FATIMID, AL-‘AZIZ (365-386h). Dinar, Makka 366h. Weight: 2.80g. Reference: Nicol 745 = BMC IV, 51, same dies. Cracked and repaired, otherwise almost very fine with very clear mint and date, excessively rare. During the 3rd/9th century, the Abbasid caliphs had been responsible for ensuring the security of Makka and the trade and pilgrimage roads that led there, but from the early 4th/10th century this role was increasingly fulfilled by local sharifs as Abbasid power waned. The chief threat to Makka during this period came from the Qarmatids, a radical Isma‘ili sect, who attacked Makka itself in 317h, killing many people and carrying off the Black Stone. It was the Fatimids, however, rather than the Abbasids or any local sharifs, who paid 50,000 dinars to the Qarmatids to secure the return of the Stone in 339h, attesting to growing Fatimid influence in the region. Makka itself came under Qarmatid control in 359h after the fall of the Ikhshidids in the previous year. The city appears to have remained in their hands until 362h, when they suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Fatimids near Cairo. Whether or not this setback directly affected their position in Makka is unclear, but we know that the name of the Fatimid al-Mu‘izz was mentioned in the khutba in Makka during 363h and 364h, and Fatimid dinars bearing his name were being struck in Makka itself in 363h. His successor, al-‘Aziz, continued to expand Fatimid influence in the region. Caravans travelling from Cairo to Makka were placed under Fatimid protection – an expensive privilege – and the Fatimids also provided the kiswa to cover the Black Stone. Coins such as the piece offered here also played their part in proclaiming Fatimid sovereignty in the region, and naming al-‘Aziz on dinars issued at Makka went hand-in-hand with his acknowledgement in the khutba. Together, these were the two legally acknowledged means of expressing his right to rule.
Estimate: GBP 20000 - 25000