24 Qirats Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia
The coinage reforms of the Umayyad Caliph, ‘Abd al-Malik bin Marwan in 77 Hijri (696/697 CE) in Damascus resulted in the redefinition of the Makkan mithqal, the officially sanctioned weight of the gold dinar during the Prophetic period of Islam, and the basis for the determination of the Nisab of Zakat, the minimum amount of wealth held for one lunar year before one is obligated by Sharia law to pay the poor due. At 4.25 grams, the weight of the Damascus mithqal was 5.5% lighter and this resulted in the Nisab of Zakat for gold (20 dinars) being adjusted in terms of modern weights and measures from about 90 grams to 85 grams. Two years later in 79 Hijri (698/699 CE), the Caliph minted a Damascus silver dirham weight standard that was 25% less than that of Makkah. The Nisab of Zakat for silver (200 dirhams) was then reduced from 800 grams to 595 grams, and the Muslim ummah for 1,320 years now have been paying the poor due with less currency in hand. This paper serves to highlight the problem of the revised Nisab of Zakat and the similarity of its story with that of Prophet Jesus and the moneychangers. The author draws information for this paper from 7 years of empirical research that includes findings from internationally acclaimed numismatic articles, identification of relevant verses of the Holy Qur’an and Prophetic Traditions regarding weights and measures, visits to notable museums and coin fairs to examine actual coinage from the Prophetic era, and the purchase of gold dinars and silver dirhams from the period of Revelation for educational purposes with the intent of returning the Nisab of Zakat to its original pedestal in Islam.
Nisab of Zakat, Gold Dinar, Silver Dirham