Classical Numismatic Group, LLC
Islamic Auction 5  18-19 Apr 2024
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Lot 148

Estimate: 75 000 USD
Price realized: 55 000 USD
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Fatimids. al-Mustansir billah. AH 427-487 / AD 1036-1094. AV Dinar (20.6mm, 3.26 g, 4h). Madinat Rasul Allah (Medina) mint. Dated AH 450 (AD 1059), month of Dhu'l-Hijja. Obverse margin: Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim duriba hadha al-dinar bi-Madinat Rasul Allah min Dhu'l-Hijja sanat khamsin wa arba' mi'at.
In field: al-Imam / Ma'add Abu Tamim / al-Mustansir billah / amir al-mu'minin / Reverse margin: Muhammad rasul Allah arsulahu bi' (Qur'an ix:33).
In field:
'Ali / la ilaha illa Allah / wahdahu la sharik lahu / Muhammad rasul Allah / wali Allah. Nicol -; cf. Morton & Eden auction 92 (26 April 2018), lot 97 = Baldwin's Islamic Auction 19 (25 April 2012), lot 106 (same dies). Minor marks, slightly wavy flan. Good VF. Excessively rare, an historically important coin.

Madinat Rasul Allah, 'The City of God's Messenger' is perhaps the rarest mint-place in the entire Fatimid series. Only three or four dinars from this mint are known today. It is generally accepted that the name is an honorific title for Madina al-Munawara itself, and writing more than seventy years ago George Miles simply stated Madinat Rasul Allah (=Medina)', without qualification or any mention of alternative suggestions (Miles, G.C., (Fatimid Coins: ANS NNM 121, 1951).

We can only conjecture why Fatimid dinars should have been struck at Madina al-Munawara in the year AH 450, but there is probably a connection with the activities of the founder of the Sulayhid dynasty in Yemen, 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Sulayhi. Born a Sunni, al-Sulayhi became an Isma'ili convert and it seems that by the late 420s he was already the amir al-hajj,, responsible protecting pilgrims travelling through Yemen en route for Makka. In AH 439 al-Sulayhi summoned his followers to the mountain of Jabal Masar, where he announced his intention to establish a Shi'ite state in Yemen. Unsurprisingly, the Fatimid caliph al-Mustansir gave his endorsement to the new movement, and al-Sulayhi embarked on a series of campaigns against other Muslim rulers in the region. By AH 454 the whole of Yemen was under al-Sulayhi's control – including Makka, which al-Sulayhi visited personally when undertaking the Pilgrimage. It is also known that al-Mustansir was named in the khutba in Mecca in this year, by which time the local nobility of the city had already acknowledged Fatimid overlordship. Thus while this remarkable dinar cannot be linked to any single historical event, there is ample evidence for Fatimid influence in the Holy Places around the time of its striking.
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