Islamic World by A. Rippin – new edition

Next October we will be able to savor a newly paperback edition of the outstanding work of Andrew Rippin, Professor of Islamic History and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Victoria (Canada). The Islamic World is a guide to Islamic faith and culture in all its geographical and historical diversity. Written by an international team of scholars, the volume covers the political, geographical, religious, intellectual, cultural and social worlds of Islam, and offers insight into all aspects of Muslim life including the Qur’an and law, philosophy, science and technology, art, literature, film and much else.

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The Almohad Monetary Reform

The Almohad Monetary Reform

The Almohads changed the design and the weight of the coinage, and these new dimensions remained the norm in later dynasties. Almohad gold dīnārs measured 19 to 22 mm in diameter and weighed 2.4 g. The inscription took the form of a square naskhī script. The Almohads also struck double dīnārs as well as fractions of dīnārs to facilitate transactions in gold coinage.

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How to read an Islamic coin (part 1) – The alphabet

How to read an Islamic coin (part 1) – The alphabet

Here I start a series of articles dedicated to learning how to read Arabic / Islamic coins.

First of all we’d better start by looking at the alphabet. The abjad, as it is called in Arabic, is the second-most widely used alphabet around the world (the first obviously being the Latin one). The alphabet was first used to write texts in Arabic, most notably the Qurʼan, the holy book of Islam, but – with the spread of Islam – it came to be used to write many languages including, at various times, Persian, Urdu, Pashto, Baluchi, Malay, Swahili, Punjabi (in Pakistan), Kashmiri, Sindhi (in India and Pakistan) and many other.

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The Almohad Dinasty

The Almohad Dinasty

The Almohad Dynasty was a Berber, Muslim dynasty founded in the 12th century. With time Almohads conquered northern Africa as far as Libya, together with Al-Andalus (present day southern Spain and Portugal). Their name, Almohads, comes from the Arabic al-Muwahhidun (الموحدون) which means “the monotheists” or “those who affirm God’s unity”. Their founder, the pious and learned Ibn Tumart, preached a unitarian form of Islam which denied the independent existence of the attributes of God, considering them as being incompatible with his unity, therefore implying a polytheistic idea. He was a member of the Masmuda, a Berber tribe of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. In 511 h. / 1117 AD he met ‘Abd al-Mu’min, a young man of outstanding administrative and military ability.

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Early Islamic coins

Early Islamic coins

Arabs living in the peninsula before the Rise of Islam had no coins of their own, and, to the extent that they used coinage at all, they made do with the coins of their neighbours. In fact among the Arabs only non-Arabian coins circulated. The reasons why no coins were produced locally in pre-Islamic Arabia, outside the South, seem clear: on the one hand, the absence of a need for them, and, more importantly still for the early period, the absence of centralized nodes of authority which might have served as coin-issuing bodies.

the vast conquests of the generation following the death of Muhammad (d. 632 AD), which brought the Arabs out of the peninsula and made them rulers of a great state built on the ruins of the ancient world, also brought them into direct contact with the systems and forms of a monetary economy (Persian and Byzantine empires), making it necessary for them to issue coins themselves and, consequently, to concern themselves with the design and content of the coins which they issued.

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