The Abbasid Dynasty: The Golden Age of Islamic Civilization

23 Dec 2017  Sat

The Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled the Islamic world, oversaw the golden age of Islamic culture. The dynasty ruled the Islamic Caliphate from 750 to 1258 AD, making it one of the longest and most influential Islamic dynasties. For most of its early history, it was the largest empire in the world, and this meant that it had contact with distant neighbours such as the Chinese and Indians in the East, and the Byzantines in the West, allowing it to adapt and synthesize ideas from these cultures.

The Abbasid caliphs officially based their claim to the Caliphate on their descent from Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib (566-652 AD), one of the youngest uncles of the prophet Muhammad, by virtue of which descent they regarded themselves as the rightful heirs of the Prophet as opposed to the Umayyads. The Umayyads were descended from Umayya and were a clan separate from Muhammad's in the Quraish tribe.

The Abbasid Dynasty experimented with different kinds of coins. They improved the appearance of coins using a more elegant form of Kufic script and the legends. The earliest Abbasid gold dinars, minted in 750 and extremely rare, were struck either in Damascus before the Umayyad mint was closed down, or in Kufa, the first Abbasid capital.

In many ways, the early Abbasid Dirhams and Fulus were a continuation of the minting practices of the Umayyads, whom they overthrew in a bloody revolution. That can be said with some notable exceptions: The Dirham obverse, though stylized, remained the same. It reads ‘La Ilaha Illalla Wahduhu La Sharika lahu’ (There is no Deity Except the one God alone, he has no equal). but the reverse was changed from the Ikhlas to the completion of the Shahada which was on the obverse. Thus the reverse of many of the Abbasid Dirhams reads ‘Muhammadur Rasulullahu’ (Muhammad is the messenger of God).