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

PART III – FATIMID COINS MINTED DURING THE REIGNS OF
IMAMS AL-HAKIM, AL-ZAHIR AND AL-MUSTANSIR

…a significant event that occurred during the reign of imam-caliph al-Hakim was the inauguration, in 395/1005, of the Dar al-‘Ilm (House of Knowledge), an institute of learning which attracted some of the foremost scholars and scientists of the time. In his historical work al-Khitat, which remains one of the main sources for the history of the Fatimids, the 15th-century Egyptian chronicler Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi provides an account of how some of the endowment for the Dar al-‘Ilm was to be used:

“For the purchase of mats and other household effects, 10 dinars; for paper for the scribe, i.e. the copyist, 90 dinars – that is the greatest single item -, for the librarian 48 dinars; for the purchase of water 12, for the servant 15, for paper, ink and writing reeds for the scholars studying there 12; for repairing the curtains 1 dinar; for the repair of possibly torn books or loose leaves 12; for the purchase of felt for blankets in the winter 5; for the purchase of carpets in the winter 4 dinars”

(Excerpt from Documents of History, Symbols of Authority: The Coinage of the Fatimids by Alnoor Merchant. See http://www.iis.ac.uk/view_article.asp?ContentID=105703)

_________

Imam al-Hakim

Ruler and dates: al-Mansur Abu ‘Ali al-Hakim bi-amr Allah ibn al-‘Aziz, (386-411 H/996-1021 CE)

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

Date: 409 H (1018-1019 CE)

Metal and denomination: Gold dinar

Weight and measurement: 4.21 g / 22.0 mm

Obverse

Obverse

Field

la ilah illa allah / wahdahu la sharik lahu / muhammad rasul allah / ‘ali wali allah

“no god but God, unique He has no associate. Muhammad is the messenger of God, Ali is the chosen one of God”

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

Field

abd allah wa waliyuhu / al-imam al-hakim bi-amr allah / amir al-mu’minin wa ‘abd al-rahim / wali ‘ahd al-muslimin

“the Servant of God and his associate, the Imam al-Hakim bi-amr Allah, Commander of the Faithful, and ‘Abd al-Rahim, the chosen heir of the Muslims”

Margin

bism allah duriba hadha’l-dinar bi-misr sana tis‘ wa arba‘mi’a

“in the name of God, this dinar was struck in Misr in the year nine and four hundred”

_________________________________

Imam al-Zahir

Ruler and dates: Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali al-Zahir li-I‘zaz Din Allah ibn al-Hakim, (411-427 H/1021-1036 CE)

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

Date: 416 H (1025 CE)

Metal and denomination: Gold dinar

Weight and measurement: 4.21 g / 22.0 mm

Obverse

Obverse

Field

muhammad rasul allah / ‘ali wali allah

“Muhammad is the messenger of God, Ali is the chosen one of God”

Inner margin

la ilah illa / allah wahdahu / la sharik lahu

“no god but God, unique, He has no associate”

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

Field

al-zahir li-i‘zaz din / allah amir al-mu’minin

“al-Zahir li-I‘zaz Din Allah, Commander of the Faithful”

Inner margin

‘abd allah wa waliyuhu ‘ali abu’l-hasan al-imam

“servant of God and his associate ‘Ali Abu’l-Hasan the Imam”

Outer margin

bism allah duriba hadha’l-dinar bi-misr sana sitt ‘ashr wa arba‘mi’a

“in the name of God, this dinar was struck in Misr in the year sixteen and four hundred”

_________________________________

Imam al-Mustansir

Ruler and dates: Abu Tamim Ma‘add al-Mustansir billah ibn al-Zahir, (427-487 H/1036-1094 CE)

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

Date: 467 H (1074-1075 CE)

Metal and denomination: Gold dinar

Weight and measurement: 4.08 g / 21.0 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 the caretakers and the vizier of the best of the messengers”

Outer 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 detest it”

Sura 9 (al-Tawba) verse 33

_____________

Reverse

Reverse

Inner circle

al-mustansir billah amir al-mu’minin

“al-Mustansir billah, Commander of the Faithful”

Middle circle

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

“the Imam Ma‘add summons all to confess the unity of God the eternal”.

Outer circle

bism allah duriba hadha’l-dinar bi-misr sana sab‘ wa sittin wa arba‘mi’a

“in the name of God, this dinar was struck in Misr the year seven and sixty and four hundred”

_________________________________

Please also read related parts:
Literary Reading: Fatimid Coins at the David Museum in Copenhagen, Part I
Literary Reading: Fatimid Coins at the David Museum in Copenhagen, Part II

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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