Coinage: Umayyad Caliphate

18 Sep 2018  Tue

When Ali the fourth Khalifa-e-Rashidun and last Islamic religious and political leader died in 661 AD, the Arab governor in Syria seized power. Muwaiya came from Umayya clan in Mecca and founded the first hereditary Islamic dynasty, the Umayyads Caliphate. The Byzantine and Sassanid Empires relied on money economies before the Muslim conquest, and that system remained in effect during the Umayyad period. In addition to this, the Umayyad government began to mint its own coins in Damascus. Old Umayyad coins were initially similar to pre-existing coins but evolved in an independent direction. Coins from Umayyad caliph were the first coins minted by a Muslim government in history. Gold coins were called dinars while silver coins were called Dirham. The first Umayyad dirham follows the same pattern as his predecessor’s Sasanian Drachm but by the third decade of Islam, marginal writings started appearing on these Dirhams [Bismillah] leading eventually to the replacement of the Pahlavi script and the Yesdigrid era dates with Arabic script and Hijri Dating. Umayyad gold dinar and silver Dirhams were first time struck in an appropriate Islamic manner in the reign of 'Abd al-Malik Bin Marwan. It depicted the figure of caliph, wearing an Arab headdress and holding a sword, with the testimony of Islam inscribed in the margin. In 697 the caliph decided to abandon all traces of iconography and introduced the first Islamic coin devoid of figurative representation. On both sides of the new dinar were inscribed verses from the Qur'an, expressing the message of Islam and making each piece an individual missionary of the faith.