The Re-introduction of Dinar and Dirham
In his tafsir of the ayat in Surat an-Nisa, “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in command among you,” (4:58), the great mufassir, al-Qurtubi lists the seven main responsibilities of the sultan of the Muslims and the first of them is the minting of the dinar and the dirham. The pride of place given to this matter shows how important it is to the establishment of the deen and this is due in a large part to the fact that, as we have seen, gold and silver as a medium of exchange are essential to the payment of zakat. This is no less the case today than it ever has been and so it remains one of the primary responsibilities of all Muslim leaders, whether on a national or local level, to make sure that gold and silver coinage is available to those in their charge so that zakat can be paid in their communities in the way required by the shari’a.
On a national level the need to return to gold and silver is beginning to be recognised in Muslim lands at a governmental level. During his prime ministership of Turkey, Nejmettin Erbakan held up a gold dinar in the mosque and declared it to be the currency of the Muslims. Gold and silver coinage have been proclaimed the official medium of exchange in one of the states of Malaysia. An official announcement in the Egyptian press recently called for a return to gold currency. While this is an encouraging sign that things are moving in the right direction, it still does not meet the immediate and urgent requirement for gold and silver currency to make it possible to pay zakat as the shari’a demands. And it does not even begin to address the needs of the millions of Muslims living under overtly non-Muslim governments in other parts of the world.
In later years, the Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Muhammad Mahathir called for the reintroduction of the Dinar and Dirham. Unfortunately his efforts did not materialise. Instead, a so-called “Gold Dinar Proposal” was issued by the Central Bank which failed. Only the Malaysian people can restore the Gold Dinar and Silver Dirham, despite the Central Bank.
More recently the Government of Kelantan has taken the unprecedented decision to bring the gold Dinar as the means to pay Zakat. The Introduction of the Dinar and the Dirham will be the first step towards the restoration of Zakat in accordance to Islamic Law.
The Dinar and the Dirham
The Dinar is a specific weight of gold known as the mithqal. The mithqal is 4.25 grams. The Islamic dirham coin is 2.975 grams of pure silver. Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab established the known standard relationship between them based on their weights: “7 dinars must be equivalent (in weight) to 10 dirhams.” Ibn Khaldun wrote in the Muqaddimah:
The Revelation undertook to mention them and attached many judgements to them, for example zakat, marriage, and hudud, etc., therefore within the Revelation they have to have a reality and specific measure for assessment of zakat, etc. upon which its judgements may be based rather than on the non-shari’i other coins.
Know that there is consensus [ijma] since the beginning of Islam and the age of the Companions and the Followers that the dirham of the shari’ah is that of which ten weigh seven mithqals weight of the dinar of gold… The weight of a mithqal of gold is seventy-two grains of barley, so that the dirham which is seven-tenths of it is fifty and two-fifths grains. All these measurements are firmly established by consensus.