Abstract Prof. Stefan Heidemann
Stefan Heidemann (Universität Hamburg)
Abstract: Money as Measure of Integration
The history of the administrative layers for provision of the imperial money of the Islamic empire (dīnārs and dirhams) can be well traced. It might serve as a model for different strands of administrative procedures integrating the empire.
ʿAbd al-Malik and al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf created an imperial money for governing the largest late antique empire. It became the means for its economic rise, its tax system and empire-wide trade. At the apex of this monetary system, Islamic law created its legal theory, referring to it as “absolute equivalent (thaman muṭlaq)” in any transaction. The level of monetarization of the society might have had even surpassed that of Rome and the Sāsānian empire.
In difference to the Roman and Sāsānian monetary organisation which was organised top down from an imperial center in terms of design and uniformity, Islamic imperial money allows to identify several administrative levels involved in its production, the caliphal, the provincial, and the local level. Apart from this, a dichotomy of regional and imperial coinages co-existed being entangled. From the conquest on, provincial administration organised the production of silver money, with some caliphal regulatory oversight. Such organisation, however, does not preclude a concentration of the minting at designated mints, such as in Bagdad and Rayy. That situation changed with al-Maʾmūn’s reforms, where the production of imperial coinage from Transoxiana to Egypt became centralised, and regional coinages faded out, reaching a measure of centralization which seemingly mirrored its fiscal integration. At the end of the 3rd/9th century this centralised system was visibly hard to maintain, until it broke up in the period of regionalisation of the empire in the 330s/940s.