Al-Musta'sim Billah (full name: al-Musta'sim-Billah Abu-Ahmad Abdullah bin al-Mustansir-Billah; Arabic: المستعصم بالله أبو أحمد عبد الله بن المستنصر بالله; 1213 – February 20, 1258) was the 37th and last caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate; he ruled from 1242 until his death.

المستعصم باللّٰہ
Amir al-Mu'minin
Dinar coined under Al-Musta'sim's rule.
Last caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate
Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad
Reign5 December 1242 – 20 February 1258 (15 years 2 months 15 days)
as Abbasid Caliph in Cairo
Died20 February 1258 (aged 45)
ConsortQurrat al-Ayn , Bab Bachir[1]
MotherHajir [2]
ReligionSunni Islam


Al-Musta'sim succeeded his father in late 1242.

He is noted for his opposition to the rise of Shajar al-Durr to the Egyptian throne during the Seventh Crusade. He sent a message from Baghdad to the Mamluks in Egypt that said: "If you do not have men there tell us so we can send you men."[3] However, Al-Musta'sim had to face the greatest menace against the caliphate since its establishment in 632: the invasion of the Mongol forces that, under Hulagu Khan, had already wiped out any resistance in Transoxiana and Khorasan. In 1255/1256 Hulagu forced the Abbasid to lend their forces for the campaign against Alamut.

In 1258, Hulagu invaded the Abbasid domain, which then consisted of only Baghdad, its immediate surroundings, and southern Iraq. In his campaign to conquer Baghdad, Hulagu Khan had several columns advance simultaneously on the city, and laid siege to it. The Mongols kept the people of Abbasid Caliphate in their capital and executed those who tried to flee.

Baghdad was sacked on February 10 and the caliph was killed by Hulagu Khan soon afterward. It is reckoned that the Mongols did not want to shed "royal blood", so they wrapped him in a rug and trampled him to death with their horses. Some of his sons were massacred as well; one of the surviving sons was sent as a prisoner to Mongolia, where Mongolian historians report he married and fathered children, but played no role in Islam thereafter.

The Travels of Marco Polo reports that upon finding the caliph's great stores of treasure which could have been spent on the defense of his realm, Hulagu Khan locked him in his treasure room without food or water, telling him "eat of thy treasure as much as thou wilt, since thou art so fond of it."[4][5]

Abbasid Dynasty of Cairo

The Mamluk Sultans of Egypt and Syria later appointed an Abbasid Caliph in Cairo, but these Abbasid Caliphs were marginalized and merely symbolic Caliphs, with no temporal power and little religious influence. Even though they kept the title for about 250 years more, other than installing the Sultan in ceremonies, these Caliphs had little importance. After the Ottomans conquered Egypt in 1517, the Abbasid Caliph of Cairo, Al-Mutawakkil III was transported to Constantinople.

Centuries later, a tradition developed saying that at this time Al-Mutawakkil III formally surrendered the title of caliph as well as its outward emblems—the sword and mantle of Muhammad—to the Ottoman sultan Selim I, establishing the Ottoman sultans as the new caliphal line. Some historians have noted that this story does not appear in the literature until the 1780s, suggesting that it was advanced to bolster the claims of caliphal jurisdiction over Muslims outside of the empire, as asserted in the 1774 Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca.[6]


  1. Al-Hawadith al-Jami'a . Ibn al-Fuwaṭi
  2. Al-Hawadith al-Jami'a . Ibn al-Fuwaṭi
  3. Al-Maqrizi, p.464/vol1
  4. Yule-Cordier Edition
  5. Ibn al-Furat; translated by le Strange, 1900, pp. 293–300
  6. Lewis, Bernard (1961). The Emergence of Modern Turkey. Oxford University Press.


Cadet branch of the Banu Hashim
Born: 1213 Died: 20 February 1258
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Last Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate
Caliph of Islam
Abbasid Caliph

5 December 1242 – 20 February 1258
Title next held by
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