Currency of Zeidi State [Archives:2005/870/Culture]

August 22 2005

Hassan Al-Zaidi
The Zeidi sect appeared in Yemen at the end of the third century (Muslim Calendar) when Imam Yahya bin Al-Hussein Al-Rassi moved from Al-Madina Al-Munawara (in now Saudi Arabia) to the city of Sa'adah (north Yemen) where he settled down. He laid the foundation of the Zeidi State that would rule Yemen for over one thousand years.

In the 20th Century (Christian Calendar), the last version of the Zeidi State prevailed in north and west Yemen. The dynasty of Hamid Al-Din ruled Yemen from 1918 until the eruption of Yemen's September 26 Revolution in 1962 when they were overthrown.

The nadir of their star may be said to have been a political decline. We may not be exact to say that the Zeidi state ended because actually many people brace the Zeidi ideology and the Zeidi sect has numerous followers. In fact, the State itself, when it emerged, was based on religious thought and it was out of faith that its followers gave it the impetus to dominate in Yemen. The State remained backed by a scholastic camp which gave it a hallow in theological glamour. As soon as the Houthist movement resonated in Sa'adah, the talk renewed about the Zeidi State and the deeply rooted Zeidi sect.

Zeidi Rassi ruled from 298-644 Hegira:

This Zeidi State is named “Rassi” after the area of Rassi in Hejaz (in Saudi Arabia). The house of Rassis used to live there before their moving to the city of Sa'adah. Their rule reached as far as Sana'a. Within about one century, Yemen was the fountain of the Zeidi teachings that overflowed to other areas.

Upon their seizure of Sana'a in mid five century of Hejra, the Ayyoubids overthrew the Zeidis. However, Zeidi scholars have made history and they are still remembered until the present day.

The famous strong man of the Zeidi State was Imam Al-Hadi Ila Al-Haq (Guide to Rightness) Yahya bin Al-Hassan Al-Qasim Al-Rassi (220-298 Hegira. He was born in Al-Madina Al-Munawara. He was brought up as a cleric and scholar, with courage and championship. Abu Al-Atahyah Al-Hamadani of Sa'adah sent letter to him and invited him to Sa'adah. Upon his arrival in 283 Hegira, he was given the pledge as Imam by Khawlan bin Amir Tribes. He was addressed as Amer Al-Mo'mineen (Commander of the Believers), and nicknamed as Imam Al-Hadi. He conquered Najran (now in Saudi Arabia) and seized Sana'a in 288 Hegira, in the time of the Abbasid Caliphate of Al-Mu'tadhid Billah.

His State ruled as far as Mecca to the north and the coins were minted in his name. He could defeat Qurmuti leader Ali bin Al-Fadhl. His victory was in 298, the year of his death.

The second imam of the Zeidi Rassi State was imam Abdullah bin Hamza bin Sulaiman, who is one of the greatest Zeidi scholars and poets. He was given the pledge in 593. He regained Sana'a from king Mas'ood Al-Ayyoubi. Battles continued between the two sides from 612 until the death of Abdullah bin Hamza in 614 in the town of Kawkaban.

Rassi State's dinars and dirhams:

The first Rassi era continued from 246 to 569 and the second era from 593 to 697. The Rassis minted gold and silver currencies. However, silver dirhams were very common.

Rassi dirhams had different shapes especially the dirham of the second era. They featured slogans and statements different from those of the Abbasid and Ayyobid states in Iraq and Egypt. Their currency was cast in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, in cities such as Sa'adah – the Capital of their state- Sana'a, Mecca, Radda', Barash, Tawilah, Kuhlan, Jahili, and Taiz.

Types of Rassi dinars and dirhams:

The dinar of Al-Hadi Ila Al-Haq, which is one of the most rare dinars. It was minted in Sana'a in 288 Hegira. There are dirham sixths that were minted in Mecca. Few of them are available. Some of the currencies can be explained as follows:

1- Dinar of Al-Hadi Ila Al-Haq, Sa'adah, 298 Hegira: the first face of it reads: “Truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Surely! Falsehood is bound to vanish,” and “We send down from the Quraan that which is a healing and mercy,” two verses from Al-Isra Chapter, Nobel Quraan. The center reads: “Al-Hadi Ila Al-Haq, Commander of Believers, Son of Allah's Messenger.” The second face reads: “Allah has the matter before and after. On that day, believers will rejoice at Allah's victory.” A script surrounds it reading: “This dinar was minted in Sa'adah in 298 Hegira.” In the center, “No god save Allah, the One with no partner, and Mohammed is His Messenger” is written.

2- Sixth dirham of Al-Nasir Li Dinillah, Mecca, dateless, approximately 301 Hegira: The first face reads, “Truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Surely! Falsehood is bound to vanish.” The center reads: “Al-Nasir Li Diniallah, Commander of Believers.” The second face reads, “In the name of Allah. This dirham was minted in Mecca.” The center reads, “No god save Allah, the One with no partner, and Mohammed is His Messenger.”

3- Sixth dirham of Al-Mahdi Li Dinillah, Sa'adah, dateless, approximately 393 Hegira: The first face reads, “Truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Surely! Falsehood is bound to vanish.” The center reads “Al-Mahdi Li Dinillah, Commander of Believers.” The second face says that “This dirham was minted in Sa'adah,” and the center reads, “No god save Allah, the One with no partner, and Mohammed is His Messenger.”

4- Dirham of Al-Mutawakil Shams Al-Din Ahmed bin Abdillah bin Hamzah, Talmus, and 644 Hegira: The first face edge reads “Al-Mutawakil Ala Allah Ahmed, Crown Prince of Imam Al-Mansour Abdullah bin Hamzah bin Salim, Commander of Believers.” The edge of the second face reads, “minted in Talmus in 644 Hegira. Inside the pentagonal star the following is written: “No god save Allah, Mohammed is Allah's Messenger, Ali is Allah's Follower.