Thursday , November 23 2017

Lineage in the coinage of Islam – Coins & Caliphs

Abdullah Mohammed Bin Jassem Al Mutairi, an Emirati expert on Islamic coins, delivered a comprehensive lecture on Islamic coinage, discussing the verses and slogans engraved on them, at the Yarmouk Cultural Center on Monday evening as part of Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyyah’s 23rd cultural season.

Al Mutairi is a researcher on local and Gulf heritage, and the former director of the Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum House and is currently working as an advisor to the Museums and Heritage Sector of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. He is a member of the British Royal Society and the American Society for Numismatics. He has participated in many local and international exhibitions and possesses nearly 15,000 Islamic coins that cover the Islamic world from Andalusia to China dating back to 135 families who ruled the Islamic world as well as a group of antique stamps for a number of GCC countries and Iraq.

He explained that the importance of coinage in the Islamic era was not limited to the process of commercial processes but was used to publicize the State or the Caliph as it was carrying slogans in support of the Caliph or the signs of victory, as it included also Quranic verses and expressions of Islam that reflected their civilization, unlike the images and signs that marked the money of other nations.

When the process of coin reform began under the Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab, where he ordered the addition of a phrase ‘in the name of God’ or ‘the name of God my Lord’ on the Sassanid dirham, which later became known as dirhams. This partial Arabization continued until the succession of Abdul Malik bin Marwan, who ordered the establishment of the first Arab Islamic dinar. Due to the importance of money, the Caliph himself would determine the weight and caliber and verses that would be displayed on the coinage. The writing of Qur’anic verses and the slogans of each country continued on Islamic coins until the fall of the Mamluk state in Egypt and the Levant and the establishment of the Ottoman Empire.

He continued that there were political reasons or revolutions behind the emergence of the Islamic coins and showed the audience many examples of Islamic coins with verses and slogans. The first one, “There is no God but Allah”, this slogan raised or written by the Kharijis on 37 H after he broke away from Imam Ali Bin Abu Taleb, (May Allah be please with him) to accept our petition with Muawiyah Bin Abu Sufiyan, (May Allah be pleased with him).

This slogan is engraved on the dirham on Kharijite of Al Azariqa Qatari Ibn Al-Fuja’ah, during the period of 69-78 H. Qatari Jouna Bin Yazid Al Mazani Al Tameemi. He is the hero and was known by the name of Abu Nuama or Abu Muhammad, leader of Al Khawarij.

The second verse written in the coin is, “In the name of God” or “In the name of God my Lord”. The slogan is written by the Caliph who proclaimed the Caliphate Abdullah Bin Zubair, (May Allah be pleased with him), on his dirham by Sassanid style during the period 61-73 H. Abdullah Bin Zubair was giving the pledge of allegiance with the Caliphate on 64 H.

The third model of Islamic coins, the slogan is “In the name of God” or “In the name of God my Lord”. This slogan was written by the revolutionary Abdulrehman Bin Mohammad Al-Ash’ath after his disagreement with Al Hajjaj Bin Yusuf Al-Thaqafi and his revolution on the Umayyad Caliphate between 80-85 H.

AbdulRehman Bin Mohammad Al Ash’ath Kendi, one of the courageous leaders and the owner of incidence with Al Hajjaj Bin Yusuf Al-Thaqafi, Al Hajjaj pushed AbdulRehman to invade Ratbil, the King of Turk and invaded some of his party, took their fortunes and booty. Then he informed Al Hajjaj about that.

During the lecture, he reviewed some more Islamic coins and some of them were written with verses from the Holy Quran. One such coin displays the following verses — Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (29) suruh Al-Fath, It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although they who associate others with Allah dislike (33) suruh Al-Tawba, and Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge. Nor is there to Him any equivalent.”(1-4) suruh Al-Iklas.

He mentioned that these verses have been raised on the coinage of Umayyad Caliphate since the monetary reform of the Caliph Abdulmalek Bin Marwan in 77 H and continued until the fall of the Caliphate in 132 H. He revealed the reasons of this kind of Islamic coin, saying that the Caliph Abdulmalek wanted to have Islamic slogan of the State from the Quran verses in order to declare the independence of Islamic economy and lift the criticism of Persian and Byzantine.

Another model of Islamic coins engraved from the Quran verse — Say, [O Muhammad], “I do not ask you for this message any payment [but] only good will through kinship.” And whoever commits a good deed — We will increase for him good therein. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Appreciative. (23) suruh Al-Shurra, was engraved on the dirhams of revolutionary Abdullah Bin Mauwiyah Bin Abdullah Bin Jafar Bin Abu Taleb who came out of the Umayyad Caliphate in 127 H. Through this verse we can see that he gives his revolution the capacity of legitimacy and he is more entitled to undertake the Caliphate more than Bani Umaya because he is very close to the Prophet, (PBUH).

Another Islamic coin was engraved with the verses: Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (29) suruh Al-Fath, It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although they who associate others with Allah dislike (33) suruh Al-Tawba, and Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge. Nor is there to Him any equivalent.”(1-4) suruh Al-Iklas. These verses were raised by the revolutionary Jadiah Bin Ali Al Karmani on his dirhams on 128 H. Jadiah is a leader of Al Azad tribe in Kharasan who revolted on Umayyads and engraved his name on dirhams by the Prince Al Karmani Bin Ali.

Another Islamic coin was engraved with the verse — Say, [O Muhammad], “I do not ask you for this message any payment [but] only good will through kinship.” And whoever commits a good deed — We will increase for him good therein. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Appreciative.(23) suruh Al-Shurra. This verse was engraved on dirhams of Abi Muslim Al Kharazani, the movement’s secret leader of the Abbasid Caliphate between 130 to 133 H. During that time, Abu Muslim, coined also the money.

Another Islamic coin was engraved with the verses: Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (29) suruh Al-Fath, It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although they who associate others with Allah dislike (33) suruh Al-Tawba. The first Abbasid Caliph, Abu Abbas Al Safah took the same slogan which was taken by the Umayyad Caliph Abdulmalek Bin Marawan on the State coins and his omission of the verse from suruh Al Iklas was done to distinguish the coins of the new caliphate to the Umayyad coins. The writing of verse 33 from suruh Al-Tawba, continued until the fall of the Caliphate on 656 H.

Another model of Islamic coin engraved with the verse: Within three to nine years. To Allah belongs the command before and after. And that day the believers will rejoice In the victory of Allah (4-5) suruh Al-Rum. The Abbasid Caliph Abdullah Al-Ma’moun took this verse on his coins in addition to the previous verses on the dirhams since the 201-207 H citing the verse because it includes statement of the command by God and the victory by the believers in reference to the victory of his army over the Roman army.

Another model of Islamic coins was engraved with the verse: Indeed, Allah loves those who fight in His cause in a row as though they are a [single] structure joined firmly(4) suruh As-Saf. This verse was engraved on dirhams of revolutionary Abi Saraya Asserri Bin Mansour Al Shaibani in the year 199 H after he came out of obedience. The Caliph Ma’moun then occupied Al Kufa and raised his slogans on these dirhams in addition to the sentence Fatimi in reference to the Fatimid family.

Another Islamic coin engraved with the verse: Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, ( 111) suruh At-Tawba.

This was raised by Al Mahdi Ali Bin Mohammad Bin Abdulrahim on his multiplied coins in the city after he revolted against Abbasid Caliphate since 255-272 H and his call was popular among the people of Bahrain and Iraq. He also claimed he was a prophet and during his revolution, more than a million and half Muslims were killed. It was said that he was killed in Al Basra in 350 H.

Another model of Islamic coin engraved with — There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful. (128) suruh At-Tawba. This slogan was raised by the revolutionary Al Harith Bin Assad Al Samani who seized Al Khattal Area on 284 H from his cousin the ruler of Samania State considering himself King. His family encouraged and supported his revolution.

Another Islamic coin was engraved with the verse — And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing. (115) surrah Al-An’am. This was engraved on the coins of the Fatimid Caliph Muhammad Bin Al-Qassem Al-Qa’yem who assumed the Caliphate on 322 H.

Another example was that of a coin engraved with the verse: For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (11) surrah Ar-Ra’ad. This was engraved and raised on the dirhams of revolutionary Mohammad Bin Mikael Al Hussaini when he revolted against the Apostate State.

The lecture was followed by an extensive Q&A session with the audience and those interested in Islamic coins.

By Arab Times Staff

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