Literary Reading: Fatimid Coins at the David Museum in Copenhagen, Part II

PART II – FATIMID COINS MINTED DURING THE REIGNS OF
IMAMS AL-MANSUR, AL-MUIZZ AND AL-AZIZ
 

…During the Fatimid period, there was a unique reformatting of the gold coins used in the Empire. Inscriptions on the coins were horizontal but during the Fatimid rule, there was the addition of text in concentric circles. This was highly representative of Ismaili thought and the philosophy of the Imam-Caliphs as it symbolized the inner, or batini, knowledge, known to only those who followed the Imam-Caliph (Ismailis). This was distinct from the outer, exoteric, or zahiri, knowledge, to which non-Ismailis were restricted to….

(excerpt from an essay, The Fatimids, by Mohamed Abbas in The Treasures Of  Islamic Art In The Museums Of  Cairo edited by Bernard O’Kane)

 _______

 

Imam al-Mansur

Ruler and dates: Abu’l-Tahir Isma‘i‘l al-Mansur billah ibn al-Qa’im, (334-341 H/946-953 CE)

Mint name: al-Mahdiyya – A seaport town on the eastern coast of Tunisia

Date: month of Ramadan 337 H. (March 949 CE)

Metal and denomination: Gold dinar

Weight and measurement: 4.19 g / 22.0 mm

Obverse

Obverse

Field

al-imam / la ilah / illa allah / al-mansur billah

“the Imam no god but God, al-Mansur billah.”

Margin

bism allah duriba hadha’l-dinar bi’l-mahdiyya shahr ramadan fi sana sab‘ wa thalathin wa thalathmi’a

“in the name of God, this dinar was struck in al-Mahdiyya the month of Ramadan in the year seven and thirty and three hundred.”

 
__________
 
Reverse

Reverse

Field

isma‘il / muhammad / rasul allah / amir al-mu’minin

“Isma‘il, Muhammad is the messenger of God, Commander of the Faithful.”

Margin

muhammad rasul allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi wa law kariha al-mushrikun

“Muhammad is the messenger of God who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions, even though the polytheists may detest it.”

Holy Qur’an, Sura 9 (al-Tawba), verse 33

_______________________________
 
 
Imam al-Muizz
 

 Ruler and dates: Abu Tamim Ma‘add al-Mu‘izz li-Din Allah ibn Isma‘il al-Mansur, (341-365 H/953-975 CE)

Mint name: Misr – Egypt, with the mint probably still located in Fustat (Old Cairo)

Date: 358 H (969 CE)

Metal and denomination: Gold dinar

Weight and measurement: 4.16 g / 23.0 mm

 Obverse

Obverse

Inner circle

la ilah illa allah muhammad rasul allah

“no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God”

Middle circle

wa ‘ali afdal al-wasiyyin wa wazir khayr al-mursilin

“and ‘Ali is the most excellent of God’s agents and the vizier of the best of the messengers”

Outer circle

In three concentric circles with a plain central circle:

muhammad rasul allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi wa law kariha al-mushrikun

“Muhammad is the messenger of God who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions, even though the polytheists may detest it.”

Sura 9 (al-Tawba), verse 33

__________
 
Reverse

Reverse

Inner circle

al-mu’izz li-din allah amir al-mu’minin

“the one who exalts the religion of God, Commander of the Faithful”

Middle circle

da’a al-imam ma’add li-tawhid illa lahu al-samad

“the Imam Ma’add summons (everyone) to profess the eternal unity of God”

Outer circle

In three concentric circles with a plain central circle

bism allah duriba hadha’l-dinar bi-misr sana thaman wa khamsin wa thalathmi’a

“In the name of God this dinar was struck in Misr the year eight and fifty and three hundred”

_______________________________
 
 
Imam al-Aziz
 

Ruler and dates: Abu Mansur Nizar al-‘Aziz billah ibn al-Mu‘izz, (365-386 H/976-996 CE)

Mint name: Misr – Egypt, with the mint located in the new town of al-Qahira (Cairo)

Date: 368 H (978-979 CE)

Metal and denomination: Gold dinar

Weight and measurement: 4.16 g / 25.0 mm

Obverse

Obverse

Inner margin

la ilah illa allah muhammad rasul allah ‘ali khayr safwat allah

“no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, ‘Ali is the best of the elect of God”

Outer margin

muhammad rasul allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi wa law kariha al-mushrikun

“Muhammad is the messenger of God who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions, even though the polytheists may detest it.”

Sura 9 (al-Tawba), verse 33

__________
 
 
Reverse

Reverse

Inner margin

‘abd allah wa waliyuhu nizar al-‘aziz billah amir al-mu’minin

“the servant of God and his associate Nizar al-‘Aziz billah, Commander of the Faithful”

Outer margin

bism allah duriba hadha’l-dinar bi-misr sana thaman wa sittin wa thalathmi’a

“in the name of God this dinar was struck in Misr the year eight and sixty and three hundred”

_______________________________

Please read other articles in this series at:
Literary Reading: Fatimid Coins at the David Museum in Copenhagen, Part I
Literary Reading: Fatimid Coins at the David Museum in Copenhagen, Part III

COPYRIGHT: The David Collection, Copenhagen. The images and text shown above are reproduced with the kind permission of The David Collection. Please visit the museum website at  http://www.davidmus.dk/en

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