Why does some Muslim money feature crosses?

Like the following ones: enter image description here

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Was the cross an early Muslim symbol?

  • 3
    What makes you think that's "muslim money"? Do you know where and when it's from, specifically?
    – Spencer
    Oct 20, 2018 at 16:50
  • @Spencer. The inscriptions are in Arabic.
    – fdb
    Oct 20, 2018 at 16:53
  • 6
    @fdb Then, the inscriptions and their translations should be edited into the question.
    – Spencer
    Oct 20, 2018 at 17:00
  • 6
    Not that Arabic inscriptions prove religion: a famous gold coin from Offa of Mercia has an attempt at an Arabic inscription in addition to Latin. An East African banknote from 1938 and signed by my grandfather has English, Arabic and Gujarati
    – Henry
    Oct 21, 2018 at 0:25
  • amazed to see Gujarati on African note @Henry thanks! Jan 21, 2019 at 11:10

2 Answers 2


The top picture is quite obviously a coin with a crude depiction of a seventh century "byzantine" emperor holding a globe with a cross on top. The early Muslim coins issued in former Roman territories were obviously based on Roman coins which the subject people were more familiar with, or else made with reused and modified Roman coin dies.

In 636 the Arabs defeated the Byzantine army at the Battle of the Yarmuk. Jerusalem surrendered to the Caliph Umar the next year. As the circulating coinage in Arab-ruled Syria and Palestine wore out, there was an urgent need for fresh supplies of money.

Local authorities began striking copies of the Byzantine copper follis. The prosperous Jordan valley town of Scythopolis (Beit She’an, Israel) issued a heavy follis copying the coins of long-dead Justin II (reigned 565-574). Most other towns issued light coppers of four to six grams, closely following the types of the current emperor in Constantinople (Heraclius until 641, then Constans II until 668). As the weight standard of Byzantine coppers declined, Arab imitations kept pace, but the workmanship and quality of the imitations is often better.


In fact, I dimly remember an account of some dispute about coins between Emperor Justinian II (first reign 685-695) and the Caliph that was used to explain why the Caliph started issuing coins with a new, more Muslim design, but I don't know if that story is true.

  • 2
    +1, if only for the "quite obviously" in the first line. To my ignorant eye, this looked more like a playmobil character than a byzantine emperor.
    – Evargalo
    Oct 24, 2018 at 8:37

It is because the Umayyads either copied Byzantine coins, or reused Byzantine dies, changing the text.

  • 6
    Your answer could really use some sources to back it up. Also, if they were able to both remove existing text and stamp on new text, why would they not also remove the cross?
    – Giter
    Oct 20, 2018 at 21:35
  • @Giter. There are actually early Umayyad coins where the two arms of the cross have been scratched out, leaving only an upright. But not everyone was so scrupulous.
    – fdb
    Oct 21, 2018 at 8:59

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