temp. ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, Umayyad Caliph AH 65-86/AD 685-705
Bernardi 41; A 125, Mint State
No mint name (Damascus). At center, Kalima (“There is no god but Allah, [He is] alone, there are no others with Him”); in margin, Qur’an 9:33, known as the “Umayyad Second Symbol” (“Muhammad is the apostle of Allah, whom He sent with guidance and with a religion of truth in order that it might shine brightly over all religion, though the polytheists dislike it”). Reverse, at center, Qur’an 112, known as the “Umayyad Symbol” (“Allah is One, Allah is the Eternal, He did not beget and He was not begotten and there was not to Him equal a single one”) ; in margin, date formula (“in the name of Allah was struck this dinar in the year eight and seventy”).
Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (AH 65-86/ AD 685-705) was the 5th Umayyad caliph. He is remembered as a well-educated and capable ruler who took important steps toward transforming the tribally-based Caliphate into an efficient, centralized Arab state. In year 77 ( 696/7) of the Islamic Hijri calendar, ‘Abd al-Malik introduced the first truly Islamic coin, the reformed gold dinar, followed within a few years by a similar silver dirham and a copper fals. This dramatic reform of the coinage abandoned existing Persian, Byzantine and Christian design elements in favor of a simple statement of Islamic faith (Kalima) and passages from the Qur’an emphasizing the oneness of God and the apostleship of the Prophet Muhammad. This iconoclastic change was in keeping with the Qur’anic prohibition of “graven images” and served a missionary function for Islam. ‘Abd al-Malik’s reform must have been in part a response to the Byzantine emperor Justinian II (two reigns, 695-695 and 704-711) who had recently placed a portrait of Jesus Christ on the Byzantine gold solidus. Prior to ‘Abd al-Malik’s reform, the Byzantine solidus had been the predominant gold coin of the era, circulating widely within the Caliphate and beyond. The simple religious design of ‘Abd al-Malik’s coins served as the model for Islamic coinage for centuries to come. The gold dinars of year 77 are extremely rare today. Though relatively common, dinars dated 78h are the earliest reasonably available date of the post-reform coinage and are accordingly highly sought by collectors. The splendid example in the Tyrant Collection is in choice mint state condition, perfectly centered and sharply struck from early-style dies reminiscent of the year 77 dinars.