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Gold coin of king Offa

Assalaamu alaikum [peace be to you],

I was reading a book and found mention of a mysterious gold coin. so I made some researches in internet and decided to share what I found.


:bulletred: A King of Mercia:

The Anglo-Saxon King Offa of the Mercians (757-796) created a state covering most of England south of modern Yorkshire by suppressing resistance from several small kingdoms in and around Mercia: Lindsey, Essex, Surrey, Sussex, East Anglia, Kent and Wessex. The Lesser Kings of this region paid him homage. King Offa made important pacts with Charlemagne and Pope Adrian the First. Offa’s daughters married the rulers of Wessex and Saxon which facilitated strong relations between these areas. The New Encyclopaedia Brittanica wrote: "King Offa was one of the most powerful Kings in early Anglo-Saxon England." and "... no 8th-century account of Offa's career has survived... the most enduring achievement of his reign, however, was the establishment of a new form of coinage bearing the King's name and title..."
History books state that very little is known about him and his works, which is unusual and indeed, an extraordinary, and very peculiar statement!

King Offa's name is unreasonably connected by his establishment of a new form of coinage bearing the King's name and title, and the name of the moneyer responsible for their quality. Many coins had delicately executed portraits of Offa or his queen Cynethryth. The principles governing his coinage were employed in England for centuries afterward. But, all the English books and historians speak ONLY about King Offa's "silver-pennies"! But what about his GOLD-COINS? They forgot all about it, what is the reason, which is indeed very impressive and magnificent!

:bulletred: Analyzing the coin:
The coin in question was procured by the Duc de Blacas in Rome sometime before 1841 and has been in the British Museum since 1922. It's a unique "Gold-Coin" in the entire history of England, and even in the whole history of the world, which contains Arabic inscriptions without England being a Muslim country.
This remarkable gold coin, Weighting 4.28 gms, has furnished much food for reflection amongst historians. Many treatises and papers have been written upon the coin and its origin, and numerous theories propounded with regard to the same.

Further analysis of the coin reveals it to be a copy of an Abbasid dinar. The Arabic inscriptions are not copied perfectly. It is not uncertain if the engraver had a good understanding of the Arabic script. Although the Arabic epigraphy is reasonably clear
The center text reads لا اله الا الله وحده لا شريك له "There is no deity except Allah, He is the one and only, He has no partner." The text around the circumference reads محمد رسول الله "Mohammed is the Massenger of Allah", and then أرسله بالهدى و دين الحق ليظهره على الدين كله "sent him with guidance and the religion of truth to make it topmost above all religion." (which is part of verse 61:9 from the Qur'an.)
Obverse: The center text reads محمد رسول الله "Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah" with the name of the King "Offa Rex*" written upside down within that text." The text around the circumference reads بسم الله "In the name of Allah". ضرب هذا الدينار سبع و خمسين و مئة "This (coin) was minted in 157 A.H." (157 A.H. corresponds to 773-774 C.E.).

The significance of this archaeological artifact is that it is the first and the only dated coinage of the Anglo-Saxon period. In general Anglo-Saxon coins were not dated and a mixture of kings names, moneyers names and typological sequence has been used to date them. It is surprising that numismatists and historians can be so confident about their dates. While, here we have a coin with an actual date in Islamic Hijrah**

:bulletred: Theories about the coin:

Many theories were put forward about this coin and specially why an English king put an Islamic inscription which is the declaration of faith in Islam. These theories may be classified under the following heads:-
1- Without knowing the meaning of the Arabic words upon the coin, possibly merely regarding them as so much ornamentation, Offa had the coin struck off, merely adding, in order to identify himself with the same, the words ‘Offa Rex’ stamped also thereupon.

2- the coin was designed for use in trade; Islamic gold dinars were the most important coinage in the Mediterranean at the time. Offa's coin looked enough like the original that it would be readily accepted in southern Europe, while at the same time his own name was clearly visible.

3- As many pilgrims proceeded from England to the ‘Holy Land’ of Palestine, then under the dominion of the Muslims, this coin was struck, bearing this Arabic inscription in order that it might be the more readily accepted by the Muslims, and thus facilitate the journey of the pilgrims and assist them in trading (which may of them did) in those lands.

4- That the piece was not a coin intended for general circulation, but was struck specially as a mancus and as one of the quota of 365 gold pieces which Offa had vowed to pay annually to the Pope of Rome.

5- That Offa had become a convert to Islam, and took this means of declaring his acceptance of that Faith by stamping the Kalimah (Islamic Confession of Faith), upon his coins. this can also explain the lack of documents about his life, which might have been destroyed by "The Church of England" shortly after his death.

Undoubtedly something can be said in support of each of these theories. We may never know the full truth behind this mysterious gold coin. But what cannot be denied is the minting of a coin bearing the mark of one of the most powerful English kings and the Muslim testimony of faith.
While other coinage of later English periods are displayed in the British Museum with "great pride," this particular "crucial" coin has found itself "hidden away" in the dark recesses of the British Museum's basement storerooms!

*Rex means King.
** Islamic Lunar calendar is called 'Hijri calendar'. it started with the Hijrah (the prophet's migration from Mekkah to Madinah) in 622 CE.

- "Gold imitation dinar of Offa" from [link]
- "Offa of Mercia" from [link]
- "Dinar Minted By King Offa" from [link]
- "Did King Offa Accept the Faith of Islam?" from [link]
- "An Islamic inscription on an English coin" from [link]
- "King Offa of Mercia & the Islamic Coin" from [link]


I hope this was beneficial for you.

I found the photo of the coins in many websites, but no one tried to trace the Arabic inscriptions, so I tried to do it myself. I hope it helps you recognize the words.

If I am right, it's from Allah. if I am wrong, it's from myself.
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