227/AD 833-842

Bernardi 151Jh; Album 225, Superb Extremely Fine

Madinat al-Salam (Baghdad) mint. Kalima at center, double obverse marginal legends with Qur’an 30:4 in outer margin, date formula in inner margin; Reverse, continuation of Kalima, “lillah” above, al-Mu’tasim Billah below, Qur’an 9:33 in margin. This is the earliest post-reform Islamic coin in the Tyrant Collection to bear a mint signature and also the earliest post-reform coin to cite the caliph by name.


Al-Mu’tasim (AH 218-227/ AD 833-842) was the younger son of Harun Al-Rashid and the brother of Ma’mun. He was instrumental in creating a mercenary army composed mainly of Turkish soldiers who were who were paid directly by his government, thus reducing the threat of counter insurgency from Arab or Persian factions within army. One of the more important events of his reign was the “Khurramite” uprising in western Iran, led by Babak-e Khurramdin, a pseudonym inspired from Papak (Babak) who was an ancestor of the former Sasanian monarchs. The Khurramites practiced a form of Islam infused with elements of Zoroastrianism. The doctrine of the Khurramites carried political undertones and is credited by some as inspiring the Qizilbash of the 16th century, a political and religious movement in Azerbaijan which helped establish the Safavid dynasty.