Experimental Aniconic Silver Coins Minted By The Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik, 78 AH / 697-698 CE

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First Composed: 24th January 2017

Last Modified: 24th January 2017

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

A rare example of the experimental reformed silver coinage, i.e., dirham, of the Umayyad caliph ‘Abd al-Malik bin Marwān minted in Armenia in the year 78 AH.


78 AH / 697-698 CE.


Obverse field: lā-ilaha il-Allāh waḥdahu la sharīkalahu ("There is no god but God alone, He has no associate"). Obverse margin: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh arsalahu bi-l-huda wa dīn al-ḥaqq liyudhhiru ʿala al-dini kullahi wa-law karih-al-mushrikūn ("Muḥammad is the messenger of God whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He might make it prevail over all religions even if the associators are averse").

Reverse field: Allāhu aḥad Allāhu al-ṣamad lam yalid wa-lam yulad wa-lam yakun lahu kufūwan aḥad ("God the one, God the eternal, He did not beget and was not begotten. And there is none like unto Him"). Reverse margin: bism Allāh ḍuriba hadhā al-dirham bi-armānia fī sanat thamāniya wa sabʿīn ("In the name of God, this dirham was struck in Armenia in the year 78").


Weight = 2.77 gms.

This experimental aniconic coinage was minted most likely when Muḥammad ibn Marwān, brother of caliph ʿAbd al-Malik bin Marwān, was the governor of Armenia. He also minted Arab-Armenian coins. This exception rare coin fetched £20,000 in a recent auction.

The differences between experimental Umayyad dirham and "reformed" dirham are quite subtle. Since this was an exceptionally early issue it was struck before the precise format of the design had evolved. This might also explain why the legends are placed differently on this specimen. What was obverse margin in the above experimental Umayyad dirham became reverse margin in the "reformed" dirham. On the other hand, "reformed" Umayyad dīnār adopted exactly the same contents on the margins as found in the experimental Umayyad dirham.


Not known.

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[1] "Coins Of The Islamic World", Morton & Eden Ltd. (In Association With Sotheby's), 2016, Catalogue No. 82 (20th October 2016), Lot 18.

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