A Glass Dirham Weight In The Name Of Muḥammad Ibn Marwān, 73-91 AH / 692-709 CE

Islamic Awareness

© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

First Composed: 2nd April 2013

Last Modified: 4th April 2013

submit to reddit

Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

(a) (b) (c)

(a) Top view, (b) view from an angle and (c) side view of the glass weight.


73-91 AH / 692-709 CE.


Diameter = 50 mm; Weight = 282.13 gms.

Glass weight broken but skilfully repaired, which makes it impossible to determine whether any shards of glass were lost from the interior surfaces of the break, otherwise as manufactured and unique.


    1. This
    2. standard weight is equal to 70
    3. mithqals 100
    4. dirhams by order of
    5. Muḥammad bin Marwān.


Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik bin Marwān named his brother Muḥammad bin Marwān Governor of Mosul, Azerbaijan and Armenia in the year 73 AH. Muḥammad remained in office until he was dismissed by his nephew caliph al-Walīd in 91 AH.

This standard weight was issued by Muḥammad bin Marwān while he was serving as Governor of the North, where he would have been in charge of implementing the Umayyad coinage reform of 77-78 AH. This piece would have acted as the control tool against which the mint could validate the standard weight of its precious metal coinage.

It is certainly the earliest surviving documentary evidence of the famous seven to ten ratio between the weight of the mithqal and the dirham, a standard which has survived in the traditional usage ever since that time. With this weight a skilled team of operatives would have been able to establish a mint, it being the central tool around which all other operations of production would have revolved. It is likely that this piece was used to control and validate the weight of the Umayyad silver dirhams known to have been produced in both Azerbaijan and Armenia in the year 78 AH (compare this with glass dīnār weight, c. 86 AH / 705 CE). This discovery of this provides evidence of the care and precision employed by the Umayyad administration in the conduct of its business.


Displayed at Baldwin’s Islamic Coin Auction - 19. Asking price £280,000-320,000 (not sold).

Bookmark and Share


[1] Classical Rarities Of Islamic Coinage, Wednesday 25 April 2012, 2012, Baldwin’s Islamic Coin Auction - 19, A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd: London (UK), Lot 6. The description is taken from here.

The images above are reproduced from the stated sources under the provisions of the copyright law. This allows for the reproduction of portions of copyrighted material for non-commercial, educational purposes.

With the exception for those images which have passed into the public domain, the use of these images for commercial purposes is expressly prohibited without the consent of the copyright holder.

Back To The Islamic Coins