The Classical Economies Collection  

THE COLLECTION
RESOURCES
ABBASID CALIPHATE

temp. 'Abd Allah al-Saffah
AH 132-136 / AD 749-754


                AR Dirham (2.95 g, 25mm, 1).

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Ref:
al-Kufa.
Dated AH 132 (AD 749/50).
Central Kufic legend:
         la ilah illa | Allah wahdahu | la sharika lahu
         (There is no diety except | God alone | He has no equal)
Marginal Kufic legend:
         bism Allah duriba hadha al-dirhem bi-al-Kufa sanat ithnatain wa thelathin wa mi'at
         (In the name of God. This dirham was struck in al-Kufa in the year two and thirty and one hundred)
Central Kufic legend:
         Muhammad | rasulu- | allah
         (Muhammad | the Messenger of | God)
Marginal Kufic legend:
         Muhammad rasuluallah. arsala rasulahu bi'l-huda wa-din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu 'ala ad-din kollihi
                 walau kariha al-mushrikun
         (Muhammad is the messenger of God. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to reveal it to all religions
                 even if the polytheists abhor it)
Lowick 1088; Album 211.
Notes: Al-Saffah was the founder and first caliph of the Abbasid dynasty.


temp. Harun al-Rashid
AH 170-193 / AD 786-809


                AR Dirham (2.95 g, 25mm, 1).

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Pedig:
Madinat al-Salam (Baghdad).
Dated AH 182 (AD 798/9).
Central Kufic legend:
         la ilah illa | Allah wahdahu | la sharika lahu
         (There is no diety except | God alone | He has no equal)
Marginal Kufic legend:
         bism Allah duriba hadha al-dirhem bi-Madinat al-Salam sanat ithnatain wa themanin wa mi'at
         (In the name of God. This dirham was struck in Madinat al-Salam in the year two and eighty and one hundred)
Central Kufic legend:
         Muhammad rasuluallah | mimma amr bi amir al-Amin | Muhammad
                 ibn amir al-muminin | Ja'far
         (Muhammad is the messenger of God | From what was ordered by the prince al-Amin | Muhammad,
                 son of the Commander of the Faithful | Ja'far)
Marginal Kufic legend:
         Muhammad rasuluallah. arsala rasulahu bi'l-huda wa-din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu 'ala ad-din kollihi
                 walau kariha al-mushrikun
         (Muhammad is the messenger of God. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to reveal it to all religions
                 even if the polytheists abhor it)
Lowick 833; Album 219.9.
Ex Album FPL 217 (September 2006), no. 189.
Notes: Harun was the son of the the third Abbasid caliph, al-Mahdi, and his wife Al-Khayzuran. His elder brother, al-Hadi, succeeded his father in AD 785, and put down a number of rebellions as well as defeated a Byzantine army, but died of natural causes after only about a year's rule. Harun then became caliph, and reigned during the zenith of Abbasid power. His mother was very influential and greatly influenced his rule until her death in AD 789. His method of rule was such that most of the day to day rule was handled by his vizier and ministers. By the time of his reign, these posts were mainly filled by members of the Persian Barmakid family. Harun's main duties were to be a final court of appeal (thus above the base politics of the various factions), lead Friday prayers, and command the army in wartime. The first twenty years of his reign were very prosperous. Like his brother, he put down a number of rebellions and defeated a Byzantine army. The latter was particularly significant. During his father's rule, Harun had been led an army against the Byzantines, and fought to the gates of the imperial city. Recognizing the futility of continued warfare, the Byzantine Empress Irene negotiated a settlement of yearly tribute in exchange for peace. It was for this great success that Harun received the honorific title al-Rashid ("rightly-guided"). In AD 802, Irene was overthrown by Nicephoros I, who refused to continue the tribute payments, and demanded the Abbasids pay him instead. Harun responded by invading the Byzantine territory, capturing a number of cities, and defeating the army sent against him. Nicephoros was forced to reinstate the tribute, and also to pay a further tribute for his transgression. Beyond being a capable military leader, Harun was highly cultured, and vigorously supported the arts and sciences, resulting in Baghdad and other major cities becoming great centers of learning. Soon, the Abbasid empire was a flourishing culture that rivaled the great societies of the western world. It is thought that his reign was the model for the famous Middle Eastern epic, The Book of One Thousand and One Nights. His rule was so illustrious that he communicated amicably with his contemporary ruler, Charlemagne, who presided over the a powerful empire in the west, the Holy Roman Empire. In AD 798, he received an embassy from Charlemagne in Baghdad, from whom he received a number of gifts. After remaining for a few years, the embassy returned to the west with gifts from Harun, including an elephant. Around the same time, al-Rashid recognized that the Barmakid family had become too powerful, and were a threat to the Abbasid royal house. He had his vizier executed, and the family was ousted from their positions. While certainly a necessary action, one result was the weakening of Abbasid control in peripheral areas of their empire. Over the last decade of his rule, a number of rebellions broke out, and ultimately portions of North Africa and Transoxiana were lost. During this period, the economy also began to weaken. These problems emboldened the Byzantine Emperor Nicephoros to again refuse to pay tribute. Harun again marched west with his army, but died en-route.

This particular coin is from the year al-Rashid received Charlemagne's embassy, and was minted at the capital, Baghdad, where they were received.