People use money every day. Money is also an essential thing in life. Not surprisingly, money is very influential on a country’s economy. In fact, countries in the world have certain eyes whose values vary.
What about Islamic civilization? Have people ever wondered about the coins or money used by Muslim predecessors? Have they ever used something like money or do they have a different way of dealing?
During the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) there were two main superpowers. Byzantine Empire and Persian Empire. Both empires were ruled by the King and had a system of government followed by people living in respected areas.
However, in Arabia life is arranged differently. For example, tribal leaders are elected to make decisions and the tribe plays an important role in the lives of the people living there.
The Arabs are famous for their business, which means that the people there will travel and exchange goods. They would travel by caravan to different lands on foot or on horseback and exchange goods as a form of trade.
For example there are two precious fragrances, frankincense and myrrh, which can only be found in that part of the world. Also they will trade spices, gold, ivory, and pearls, just to mention a few objects. Since the Arab community used to exchange goods, no currency was needed.
So the question is, when did Muslim traders start using the currency ?
The need for currency increased a few years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad Saw. As the Muslim kingdom spread throughout the East and West, many people converted to Islam. Therefore, when Muslim leaders entered a new land, they had to maintain a system of government with some modifications and began to appear the use of coins.
The Byzantine Empire used gold coins called solidus. The Persian Empire used a silver coin named drachm. Muslim governors continued to mint the same ancient coins but banned the use of Christian cross symbols, kings, and fire temples.
By the time of the caliph Uthman ibn Affan, Arabic inscriptions such as Bismillah were stamped around the wide margin of Persian silver coins. Also in the business market Islamic civilization began to obtain land through Islamic writings and hijra dates inscribed on coins.
However, this did not change much or when the minting of Islamic coins actually began. Despite this simple modification, most of the coins remained the same, featuring the crowned Persian King and pahlavi inscriptions.
The original Islamic coins began in AH 77 or 696-697 AD. At the time of the fifth Umayyad caliph named Abd Al Malik ibn Marwan. This caliph reformed the coins with Arabic inscriptions and deleted all other inscriptions and drawings. He also set a weight standard in gold and silver coins.
The two coins were also renamed. Gold coins are called dinars, which come from the Latin dinar meaning gold. The silver coin was called dirham, which comes from the Greek drakhme meaning coin.
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These Islamic coins have a very religious connotation in the way they are designed. The side of the coin with the most important stamp has the first part of the shahadah in kufi script.
On the back of the coin, surah Al tawbah verse 33 is written, “Muhammad was the messenger of Allah, who sent him with guidance and the religion of righteousness so that He could be supreme above all other religions.”
These early Islamic coins continued with the same design and weight for thousands of years even today.
The coin of Islam is a great change brought to the Muslim world by a great man. This helps Muslim traders feel proud in their business dealings with other countries and also provides a foundation for future generations.
The coins are still available in museums around the world for one to acknowledge, appreciate and study the past of Islamic history