A journey to search my soul

This is a blog of my personal collections. The purpose of this blog is to educate myself and public in regards to antiquities especially related to religion and calligraphy. I welcome everyone to input their feedback in this blog which they think would be helpful. I do not watermark the photos in this blog so everyone is free to use them as long as they are not used for illegal and unethical reasons. I appreciate if you could notify me if you plan to use any of the photos here. Enjoy browsing!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Antique Coin Review 34 : Umayyad Coin - Governor Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad - Caliph Muawiya Abi Sufyan( 60AH)

Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad (Arabic: عبيد الله بن زياد‎) was a son of Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan after whose death in 673 he became the Governor of Kufa and Basra and later Khurasan.He also minted coinage, which survives to this day. In 674 he would cross the Amu Darya and defeat the forces of Bukhar Khuda of Bukhara what would become the first known invasion of the city by Muslim Arabs.
The coin is minted during the era Muawiya bin Abi Sufyan ( 41-60AH : 661-680 AD) under governor Ubayd Allah Bin Ziyad ( 55-64AH : 674-683AD)
Struck in Dasht Maysan year 60 AH

Coin Specs

Item : Dirham of Caliph Muawiya bin Abi Sufyan ( struck on Khosro Coin)
Obv :A crowned bust imitating Khusrou II the Sasanian king
         All legends are written in Pahlavi except the Arabic written بسم الله lower right on margin
         The word on the left is GDH 'pzwt = may his splendor increase
         The words on the right is AWBYTALA/Y ZAYATAN  = Ubayd Allah bin Ziyad
Rev : Fire altar with 2 attendants. Legends in Pahlavi
          The word on the left is SYWN = 60        
          The word on the right is  DSh = Dasht Maysan
Date : 60 AH (679 CE)
Dim : 25 mm
Weight : 2.12gm
Denom : Dirham
Metal : AR
Mint : Dasht Maysan
Rarity : R
Purchased Price : USD

The history of Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad can be seen below excerpted from Wikipedia:

Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad (Arabic: عبيد الله بن زياد‎) was a son of Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan after whose death in 673 he became the Governor of Kufa and Basra and later Khurasan.He also minted coinage, which survives to this day. In 674 he would cross the Amu Darya and defeat the forces of Bukhar Khuda of Bukhara what would become the first known invasion of the city by Muslim Arabs.

In 680, Yazid I ordered Ubayd Allah to keep order in Kufa as a reaction to grandson of Prophet, Husayn ibn Ali's popularity there. Ubayd Allah appointed his brother Uthman as deputy and marched to Kufa. Ubayd Allah executed Hussain ibn Ali’s cousin Muslim ibn Aqeel and put out the right eye of Hussain ibn Ali’s supporter Al-Mukhtar. He was also one of the leaders of the army of Yazid I during the battle of Karbala.

Yazid left a vacuum in Iraq upon his death in 683. Ubayd Allah abdicated the governor's mansion in Basra and took up shelter with Mas'ud ibn Amr al-Azdi. The Azd were a Yemenite tribe who then supported the Umayyads against the rebellion of Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. But Basra's new governor Abd Allah ibn al-Harith sided with Ibn al-Zubayr, and had Mas'ud killed the following spring; some traditions add, probably accurately, that Ubayd Allah and Mas'ud had complained about Ibn al-Harith's corruption (again, probably accurately - but the Basrans did not then care) with a view to regaining for Ubayd Allah his command. Ubayd Allah fled the city for Syria - leaving his wife and family behind. (Madelung pp. 301–303)

While Ubayd Allah was in Syria, he persuaded Marwan ibn al-Hakam not to recognise Ibn al-Zubayr. Meanwhile the messianic rebel Al-Mukhtar wrested Kufa from Ibn al-Zubayr in 685. Seeing his chance, or so he thought, Ubayd Allah sent an army against Mukhtar. According to contemporary historian John bar Penkaye, Mukhtar met [Ubayd Allah] Ibn Ziyad's legions with a militia composed of 13,000 lightly armed freedmen on foot at the river Khazir near Nineveh. Ubayd Allah died in that battle. (Brock pp. 65–6)

Antique Coin Review 33 : Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah II ( 1571-1597 CE) Rare Gold Kupang

This is a round gold kupang from Sultan Abdul Jalil Riayat Shah II era (1571-1597 CE).
In the obverse, its written Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah and reverse Khalifatul Muminin.
In Saran Singh's this ruler's kupang is labelled as SS9 however in an octagonal shape. There is no reference in Saran's referring to this kupang as a round shape.
In Malaysian Numismatic Heritage book page 93, this round kupang is specifically labelled for Sultan Abdul Jalil Riayat Shah II whereas in a booklet published by Bank Negara Malaysia, Johor Currency Heritage,page 17, this round kupang is stated as unique with a comment that this is type of coin is not recorded in any Malaysian coin catalogue and was believed clipped to be round from its original octagonal form.

Similar coin was sold for SGD850 ( USD620) in Lot 189 in the Collectibles Auction Asia (CAA) Auction 5/2015 held on 18 April 2015 at Landmark Village Hotel, Singapore.

Johor is located in the southern tip of Peninsular of Malaysia as well as the most southern point of the Asian Continent. The name of Johor originated from the Arabic word Jawhar which means jewel. It is also known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Takzim ( Abode of Dignity). The Sultanate of Johor was founded by Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah II , the son of exiled last Sultan of Malacca ( Sultan Mahmud Shah) in 1528 CE. Johor was part of Malaccan Sultanate prior to Malacca occupation by Portuguese in 1511 CE.

Coin Spec
Obv: Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah
Rev: Khalifatul Mukmin
Weight : 0.64 gm
Dim : 11mm
Rarity : Very Rare ( similar to SS10 except round shape)

Market Price : USD620

Ancient Manuscript Review 37: Antique Indo-Persian Quran (18th century)

This is one of the biggest handwritten Qurans in my collection. Its dimension is 15" x 9.5" x 3" . Purchased from a friend in Pakistan in 2009. This Quran is undated but from the design and paper used, its estimated copied in 18th century. text written in Naskh script with Persian translation. The first 2 pages & last page are illuminated.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Quran
Content : A complete Quran with Persian translation
Dim : 15" x 9.5" x 3"
Date : 18th century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : Afghanistan/Iran/India
Calligraphy : Naskh , Thuluth & Nastaliq
Design : 11 lines
Purchased Price :USD

Ancient Manuscript Review 36 : Antique Indo-Persian Quran (1108 AH)

This is a handwritten Quran from Indian-Persian region. First 2 pages are beautifully illuminated and text written in Naskh script with farsi translation in nastaliq script. It is copied in 1108 AH ( 1696 CE) by Rahmatullah Bin Ghyatullah.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Quran
Content : A complete Quran with Persian translation
Dim : 11" x 7" x 2"
Date : 1108AH ( 1696 CE)
Copyist : Rahmatullah Bin Ghayatullah
Origin : Afghanistan/Iran/India
Calligraphy : Naskh , Thuluth & Nastaliq
Design : 12 lines
Purchased Price :USD

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ancient Manuscript Review 35 : Antique Arabic Grammar manuscript ( 863 AH)

This is by far one of the oldest manuscripts in my collections. It is a manuscript about the Arabic grammar. Written in riq'ah script and dated to 863 AH ( 1459 CE). It's copied by Yusuf Bin Mustafa.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Arabic Grammar Manuscript
Content : Arabic grammar
Dim : 7" x 5.5" x 1"
Date : 863AH ( 1459 CE)
Copyist : Yusuf Bin Mustafa
Origin : Turkey
Calligraphy : Riq'ah
Design : 21 lines per page
Purchased Price :USD

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ancient Coin Review 32 : Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz ( 717-720 CE)

Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (Arabic: عمر بن عبد العزيز‎) was an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 717 to 720. He was also a cousin of the former caliph, being the son of Abd al-Malik's younger brother, Abd al-Aziz. He was also a great-grandson of the companion of the Prophet Muhammad, Umar bin Al-Khattab.
Umar Abdul Aziz was famously known as a just & religious ruler.

The calligraphy used in all the legends on both sides of this dirham is Kufi.

Coin Specs

Item : Dirham of Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz
Obverse Field:
لا اله الا الله وحده لا شرك له

There is no deity except (the one) God alone. He has no equal
Obverse Margin:
بسم الله ضرب هذا الدرهم بدمشق سنة مئة
In the name of God. This Dirham was struck in Damascus in the year one hundred

Reverse Field:
الله احد الله الصمد لم يلد و لم يولد و لم يكن له كفوا احد
God is One God. The eternal and indivisible, who has not begotten, and has not been begotten and never is there His equal
Reverse Margin:
محمد رسول الله ارسله بالهدى و دين الحق ليظهره على الدين كله ولو كره المشركون

Muhammad is the messenger of God. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to reveal it to all religions even if the polytheists abhor it.

Date : 100 AH (720 CE)
Dim :27.5 mm
Weight : 2.80gm
Denom : Dirham
Metal : AR
Mint : Dimasq
Rarity : R
Purchased Price : USD

Read on the excerpt from "The Hundred Great Muslims" about Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz:

Hazrat Umar Bin Abdul Aziz, the celebrated Umayyad Caliph whose empire stretched from the shores of the Atlantic to the highlands of Pamir, was sitting in his private chamber examining a pile of State documents. The dim light of the room was adding to the serenity and sombreness of the place and the Caliph could scarcely feel the arrival of his wife, Fatima, till she addressed him, "Sire! Will you spare a few moments for me? I want to discuss a private matter with you." "Of course", replied the pious Caliph, raising his head from the papers, "But, please put off this State lamp and light your own, as I do not want to burn the State oil for private talk."

The obedient wife, who was the daughter of Abdul Malik, the mighty Umayyad Caliph and the sister of two successive Umayyad Caliphs, Waleed and Sulaiman, complied accordingly.
The short rule of Hazrat Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was like an oasis in a vast desert -- a benevolent rain which had fallen on an arid soil. It was the brightest period in the 91-year Caliphate of the Umayyads, which, though short lived, had transformed the outlook of the State and had released such powerful democratic forces that after his death the attempts for the restoration of autocracy under Hishaam failed miserably and ultimately culminated in the fall of the Umayyads at the hands of the Abbasids.
Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz, surnamed "Al-Khalifat-us-Saleh" (The pious Caliph) was the son of Abdul Aziz, the Governor of Egypt, and his mother, Umm-i-Aasim was the grand daughter of the Caliph Umar. He was born in 63 A.H. (682 A.D.) in Halwan, a village of Egypt, but he received his education in Medina from his mother's uncle, the celebrated Abdullah Ibni Umar. Medina, which in those days was the highest seat of learning in the world of Islam, was greatly instrumental in moulding his life to a pattern quite distinct from those of other Umayyad Caliphs. He remained there till his father's death in 704 A.D., when he was summoned by his uncle Caliph Abdul Malik and was married to his daughter Fatima. He was appointed Governor of Medina in 706 A.D. by Caliph Waleed. Unlike other autocratic governors, immediately on arrival in Medina, he formed an advisory council of ten eminent jurists and notables of the holy city and carried on the administration with their consultation. He empowered them to keep a watchful eye over his subordinates. This step had a salutary effect on the residents of Medina, who hailed his beneficent Administration. He successfully strove to erase the signs of ravages committed in the holy cities of Islam under Yazid and Abdul Malik. During his two-year stay as the Governor of Medina, he repaired and enlarged the Mosque of the Prophet (sws) as well as beautified the holy cities with public structures; constructed hundreds of new aqueducts and improved the suburban roads leading to Medina. "Moderate, yet firm", says Ameer Ali, "anxious to promote the welfare of the people whom he governed, Umar's rule proved beneficent to all classes." His patriotic rule was for the good of his subjects.
His just administration attracted from Iraq a large number of refugees who were groaning under the oppression of Hajjaj Bin Yusuf. But, according to Tabari, this migration highly enraged the tyrant who prevailed upon Waleed to transfer him from Medina which he left amidst `universal mourning'.
The Umayyad Caliph Sulaiman Bin Abdul Malik who had great respect for Umar Bin Abdul Aziz nominated him as his successor. On his death, the mantle of Caliphate fell upon Umar Bin Abdul Aziz who reluctantly accepted it. Giving up all pomp and pageantry, the pious Caliph returned the royal charger, refused the police guard and deposited the entire equipment meant for the person of the Caliph in the Bait-ul-Maal. Like a commoner he preferred to stay in a small tent and left the royal palace for thefamily of Sulaiman. He ordered that the horses of the royal stables be auctioned and the proceeds be deposited in the Treasury. One of his family members asked him why he looked downhearted. The Caliph replied instantly, "Is it not a thing to worry about? I have been entrusted with the welfare of such a vast empire and I would be failing in my duty if I did not rush to the help of a needy person." Thereafter, he ascended the pulpit and delivered a masterly oration saying, "Brothers! I have been burdened with the responsibilities of the Caliphate against my will. You are at liberty to elect anyone whom you like." But the audience cried out with one voice that he was the fittest person for the high office. Thereupon the pious Caliph advised his people to be pious and virtuous. He allowed them to break their oath of allegiance to him, if he wavered from the path of God.
His short rule was noted for great democratic and healthy activities. He waged a defensive war against the Turks who had ravaged Azerbaijan and massacred thousands of innocent Muslims. The forces of the Caliph under the command of Ibni Hatim Ibni Ali Naan Al Balili repulsed the invaders with heavy losses. The Caliph permitted his forces to wage war against the notorious Kharijis. but under conditions that women, children and prisoners would be spared, the defeated enemy would not be pursued, and all the spoils of war would be returned to their dependents. He replaced corrupt and tyrannical Umayyad administrators with capable and just persons.
His first act after assuming office was the restoration to their rightful owners the properties confiscated by the Umayyads. He was hardly free from the burial ceremonies of Caliph Sulaiman and wanted to take a short respite when his son asked him if he would like to take rest before dealing with cases pertaining to confiscated properties. He replied, "Yes, I would deal with these after taking rest." "Are you sure, that you would live up to that time?" asked the son. The father kissed his dear son and thanked God that he had given him such a virtuous son. He immediately sat up to deal with this urgent matter and first of all returned all his movable and immovable properties to the public treasury. He deposited even a ring presented to him by Waleed. His faithful slave, Mazahim was deeply moved at this uncommon sight and asked, "Sir, what have you left for your children?"
"God", was the reply.
He restored the possession of the garden of Fadak to the descendants of the Prophet (sws) which had been appropriated by Marwan during the Caliphate of Usman. He bade his wife Fatima to return the jewelry she had received from her father Caliph Abdul Malik. The faithful wife cheerfully complied with his bidding and deposited all of it in the Bait-ul-Maal. After her husband's death, her brother Yazid who succeeded him as Caliph offered to return it to her. "I returned these valuables during my husband's lifetime; why should I take them back after his death", she told him.
The restoration of Fadak provoked mixed reaction from the people. The fanatical Kharijis who had become hostile to the Caliphate soon softened towards Umar Bin Abdul Aziz, proclaiming that it was not possible for them to oppose a Caliph who was not a man but an angel.
The house of Umayyads accustomed to luxuries at the expense of the common man, revolted against this just but revolutionary step taken by the Caliph and bitterly protested against the disposal of their age-long properties.
One day, the Caliph invited some prominent members of the House of Umayyads to dinner, but advised his cook to delay the preparation of food. As the guests were groaning with hunger, the Caliph shouted to his cook to hurry up. At the same time he asked his men to bring some parched gram which he himself as well as his guests ate to their fill. A few minutes later the cook brought the food which the guests refused to take saying that they had satisfied their appetite. Thereupon the pious Caliph spoke out, "Brothers! when you can satisfy your appetite with so simple a diet, then why do you play with fire and usurp the properties and rights of other." These words deeply moved the notables of the House of Umayyads who burst into tears.
In general, he laid great stress on compensating the victims of illegal extortion in any form. His administration of impartial justice went against the interests of the Umayyads who were accustomed to all sorts of licences and could hardly tolerate any check on their unbounded freedom. They plotted against the life of this virtuous member of their clan. A slave of the Caliph was bribed to administer the deadly poison. The Caliph having felt the effect of the poison sent for the slave and asked him why he had poisoned him. The slave replied that he was given one thousand dinars for the purpose. The Caliph deposited the amount in the public Treasury and freeing the slave asked him to leave the place immediately, lest anyone might kill him. Thus died in 719 A.D. at the young age of 36 at the place called Dair Siman (The convent of Siman) near Hams, one of the noblest souls that ever lived in this world. His martyrdom plunged the Islamic world into gloom. It was a day of national mourning: the populace of the small town came out to pay their last homage to the departed leader. He was buried in Dair Siman on a piece of land he had purchased from a Christian.
Muhammad Bin Mobad who happened to be in the Durbar of the Roman Emperor at that time reports that he found the Emperor in drooping spirits. On enquiry he replied, "A virtuous person has passed away. This is Umar Bin Abdul Aziz. After Christ if anyone could put a dead person to life it was he; I am hardly surprised to see an ascetic who renounced the world and give himself to the prayers of Allah. But I am certainly surprised at a person who had all the pleasures of the world at his feet and yet he shut his eyes against them and passed a life of piety and renunciation."
He reportedly left behind only 17 dinars with a will that out of this amount the rent of the house in which he died and the price of the land in which he was buried would be paid.
"Unaffected piety", says Ameer Ali, "a keen sense of justice, unswerving righteousness, moderation, and an almost primitive simplicity of life, formed the brief features in his character. The responsibility of the office with which he was entrusted filled him with anxiety and caused many a heart searching. Once he was found by his wife weeping after his prayers; she asked if anything had happened to cause him grief; he replied: "O! Fatima ! I have been made the ruler over the Muslims and I was thinking of the poor that are starving, and the sick that are destitute, and the naked that are in distress, and the oppressed that are stricken, and the stranger that is in prison, and the venerable elder, and him that hath a large family and small means, and the like of them in countries of the earth and the distant provinces, and I felt that my Lord would ask an account of them at my hands on the Day of Resurrection, and I feared that no defence would avail me, and I wept."
His honesty and integrity have few parallels in the history of mankind. According to "Tabaqat Ibni Sa`ad", he never performed his private work in the light of a lamp which burned the State oil. On every Friday, Farat Bin Muslama brought state papers for his perusal and orders. One Friday, the Caliph brought a small pice of State paper in his private use. Muslama who was aware of the exceptional honesty of the Caliph thought that he had done it out of sheer forgetfulness. The next Friday when he brought back home the State papers, he found in them exactly the same size of paper which was used by the Caliph.
Out of the funds of Bait-ul-Maal, a guest house was founded for the poor. Once his servant burned the firewood of the guest house to heat water for his ablution. He forthwith got the same quantity of firewood deposited there. On another occasion, he refused to use the water heated from the State charcoal. A number of palatial buildings had been constructed in Khanasra out of the funds of the Bait-ul-Mawhich were occasionally used by other Caliphs when they visited that place, but Umar Bin Abdul Aziz never used them and always preferred to camp in the open.
According to the author of "Tabaqat Ibni Sa`d, "he got his articles of luxury and decoration auctioned for 23 thousand dinars and spent the amount for charitable purposes."
His diet used to be very coarse. He never built a house of his own and followed in the footsteps of the Prophet (sws). Allama Suyuti in his well known historical work "Taarikh ul Kulafaa" (History of the Caliphs) states that he spent only two dirhams a day when he was the Caliph. Before his election as Caliph, his private properties yielded an income of 50 thousand dinars annually but immediately after the election, he returned all his properties to the public coffers and his private income was reduced to 200 dinars per annum.
In spite of the fact that Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was a loving father, he never provided his children with luxuries and comforts. His daughter Amina was his favourite child. Once he sent for her, but she could not come as she was not properly dressed. Her aunt came to know of it and purchased necessary garments for his children. He never accepted any presents from anyone. Once a person presented a basket full of apples. The Caliph appreciated the apples but refused to accept them. The Caliph replied immediately, "No doubt, those were presents for the Prophet, but for me this will be bribery."
Ibni ul Jawi, his biographer, writes that "Umar wore clothes with so many patches and mingled with his subjects on such free terms that when a stranger came to petition him he would find it difficult to recognize the Caliph. When many of his agents wrote that his fiscal reforms in favour of new converts would deplete the Treasury, he replied, "Glad would I be, by Allah, to see every body become Muslim so that thou and I would have to till the soil with our own hands to earn a living." According to Fakhri, "Umar discontinued the practice established in the name of Muaawiyah of cursing Ali from the pulpit in Friday prayers."
He was very kind-hearted. Once he was moved to tears on hearing a tale of woe related by a villager and helped him from his private purse. He was kind to animals even and several stories concerning this are found in the early historical records.
He had complete faith in God and never cared for his life. Unguarded, he roamed about in streets listening to the complaints of the common man and assisting him as much as he could.
He introduced a number of reforms; administrative, fiscal and educational. A reformer appears on the world when the administrative, political and ethical machinery is rusted and requires overhauling. This unsurpassable reformer of the Umayyad regime was born in an environment which was very gloomy and necessitated a change. His promising son, Abdul Malik a youth of 17 advised his father to be more ruthless in introducing his beneficial reforms, but the wise father replied, "My beloved son, what thou tellest me to do can be achieved only by sword, but there is no good in a reform which requires the use of the sword, But there is no good in a reform which requires the use of sword."
Under his instructions, As Samh, his Viceroy in Spain, took a census of the diverse nationalities, races and creeds, inhabiting that country. A survey of the entire peninsula including those of her cities, rivers, seas and mountains was made. The nature of her soil, varieties of products and agricultural as well as mineral sources were also carefully surveyed and noted in records. A number of bridges in southern Spain were constructed and repaired. A spacious Friday Mosque was built at Saragossa in northern Spain.
The Buit-ul-Maal (Public Treasury) which was one innovation of Islam and had proved a blessing for poor Muslims during the regime of pious Caliphs, was freely used for private purposes by the Umayyad Caliphs, Umar Bin Abdul Aziz stopped this unholy practice and never drew a pie from the Bait-ul-Maal. He separated the accounts for Khums, Sadqa and Fai and had separate sections for each. He immediately stopped the practice of richly regarding the authors of panegyrics of the royal family from the Bait-ul-Maal.
One of the most important measures was his reform of taxation. He made adequate arrangement for easy realization of taxes and administered it on a sound footing. He wrote a memorable note on kharaaj to Abdul Hamid Ibni Abdur Rahman which has been copied by Qazi Abu Yusuf: "Examine the land and levy the kharaaj accordingly. Do not burden a barren land with a fertile one and vice versa. Do not charge the revenue of barren land." His generous reforms and leniency led the people depositing their taxes willingly. It is a strange paradox that in spite of all oppressive measures adopted by the notorious Hajjaj Bin Yusuf for the realization of taxes in Iraq, it was less than half of the amount realized during the benevolent regime of Umar Bin Abdul Aziz.
He paid special attention to the prison reforms. He instructed Abu Bakr Bin Hazm to make weekly inspection of jails. The jail wardens were warned not to maltreat the prisoners. Every prisoner was given a monthly stipend and proper seasonal clothing. He advised the jail authorities to inculcate love for virtue and hatred for vice among the prisoners. Education of the prisoners led to their reformation.
The public welfare institutions and works received much stimulus. All over his vast empire thousands of public wells and inns were constructed. Charitable dispensaries were also opened. Even travelling expenses were arranged by the government for the needy travellers. A large number of inns were constructed on the road leading from Khorasan to Samarkand.
Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was a capable administrator well versed in his duties towards this world and the Hereafter. He was extremely hardworking and when people urged him to take rest, he never heeded them. He had set before himself Caliph Umar's administration as a model to be copied. According to the well-known Imam Sufian Thauri, there are five pious Caliphs namely Abu Bakr, Umar Farooq, Uthman, Ali and Umar Bin Abdul Aziz. The outstanding feature of his Caliphate was that he revived Islam's democratic spirit which had been suppressed after the accession of Yazid. In a letter addressed to the Prefect of Kufa, he exhorted his governors to abolish all unjust ordinances. He wrote, "Thou must know, that the maintenance of religion is due to the practice of justice and benevolence; do not think lightly of any sin; do not try to depopulate what is populous; do not try to exact from the subjects anything beyond their capacity; take from them what they can give; do everything to improve population and prosperity; govern mildly and without harshness; do not accept presents on festive occasions; do not take the price of the sacred Book (distributed among the people); impose no tax on travellers, or on the marriages, or on the milk of camels; and do not insist on the poll tax from anyone who was become a covert to Islam".
The pious Caliph disbanded 600 bodyguards, meant for guarding the person of the Caliph. He received lesser salary than this subordinates. He attracted around him a galaxy of talented men who counselled him on State matters.
That Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was very kind and just towards non-Muslims has been acknowledged by the "Encyclopaedia of Islam". As a devout Muslim, he was not only graciously tolerant to the members of other creeds but also solicitous towards them. Christians, Jews and Fire-worshippers were allowed to retain their churches, synagogues and temples. In Damascus, Al-Waleed had taken down the `basilika' of John the Baptist, and incorporated the site in the mosque of Ummayads. When Umar became Caliph, the Christians complained to him that the church had been taken from them, whereupon he ordered the Governor to return to the Christians what belonged to them. While he endeavoured to protect his Muslim subjects from being abused, he was also anxious that his Christian subjects should not be crushed by oppressive taxation. In Aila and in Cyprus the incretribute settled by treaty was reduced by him to the original amount.
Once a Muslim murdered a non-Muslim of Hira. The Caliph, when apprised of the event, ordered the Governor to do justice in the case. The Muslim was surrendered to the relations of the murdered person who killed him. A Christian, filed a suit against Hishaam Bin Abdul Malik who later on succeeded as Caliph. The just Caliph ordered both the plaintiff and the defendant to stand side by side in the court. This annoyed Hishaam who abused the Christian. Thereupon the Caliph rebuked him and threatened him with dire consequences.
Umar bin Abdul Aziz laid great emphasis on the ethical aspects of education in order to turn the hearts of people towards charity, forbearance and benevolence. He relentlessly discouraged and punished laxity of morals.
All these beneficial measures added to the stability of the State and the prosperity of the people who lived in peace and tranquility. During his short reign of two years, people had grown so prosperous and contented that one could hardly find a person who would accept alms. The only discontented people were the members of the House of Umayyads who had been accustomed to a life of vice and luxury and could hardly change their heart.
Umar Bin Abdul Aziz did not lay much stress on military glory. He paid greater attention to internal administration, economic development and consolidation of his State. The siege of Constantinople was raised. In Spain, the Muslim armies crossed the Pyrennes and penetrated as far as Toulouse in central France.
His short reign was like a merciful rain which brought universal blessings. One of its special features was that almost all Berbers in Northern Africa as well as the nobility of Sind embraced Islam of their own accord.
Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was a unique ruler from every point of view. The high standard of administration set by him could only be rivalled by the first four Caliphs of Islam. "The reign of Umar II," writes Ameer Ali "forms the most attractive period of the Umayyads domination." The historians dwell with satisfaction on the work and aspirations of a ruler who made the welfare of his people the sole object of his ambition. His short but glorious reign has no match thence after.

Ancient Coin Review 31 : Caliph Harun Al Rashid (786-809 CE)

This is a coin from the rule of Caliph Harun Al Rashid, the 5th Abbasid Ruler. The story of 1001 nights was also being related to this Caliph.

Coin Specs

Item : Dirham of Caliph Harun Al Rashid
Obv : There is no diety except (the one) God alone He has no equal; In The Name of God. This dirham was struck in Madinat al-Salam in the year three and ninety and one hundred (193)
Rev : Muhammad The Messenger Of God Ha; Muhammad is the messenger of God. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to reveal it to all religions even if the polytheists abhor it.
Date : 193 AH (809 CE)
Dim :22 mm
Weight : 2.94gm
Denom : Dirham
Metal : AR
Mint : Madinat Salam
Rarity : C
Purchased Price : USD

Read on below excerpt about Caliph Harun Al Rashid from " Who's Who in Medieval History" :

Harun al-Rashid (also spelled Haroun ar-Rashid, Harun al-Raschid or Haroon al Rasheed) was the fifth Abbasid caliph. He and his fabulous court at Baghdad are immortalized in The Thousand and One Nights.

Born to the caliph al-Mahdi and the former slave-girl al-Khayzuran, Harun was raised at court and received the bulk of his education from Yahya the Barmakid, who was a loyal supporter of Harun's mother. Before he was out of his teens, Harun was made the nominal leader of several expeditions against the Eastern Roman Empire; his success (or, more accurately, the success of his generals) resulted in his earning the title "al-Rashid," which means "the one following the right path" or "upright" or "just." He was also appointed governor of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Syria and Tunisia, which Yahya administered for him, and named second in line to the throne (after his older brother, al-Hadi).

Al-Mahdi died in 785 and al-Hadi died mysteriously in 786 (it was rumored that al-Khayzuran arranged his death), and Harun became caliph in September of that year. He appointed as his vizier Yahya, who installed a cadre of Barmakids as administrators. Al-Khayzuran had considerable influence over her son until her death in 803, and the Barmakids effectively ran the empire for Harun. Regional dynasties were given semi-autonomous status in return for considerable annual payments, which enriched Harun financially but weakened the power of the caliphs. He also divided his empire between his sons al-Amin and al-Ma'mun, who would go to war after Harun's death.

Harun was a great patron of art and learning, and is best known for the unsurpassed splendor of his court and lifestyle. Some of the stories, perhaps the earliest, of The Thousand and One Nights were inspired by the glittering Baghdad court, and King Shahryar (whose wife, Scheherazade, tells the tales) may have been based on Harun himself.

Ancient Manuscript 34 : Antique Indo Persian Quran ( 1097 AH)

This beautiful Handwritten Quran was written by a very famous Muslim scholar Hafiz Usman. Hafiz Usman was a very well known scholar of that era. He wrote this Quran in 1097 Hijri, which makes it 333 years old. Calligraphy style of this Holy is very unique. There is a unique mix of Khat e Naskh, Khat e Thuluth and Khat e Rihan in this book.
Translation is done in Persian (Farsi). Tafseer (interpretation) is written in Persian and Arabic on every single page.
This Quran is in good condition and complete. The name of the writer and the date of completion is written on the very last page of this Holy Quran.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Quran
Content : A complete Quran with Persian translation
Dim : 10" x 7" x 2"
Date : 1097AH ( 1685 CE)
Copyist : Hafiz Usman
Origin : Afghanistan/Iran/India
Calligraphy : Naskh , Thuluth & Rihan
Design : 11 lines
Purchased Price :USD

Ancient Manuscript Review 33 : Antique Afghanistan Quran Tafseer Manuscript ( 1062 AH)

This handwritten book was written by Meerik son of Meer Qasim ul Hussaini. Mr. Meerik was one of the famous writers of Mughal era.
Tafseer (interpretation) of Surrah Al Fatah was done in Afghanistan city Balakh (India at that time) in 1061 Hijri. This handwritten book is about 370 years old. The paper is very crisp and clean. This book consists of 62 pages or 31 double sided papers.

What makes this book unique is that Governor and famous Artisan, Nawab Saad Ullah Khan has stamped this book. This stamp can be seen on very last page of this book. During the Mughal era, Chiniot (a city in Punjab, Pakistan) produced many intelligent personalities and talented artisans who occupied positions in the Mughal courts, Nawab Saad Ullah Khan and Nawab Wazir Khan held the post of Prime Minister of India and the Governor of Lahore respectively during the rule of King Shah Jehan

This book is complete without missing any pages. The name of the writer and the date of completion are written on its very last page by writer himself.

Manuscript Specs

Item : A Tafseer Manuscript
Content : Quran Tafseer on Surah Al Fatah
Dim : 7.5" x 5" x 0.5"
Date : 1062AH ( 1651 CE)
Copyist : Meerik son of Meer Qasim ul Hussaini
Origin : Afghanistan
Calligraphy : Nastaliq
Design : 21 lines written in Nastaliq.
Purchased Price :USD

Book Review 06 : Turkish Calligraphy - materials, tools & forms by M. Sinasi Acar

Book Info :

Title : Turkish Calligraphy - materials, tools & forms
Author : M Sinasi Acar
Publisher : Antik AS Kultur Yakinlari
Printer : Promat AS Istanbul
Pages : 305 pages
ISBN : 975-7843-03-2


This is so far in my opinion the best book in illustrating the tools required to be a calligrapher also used by Ottoman calligraphers. Countelss of colorful pictures showing the equipment & calligraphy.it explains in details how Ottoman calligraphers produced Hilye, Ferman, etc. Again the part that interest me is a details explanation in preparing the calligraphy for Quran mushaf. The book was printed in Bilingual - English & Turkish. I purchased this book in Istanbul in 2007 for USD90.

Book review 05 : The Art of Calligraphy in the Islamic Heritage - M Ugur Derman/Nihad M Cetin

Book Info :

Title : The Art of Calligraphy in the Islamic Heritage
Author : M Ugur Derman & Nihad M. Cetin
Publisher : IRCICA
Printer : Yildiz Matbaacilik Istanbul
Pages : 282 pages
ISBN : 92-9063-074-4

Review :

This is a giant book measuring 17" x 12" x 1" as well as one of the most important books for calligraphy lover & collector. This book explains in brief about the development of calligraphy techniques during Ottoman period. Almost 80% of the content filled with beautiful & colorful pictures of calligraphy works of Ottoman calligraphers. However I am more intersted with the pictures of Ottoman Quranic pages. Useful for my reference. I purchased this book in Istanbul in 2007 for USD195.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ancient Manuscript Review 32 : Antique Somali Quran ( 250 years old)

These are 7 volumes of full Quran from Somalia!! I used to have similar set but was confiscated by Abu Dhabi custom. Alhamdulillah these one were approved by Ministry of Information and released by Dubai custom.Thanks to my friend, D, from Somalia who has managed to acquire these books for me.

This Quran consists of 7 books.I still couldn't figure what type of script written. Is it a Sudani script ( from a Maghribi Script) or is it a twisted form of Naskh script. I need to do more research.

This Quran is undated however I estimated it to be 250 years old based on my previous Somalia Quran.

Manuscript Specs

Item : A Somalian complete Quran in 7 books
Content : Quran written in Naskh ( or Sudani) with vowel & diacritical signs.The world " Allah" in red. 11 lines per page
Dim : 6.5" x 4.5" x 1" ( 7 books in total)
Date : undated but estimated 250 years old
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : Somalia
Calligraphy : twisted Naskh or Sudani
Design : leather.
Purchased Price :USD

Ancient Manuscript Review 31 : Antique Africa Manuscript ( 200 years old)

This is my first antique african manuscript in my collection. Purchased from Ebay sometime in 2003. Undated but it comes with a letter from McGill University estimating the age & the origin of the manuscript.

Manuscript Specs

Item : A handwritten North African Prayer manuscript
Content : A 4.prayer book
Dim : 5" x 5" x 1"
Date : 200 years old
Copyist : Unknown
Origin : North Africa
Calligraphy : Magribi
Design : Text written in Maghribi script on thick paper with vowel & diacritical signs in black. 8 lines per page .
Purchased Price :USD