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Christian Sahner
1/ Here’s a unique coin I love to show my students . A fascinating window into the early history of in . Minted in Sistan, ca. 691-2. One side portrays the king of kings; the other has the Islamic profession of faith (the shahada) but in Pahlavi!
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
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2/ Pahlavi (otherwise known as Middle ) was the language of the kings and the clergy. It remained a prestige language in even after the Islamic conquest
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
Replying to @ccsahner
3/ What makes the coin so unique is that it translates the shahada into an essentially idiom: “yazd-ēw bē ōy any yazd nēst mahmat paygāmbar ī yazd” (There is one God, without any other, is the of God)
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
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4/ It is extremely uncommon to find the profession of faith in a language other than (لا اله الا الله محمد رسول الله), let alone in a language so closely associated with an infidel empire and religion as !
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
Replying to @ccsahner
5/ The Muslim governor who minted the coin, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn ‘Abdallah, was clearly targeting Persian-speaking elites, as well as the local convert population (which, culturally speaking, was probably still between and )
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
Replying to @ccsahner
6/ The coin was minted shortly before the famous reforms of the caliph ‘Abd al-Malik, who banished all non-Islamic symbols from coins and replaced them with Islamic slogans plus verses from the . The Pahlavi coin was thus a kind of precursor
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
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7/ The other place where we find Islamic slogans in the languages of the conquered people is in the western part of the . This one was minted in al-Andalus (Islamic ), ca. 713, in the wake of the conquest. It features an amazing inscription
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
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8/ The reads: “In nomine domini non deus nisi deus solus cui non [socius]” (In the name of the Lord, there is no god but God, alone, who has no partner/ ~ بسم الله لا اله الا الله وحده لا شريك له)
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
Replying to @ccsahner
9/ The Pahlavi inscription from Sistan is unique, but its portrait of the king is not. Early Muslims frequently minted coins with ancient Persian iconography, but usually added a small inscription. The most common reads, “In the name of God” (بسم الله)
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
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10/ Here’s another example of a -style coin with an Islamic inscription, this time the famous slogan, “There is no judgement other than God’s” (لا حكم الا لله)
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
Replying to @ccsahner
11/ It may be significant that the Pahlavi inscription on the Sistan coin replaced an image of the fire altar, which was commonly found on coins and Islamic imitations. Was this a deliberate swapping of two religious symbols?
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
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12/ Finally, it’s worth noting that something similar happened in the former provinces of the , such as , where the Muslims minted coins which looked a lot like earlier Byzantine models
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
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13/ What’s the takeaway? 1) Coins are extremely important for understanding early Islamic history 2) Muslims were surprisingly open to appropriating symbols from “enemy” empires and religions 3) Islamic modes of expression crystallized slowly during the conquest era
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
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14/ For the Pahlavi coin see this wonderful article by Malek Iradj Mochiri (which I learned about from reading the work of !)
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Christian Sahner Nov 13
Replying to @ccsahner
15/ For Latin coins from the early Islamic period, see:
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