Islamic Gold Dinar

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The gold dinar was a coin issued by Muslim communities within and without Byzantium. It was loosely based on the Roman standard coin – the solidus, and weighed nearly equal to that of a gold solidus (4.25 grams); it was made with 20.5 carats of gold. It, along with the silver dirham, was the standard forms of currency in Islamic Byzantium, Al-Andalus, Alhambra, and many other Islamic regions of the time, circulating alongside currencies minted in Christian Byzantium and Jerusalem. The production of the gold dirham was one of the longest ever in history, with a record that began in 77 AH (about 696-7 CE) under the orders of the Caliph Abd Al-Malik ibn Marwan, and ended during the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1924. [1] From that time hence, the production of gold dinars and silver dirhams were largely discontinued in favor of coinage made from 'cheaper' metals.

However, in 2002, the then prime minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad proposed the reintroduction of the gold and silver standard of currency in all Islamic countries, beginning with the recreation of gold dinar and the silver dirham in accordance with Sharia (Islamic laws) first established by Umar Ibn al-Khattab when he related that 'seven dinars must be equivalent (in weight) to ten dirhams'. [2] The use of the gold dinar in Islamic law and custom is furthered by Ibn Khaldun, who states in the Al-Muquaddimah (History) that dinars and dirhams were used, since the beginning of Islam, to pay for zakat (alms / charity), mas kahwin (dowries), and hudud (compensations for impropriety). [3] These traditional uses coaxed the majority of the Islamic community to vie for the revival of the gold dinar, so that in only five years after Mohamad's proposal of the reinstatement of the gold dinar as the currency of the whole Islamic world, many Islamic nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Libya followed with the production and use of modern dinars and dirhams, with Kelantan in Malaysia being the first to officially pay Zakat with the use of this newly re-issued currency. [4] By Sharia tradition, a gold dirham weighs 'seventy-two grains of barley […] seven-tenths of it is fifty and two-fifths grains…' equating it with the modern equivalent of 4.44 / 4.45 grams of pure fine gold. Alongside the gold dinar, the silver dirham (3.11 grams of pure fine silver), and the smaller daniq (1/6th of a dirham, known to be the very first in history to be issued) also of fine silver were issued. [5]

While the gold dinar is officially recognized as Islamic currency, it is worth far more than any face value (of which it has none, save for the value of its metals by weight in the general market), and as such carries no status as legal tender, with its use only limited to investments, the payment of traditional Islamic responsibilities such as Zakat, dowries, and compensatory fees for offenses or faults, as well as (in the rare case of the Kelantanese dinar) the purchase large quantities of merchandise. Unlike ancient dinars however, these modern Islamic dinars no longer feature Q'uranic inscriptions; instead opting to display the respective country's coats-of-arms and year of issue – although designs do vary greatly depending on its country of issue. Because of the highly valuable nature of its metal constituent, Islamic dinars and dirhams are sought after by bullion investors for investment purposes, with many websites now selling gold dinars and dirhams to investors interested in its purchase.

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Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for ©

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