Abbasid Caliphate: 2nd Period

Silver Donative Dirham


In field: al-Muwaffaq/billah/al-Nasir

Inner margin: bism Allah duriba hadha’l-dirham bi-Isbahan sana sitt wa saba’in wa mi’atayn “in the name of God this dirham was struck in Isbahan year six and seven and two hundred

Outer margin anticlockwise from 12:00: lillah al-‘amr min qabl wa-min ba‘d wa- yawma’idhin yafrahu al-mu’minin bi-nasr Allah “the command is God’s, past and future, and on that day the faithful will rejoice in the victory granted by God” – Surah XXX (al-Rum), v. 4


In field within linear circle: al-Nasir/li-din/Allah

Inner margin within linear circle: “truly God will help those who help Him. Verily God is all strong, almighty” – Surah XXII (al-Hajj), v. 40 (last sentence)

Outer margin: anticlockwise from 1:00: Muhammad rasul Allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa-din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi wa’l-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

This donative dirham is remarkable for having a design found nowhere else in the Abbasid coinage. As such it is an uncanny precursor of the later coinage of the Fatimids. It is likely that al-Muwaffaq struck the piece to mark the suppression of the Dulafid dynasty in Isfahan in 276 H/889-890 CE, and he probably gave it as rewards to his troops. Al-Muwaffaq displayed the fact that he was, in all but name, the ruler of the caliphate, because there is no mention in the coin legends of the actual caliph, his brother al-Mu’tamid. In his life al-Muwaffaq was the reviver and virtual saviour of the Abbasid caliphate in the middle of the third century of the Hijra. He ruled from Baghdad while al-Mu’tamid was in virtual exile in Surra man ra’a (Samarra). Al-Muwaffaq was first challenged by the Saffarids, and after he defeated them in 262/869 he turned his attention to the rebellious Zanj of southern Iraq. It was eleven years before he and his son Abu’l-‘Abbas, later the Caliph al-Mu’tadid, launched a campaign against the Zanj, and another four before they were finally able to put an end to their rebellion. From then on he became much less active, and left Baghdad to spend his last years in the Jibal, where this coin was struck. He returned to the capital, mortally ill, in 278 H/794-795 CE, and died in the same year.

Abbasid Caliphate: 2nd Period

TypeDonative Dirham
Rulerabu-Ahmad Talha bin Ja’far al-Muwaffaq billah bin al-Mutawakkil
Date276H / 889-890CE