Evolution of Dirham and Dinar in Islam- Part 1

June 24, 2024

The Dirham and Dinar are names of nearly all of the currencies used in the Middle East. Ever linked to Islam, the two were, however not native. These were the prevalent currencies even before the advent of Islam.

However, today, nearly all of the nations there either use Dirham or Dinar, with each country having its own version.

The Origins of Dirham and Dinar and Use in Arabia

In the early days of Arabia, there were no standardized coinage. Trades with the Byzantine Empire led to the gold Dinar becoming a norm in Middle East, while the same happened with the Persian Dirham (silver).

Scattered into several tribes without a central government, the people of the land accepted these as standard coinage and money. As Islam came and expanded, there was no need felt to change the status quo.

The Islamic Coins

The first instance of the budding Islamic nation minting its own coin was in 40 AH during Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib. The Dirhams were of the same weight to preserve the value, but were engraved with Quranic verses and the date and place of minting.

However, subsequent leaders did not pursue the coin and its limited minting meant it fell in disuse. Other attempts were also made for in Islamic Dirham, but each one had a different weight, and therefore, a different value. Most prominent attempts include the Baghli Dirham, Tabari Dirham, Juraghi Dirham and even Yamani and Maghribi Dirham.

It was not until 74 AH under the guidance of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan when the first standardized coinage and money existed. Curtains bought from the Eastern Roman Empire were found to have proclamation of Christian Trinity weaved into their edges. The Egyptian textile industry was ordered to manufacture curtains that had Islamic sayings.

The Roman Empire countered with a threat to introduce Dirhams with blasphemous content engraved.

This, the rampant variation in coinage, and increasing dishonesty in weights and purity led to the first ever truly acceptable internal currency in the Islamic world.

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