Excerpts compiled from the Early Islam anthology by John Perkins
The traditional Islamic account will be ignored. The term Muslim appears only very late on in non-Islamic sources. Islam originally does not indicate a new religion Arabi does not designate an ethnic group.
1 A few remarks on the Prehistory of the Quran and Islam
1.1 Where muhammad and samad originally came from and what the term Arabia originally designated.
The word Muhammad can be traced back to the town Ugarit, in Canaan, destroyed in the 13th century BCE. In excavations, comprehensive archives have been discovered.
1.2 About Ugarit
In the texts, muhammad meant desirable or precious thing. The word samad refers to a god and crops up almost two millennia later in the Quran.
1.3 Concerning Hatra
The ruins of Hatra in Iraq are still impressive today. In the language of Hatra Arab simply means west. The inhabitants of "Arabia on the island" between Tigris and Euphrates were inhabitants of the West. The original speakers of the language of the Quran were replaced by Arab speakers in the Islamic era.
1.4 The appearance of Sassanians (appr 224-651 CE) and the downfall of Hatra
The Sassanians had their homeland in the Persis (southern Iran). They were anxious to re-establish rule of the Near East.
The 9th century story of the "Arabian" successors of the Sassanians is actually Persian. The occupancy of the town of Darabjird is important for the recognition of rule in Iran. In 241-272, Hatra was conquered by the Sassanians and not inhabited again.
1.5 Systematic Deportation as Part of the Sassanian Rule
The history of Sassanian victories involved constant deportation east, to the centre of the realm. This included the people of Hatra, including Christians, who probably took the Diatesseron, Tatian’s harmonised gospel, with them.
The culmination of this practice was the second deportation of the whole of the Antiochian population, around 540 CE.
2 The Byzantine-Sassanian Conflict 590-630
2.1 The flight of the Sassanian Ruler Khosrow II (590-628) to the Byzantine Empire
Khosrow was accepted at the court of Maurice (528-602) and gained his support to win back the throne. The "old believers" among Syrian Christian managed to keep their pre-Nicean tradition and now lived as an Iranised Arabi in the towns of Iran. (Popp henceforth refers to these people as "Arabi")
2.2 The Murder of the Emperor’s family in Byzantium and Khosrow’s revenge
In 602 Maurice, the leader in Constantinople was killed. The Persian king, Khosrow II sought to avenge him. Khosrow appointed himself avenger of the murdered Maurice and went on the attack. In 605 the stronghold of Dara fell and with it Byzantine Mesopotamia was lost. The Persians advanced to Chalcedon, which is located on the Asian side opposite Constantinople. Phokas, Maurice’s murderer and successor fell victim to a plot, which put Heraclius, the exarch of Carthage on the throne in 610.
2.3 The Reign of a New Alexander (Heraclius)
In a decade of disasters, the Persians occupied Jerusalem in 614 and then Egypt, the breadbasket of the realm, from 618 onwards. Despite being his guest for four years, Khosrow used the knowledge gained against Heraclius. In an act of symbolic politics, Khosrow took the True Cross and destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the pivotal sanctuary of Christian orthodoxy. In 618 Heraclius decided to give up rule over the Byzantine orient.
2.4 What is new with the New Alexander (Heraclius)
What is generally considered to be known about Heraclius does not explain how he came to be victorious in 630 and returned the true Cross to Jerusalem. He celebrated the return of the relic from the fire worshipers (Zoroastrians). Five years later the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was reconstructed and the relic of the Cross was taken to Constantinople.
2.5 The Church Organises Resistance
Heraclius’ campaign was akin to a Holy War. In 622 the Persians retreated from Asia Minor but Heraclius’ army circled behind and defeated them on Armenian Territory. The psychological effects of this are still evident today. Two decades later the Arabs recognised this as a turning point in their fortunes: 622 became the year of the Arabs.
2.6 Heraclius’ troops
Due to the short lifespan of troops, those of the previous emperor, Maurice, no longer existed. It can be concluded that a large number of Heraclius troops must have been "ethnic fighters". Apart from being paid by the church’s silver, they could have been motivated by the way the Sassanians had ruled, in turning Jerusalem over to the Jews.
In 623 Heraclius attacked and destroyed that fire temple in Ganjak.
In 627 the Christian Arabs were allied with Heraclius, acting as foederati (Arabic qurays). There was a great battle in 627 at Nineveh when the Byzantines were successful. Soon after Khosrow was overthrown and killed in 628.
3 The Reflection of Contemporary Contexts in the Quran
3.1 Where are the References to Heraclius in the Quran?
There was an attempt by Heraclius to win over the Iranian Christians who had been persecuted by the Byzantines and supported by the Sassanians.
Khosrow II had surrounded himself with Monophysites. These were pursued gorily by the Byzantine emperor in Syria. Heraclius had himself depicted in political and religious writings as the protector of Syrian Christians. He compared himself to Alexander the Great in poetry as protector of the faith. The peace of 628 is portrayed as restoration of the original border at the time of Alexander. An account of this Syrian legend appears in the Quran.
Heraclius is referred to in the Quran (18:82) as Du-I-Qarnayn, the one with two horns. As a basis, they were using the Syrian legend of Alexander the Great.
3.2 The Account of the Syrian Legend of Alexander the Great in the Quran.
Sections of the text of the epic Syrian poem about Alexander the Great are substantially are replicated in the Quran (18:83-97) and also at (21:96-97), although there are variations and imperfections in the Quranic version.
3.3 Putting a date on the Syriac Legend of Alexander in the Quran
As the legend acknowledges the peace of 628, the legend can be dated to 629 at the earliest. The legend contains eschatological notions current in the Byzantine Empire. The inclusion in the Quran is related to the apocalyptic beliefs of the Arabi.
3.4 Who is the Pharaoh in the Quran?
In the Quran the Pharaoh is the Persian king.
4 The establishment of Arab Rule in Syria and Mesopotamia
4.1 After the retreat the Arab auxiliary forces remain
After the peace treaty, the Persians agreed to return the True Cross and withdraw from the Byzantine orient. The Arabs, who are allies with Byzantium, remained.
4.2 The Lakhmids
After the 3rd century, Hira became the leading urban centre of non-Iranian Mesopotamians in the region of Lakhm to the north west of the Shatt al Arab. The Lakhmids were an Arab tribe in Mesopotamia.
4.3 An attempt to reconstruct the Form of Government of the Arab Kings of Hira.
Hira was a centre of trade. The Arabic speaking customers took over the role of traders in Hira.
4.4 The Ghassanids
The Ghassanids had their settlement not far Damascus. In 490 the Ghassanids were admitted to the Roman Empire after being willing to become Christian and pay tribute. It was only the Arab Praetorian Guard of Rome, the Ghassanid Arabs, who displayed any construction activity.
The regional leaders of the Confederation of Ghassanids were involved in the Byzantine hierarchy. The Ghassanids remained followers of Monophysitism, the form of Christianity they had taken on when they transgressed to Roman territory.
4.5 The Christians in the East and the West
After 501, the Lakhmid king had himself Christened at the Byzantine court. In Iran there was a weakening allegiance to the state religion of Zoroastrianism. In 641 after Heraclius died, the victory of the Byzantines over the Sassanians took on the significance of a victory of Christianity over paganism.
5 The Beginning of a New Era
5.1 When did the Arabs gain Sovereignty?
After his victory Heraclius saw himself more as a religious leader, as the founder of a new Davidic dynasty. But this could not convince the Syrian Christian Arabs.
One last attempt at unification failed. The "ekthesis" ("exposition of faith, creed"), a compromise formula to unite quarrelling factions, was attached to the narthex of the Hagia Sophia in 638. This was rejected by both the Orthodox and the Monophysites. Thus Syria and Egypt were lost for good.
Historical fact and probability prove that the beginning of the new era is not marked by the emergence of a new religion in Mecca and Medina, but by the autonomy of the Christian Arabs and Arabi after the victory of Heraclius over the Persians in 622CE.
5.2 The events of the year 20 according to the Arabs
As a sign of their newly won independence, the emirs of Iran started striking Iranian coins in the style of the last Sassanians dated from the year 20 onward. The 20th year of victory falls in 641 CE, the year Heraclius died. It is only after this time written records of the new masters of the Byzantine Orient are to be found.
5.3 Why there are no Coins and Documents from the Independent Emirs before the Year 641 that can be Dated
A coin dated 17 is considered evidence of the Muslim conquest of Damascus.
But Islamologists ignore many problems.
1. "Islam" is only mentioned in the year 72
2. the first mention of MHMT on a coin is in year 32, is in Persian, and comes from Iran
3. the coin has a monogram of Heraclius who was still emperor. (p49)
This is one reason why archaeology has no friends amongst the pious.
Muawiya, the first leader of the Arabs after the death of Heraclius,
preserved three inscriptions:
1. A coin, struck in Darabjird, on his promotion.
2. The inscription on the baths in Gadara in the year 42
3. The inscriptions on a dam in Ta’if dated 58
The bathhouse inscription is in Greek, starts with a cross, gives the Roman year and also specifies "year 42 according to the Arabs". This makes clear the meaning of the dating on other coins and inscriptions.
6 The time of Mu’awiya
6.1 The rise and fall of Muawiya
Muawiya realised that a unity of western and eastern Arabs could only take place if an imperial project could satisfy regional ambitions and overcome differences. The idea arose to finally establish an Iranian claim to leadership in the form of an Arab empire. The struggle between Byzantine Christianity and the Iranian state religion was replaced by struggle between Byzantine orthodoxy and eastern Christianity in the Iranian mould.
In 648 the Byzantine emperor Constans II attempted to end controversy by removing Heraclius ekthesis form the Hagia Sophia and forbade discussion about Christ’s one or two wills, or one or two energies.
This may have helped Muawiya, who came from Mesopotamia (his name is Aramaic), join the east with the west. In 659 Muawiya sought an agreement with Byzantium and declared he was willing to pay tribute.
In 662 Constans left Constantinople. In this year, in Darabjird, Muawiya was appointed Amir al’miminin, commander of the protectors.
From 663, every summer, Muawiya’s troops engaged with the Byzantines in Asia Minor. This recurrent pattern is not seen by Islamic hagiography, in which it is assumed that the start button of relevant history was pushed somewhere in the desert in the year 622.
The Persians always failed in their attacks on the Byzantines due to their inferiority in sea warfare. As ruler over Syria and Egypt, Muawiya was able to use the fleets for his own purposes. However when Muawiya did attack Constantinople in 674, Greek fire devastated his fleet. Muawiya pledged to pay an annual tribute in gold, horses and slaves. After this failure, the bond between east and west was dissolved.
6.2 Muawiya’s Adversaries
Following Muawiya’s defeat, in 674, year 53 of the Arabs, Abdullah bin Al-Zubayr became leader in the east and minted coins from Darabjird from this date. Coins from Darabjird do not specify the family of the Amir, following the Sassanian tradition. The inscriptions are in Pahlavi, not Arabic.
The regional coins show the tribe. In the case of Abd al-Malik, his tribe was MRWn+an. This refers to Merv in Khorosan. This gave rise to the term Marwan.
In the case of Muawiya and his two successors, it can be assumed they took office in Darabjird, following the extant coinage.
In year 41 of the Arabs, Zia bin Abi Sufyan was the local ruler in Darabjird.
6.3 An end in Arabia?
The dating of Muawiya’s inscription on a reservoir at Ta’if (south of where Mecca is now) as year 58 of the Arabs possibly allows conclusions to be drawn as to the end of Muawiya. After the transfer of his Iranian title to ibn Zubayr, the only thing left was the Ghassanid legacy. Nothing is known of Muawiya’s end.
In the traditional story, the beginnings of the Umayyads are linked with an attack on Mecca, where the pious Abdallah bn Zubayr is hoping for an end to the usurpers. Muawiya sends arch heretic and crypto-Manichean al-Hajjaj to Mecca. He had the Kaaba shot at by catapult. The Kaaba burnt and fell apart. He who does such things does not end well. And so it was indeed. Many Christians were massacred as relatives of the Umayyads. However these are colourful, pious, kerygmatic 9th century compositions.
From the evidence of the coins stuck in the name of Abdallah bn Zubayr we can infer that his appointment as emir came to an end in Darabjird in the year 60 of the Arabs.
The horrific transformations and conflicts described as fitna (upheaval) describe the conflict between the eastern and western Arabs using all the personalities and stage props that were available in Mesopotamia at the time.
In the beginning what was expected was the return of Jesus, the messiah, the muhammad (originally desired one) and not the incarnation of a Christological title from Mecca or Medina. Texts recited by modern Muslims were composed over a long period of time ending in the 9th century.
7 The Time of Abd al-Malik and his Sons
7.1 The Alleged Battle for Mecca, the Rivalry of the Opposing Caliphs and the Emergence of Abd al-Malik
Abd al-Malik was a radical. His clan the MRWnan was from Merv in what is now Turkmenistan. The mint mark of Merv can readily be seen on Sassanian coins. The great oasis of Merv was at the lower reaches of the Murghab river in the north east of the Iranian territories.
Abd al-Malik’s connection with Merv is documented by a coin from the year 75 of the Arabs (696 CE). The name of his clan was later arabised to Marwan.
7.2 Abd al-Malik’s Move into the Promised Land and the Evidence of his Religious Agenda
According to the inscriptions in the dome of the Rock, Abd al-Malik’s Jesus is Abdallah (servant of God) and muhammad (the praised one, [God’s] chosen one).
As also found on lead sealing (for postal delivery), the text on the Dome of the Rock says there is no deity other than God alone, he has no companion, the messenger of God is the chosen one.
It is certain that Abd al-Malik had the road from Damascus to Jerusalem improved. Milestones with dates and references to his building activities have been found. It is also certain that Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock, and that it was modelled on the Sassanian architecture of the fire temples. Twelve columns distributed between the four pillars in groups of three support a rotunda. On top of this is a wooden dome.
The long Christological part of the inscription refers to Abd al-Malik’s concept of a triad bonded together. God is joined with the spirit. From the spirit Mary conceives. She receives the Word whose bearer is Jesus in the function of Abdallah, servant of God.
Abd al-Malik has a concept of Trinity being the spirit and the servant is of God as bearer of the logos, referred to on coinage. The inscription on the Dome of the Rock, would appear to be an anti-Trinitarian text, where according the Council of Nicea, Jesus is the son of god.
Where can archaeological traces of the concept of Jesus being the "servant of god" come from in the 7th century? The answer is from the Iranian territories.
Abdallah means God’s servant. The translation of Abdallah bn Amir" reveals this as a motto: "The servant of God descended from the one who is acting for the Amir". This indicates a messianic following of Jesus.
The findings of material relics dated post 622 are regarded as being witness to an Islamic past, in the light of today’s religion of Islam. But the name of Muhammad cannot be clearly connected to any historic person.
R. Gyselen understood that these purported names are in fact attributes. So we can conclude that what was used in the years 38, 40 and 52 of the Arabs was the Christological title MHMT / muhammad.
The discovery of copper coins naming Jesus as muhammad in Palestine caused great confusion in 1947. The excavation was of a square shaped coin showing a Christian ruler with a long cross on the obverse and the inscription of muhammad on the reverse.
The distribution of coinage naming the chosen one, muhammad is proof of Abd al-Malik’s movement from the East to the West.
Muhammad, as the name of a historic person, first occurred in Harat in the year 67 of the Arabs as the name of an Arab emir.
In the same year is a coin bearing wali Allah, "representative of God". This led to the conflict of the year 75, with those who adhered to the concept Halfat Allah, "spokesman for God".
Of relevance to Shiite concepts today, the title Ali (sublime exalted one) is also possibly Christological. The combination of two historic and Christological titles in a Moses-Aaron constellation leads to the son in law of the Prophet of the Arabs. Ali emerges as an aspect of Jesus. The Zoroastrian concept of the genealogical tree, and the Manichean teaching of the aspects of a person help create a holy family from the stock of Christological titles. For example Muhammad bn Abdallah.
Just who is referred to by MHMT (the chosen one) in the Iranian inscriptions, can be learnt from the text of the inscriptions of the year 66 of the Arabs (687 CE). It is explained by Abd al-Malik on his inscription on the Dome of the Rock: Isa bn Mariam, Jesus son of Mary.
On Abd al-Malik’s coins, the term MRWanan is the name of his spiritual heritage a person from Merv, not the name of his father. But it became Abd al-Malik bn Marwan in the historicising literature. He became forefather of the Marwanids, a branch of the Umayyads, which is not historical either.
The doubtlessly historic Muawiya established the "rule of his family", which ended in the year 60. In that year Abd al-Malik established the rule of his house.
In conclusion it can be said that the idea of an Abdullah (servant of God) and programmatic MHMT (chosen one) had been apparent in Iran since the years 40 to 49 of the Arabs (after 660 CE). The notion of the chosen one being an apostle (rasul) of Allah can first be found phrased in Arabic in an inscription on a coin struck under Abd al-Malik bn Abdullah Bisapur in the Persis in the year 66 of the Arabs (687 CE).
The term Halfat Allah did not mean Halifat Allah, i.e. caliph. This is a modern interpretation conducive with caliph being a successor to the prophet. It should be seen as meaning "representative of god" i.e. Jesus.
A coin from the time of Abd Al-Malik, in Sassanian style depicts a leader and specifies the year as 75 (696 CE). On the reverse is the apocalyptical depiction of Jesus with a flame sword. On either side of the figure of Jesus is written Amir al-muninin and Halfat Allah. The first is the title of a person, the governor. The second indicates that Jesus is seen as God’s representative.
Abd al-Malik sees himself as the last emperor of the Syrian apocalypse and will pass rule to the messiah. This is a coin in the name of two protagonists, and not one ruler with two functions: worldly rule, and spiritual rule.
7.3 An attempt to reconstruct the Trail of Abd al-Malik’s movements from Korosan to Jerusalem.
The appearance of the terms Abdallah and MHMT/muhammad in Iranian territory is related to the Syrian Christians who had been deported the under the rule of the Sassanians.
The Christians in Syria benefited from the disintegration of the Sassanian Empire. After the defeat of Muawiya in the battle against Constantinople, he was no longer accepted in the Orient as was replaced by Abdallah al Zubayr in the year 53 of the Arabs. Muawiya was then marginalised and left traces at Ta’if in the year 58 of the Arabs.
In the year 60 of the Arabs, Abd al-Malik from Merv was elected the new suzerain of Arabs in the east. Abd al-Malik and his followers made their way westwards and reached Palestine. This is the country referred to by symbols on his lead sealing. Where everything began and where it will end.
A copper coin from Galilee shows a fish in a square surrounded by muhammad rasul Allah. The religious community had chosen the fish as a symbol of Christ, imparting that the one addressed is the apostle and chosen by God.
Before judgement day Christian unity is to be restored. That is why Abd al-Malik calls for unity among Christians in the Dome of the Rock. The muhammad (chosen one) is Jesus, son of Mary. He is the messiah. He is the servant of God (Abdallah) on Iranian coin inscriptions from 40 to 49 in the yeas of the Arabs.
7.4 The Yagar Sahaduta as a Symbol of the Foundation of Israel.
As guardian of the covenant, an aniconic pillar stone functioned as the foundation of Israel: the covenant between Jacob and his father in law Laban.
This representation of the stones (yagar sahaduta) is shown on copper coins in Syria and Palestine. On the reverse is the apocalyptic muhammad. The representation is of the past and the future, beginning and end.
After the end of Mauwiya the symbol of the cross had already disappeared from "imitative" coins struck by the Arabi. Muawiya, a former ally of the Byzantines had initially minted coins in the Byzantine way. At first there was even a Byzantine inscription on his coins.
After Muawiya, the cross was replaced by the symbol of the palm. This stands for the birth of Jesus under a palm tree (Quran 19:23-25). For Abd al-Malik, the birth of Jesus is important, not his death on the cross. The mint of the earliest mention of muhammad, Amman in east Jordan, is a hint that the notion of Jesus as muhammad was made public in the western domain by the eastern Arabs.
The depictions of Jesus on coins with a sword is similar to the Byzantine depictions of Jesus. The depictions have been erroneously interpreted by Islamologists as a "caliph".
The approaching apocalypse led to the construction of the Dome of the Rock and the demand for a peaceful agreement. In the use of the term "islam" there, the original meaning of islam was peace with respect to the scriptures thus not meaning "submission" but "concord".
To Abd al-Malik, the place where the world would end was Jerusalem and then the time of the event was 77 year of the Arabs. The seventh century since the birth of Jesus was coming to an end.
Abd al-Malik perceived himself as the second Joshua, who was to lead his people to the Promised Land. The Christian Arabs were never called Muslims but the Sons of Abraham's minor wife Hagar. Abd al-Malik also assumes the succession of the Roman empire in the West. In the East he was the successor to the Sassanians.
Muawiya was a Christian adherent of Arianism but of a different denomination. He may have carried out a dual role as leader of the Arabi and also as headman of the Qurays i.e. foederatus, ally of the Byzantines, as depicted in a coin. He was not a member of a fictitious clan of that name. He never had a coin struck in his own name on Byzantine territory.
When the Abd al-Malik arrived and stuck coins in his own name and in Arabic it must have seemed strange to the Syrian Arabs. The Christian Church fathers passed on the impression that the Arabs had a new religion and that there was a prophet called MHMT (original pronunciation Mehmet or Mahmat). This was based on their experience of heresies and false prophets2.
From the year 72, (time of Dome of Rock inscription), Abd al-Malik minted Sassanian drachms with Arabic inscriptions in Damascus and Hims. Coin production was in competition with Constantinople. There are examples of Byzantine coins as overstrikes of Arabic silver issues.
In Constantinople in 682 the portrayal of Jesus as God's lamb was forbidden. Christ was portrayed in human form. In Byzantine coins after 692 Christ was depicted with long hair, beard and eyes open.
In 695 there was a revolt in Constantinople by the Heraclian dynasty against the Emperor Justinian II. Abd al-Malik claimed Imperial status by minting gold coins, which only an emperor could do.
In 695, year 74 of the Arabs, a coin was minted with no inscriptions. It showed the apocalyptic Jesus with flame sword on the obverse and the Yegar Sadaduta on the reverse, only the date seemed important to Abd al-Malik.
7.5 The Great Schism after the Catastrophe of the Year 75 of the Arabs
Abd al-Malik’s messianic character and focus on Jerusalem led to revolt in the East. There was the election of a new Amir al-muminin. Already in 56 a coin had appeared in the Murghab saying la hukma illa li-iila, "God alone can arbitrate". Behind it was a question of how the community was to be constituted under the direct rule of divine law or of a representative of divine law.
How the foundation for a religious movement was created from a motto directed against Abd al-Malik in Islamic traditional literature
The traditional Islamic Literature dedicates many chapters to Ali, both as relative and son-in-law of the prophet of the Arabs, who had married the Prophet’s daughter and thus became heir to the claims of the Prophet. This is the pattern for the start of Iranian dynasties: a strong man with the sword marries the daughter of a priest.
When the biography of the prophet of the Arabs became more elaborate, the first problem with the creation of his lineage. He could not get the name of his mother as with Jesus (Isa bn Maryam) so in addition to his given name, another Christological title, Abdullah, servant of God, was added as the name of his father.
Islamic traditional religious literature allows for son-in-law of the prophet to negotiate with Muawiya, the governor of Syria in the year 37 of the hijra. Ali did not accept arbitration and left the camp crying "no decision but god’s". (This is mentioned in a coin inscription). Later some of Ali’s followers regretted this and remained (Harurites). Some remained out (Kharjitites).
These events are not historic in the European-American tradition of historiography.
In the spirit of respect for "religious feelings" appeasement of fanatics and tolerance towards the narrators of a "special history", a tacit agreement seems to be in force amongst West and historians, who refrain from applying the usual standard procedures when it comes to the history of the Middle East after the year 622 CE, commonly and erroneously labelled "Islamic history" (the term "muslim" appears very late!).
In this field academic requirements and scientific scepticism have apparently been replaced by the uncritical adoption of narratives comparable to those of the "Arabian nights". The small escapes of the "west-eastern Divan" and the fantastic stories of the Traditional Account seem to precious too give up. The more original history – "history" in the sense of "what really happened" - is deconstructed, the more affectionately a story about the prophet of the Arabs is constructed. It is easy for to believe in him, even for us, as it is also our own ink that runs in his veins. In the meantime the facts have flourished and multiplied to such an extent that any day in the life of the Prophet of the Arabs could be turned into a documentary and his whole life feels massive and comprehensive biographies3.
7.7 The Events of the Year 75 of the Arabs (696 CE)
Iranshar does not allow herself to be ruled by Bedoiun traditional law. The intelligent Iranians spruced up their politco-religious ideas in an "Arabic" manner so that these kept their significance in Arabic society. The Persians had behaved as Arabi for centuries. They had financed Esra’s temple project. Their party, the Pharisees were present in Jerusalem.
Coins have a long history as a medium for propaganda, also in Iran. In the year 75 of the Arabs coins were struck with the slogan: "There is no ruler unless from God". The coins from the Persis, questioned the basis of Abd al-Malik’s rule.
In the time of the Sassanians, decent from God legitimised rule. When rulers became Christian servants of God, this basis disappeared. The mistake in the eyes of traditionalists was the attachment Halfat Allah representative of God. The inscriptions on Abd al-Malik’s coins suggested a symbiotic relationship with Jesus, also a representative of God.
The ideas of the traditionalists from Sistan, Kirman and Fars persisted in the long run. This explains the damnation of Abd al-Malik by Islamic historiography.
In the year 75 of the Arabs a new Amir al-muminin "appeared", the "Harijite" Qatari bn al-Fugaa. The coins of this "new caliph" had the interesting inscription on the obverse, la hukma ila li-illah, as mentioned, "only God can arbitrate".
How this was resolved we cannot be sure. It seems Abd al-Malik returned to Jerusalem in the year 76 of the Arabs or indeed never left.
Inscriptions on the bronze medal of the year 81 of the Arabs confirm his status and of al-Walid as his successor. As the muhammad, Jesus is no longer mentioned.
7.8 The events of the year 77 of the Arabs (698 CE)
As a compromise with the East, Abd al-Malik abandoned the near expectation of imminent Parousia. The apocalyptical Jesus with flame sword no longer appeared on coins.
Abd al-Malik's messianic movement and his new version of the history of Israel as a history of the Arabs lead to a counter reaction on the part of the Iranians reflected in the inscriptions of al-Walid from the years 86 and 87 of the Arabs in Damascus.
New anonymous gold coins from the year 77 were struck according to the Persian weight standard. The core message now referred to the "Den/Din". Al-Walid was appointed crown prince on the year 81. The focus moved from Jerusalem to Damascus.
The Basilica of St John (known today as the Ummayad mosque) became the new sacred place of the dynasty and not Mecca it as is insinuated by the Islamic traditional literature.
The advance of Sassanian silver coins in the form of Arab drachmas struck in the region of the Mediterranean led to five century long purely silver currency in the area of Western Christianity.
7.9 The Rule of Abd al-Malik’s sons and the failure of successions.
Al-Walid distanced himself from the apocalyptical ideas of his father Abd al-Malik.
In place of the messiah with a flame sword, which indicated the end of the world, there was now a preacher in the form of St John the Baptist, who centuries before had called for change.
After the disappointment of the expected Parousia (second coming of Christ) there was a change in focus towards the protection of the Din/Den.
Despite the crisis of 75, a new dynasty was established, with a new temple on the Temple Mount and Abd al-Malik’s family had replaced the family of Heraclius. Al-Walid’s brother and successor, Sulayman, built Ramla, a new town in Palestine. In his time, North Africa, the naming of Jesus as muhammad first took place, and then later in Spain.
The Islamological approach, which explains events as a conquest by Bedouins, who came forth from a "spiritual desert", under the leadership of a militant prophet from Mecca, is a mere legend based on a literature written centuries after the alleged events, and contradicting material evidence, and must be considered obsolete. The information from archaeological sources and inscriptions shows that in reality, we are dealing with the establishment of rule of a (non-Trinitarian) Christian group in post-Sassanian Iran.
The rule of the Iranian Christians has to be interpreted as a replacement of elites. Non-Iranian urbane elites replace the Iranian feudal nobility.
The Arab Conquest which allegedly took place in the 7th century CE cannot be proven archaeologically. Neither buttons from Byzantine uniforms, nor weaponry nor coins from the war chest have been found Palestinian merchants along the river Yarmouk or in the Yarmouk Valley, where the Byzantine army was allegedly annihilated by the Muslim conquerors in the year 636.
This is not surprising as some of these "conquered" areas Syria and southern parts of Iraq were already ruled by Arabs in the 6th century CE.
In Egypt, the leaders of the Arabi exercised reservation with the idea of Jesus as the muhammad. Due to its critical attitude toward Byzantium, the Egyptian Church was a natural ally of the Qurays. The administration continued there with the co-operation of the Copts, with a large extent of local autonomy.
7.10 The Caliphate as the Result of the Usurpation of Power by Marwan II
Copper coins were first struck in four locations in Egypt at the time of the caliphate of Marwan bn Muhammad after 127 of the Arabs (748 CE). Marwan was the first caliph since his rule was not legitimised by inheritance. Marwan could be regarded as a kind of imperial governor. His lack of legitimacy led to violent protests.
In Egypt there was a lack of programmatic inscriptions. Abd al-Malik’s brother, Abd al-Aziz, Governor in Egypt, abstains from mentioning muhammad in the text of an inscription for a bridge in the year 78 of the Arabs (699 CE). Coin inscriptions, which deviated in any way from the Christian ideas of the Egyptians, were avoided.
North Africa and Spain however, would appear to have been fertile ground for a mission to suggest Jesus as muhammad the chosen one, as the Christology of Arianism – "Christ was created and is therefore distinct from God the Father" - still had adherence in these regions, which were once ruled by Aryan Vandals and also later by Aryan Visigoths.
As former vassals of the Byzantine Emperor, the lord's of the Arab Empire regarded the south of Spain as their own dominium, as the region had been part of the Byzantine Empire before.
In Spain the Visigothic nobility was still Aryan minded. When the Berber allies of the Visigothic nobility were reinforced by the Arabs a rather opportunistic Conquest of Spain took place, totally different to the legends in the history books about the "conquista".
Later on in Spain it was deemed necessary to find a way to reconcile the conviction of the lords of the Arab empire that Jesus was a Servant of God not Son of God.
7.11 The Fiction of a caliph called Umar - the Mahdi and successor to the concept of Jesus being the Mansur (victor).
The Mahdi was expected at the beginning of the new century. The good caliph Umar (allegedly AH 99 – 101) was not a suitable candidate for this role. In his guided nature, the Mahdi nature has been able to avert the worst. However the sacrilege of Abd al-Malik, who, in the religious history he had built up to Jerusalem to oppose Mecca, now had had to be avenged, down to his last family members.
For this reason, the portrayal of the history by historiographers narrates what "should have happened" rather than "what really happened".
The time span between the year 65 of the hijra and the end of Abd al-Malik’s family rule in 125, is exactly 60 years. 60 was a culturally important number in the region. This is why we have 60 minutes.
When modernism Islamologists read the giant history of Tabari, believing every word to reflect historical truth, they ignore the tried and tested recipes of history creation current in ancient Iran.
The story of the fictitious relative of Abd Al-Malik, the caliph Umar as a Mahdi ("the guided one") is a Trojan horse in the depiction of the third century of the hijra. The basis of the concept of the Mardi the resurrection of the "true religion" (Din al-Haqq) is of Iranian Origin.
The mention on coins of the title mansur (victor) is an indicator that apocalyptical notions lived on after the year 77. This is not a proper name but another Christological title. Arab coins minted at "Zion" were another indication of apocalyptic expectations.
The point in time when motives from the apocalypse were included into Quranic material therefore corresponds well to the idea of an early collection of Qur'anic material at the time of al-Walid, around the end of the first century of Arab rule.
The last "son" of Abd al-Malik to rule, Hisham (723 - 743 CE), is said to have resided in Rusafa, not far from the Euphrates in northern Syria.
8. Political and Religious motives and Developments in the Context of Abd al-Malik’s Dynasty
8.1 Byzantium and Damascus
From the year 74 of the Arabs, 695CE, onwards Abd al-Malik was able to feel he was the rightful successor to the Heraclian dynasty in Constantinople. As Justinian II was banished and mutilated in this year, the epoch of Davidic dynasty seemed to be over and under Malik could rightly assume that his Christian family had a vocation to succession.
According to the traditional account, all claims to rule are based on intermarriage and social contacts among the entourage of the prophet of the Arabs in a mythical eon in Mecca. This is not history, but pious narration.
After the murder of Maurice in Constantinople, the Persians felt they had to avenge it. After the murder of Justinian II, Abd al-Malik’s family also felt the need to avenge that.
Heraclius saw the natural heirs to his rule in the east, in his Arabic Arab allies, and did not pose any resistance towards their seizing of power after his retreat from the east.
Now, Abd al-Malik’ family could emerge as the avengers of the Heraclians of Byzantium.
Abd al-Malik had a medal inscribed with the words bismillah rahman rahim ("in the name of god the merciful and compassionate"). This coin-like medal in the year 81 of the Arabs (702 CE) also mentions that al-Walid had been appointed successor.
Abd al-Malik’s family, as a new dynasty, declared their claim to the succession to the throne in Byzantium. The claim resulted from the relationships of allegiance with Heraclius during the war against Khosrow II (as foederati/Qurays).
It was not without reason that the story of Alexander, the iron gate, and Gog and Magog were taken up in the Quran. The "last emperor" of the dynasty of Abd al-Malik could be designated to deliver the rule when to the messiah when the time was ripe.
The news of the exile of the emperor and the apparent end of the Heraclian dynasty cost Byzantium her dominion in North Africa.
Based on archaeological finds a new interpretation of the complexity of the relationship between Damascus and Constantinople emerges.
With the accession of Leo, the Northern Syrian, to power in Constantinople, the confusion surrounding the throne after the murder of Justinian II was brought to a close in 717.
Ever since the victory of the benefactor of the Arabi in 622, their aim has been to take over the legacy of Constantine. The keepers of the Antiochian heritage were once again part of Christians Syria and no longer isolated in the Iranian diaspora.
It was a matter of either becoming Byzantine emperor and taking the succession or turning the east and pursuing the succession of the Sassanians.
There was a split with the East over the nature of succession. Absolute rule in Iran was based on religious foundations that preserve very old traditions in a Christian guise.
Only 6 months after Leo rose to the throne, the troops of the Arab Empire were at the walls of Constantinople. Once again their ships were defeated by Greek fire. Blockades were lifted in 718.
War on land resumed in 726. It was not before the victory of the Byzantines on the South coast of Asia Minor in 740, the year 118 of the Arabs, that the conflict ended.
The history of the Arabs in Syria during the 6th century had taught them that only rule over the church could guarantee the Arab Empire permanence.
Abd al-Malik did not just see himself as a representative of the "hal(i)fat Allah" and of the "Abd al-Rahman" but also considered himself a new Moses. His title "Abdallah" identified him as servant of God, This is a complete turnaround from the Iranian concept of a ruler being god like.
With the demise of the Heraclius dynasty, Abd al-Malik began striking gold coins to the Byzantine standard with a depiction of the apocalyptic Jesus in 695 (74).
In the former Byzantine and former Sassanian regions, different concepts of the legitimisation of law existed. In both concepts, rulers had to be ordained by God. In post Sassanian Iran, the ruler had to be a messiah himself.
The failure of the Parousia in the year 77 (698 CE) led to the search for the legitimisation of rule.
8.2 The emergence of the idea of the hijra
Abd al-Malik struck many coins in many places in Syria and Palestine. All coins depicted the messiah with his flaming sword. Islamic historiography has accused Abd al-Malik of having diverted the Hajj from Mecca to Jerusalem. According to the pious literature Zubayr barricaded himself in the Kaaba in Mecca which was allegedly set ablaze. However evidence from coins struck in Kirman (in Persia) it is known that he spent his twilight years there.
For Abd al-Malik, Palestine was the aim of a hijra. The Yega Sadhuta, which appeared on Abd al-Malik’s coins celebrated his conquest of Canaan. They were not Sons of Abraham's illegitimate wife Hagar and they were not Israelites.
The word hijra as a noun does not occur in the Quran. The Quran is only concerned with the fate of the deported Arabi.
The model in the Quran is based on Jesus flight into Egypt. The birth of Jesus under a palm tree, which replaces the cross, is depicted on coins in Syria after 622.
The Quran 33:50 gives marriage rules for those who have immigrated. This passage also mentions the word prophet. But this should not be taken literally as referring to the prophet of the Arabs. It could have stood for Zarathustra, Mani, John or Jesus.
The centre of Abd al-Malik's messianic movement was the Dome of the Rock as this was part of the apocalyptic plan. The pilgrimage hajj lead to Jerusalem.
A religious calendar was necessary for the messianic movement. Like the secular calendar the point of reference was a year 622, but unlike the secular one it followed the lunar year.
After Abd al-Malik had staged the history of the Arabi as a new version of the history of Israel, a century later, in what was to become the religion of Islam, history was located in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula. The story told contained fragments of Abd al-Malik’s real past, biblical elements from an eschatological worldview, and a considerable number of pieces taken from the civilisation of Iran. Thus the representative of the Mamun stood in the Arabian tradition. His Iranian prophet undertook his exodus from Mecca, just as Zarathustra had once had to flee from his homeland, until he found asylum with a sensible people in Sakastan, who were willing to take up their swords to spread his message.
8.3 The Failure to Regulate the Succession after Hisham’s death, the Foundation of the Caliphate and the Anonymous Caliph as Imperial Regent
The only material evidence for the historicity of Hisham is an inscription mentioning his name on the Qasr al-Hayr. Since anonymous gold coins were introduced in the year 77 of the Arabs 698, followed by anonymous silver coins the year after, the only coins where the rulers names can be found are on occasional copper coins.
Al-Walid is mentioned on a copper coins struck for Damascus from the year 87. His second inscription on the sanctuary in Damascus dates from the same year (708 CE). The name "Sulayman bn ad al-Malik" does not appear on any coins. He is however mentioned on the inscription in a lead sealing.
There is no evidence of the name Umar the "caliph" with the Mahdi-like nature. There is evidence for the existence of Yazid, who followed Umar, in inscriptions on official weights. An Amir Yazid bn Umar is mentioned in an inscription on a coin struck in Rayy from the yeah 130 of the Arabs (751 CE).
Four rulers are said to have followed Hisham between 125 and 127: al-Walid II, Yazid III, Ibrahim and MarwanII. Only two are documented, indirectly, by epigraphic evidence.
Marwan II might be linked to Marwan I due to conceptional similarities. The Marwan construct is mentioned in inscriptions on lead sealings from the year 127 of the Arabs.
The reference to Marwan indicates lineage from Merv in Khorasan.
In the inscription of Medina from the year 135 of the Arabs, the reference to the "man of Merv" is missing. The only things mentioned by the title of the ruler Abdallah and his capacity as head of the police Amr al muminin.
A man called Abd a-Malik bn Marwan ("servant of the King of the faith from a stream like ‘water of life’") was allegedly the financial director of Egypt from 127-132. The "name" is nothing but the enumeration of predicates legitimising rule.
The trend towards largely anonymous rule had already started in the year 77 of the Arabs in connection with a disappointment of the Parousia.
A choice had to be made between a model of rule that would satisfy the former Byzantine Orient and one that would meet the Iranian requirement that unless it was directly from god no reign will last. A ruler could reign in the former Byzantine Orient as servant of Christ. But according to the Iranian model of rule "divine grace" had to directly shine on the ruler.
Both Islamology and Islamic tradition interpret the unrest after the death of Hisham as civil war. The Arab Empire must have been an extremely amorphous structure. The only solid political structures were to be found in Merv, Jerusalem and Damascus, the centres of the religious movement of the Arabi/Arabs.
Next, the Arab traditional historiography and its Islamological adaptation presents a scenario with a protagonist called Abu Muslim. He is supposed to have contributed to the fall of the sons of Abd al-Malik, the alleged Umayyads.
From the epigraphic material a different picture emerges. On a copper coin dated the year 131 of the Arabs (752 CE), the inscription reads "Abu Muslim, Amir Al Mohammed".
Abu Muslim is therefore commander of the family of Muhammad. This refers to the followers of Jesus, otherwise termed muhammad, rather than "father of Muslim". It can be taken as a nom du guerre, meaning an adherent of harmony (Islam), leader of the followers of the idea of Jesus being muhammad.
In 132 the term Abd al-Rahman, "servant of the merciful" was used to describe the leader. This had already been found on an inscription on a coin from the time of Abd al-Malik, next to the messiah with his flaming sword.
The Emir, according to a traditional literature was supported by the Shiites, who are held responsible for the establishment of the Abbasid dynasty. None of this, or anything like it, is backed historically. Instead we have Khorasanian supporters of the messianic movement of Abd al-Malik. This emission came to the end in a year 136 of the Arabs, in 757 CE.
The warrior St Sergius as the Archtype for the Creation of an Iranian ideal of Heroic Saint as a Starting Point to Understand the Typology of Saints in the Second Century of the Arabs: Ali, Hassan and Hussain.
Hisam, the last ruling son of Abd al-Malik, left an inscription on the Qasr al Hayr near Hims dated 110 of the Arabs. Hisam returned to Rusafa to honour the warrior saint, Sergius.
Around 600, the Christian Saint, Sergius was incorporated into the Iranian religious concept as the depiction of a hero who acts correctly in terms of ethics. He is a warrior, a horseman armed with a lance for battle. He dies the death of a martyr.
There is the early 7th century legend of Qardag that serves as an example. At the core of this story, there is an aristocratic adherent of Mazdayanism (Zoroastrianism). He is a great warrior and leader who converts to Christianity and brings peace. The Shah is not happy and after a siege, Qardag dies a martyr to save his people.
The ideal figure of a hero is represented by the failing heroes of traditional literature: Ali Hassan and Hussain. It is not without reason that Iranians regard these protagonists as heroes according to their own tradition.
Popp quotes from Gernot Wiessner:
Saint Sergius is specifically described as a warrior horseman armed with the lance for battle. He was venerated in this form as in Greek territories as well.
The Qardag story proves that Saint Sergius, most certainly because of his warlike activities, enjoyed a particular popularity even in those Christian circles of the Sassanian empire that did not want to give up their national Persian heroic tradition, but who remained open to Christian traditions outside of Iran.
8.5 Similarities of the Renunciation of Pictorial Theology in the West of the Arab Kingdom and in Byzantium
After the disappointment in the anticipation of the parousia in Jerusalem in the year 77 of the Arabs (698), pictures with religious content disappeared from the coinage of regional copper coins in Syria. The striking of gold coins depicting the messiah and following the Byzantine weight standard was discontinued. Instead aniconic gold coins following the Iranian weight standards were issued. The Christians in the towns of Palestine demolished the mosaics of their church and destroyed religious icons.
In the year 79 of the Arabs, Bardanes the Armenian took the throne in Constantinople. He declared Monothelitism the official doctrine "Christ has two natures but only one will". This seems to be a way to come to an arrangement with the Jacobites of Syria and the Copts of Egypt.
In 695 after the banishment of Justinian, the depiction of Christ was removed from Byzantine coinage for the first time. The family of Emperor Leo III (717-741 CE) originally came from Northern Syria. Like Abd al-Malik he considered to himself to be not only Emperor, but high priest.
The disappearance of pictorial illustrations on coinage of the Arab Empire has to do with the sudden end to all hope of a messianic movement in Jerusalem in the year 77 of the Arabs.
Abdul Malik’s iconographic theology was replaced by the inscription in Damascus from the year 87 of the Arabs, which declared that the "Den" makes it possible to recognise the right path. The messiah disappears amidst the demands of the Den. In the inscription, the messiah, Isa bn Mariam is no longer referred to by name. He is the muhammad.
9 Anonymous Regency after the Death of Abdul Malik’s sons
9.1 The Protest of the Law Abiding People
The end of copper coinage of the Al-Muhammad in the year 136 (757 CE) coincides with the end of anonymous silver coinage struck in the style of the Arab Empire. In the year 137 of the Arabs 758 only the mints of Carthage in the West and Gharhistan in the east still issued coinage.
The disruption had to do with the unsettled succession, which began after the death of Hisham in the year 125 of the Arabs.
On the assumption that exercising the right to strike coins is a documentation of a sovereign right to rule, then the succession of dates and the mentioning of mints on coins can help us to reconstruct a scenario of ownership of domains.
The Al-Muhammad movement that started in the Iranian regions (the family of the chosen one) called for loyalty to the idea of Jesus being the muhammad, being the successors to Abd al-Malik family.
The protests began in the year 127 of the Arabs in Isfahan. In the year 128 it had already spread to the other towns in the Iranian Highlands.
In the year 128 of the Arabs Kirmanians attacked the town of Merv and occupied it. In those days, they struck silver coins bearing the name of their party the Al Kirmani bn Ali.
The Korsanians regarded themselves al-Muhammad, the followers the eschatological muhammad concept of Jesus. The Kirmanians regarded themselves to be the followers of Ali, i.e. the concept as Jesus as Ali (elevated, sublime). This was a non-eschatological concept of Jesus. The two differing concepts occupied the place that eschatological and non-eschatological Jesus could be assigned in the Iranian view of the world.
According to fundamentalist legalists, Jesus could not be the "chosen one" because that position already was taken by the divine ruler. The divine ruler henceforth ruled in the name of messianic titles.
Already in the year 54 of the Arabs, Kirmanian coins carried the inscription "Allah is the lord of all law". In the year 70 on the coins was put: "God is the lord of all law and Jesus is the representative of the logos".
The concept of Jesus as the Wali Allah appeared in the Kirman region in the year 70 of the Arabs. At this time the concept of an eschatological Jesus as Halifat allah "representative of God", became known. Gold coins with this designation are dated to the year 74 of the Arabs. They were struck by the Khorosanians under Abd al-Malik, whose Jesus is an eschatological figure who appears with fire and sword in line with apocalyptical concepts. The Jesus of the Kirmanians is the Jesus who fails and his tried at the court of the high priest. Ali is an honorific name for Jesus.
Coins referencing Jesus as muhammad also contain on the rim Wali Allah: he is God's friend. Later it was assumed that the reference to Ali was to the alleged son-in-law of the prophet of the Arabs. The idea of an Ali appears for the first time on the rim of a coin struck in Kirman in the year 70 of the Arabs.
This stands for an Iranian mythologising of the image of a Jesus-like figure called Ali. Whoever wants to understand the process of enculturation of Christian notions into Iranian religious thought should consider how the son-in-law of the prophet of the Arabs was depicted.
A third party was involved in the struggle for a new order after Hisam’s death. The motto from the year 75 of the Arabs according to which "there should be no rule unless it comes directly from God" was made public once again. We have evidence for coinage bearing this motto struck in copper in the year 128 of the Arabs.
The rebellion started in the region around Isfahan. The protest spread in the western part of the Iranian Highlands. From the year 128 of the Arabs onwards mints in Istakhr, Darabjird and Ardasir-Khurra all struck silver coins bearing the motto of the rebels.
The evidence concerning the name of the successors of the Al Muhammad also comes from Egypt. In the traditional literature refers to them as Abbsids. Their contemporaries knew them by the name banu Hasim, the followers of Hasim.
9.2 The followers of Hassim as Representatives of the True Belief (Din al-haqq)
After Heraclius had conquered Northern Mesopotamia, there had been an attempt to restore unity with the eastern Syrians. They agreed on the notion of "one will" and "one active force" (energy) in Christ. This common creed was the trigger for a discussion, which led to the valid development of the "Nestorian identity".
The new group of eastern Syrians who opposed the Monophysites were called "Nestorians". This was in parallel to the 5th century conflict Between Cyrill and Nestorius.
These reforms were rejected by the "old believers" who were the forerunners of the later Muslims. The "Old Believer" attitude is obvious in many places in Quranic material.
They regard their Christianity as the true faith, which can only be understood in an Iranian context. These Iranised Christians believed they could consider their Christianity to be the "true faith" (Din al-Haqq).
The banu Hasim now undertook a further step towards the interculturation of the Christian Iranian legacy into the Iranian tradition. Their motto was Quran (9:33): "He it is who hath sent his messenger with the guidance (al Huda) and the religion of Truth (din al-haqq) that He may cause it to prevail over all religion."
9.3 Concerning al Huda (the guidance)
The indication that Jesus had made a message that contained a guiding principle was opposed to Zurvanism. Zurvan was a Persian God of Time the equivalent of the Greek god Kronos. Traces of Zurvanism are still evident in many of the Islamic traditions. The magus of the Quran are Zuvernight explorers, not fire priests.
9.4 Concerning Din al Haqq, the True Faith
Din is the right way view of seeing things. To translated it as "religion" is confusing. From an Iranian perspective Din should rather be translated as divine wisdom.
The Quran is a compilation, which follows earlier compilations about the Din: the Avesta and the Bible are among these. In the Quran nothing negative is said about the Iranian priests the magas since they are the ones who know the hour of the second coming of Christ.
Where did the Ben Hasim, the successors to the Al-Muhammad rule? The historical al-Hasimiya could never be located. They perhaps moved around.
The capital of Baghdad was allegedly rebuilt as around city in the year 146 of the Arabs. A "round city" that was still populated at the time was Harran. There, the temple of the moon god Sin still forms the centre of the town. Darabjird, the Palace of the Sassanians in the Persis, was developed as a round city as well. Baghdad had not been built as Baghdad but as Madinat Al-Salam, the New Jerusalem. The name Baghdad was used by the Mongols for this site after the fall of the caliphate in 1258 CE.
An anonymous coin with the motto from the Quran 9:33 is attested for the year 123 of the Arabs 753. Anonymous silver coinage from Damascus from the same year has the same motto. In 133 similar coins were struck in Basra.
Damascus lost its status as a centre and mint. The new system of rules became stable early on in Khuzistan. In the year 135 a new type of drachma was struck in Surraq, Junday Sabur and Suq al-Ahwas. The near collapse in the days of the revolt lead to a reinvention of the state. New cities were founded (in Mesopotamia).
9.5 The fictitious ruler al-Saffah as an Eschatological Representative of Anonymous rule.
The first ruler of this new era was allegedly called Al Saffa. At this time Najran was a significant pilgrimage site. It is located several days march south of Mecca. The Pilgrim’s destination was the Kabat Najran, the great Martyrion (martyrdom site). Najran was the sacred city of the Christian Arabs, along with Axum in Ethiopia, Edessa in Mesopotamia and Etchmiadzin in Armenia.
Riding on horses was a sign of nobility. The name al-Saffah points to the Iranian concept. A ruler must enter Kufa on horse. All rulers are depicted on horseback. The Arabi of the desert make clear the meaning of al Saffah: it is the one who baptises with the "water of life".
The biography of the Prophet of the Arabs reflects a number of Iranian traditions. The prophet is described as having endured hardships and like Jesus the "son of a carpenter".
After the decline of the abd al-Malik family, the notion of rulers with messianic character did continue, but the protagonists preferred to remain anonymous.
The Iranian traditionalists had a concept of favrasi, something like a guardian angel. They despised the messianic ruler concept of Abd al Malik. The rule was no longer messianic, but the ruler’s favrasi was messianic. Zoroastrian and New Testament concepts of angelology are very close.
Around the year 150 of the Arabs (771 CE) a mint called Abbasiyah can be found on silver coins. By Iranian tradition, towns were named after their founders. This is more likely however to be the name of a religious faction. The messianic rulers of the banu Hashim also act as founders of cities in the tradition of their Sassanian predecessors. The
fact that these names live on in traditional literature does not mean that the incidents or the events connected to them are historic.
After the collapse of anonymous rule by members of Abd al-Malik’s family after 132, a restructuring took place towards a chiliastic (millenarian) rule. For the period until approximately 150 of the Arabs, the names of the rulers Hasim and Abbas are documented, but not al-Saffah and al-Mansur.
9.7 The rule of "Guided (?) Chosen One" and Paradise on Earth
The successor al-Saffah and al-Mansur, who were known only in traditional literature, is "al Madi Muhammad bn Amir al-muminin", who is named on coins. This is not a double name as has been assumed, but a motto which should be understood as: "the Mahdi is the chosen one (muhammad) and is represented by the descendants of governors (bn. Amir al muminin) who were protectors if faith".
There is a Hadit that refers to this interpretation. The Madhi is none other than Isa bn Maryam.
9.8 The Caliphate (i.e. representation) of the Mahdi.
The creation of paradise on earth is connected to messianic or chiliastic rule. Islam in the sense of "concord, unity, harmony" was the call to end conflict amongst the People of the Book in the inscription on the Dome of the Rock. Islam as the "absence of conflict" is one step on the path to accomplishing paradisiac circumstances.
The daily allowances in paradise are a piece of Iranian tradition. The expression "daily bread" in the form of a daily allowance appears in 55 places in the Qur'anic text.
The funding of paradisiac circumstances seems feasible by means of a recourse to the Sassanian tradition of the domination of the Arab Peninsula and the exploitation of the mineral resources available there. The re-established presence in North Africa made it possible to gain access to the gold from West Sudan.
The appropriation of the Arabian Peninsula was of particular importance for the flow of money. As an inscription of Muawiya near Ta’if and the inscription of Medina dated 135 of the Arabs suggest, the influence of the Arab Empire was at first limited to the former region of the Ghassanids.
Renewed interest in the Arabian Peninsula can be inferred from coins struck for the representatives of the Mahdi. The penetration of the peninsula evidently took place from the Northeast to the Southwest, which is of course of the old Sassanian silver road from Najran to al-Hira.
The presence of Sassanians in Central Arabia led to an invasion of South Arabia the allies of the Byzantines in the region, the kings of Axum in Ethiopia, around 525 CE. The Sassanians then seized Yemen. The post-Sassanian administration of Mesopotamia followed the pattern of their predecessors and retook control of the silver mines of Arabia once again.
9.9 is Moses the saviour (greek:soter)?
In a new type of inscription, a person called Moses is mentioned. This should be interpreted allegorically. The term wali ahd in the inscriptions of the years 164-168 of the Arabs (787-791 CE) in Basra is not a defective spelling of the title of the successor, but stands for "the representative of the covenant".
Just how it happens that the "halifat al-Hadi, representative of the saviour" and the "Halifat Musa" can be found at the same time but in different places must be due to rivalry between the different concepts.
The introduction of the title wali ahd and the interpretation of the term as "rule as representative", constitutes a revolution. It leads away from the messianic concept of rule and back to the Iranian notion of the ruler as dadbar (upholder of the law).
For the year 171 of the Arabs two mentions of the representatives of Harun are of interest. One mentions the "Mardi" and the other the Rasid (guided one). Here, the transition from the use of messianic names to concept of law and justice inspired by Iranian models and of following the proper path can be observed.
10. The way to Al Ma’mun
10.1 The End of the Rule in Representation of a Messianic Anticipation and the Change to a Rule in the Name of Guidance: from Moses to Aaron, from Amin to Mamun
For the year 171 of the Arabs there is a confirmation of the rule of this Harun from an inscription on a gold coin without mint. It reads: "Abd Allah Harun (Aaron) amir al-muminin".
This is where the transition from an exertion of power in the name of a Hidden one (saffah, Mansur, Mahdi) to the exertion of power by one particular the named person takes place. In retrospect and in terms of present Islamic practice this could be seen as the transition from a proto-Shiite to a proto-Sunni exertion of rule.
This is a return to the style of inscriptions in the days after Muawiya in the year 42 of the Arabs. How is the system anonymous coins to be explained? Even without specific named rulers it indicates evidence of an imperial bureaucracy at work.
Specimens can be found near the Caspian Sea in the year 190 of the Arabs and on the Euphrates in the year 193 of the Arabs. These are evidence of anonymous administrative activities. In Egypt silver coins of the "Arab" rule are struck for the first time. In Yemen, it becomes particularly clear that former Sassanian territories were won back.
In the South West of the Arabian Peninsula, the region formally controlled by the Sassanians, with its significant silver mines, was already won back at the time of the messianic rule in the representation of the Mahdi. We must assume that whenever the exercise of rule over a territory began, the striking the coins must have started there as well.
As this evidence is absent, it is often simply claimed that at the time of the Prophet of the Arabs on the Arabian Peninsula, the normal case was non-statal activities, which did not leave any detectable traces. This is an adduced as an explanation since no coins or inscriptions are found the time of the prophet of the Arabs. Such an explanation would never be accepted by historians dealing with any other discipline but Islamic Studies.
If this claim is dropped by Islamologists, then another fictitious claim would have to do be dismissed: Islamic studies should no longer assume the historicity of the so-called "Constitution of Medina".
If the Prophet did not act as state but for an amorphous structure of tribes, then some explanation is needed as to how some 70 years after the sandbox games of Mecca, an extremely powerful Islamic state could develop which claim the existence of the profit on their coat of arms.
The right to strike and issue coinage makes it possible to determine the point in time when land was seized and rule over it started to be exerted. It comes as no surprise that after the conquest of the Arabian Peninsula, coins were also struck in the Hijaz. The earliest copper coin is dated in a year 185 of the Arabs. Last but not least there are coins from Mecca. The scientific consensus is that the year 201 of the Arabs is the earliest known date for the strike. A silver coin is known to exist mentioning the Halifat of the Mamun dated year 203.
After the notion of Moses and Aaron as guardians of the covenant, a new notion is found for their representatives. It is the function of the Imam, the person who leads the community at prayer.
The diffuse eschatological expectation gave way to a call which demanded the return to a legal system in the manner of Moses. The one that is trusted (Mamun), takes on the leadership of the community via the newly created office of the Imam. Had this office existed before, it would be documented in inscriptions. However it is first referred to in the year 196 of the Arabs. This was not needed when eschatological expectation was still the basis of rule.
With the appointment of the Imam, the of the concept of the community also begins to take concrete shape. The leading role in Christianity that abd al-Malik aspired to is swapped with a leadership of the new religious community.
10.2 Al-Ma’mun becomes the Representative of God (Halifat Allah)
According to the traditional literature al-Mamun is said to have referred to himself as a representative of God. Traditional literature assumes that there had already been a Shiite Imam at this time, who would have been understood as a spiritual enemy of Al-Mamun, who it is assumed had taken on it's proto-Sunni attitude. The Imam and the caliph would therefore have been leaders of conflicting religious communities. Whether or not there were such religious differences at the time of Al-Mamun is dubious. These cannot be a text detected before the establishment of the schools of Islamic law. It is therefore more probable that we are dealing with the conflict between a Khorasanian tradition of the Muhammad and a Kirmanian tradition of the Ali.
The traditional literature says that Al-Mamun appointed an opposing Imam as successor to resolve conflict. The establishment in Baghdad rebelled at this. Al-Mamun then returned from Persia and the Shiites with then removed and banished from power.
The evidence from coins contradicts these claims of the traditional literature. According to the traditional literature the tomb of Husyan bin Ali was destroyed in the year 231.
Also according to the traditional literature the vizier Fadl bn Sahl was killed in 202 but he had coins struck in 204 and 205. In the east the coins had no profession of faith at all. The east Iranian Khwarezmians might well have been wavering between the fire Temple and the Stupa. Apparently there was no rush to involve them in the religious conflicts of the rulers in Mesopotamia.
The Alid Imam is said to have died in the year 203. According to the coins he was still alive in the year 205. In order to avoid and apocalyptical scenario in the year 200 of the hijra al-Mamun allegedly fetched Ali bin Al Rida from Mecca and appointed him as his successor. He was necessary for the ruling family to cross the threshold in to new century safe and sound. He was installed as a scapegoat to deflect the ire of the gods of the Abbasids.
Whatever apocalyptical notions posterity assumed as being the reason for Al-Mamun’s, action they cannot have been his real motivation at the time it happened. Later references to apocalyptic notions are nothing more than a new theological assessment of a situation which no longer could be interpreted historically. This discrepancy demonstrates once again how historically late the Islamic traditional literature must be.
The reason for appointing Ali Al Rigga may lie in the lack of legitimacy of Al-Mamun’s rule.
Should we not rather assume that al-Mamun tried to merge two threads of tradition into one? Namely the concept of messianic rule and the Iranian concept of rule of a legislator. For himself, the position of "God's representative" emerges.
The inscriptions the years 202-205 of the hijra refer to a new organisation of the hierarchy. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, Al Mamun is the representative of Allah.
Coins with these inscriptions are known only to exist from Iranian territory: Fars, Isfahan, Rayy, Samarqand.
Al-Mamun’s appropriation of the formula Halifat Allah has sufficed for Islamologists to speak of a caliphate in the sense of a theocracy since the time of a profit of the Arabs in a town of Mecca.
Al-Mamun’s appropriation of the formula of an initially apocalyptic movement in the first century is understandable. He regarded himself as Halifat Allah in the role of an Iranian legislator, because just as law comes from God, so does power and rule. The spelling of the words in "God" and "law" are identical in Middle Persian.
Inscriptions on the coinage of the Years to 202-205 after the hijra provide information about the descent of Ali Al Rida: "Ali bin Musa bin Ali bin Abi Talib".
The presence of a genealogy of the descendants of Ali demonstrates that a genealogy of the family of Muhammad had already existed at this time. The personification of Christological concepts was accomplished. In order rule, Christological concepts were used which ultimately lead to historistisation of Christological titles. When messianic rule in the representation of the Mardi ended, the legitimacy of rule became the most important issue.
Thus in a period when a new role for the descendants of Ali was sought, the first Islamic coins were struck in Mecca. Whoever knows the genealogy of Ali also knows the genealogy of the family of Muhammad in the sense of a new "House of David".
10.3 From Bakka to Makka
Thanks to two coins struck in Mecca in the years 201, 203 of the Arabs and two the coins that were struck during the tenure of Ali Al Rida in the year years 202 -205 of the Arabs, it can be determined that there was another attempt to define legitimacy of rule at this time. Mentioning of the mint of Mecca provides the first clue of the town's significance concerning rule. Coins were not struck at locations that were politically insignificant unless their occupation had to be documented. How did it come about that this location suddenly emerged out of nowhere?
From an Iranian perspective it is perfectly reasonable to regard Zoroaster as the prophet of the East. Similarly, Christ is the prophet from the West.
The designation of graves is an act of expulsion of the ghost of messanism. Jesus found his grave as the Muhammad in the Western sphere of the Iranian domains. He is buried in Medina. there are many such burial sites.
After the personification of the Christological title muhammed of Jesus, the role of intercessor formerly played by Jesus is now played by Muhammad.
It is not known what significance Mecca had prior to the establishment of a sacred site by the Abbasids. The Axumites from Ethiopia had trading colonies in the area south of Mecca. This is demonstrated by the existence of rock churches of the Ethiopian style in Asir. In the days of Al-Mmun, a new understanding of the Quran set in. As the Syrian background of the Qur'anic tradition of the Iranised Arabi was no longer, understood a re-interpretation was attempted.
Mecca served as the location for the Bakka that was mentioned in the Quran. The Dome of the Rock was a temple for the messianic movement. A new Temple was needed for the chiliastic movement. In Jerusalem, Al-Mamun had his name inscribed the Dome of the Rock in place of Abd Al-Malik's name.
The establishment of the sacred site in connection with the tradition of the Meccan prophet of the Arabs probably went with the introduction of a fixed lunar calendar. When history was to be interpreted theologically a sacred era was required.
Thus in Baghdad, the way had been cleared for the rule of the Abyssids as the sole mediators of salvation with their entourage of lawyers, Quran readers and finders of tradition.
Just as al-Mamun had provided his rule with a theological foundation, his worldly power declined.
Up until the year 209 of the hijra he was still named as the email inscriptions on coinage struck in East Iran. Then other rulers took his place. The dirham for the year 217 in Samarkand is anonymous, as is the coin for Merv.
The removal of the mention of al-Mamun in the coin inscriptions in Baghdad since the year 204 may be related to a reform.
After the year 218, inscriptions on coins were anonymous. Titles like Imam and Halifat Allah were not found. Only the title Amir al mininin was revived, and reappeared in inscriptions which named the ruler around 870 CE. So the "caliphate" before and after cannot have been a comparable institution as is constantly insisted upon by classical Islamology.
The meaning that Islamology attaches to the titles "caliph" and "Amir al-muminin - commander of the faithful", is not older than the 10th century.
There was no direct continuation of coinage from Mecca in the year 203 of the hijra. For the year 249, the earliest gold coins is known in Mecca. The minting of silver coins resumed in 253 and continued over irregular intervals
Al Mamun;s successor Al-Mutasim-billah constructed a new residency, Samara. Samara is the new Hatra. The mosque there is known for its minaret. It is constructed in the style of an ancient Messopotamian Ziggurat. This could be an indication that when it was constructed it was intended to be linked to a Samaritan and Abrahamic past.
The Spanish Chronicle of 741 still assumes that Macca, which was considered to be the house was Abraham, was located between Ur in Chaldaea and Harran in Mesopotamia. Samara is halfway between the two locations.
When they no longer wanted Samaritans in Samara, a new reading came about. It was now read as Surra man ra'a ( pleased is the one who has seen it).
The new language rules after approximately 850 CE lead to a new reading. This was symptomatic of a new state religion for the caliphate. It was the "house of Muhammad". Just as Zarathustra had once married his daughter to the heroic king who granted him protection and shelter his successor, Muhammad married his daughter Fatima to the heroic Ali famed for his intolerance of apostates and his mastery of the double edged sword.
11 The new beginning after al-Mamun
With the death of Al-Mamun traditional Islamic numismatics also regards the first period of the Abyssids to be over.
The first Epoch of the "Arab" religious development, which lasted until al-Mamun’s death, is characterised by Christian or rather Christological concepts of a Syrian and Iranian kind. Only now does the basis of a new religion begin to form: law schools provided a return to orthodoxy.
The old teachers were aware of what threatened the Den. First and foremost: doubt. Therefore the beginning of the Qur'anic text States: " this is scripture whereof there is no doubt."
1. The text is the first contribution to the anthology "Early Islam: A critical Reconstruction Based on Contemporary Sources", edited by Karl-Heinz Ohlig.
2 This provides an explanation for the testimony of John of Damascus, the earliest non-Islamic testimony to the existence of a Prophet of the Arabs called Muhammad.
3 This scathing and contemptuous attack by Popp on the academic practitioners of Islamic Studies appears on page 90 of the book. After having surveyed the work of other historians, who seem intent upon the legend and wilfully ignore the evidence, I think Popp’s attack is entirely justified.