Sulayhid of the Yemen

Gold Dinar

Obverse

In field: within a double linear circle the Shi’a kalima: la ilah illa Allah/Muhammad rasul Allah/‘Ali wali Allah “no deity other than God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, ‘Ali is the chosen one of God”

In margin anticlockwise from 12:00: bism Allah duriba hadha’l-dinar bi-‘Adan sanat ithnayn wa saba’in wa arba’ mi’a “in the name of God this dinar was struck in ‘Adan the year two and seventy and four hundred”

Reverse

In field within a double linear circle: al-malik al-sayyid/al-mukarram ‘azim/al-‘Arab Sultan/amir al-mu’minin “the king, the prince, the honoured, supreme chief of the Arabs, sultan under the commander of the faithful”

In margin anticlockwise from 12:00: al-Imam Ma’add abu-Tamim al-Mustansir billah amir al-mu’minin “the Imam Ma’add abu-Tamim al-Mustansir billah, commander of the faithful”

The Sulayhids were the agents of the Fatimid caliphs of Cairo in the Yemen. Under their first ruler, ‘Ali bin Muhammad, their coinage was struck in Zabid where they waged a struggle against the Sunni Najahids of the region. After ‘Ali’s death the fight was continued by his son Ahmad bin ‘Ali who, after a series of victories, was recognised by the Fatimid caliph al-Mustansir as his special ally, and he was loaded with honours which were incorporated into the legends on the Sulayhid coinage. This coin happens to be the earliest dated, but hitherto unpublished, Sulayhid dinar to be struck in their new commercial centre, the port town of Adan, where they could serve both the African and Indian trade routes. This coinage, as usual, omits Ahmad bin ‘Ali’s actual name but records the titles granted to him by the Fatimid caliph al-Mustansir, seen in the legends. These titles were used for many years after his death in 478 H by his powerful wife, al-Sayyida Arwa and his virtually unknown son ‘Ali II. When these “maliki” dinars were first studied by Ramzi Bikhazi in 1973 the earliest date known was 486 H. Subsequently Stephen Album recorded one dated 475 H and this coin moves the date of his accession three years earlier to 472 H, while al-Mukarram Ahmad was alive but still suffering the after-effects of a stroke.

Sulayhid of the Yemen

MaterialGold
TypeDinar
Ruleral-Mukarram Ahmad bin ‘Ali bin Muhammad
Mint‘Adan (the main port town in southern Yemen)
Date472 H (1078-1079 CE)
Weight2.43g
Diameter21mm