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The Coin of al-Rida [Image Inside]


Islamic Salvation

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The Coin of al-Rida

Historical accounts and reports in our books of Hadith confirm that al-Ma`mun had coins minted in the name of al-Ridha after appointing him as his crown prince. These became a collectors item among the Shia being considered portents of Tabarruk especially to be carried during a journey. The Imam would bestow this as a memento to some of the believing Shia who came to visit him.

The Shia were pacified by this move of al-Ma`mun and many of them had expectations that the rule will finally revert back to its rightful place after more than a hundred years of usurpation.

حدثنا محمد بن الحسن بن أحمد بن الوليد رضي الله عنه قال: حدثنا محمد بن الحسن الصفار، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن أيوب بن نوح قال: قلت للرضا عليه السلام: إنا لنرجو أن تكون صاحب هذا الامر وأن يرده الله عزوجل إليك من غير سيف، فقد بويع لك وضربت الدراهم باسمك، فقال: ما منا أحد اختلفت إليه الكتب، وسئل عن المسائل وأشارت إليه الاصابع، وحملت إليه الاموال إلا اغتيل أو مات على فراشه حتى يبعث الله عزوجل لهذا الامر رجلا خفي المولد والمنشأ غير خفي في نسبه

[Kamal al-Diin] Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. al-Walid – Muhammad b. Hasan al-Saffar – Ya`qub b. Yazid – Ayub b. Nuh who said: I said to al-Ridha عليه السلام: we hope that you are to be the man of this matter (the promised ruler from Ahl al-Bayt), and that Allah عزوجل returns it to you without fighting - for you have been given allegiance to, and the coins have been minted with your name on them. He said: there is not one of us to whom letters have been written, questions have been asked, fingers have been pointed at, and monies have been sent to, except that he will be killed or will die on his bed until Allah عزوجل will send for this matter a man of hidden birth and origin whose lineage is not unknown.

طاهر بن بن عيسى، عن جعفر بن أحمد، عن عليّ بن محمّد بن شجاع، عن محمّد بن الحسين، عن معمّر بن خلاد قال: قال لي الريّان بن الصلت بمرو و كان الفضل بن سهل بعثه إلى بعض كور خراسان فقال: احبّ أن تستأذن لي على أبي الحسن عليه السّلام فاسلّم عليه و اودّعه، و أحبّ أن يكسوني من ثيابه و أن يهب لي من دراهمه الّتي ضربت باسمه ...

[al-Kashshi] Tahir b. Isa – Ja`far b. Ahmad  - Ali b. Muhammad b. Shuja` - Muhammad b. al-Husayn [b. Abi al-Khattab] – Muammar b. Khallad who said: al-Rayyan b. al-Salt said to me in Marw after al-Fadhl b. Sahl [Ma`mun’s vizier] had dispatched him to some of the villages in Khurasan: I would like you to seek permission on my behalf from Abi al-Hasanعليه السّلام  [to allow me to meet him] so that I can greet him and bid him farewell. I would also like it if he could give me a piece of clothing from among his clothes and gift me a few of his silver coins that were minted in his name

أخبرني محمد بن يونس الأنباري قال حدثني أبي: أن إبراهيم بن العباس الصولي دخل على الرضا لما عقد له المأمون وولاه العهد، فأنشده قوله:

أزالت عزاء القلب بعد التجلد ... مصارع أولاد النبي محمد (صلى الله عليه وسلم)

فوهب له عشرة آلاف درهم من الدراهم التي ضربت باسمه، فلم تزل عند إبراهيم، وجعل منها مهور نسائه، وخلف بعضها لكفنه وجهازه إلى قبره

[al-Aghani] Muhammad b. Yunus al-Anbari – his father  who said: The poet Ibrahim b. al-Abbas al-Suli came in to see al-Rida when he was appointed by al-Ma`mun and made the crown prince and recited the following verse:

The grief of the heart has receded after enduring  … the repression against the sons of Muhammad

Al-Rida gifted him ten thousand silver coins which were minted in his name, Ibrahim held on to them and used them as dowry for marrying his wives and left some of them behind to purchase his shrowd and for the carrying of his body [to the grave].

The wonderful thing is that archaeologists and scholars of numismatics have discovered a few pieces of this coin which is considered a rarefied item.

Below is an image of the coin:

592fdc3b82da9_TheCoinofal-Rida.thumb.jpg.602ce9bd45c285ce584f68e3a27ef7e7.jpg

General Information

Period: The Abbasid Caliphate, 132-218 H/750-833 AD,

Ruler: Abu Ja‘far ‘Abd Allah al-Ma’mun ibn al-Rashid, (194-218 H/810-833 AD)

Place of Mint: Samarqand in Central Asia (present-day Uzbekistan)

Date: 202 H (817-818 AD)

Metal and denomination: Silver dirham

Weight and measurement: 2.87 g / Ø 25.5 mm

Legend and Design

OBVERSE

Field

la ilah illa / Allah wahdahu / la sharik lahu / al-mashriq 
“no god but God, unique, He has no associate, East

Inner margin

bism Allah duriba hadha’l-dirham bi-samarqand sana ithnatayn wa mi‘atayn 
“in the name of God this dirham was struck in Samarqand the year two and two hundred”

Outer margin

muhammad rasul Allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi 
“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” 
Sura 9 (al-Tawba), v. 33 (in part)

REVERSE

Field

lillah / muhammad rasul Allah / al-ma’mun khalifat Allah / mimma amara bihi al-amir al-rida / wali ‘ahd al-muslimin ‘ali ibn musa / ibn ‘ali ibn abi talib / dhu’l-riyasatayn 
“for God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, al-Ma’mun is the Caliph of God, among the things ordered by the Prince al-Rida, Recipient of the Oath of the Muslims ‘Ali ibn Musa ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Possesser of the Two Headships

Margin

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” 
Sura 9 (al-Tawba), v. 33

10 Comments


Recommended Comments

oh, wow. this is crazy. 

I have been in regular email discussions with the curator at Manchester museum who specialises in ancient coins, specifically to try and find this exact coin! thank you! I will feed this back to him, and see if there is a coin in the Manchester museum collection

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  • Advanced Member

Assalaamualeykum,

I have got another images of Imam Reza's coin which is much clear and probably different in make than the one shown in image above, as mint marks writing and shape of the coin differs.

2-11_-C134-r-22.png.edcc311b07481c914b48fb61cc2961f5.png2-11_-C134-o-22.png.5cdbe795878e7a6899801dfeae50a672.png

 

You can also see other great collections of coins which were made and used under Abbasids rule from this link

 https://www.davidmus.dk/en/collections/islamic/dynasties/abbasiderne/coins

Wa aleykumsalaam

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Hmm.....Quite interesting, but more specifically the words:

"among the things ordered by the Prince al-Rida, Recipient of the Oath of the Muslims ‘Ali ibn Musa ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Possesser of the Two Headships”

 

 

What exactly does Posseser of the Two Headships mean? And Recipient of the Oath of Muslims mean?

 

Do these terms refute those who claim the Imams(عليه السلام) were sunni?

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  • Advanced Member
3 hours ago, MaisumAli said:

What exactly does Posseser of the Two Headships mean? And Recipient of the Oath of Muslims mean?

Quote

Salam this title was title of Al-Fadl ibn Sahl the vizier of  al-Ma'mun because Fadl was ruling  over both Muslim lands & Abbasid Army instead of Abbasid caliph  & al-Ma'mun was just busy in entertainment  & staying with his harem instead of taking responsibility of caliphate. 

 

After defeating al-Amin, al-Ma'mun became the new Caliph throughout the eastern Islamic world, primarily the Iranian lands, and Fadl was appointed vizier and Emir of these areas. Because of his local role as civil and military leader he received the honorary title of ذو الرئاستين, meaning "the dual leadership of violence".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Fadl_ibn_Sahl

After Imam (a) settled in Merv, al-Ma'mun sent an agent to his house and told Imam (a) that "I want to depose myself from Caliphate and leave it to you!", and asked Imam (a) about his opinion. Imam (a) seriously opposed his idea. So, al-Ma'mun asked him to accept to be the crown prince after him. Imam (a) again disagreed, then al-Ma'mun summoned Imam (a) to his house and in a session, where there was no one except him, Imam (a) and al-Fadl b. Sahl, and told Imam (a), "I want to leave Muslims' affairs to you and unburden myself from this responsibility and leave it to you."

https://en.wikishia.net/view/Imam_Ali_b._Musa_al-Rida_(a)

Quote

Position of Imam (a) in Medina
Imam al-Rida (a) lived 17 years of his Imamate in Medina (183 – 200/815-816 or 201/816-817) and had a great position among people. In a conversation with Ma'mun about the position of the crown prince, Imam (a) described his life in Medina as follows,

Quote

After Imam (a) settled in Merv, al-Ma'mun sent an agent to his house and told Imam (a) that "I want to depose myself from Caliphate and leave it to you!", and asked Imam (a) about his opinion. Imam (a) seriously opposed his idea. So, al-Ma'mun asked him to accept to be the crown prince after him. Imam (a) again disagreed, then al-Ma'mun summoned Imam (a) to his house and in a session, where there was no one except him, Imam (a) and al-Fadl b. Sahl, and told Imam (a), "I want to leave Muslims' affairs to you and unburden myself from this responsibility and leave it to you."

Imam (a) said, "So, I accept only if I do not give command and do not prohibit, I neither give Fatwa, nor do I judge, I neither assign anyone to any task, nor do I change anything's position."

Al-Ma'mun accepted his condition.

 

"Surly, being the crown prince did not add any value to me. When I was in Medina, my order was obeyed in the east and the west and when I passed the alleys of Medina riding on my horse, no one was ever more honorable than me."[27]

About Imam's (a) scholarly position in Medina, he (a) said,

"I would sit in the mosque of the Prophet (s) and the scholars of Medina referred to me for their problems when they could not solve a problem and I answered them."
Quote

Analysis of the Princehood

When al-Ma'mun was criticized by Hamid b. Mihran and some other Abbasids why he gave Imam al-Rida (a) the position of princehood, he answered them, "This man was hidden from our eyes. He calls people to himself. Therefore, I wanted him to become our crown prince so that all the people he (a) attracts to himself would be in our favor."

Imam al-Rida (a) knew about al-Ma'mun's intention and told him, "you want that people say, 'Ali b. Musa (a) is not uninterested in the world and leadership, but it is the world which is uninterested in him. Do not you see how he (a) has accepted to become the crown prince greedy for caliphate?". He (a) answered those who asked him why he (a) accepted to be the prince, "I accepted that unwillingly and under pressure." 

 

https://en.wikishia.net/view/Imam_Ali_b._Musa_al-Rida_(a)
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      [amended 19 August 2023 to include references to the Irish potato famine and two Bengal famines]
      Surah Yusuf
      Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) advised Pharoah to hoard grains during the years of plenty. I think this episode is a noteworthy one because it shows how a State can intervene in the marketplace in order to improve the welfare of the wider population.
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      What policy options did Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) have?
      We should not take the story as presented 'for granted'. In reality, the Prophet (عليه السلام). had a range of choices open to him, and thinking those through helps us better understand the reasons for the policy he undertook and the reason why. 
      No government interference
      Let's start with the simplest and easiest option that Pharoah's government could have pursued once they knew that there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine (as predicted by the Pharoah's dream which was interpreted by Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام).) .
      Pharoah could have left the entire issue to the 'market'. During the years of plenty, the price of food would have fallen and people would have enjoyed a higher standard of living. For example, the lower grain prices could have led to people rearing more cattle and their diets would have improved with more meat.
      However, during the years of famine, grain prices would have risen and those people who had accumulated assets in the years of plenty would be able to pay the higher prices in the famine years. Those who had not had such assets would have starved.
      This assumes a fairly high level of self-discipline on the part of the population, but as Milton Friedman would say, the people would have been 'free to choose'. This is not a hypothetical option. The British lack of action to the Irish potato famine has been attributed to the British government's ideological adherence to a laissez-faire approach to macro-economics:
      https://kenanfellows.org/kfp-cp-sites/cp01/cp01/sites/kfp-cp-sites.localhost.com.cp01/files/LP3_BBC Irish Famine Article for Lab.pdf
       
      The Bengal famine is another one where government policy was different to the one Prophet Yusuf ((عليه السلام).) prescribed to Pharoah. In this instance, it was lack of government restriction over the action of privateers:
      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/29/winston-churchill-policies-contributed-to-1943-bengal-famine-study
       
      Going back still further, the Great Bengal Famine of 1770 has been directly attributed to British government laissez-faire economic policy.
      https://worldfinancialreview.com/the-political-economy-of-famines-during-the-british-rule-in-india-a-critical-analysis/
       
      Light interference - provision of information
      A common policy option nowadays, where people do not want direct government intervention is to recommend improving the provision of information to the population who will then be better able to make the correct decisions for themselves. The government could have mounted an information campaign during the years of plenty and told people to hoard food themselves, hoarding when there is no shortage is allowed in Islam.
      However such attempts to influence awareness about the famine to come and changing peoples' attitudes so that they saved more than they were used to, would likely have run against increased social pressures on people to do the opposite. For example typically in societies as wealth increases there is social pressure to spend more, in this case, for example, have more lavish weddings.
      Also providing information would have been a practical benefit for the better off e.g. those with storage capacity, but not so good for the poor (who would not have room to store grain, for example).
      The government (using a bit more intervention) could have given tax breaks to people who owned granaries, to help the poor who needed such facilities. Again this solution would be to focus on market-based interventions and simply alter the working of the market using incentives. Current economic theory holds that people discount future risks very heavily i.e. they don't perceive them as much of a threat as they should. So, for example, just telling people they should save for a pension does not work. 
      So we can likely predict that the solutions described above would not have worked had they tried them.
      Heavy interference
      This is what they actually did.
      In times of plenty, Pharoah's government did not let prices fall as would have happened under free market conditions. They kept prices higher than they otherwise would have been because the government intervened and took excess stocks of grain out of circulation.
      All people (rich and poor alike) had no option but to pay the usual higher prices - effectively, the government was taxing everyone, but this was not seen as a loss by anyone because the prices were no higher than usual.
      The government stored the grain centrally and then they decided to release the grain according to their own policies.
      Assumptions made by Prophet Yusuf's government
      If you leave people to their own devices they may not make the best decisions (whether they are rich or poor), this could be due to: People do not have the resources to cater for future shocks (mainly the poor) People do not have the discipline to address future shocks (applies to both the rich and the poor) The government can make better decisions than individuals acting in their own self-interest because: The government can have access to more and better information than individuals do The government may not be as susceptible to a lack of self-discipline  
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      Of all the policy options open to Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) he advised Pharoah to pursue the most interventionist one. Some people may be tempted to call this socialist or communist, but I think those terms carry a lot of excess baggage, so I won't bring them into the discussion.
      What I think can be safely inferred from his choice of policy is a fundamental principle that could inform economic policy in any Islamic state.
      Facing an external shock to the Egyptian economy, he went for the option that would cause the least pain to the worst off in society. Other policy options would have caused more pain for the poorest but somewhat less for the better off.
       
       
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      Summary
      Just because something is not created via the scientific method, does not mean it can't be useful - implications about how we think about religious precepts.
      Serendipity (pot luck)
      I have previously remarked upon how, in some fields of human endeavour where the scientific approach is held to be the ideal, in reality human scientific and technological discoveries has often been the results of luck and even mistakes.
      Social science 'theories'
      There is a corollary in the field of the social sciences which also emphasise the value of the scientific approach to generate knowledge. In this domain the anomalies are various frameworks and models that are widely taught and even used, but which have no basis in rigorous scientific research.
      The famous work by Abraham Maslow on motivation and his resulting 'hierarchy of needs' is very widely studied and used. He posits that human motivation at the fundamental level is driven by physiological needs, and once these are satisfied (he did qualify this in later works) people try and address safety needs and then, social needs and self-esteem and finally self-actualisation. 
      But Maslow did not come up with this through any research that would hold up to scientific scrutiny.
      Does the lack of a scientific approach invalidate a model or framework?
      Yet the Maslow hierarchy is productively used by professionals in a variety of industries, managers, MBA students and others in universities. For example, people use it to understand why consumers buy certain products.
      The same issue applies to Bloom's taxonomy in the field of learning and also Elmo's buying funnel in the area of marketing. The three laws of robotics have their basis in science fiction and in the area of web searching there is no scientific basis for the information-navigational-transactional categories that are used.
      Face validity
      The implication from this is that while ideas and knowledge may ideally be the result of the scientific approach I.e. hypothesising and then testing, there are many instances where this is not the case. In the area of the social sciences and management the value of some types of knowledge seems to rest on their 'face validity', do they make sense to the individuals who are presented with them and can those individuals make better sense of their external environment as a result of using these tools and if they can, that is good enough.
      Implications for religion
      The same principle could surely apply to various aspects of religion. There may be no scientific proof underpinning various religious ideas, but if they have face validity, if they help the individual make sense of their external environment and manage it, surely that is good enough?
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