Much misinformation is being spread about money, or currencies, in Islaam. There are even movements who call for “Islaamic currencies” or “Sunnah money,” in reference to gold [dinar] and silver [dirham] coins. This post is not against the usage of gold, silver, or anything with intrinsic value. What it is against is the claim that dinar and dirham are Islaamic, or that it was Islaam which introduced these monies to the world.
In fact, the words “dinar” and “dirham” both have Greek via Latin origins. The pagan Romans used gold coins called denari and the Persians used silver coins called drahm. Both of these monetary exchanges were introduced to the Arabs and became Arabized into dinar and dirham before even Allaah’s Messenger was born. So this disproves the myth of “Sunnah money.”
But before I go any further, it is good to understand the difference between money and currency just for the sake of it.
Money vs. Currency
Basically, money is something that has a value within itself, i.e. intrinsic, and keeps its purchasing power. Items such as gold, silver, dates, rice, salt, wheat, and barley can all be used as money. Currency on the other hand does not have an intrinsic value, rather, it is backed by something with worth. Paper currency is a perfect example. The purchasing power scums to societal norms and changes throughout time. And this is the major difference between the two, however, neither can be claimed to be introduced by Islaam or considered more Islaamic than the other.
Dinar and Dirham are not Islaamic Money
POINT 1: There is no clear-cut evidence from revelation that gold and silver are obligatory to be used, that no other form of money can be handled.
The first official minting of what became known as “Islaamic money/currencies” was said to be done more than half a century after the death of the Prophet, by the Omayyid Caliph ‘Abdul Malik bin Marwan. He forced the new created money upon the rest of the Muslim nation. This was the only time known to have an official nationwide money enforced upon the Muslims.
So this was a clear bid’ah by the Omayyid Caliph Abdul Malik. Those people who wave the slogan of “Sunnah money” will also admit it was Abdul Malik who first introduced the minting. Then where does the “Sunnah” come into it? Are they referring to Sunnah of Abdul Malik and not the Prophet?
POINT 2: The Prophet never hinted at making Islaamic money, but used Persian and Roman money.
The Prophet never suggested Muslims to create their own money, but he allowed us to use Persian and Roman monies, or whatever was available. It would have became a terrible burden and hardship upon the Muslims to always mine for more gold and silver to mint out coins. The Arabs had no way to find such resources and always used what was available to them.
Hence, whenever we read about “dinars” and “dirhams” being mentioned in ahadith, this is not speaking about Muslim minted money. It was the money that existed even before the advancement of the Prophet-hood.
POINT 3: Shari’ah does not define the weight and purity of coins.
The Shari’ah does not define the weight or purity of the coins. There are no such thing as “Islaamic” way of minting or guidelines that must be followed. This was was all innovated by Abdul Malik bin Marwan and his ways will never be part of the Deen.
Any Muslim even suggesting that coins must be minted in a certain way should be careful for not adding things into the Deen. There is no Sunnah way. There is only what people have made popular way.
POINT 4: Paper currencies are not prohibited by Islaam.
There is no mention of any prohibition by the Qur’aan and the Prophet on the prohibition of using paper currencies.
If someone claims that is so, because paper currencies did not exist during the Prophets time. Then, it should be suggested to them to read the history of China and about some of its early dynasties and the existence of paper currencies under them.
Those who prohibit the usage of paper currencies only do so due to their own economical beliefs and preferences, and not Islaam.
POINT 5: The bizarre belief of some that interest/usury exists because of paper currency, despite them believing paper currencies have no value.
The people who say paper currencies are worthless and have no value, also oddly believe that interest/usury [riba] exists upon them. If paper currencies have no value, then where does the any interest/usury [riba] come from? There is also no need to pay Zakat and use paper for trade.
To be continued…