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Coin in Focus: Gold Dinar of Al-Saffah

Coin in Focus: Gold Dinar of Al-Saffah

Al-Saffah, the inaugural caliph of the Abbasid dynasty, presided over the most enduring caliphate in history. His name, meaning "the blood-shedder," reflects his uncompromising rule during which the Umayyad Caliphate was toppled, and a significant number of Umayyad princes met a tragic end. Much of his reign was dedicated to the consolidation and reestablishment of the caliphate.

Al-Saffah's coinage encompassed gold dinars, silver dirhams, and bronze falus, though interestingly, they bore no mention of his name and were minted anonymously. This particular discussion focuses on shedding light upon the gold coins issued during his reign. The following is a dinar from the year AH 134:

The gold dinars minted in his era closely resembled the Umayyad dinar in style, save for a significant departure on the reverse side. Here, instead of the Umayyad inscription "Allah is One, Allah is the Eternal Absolute, He neither begets nor was he begotten" (derived from the Qur'anic chapter "al-Ikhlas"), the central legend read "Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." This stylistic alteration became evident in the year AH 132, the same year the Abbasids assumed control of the caliphate from the Umayyads, where both Umayyad and Abbasid variants of the dinar are known to exist. Both are important rarities that showcase the aforementioned legend variation. The following is an example of the Abbasid variant of AH 132:

Although anonymous, Abbasid coins dated AH 132 to 136 are generally assigned to the rule of al-Saffah, as he ruled the majority of AH 136. This dinar was minted in AH 136:

The legends are as follows:

Obverse Reverse

لا اله الا الله وحده لا شريك له

there is no god except Allah, Alone, [He] has no partner

محمد رسول الله

Muhammad is the messenger of Allah


محمد رسول الله ارسله بالهدى و دين الحق ليظهره على الدين كله

Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, [whom He] sent with guidance and the religion of truth to proclaim it over all religion

بسم الله ضرب هذا الدينر سنة ست و ثلثين و مئة

In the name of Allah, this dinar was struck year six and thirty and one hundred


The following reverse marginal legends are the known variations for each of the known dates:

AH 132 - بسم الله ضرب هذا الدينر سنة ثنتين و ثلثين و مئة

AH 133 - بسم الله ضرب هذا الدينر سنة ثلث و ثلثين و مئة

AH 134 - بسم الله ضرب هذا الدينر سنة اربع و ثلثين و مئة

AH 135 - بسم الله ضرب هذا الدينر سنة خمس و ثلثين و مئة

AH 136 - بسم الله ضرب هذا الدينر سنة ست و ثلثين و مئة

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