Abbasid Caliphate: 1st Period

Silver Dirham

Obverse

In field: la ilah illa/Allah wahda/la sharik lahu “no deity other than the One God, He has no associate”

Inner margin within double linear circle and five single annulets: bism Allah duriba hadha’l-dirham bi-Arran sanat ithnatayn wa thamanin wa mi’a “in the name of God this dirham was struck in Arran the year two and eighty and one hundred”

Reverse

In field: in large letters ‘Ubayd Allah/Muhammad/rasul/Allah/bin al-Mahdi “Ubayd Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of God, son of al-Mahdi”

In margin anticlockwise from 2:00: Muhammad rasul Allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi wa law kariha al-mushrikun “Muhammad is the messenger of God, who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions even though the polytheists may detest it” – Surah IX (al-Tauba) v. 33

‘Ubayd Allah bin al-Mahdi was an obscure. well-connected brother of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid. To keep him, ‘Ubayd Allah, away from harmful temptation, al-Rashid appointed him to the seemingly prestigious position of princely governor of Armenia, Arran and Egypt, but he actually only carried out occasional duties for the caliph. His name was mentioned on the coinage of Armenia in 172 H. and then, lastly, of Arran on this exceedingly rare dirham.

Abbasid Caliphate: 1st Period

MaterialSilver
TypeDirham
RulerUbayd Allah bin al-Mahdi
MintArran
Date182H / 798 CE
Weight2.85g
Diameter25mm