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Khalji Sultans of Dehli: Ala Al-Din Muhammad AR Tankah of Qila Deogir

Started by shiblius, September 28, 2022, 05:47:13 PM

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shiblius

Obverse Legends:
  • Center Field: سكندر الثانى يمين الخلافة ناصر امير المومنين — The second Alexander, right hand of the Caliphate, helper of the commander of the faithful
  • Outer Margin: ضرب هذا الفضة بقلعة دیوگیر فى سنة اربع و عشره و سبعمائة – Struck this (piece of) silver at the fort of Deogir (Devagir) in the year four and ten and seven hundred (714 AH)

Reverse Legend:
  • السلطان الاعظم علا الدنيا و الدين ابوالمظفر محمد شاه السلطان — The Sultan The Great (The Great Sultan) Exalted in this world and (in his understanding / observance) of the religion, father of the victorious (i.e., the victor) Muhammad Shah The Sultan

Zeno- 132149, 150884

More details at: https://dastanesikka.wordpress.com/2022/09/28/tanka-of-qila-deogir-devgir/

Tirant

What a great piece! It's interesting how a muslim coin recalls Alexander, i can't remember any other doing that. Thanks for showing!

Figleaf

Very nice specimen, shiblius. Clear, sharp details. The flan that is too small is typical and can't be helped. At least there is enough detail left to reconstruct the text.

The pompous titles are also normal, though second Alexander (the great) is not typical. For laughs, there is a map of the Khalji territories here. To put it kindly, not exactly as impressive as the empire Alex made. Then again, what about the sultans of the fly-speck Maldive islands proclaiming themselves Sultans of the land and the sea and claiming "the victory and the glory" without a fight?

There are also false geographical claims on coins. There's a whole coterie of rulers calling themselves king of Jerusalem who were never even close to the city. English kings called themselves king of France and Swedish kings claimed to be king of the vandals? Coins are propaganda.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

THCoins

Not so pretty, but adding one of the previous second Alexamder ('Ala al-Din Muhammad Khwarezmshah):

T304varW.jpg

shiblius

Quote from: Figleaf on September 28, 2022, 10:52:25 PMVery nice specimen, shiblius. Clear, sharp details. The flan that is too small is typical and can't be helped. At least there is enough detail left to reconstruct the text.

The pompous titles are also normal, though second Alexander (the great) is not typical. For laughs, there is a map of the Khalji territories here. To put it kindly, not exactly as impressive as the empire Alex made. Then again, what about the sultans of the fly-speck Maldive islands proclaiming themselves Sultans of the land and the sea and claiming "the victory and the glory" without a fight?

There are also false geographical claims on coins. There's a whole coterie of rulers calling themselves king of Jerusalem who were never even close to the city. English kings called themselves king of France and Swedish kings claimed to be king of the vandals? Coins are propaganda.

Peter

The Sikandar (Alexander) on these coins may be different from the historical Alexander of Macedon?

Figleaf

Not likely. Of course, there are some 1600 years between Alexander the great and the Khaljis, but he would still have been THE example of the conquering warlord. The other example, Genghis Khan, would have been too close in time and too negative in the eyes of the people the Khaljis reigned over.

Both role models were non-muslim, but at least Alexander didn't kill muslims because they hadn't been invented yet. A later warlord-conquerer, Amir Timur, did take Genghis as an example, or at least a benchmark, but he wasn't very explicit about it.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

shiblius

The newly invented "Muslims" after being unleashed on the world were also interested in literary works. In their spare time, they created a body of literature in the their early years that relied on Jewish and Christian sources, and is known as "Israiliyat". As part of that corpus, the story of Alexander that was extant in Syriac and had been given a Christian hue was also appropriated and cast into their framework of "Story of Prophets" (Qasas Al-Anbiya in Arabic). The Alexander of the Islamic corpus was Islamicized and is quite different from the Alexander of Macedon (the historical world figure).
One of the main virtues of the Islamic Alexander was that he was divinely ordained to conquer in the name of the Divine and was thus bestowed with unparalleled success and supernatural powers (please keep in mind this is from the corpus and I am not insinuating that Alexander of Macedon had these bestowals). The Muslim rulers who cite themselves as Alexander (Sikandar) on their coins were more familiar with this version of Alexander who had religious zeal and divine help in his conquests. Therefore, normalizing the geographical expanse of their conquests based on their sphere of influence and their unusual successes (meteoric rise of Ala al-Din from not even having a claim to the throne to the Sultan of Dehli, or the other Ala al-Din going from a remote kingdom to conquer almost the entire eastern Islamic realms) they identified themselves as Second Alexanders.

Amir Timur did not hide his association with Chingiz Khan. The suffix "Gorkan" refers to the family of Amir Timur being related by marriage to the main Chingizid line, and is found on his coins / farmans/inscriptions etc. The "Gurkani" title continued in his descendants as well some of whom established a dynasty in Hindustan, that the BEIC refers to as Muhghals.

More reading for the Islamic Alexander: https://brill.com/view/book/edcoll/9789004307728/B9789004307728_010.xml
https://sunypress.edu/Books/I/Islamic-Legends-Concerning-Alexander-the-Great

Figleaf

Inneresting info. Didn't know about the Arabic version of Alexander, but I am not surprised either. Travelling around in Uzbekistan, I saw a statue of a famous Bactrian (sorry, I forgot which one) in Arabic robes and turban. Unfortunately, this person lived before islamisation and the Bactrians wore trousers. It is not much different in christian religious art, where assorted saints are dressed in Western European medieval garb or, as the case may be, Byzantine dress.

I beg to differ with your second para. Amir Timur's interest was in the Chagatai dynasty. His link with the Chagatai Ulus was weak and blown to outsize proportions because he needed it for legitimacy. By Timur's time, the Chagatai Khanate was independent from the Moghul empire and Turkic in character and culture. This explains why Timur early on refers to Suyurghatmish, the de jure Chagatai ruler and it provides insight in his marriage to Saray Mulk Khanum, who was a genuine family member of the Chagatai rulers and reinforced Timur's claim to the throne by marriage. Your first para aptly explains that Timur saw himself as a "supernatural personal power ordained by God", but I am not aware that he called himself a second Alexander explicitly.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

THCoins

Thanks for drawing attention to the Alexander figure in contemporary culture Shiblius !
You name the Syriac legend. I think also important in this respect is the Quoranic figure of Dhu al-Qarnayn (the two horned one). Although there is debate whether this was based on the Macedon Alexander, this idea was prevalent at the time. Dhu al-Qarnayn was the one who travelled east an west an erected a wall at the end of the known world to keep out what was called "Gog and Magog" in the earlier Jewish tradition.
I have wondered whether 'Ala al-Din Muhammad may have introduced this title to depict himself as the barrier against the advancing Mongols. (Where already in medieval literature, the Mongols were described as the descendants of Magog)
As books have been filled over this matter already for a long time, i don't think we will solve this matter here and now.

Peter, i don't think you disagree really with Shiblius. The title "Gurkan" actually means "son-in-law".

shiblius

Dhu'l Qarnayn is mentioned in the scripture and was identified with various figures by the early Muslim exegetes. The dominant identification was with Alexander of Macedon, however other figures such as Tibba Asad King of Himyar were also considered. In more recent works the person of Dhu'l Qarnayn is identified with Cyrus the Great.

The Alexander legend forms a part of the "stories of prophets" genre and also comes into play in the "Adaab" literature that can be considered as a counterpart of the Mirrors for Princes literature in the later Latin world. In the latter genre (in Arabic sources) there are collections of correspondences between Alexander and Aristotle who plays the role of his advisor. There is even an Aljamiado (Arabic script transcribing Spanish) version of a work of Philosophy that uses the Alexander/Aristotle duo.

The rulers styling themselves as the Second Alexander are powerful local rulers who also have at their disposal a number of literary sources, learned men and democratized networks of knowledge sharing. The adoption of such titles is not without cause and has deeper cultural and literary support, which should be given due consideration and importance instead of using broad brushstrokes to paint a blurred image utilizing popular and crass stereotypes.

THCoins

Fully agree that we should guard ourselves against gross simplifications of history !

But on the other hand, we may also introduce a bias by expecting that historic decisions were largely based on rational evaluations (within their cultural settings) by educated scholars at the courts.
Something to consider for the Khwarezmshah is that the use of this title only appears at the end of his reign, and for a short period on coinage issued only from the north-eastern part of his territory. In that respect", adopting the title "second Alexander" as "nom de guerre" would have made sense at the time.

But again, that's just one possible view of a complex scene, and far from a painting of the full picture !

shiblius

I would use randomness: things happened, decisions were made for no reason as a null hypothesis. The bias here is how these monarchs and their times are viewed through the lens created by the colonizers (and appropriated as is in the west): illiterate, devoid of cultural and moral values, barabarians etc. etc.

The case of Ala al-Din Khalji being an instance of how the colonial historical corpus portrayed one of the most successful Sultans of the Khalji dynasty as an illiterate barbarian monarch. For crying out loud, his court had such luminaries as Amir Khusro, whose contributions to literature, poetry, historiography are quite well known.

The importance that is attached to the right to strike coins (Sikka) by the rightful sovereign who has been bestowed the rule by the Divine (a concept that is central to the right to rule in the Islamic political framework). To have inscriptions on coins that were created randomly is highly unlikely given that these coins were minted by the Sultan of Hindustan (Sultan al-Hind).