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Manuscripts and Inscriptions
1st Century Hijrah (7th Century CE)
Surah 21:64-68. Approximately one third of the copy from which this folio originates, the largest vellum Qur’an known, is in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Late in the 19th century it was located in St Petersburg, at which time some of the leaves now in Western collections seem to have become separated from it. The popular tradition that it was written by the third caliph, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, is inherently improbable, but the absence of both diacritical and vocalization may be an indication that it dates from around 700 AD. The Qur’an is thought to have been written in North Africa.
Late 1st century / early 2nd century
Displays part of 2:On the last folio (no. 439) of the manuscript is written in kufic script “katabahu Uthman bin Affan fi sanat thalathyn” (“Uthman bin Affan wrote in the year 30 AH”). However, the script and ornamentation negates this possibility. Dr. Altikulac considers this manuscript to be from second half of 1st century or first half of 2nd century hijra. He thinks that it is a Basran mushaf which does not fully confirm with the dottting and vowelization of the mutawatir readings and was written, therefore before the standardisation and spread of famous readings. Surah al-Baqarah - part of verse 30 to part of verse 34.
1st Century Hijrah
Surah al-Bayyinah 97:1 onward. The Topkapi manuscript, which is generally attributed to Caliph Uthman, is preserved at the Sacred Relics Section at the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul. A folio in the beginning of the manuscript, written in Ottoman Turkish on June 12, 1811, states that this manuscript was copied by Caliph Uthman himself, that it was originally kept in a library in Cairo, and that Mehmet Ali Pasha, governor of Egypt, sent it to Sultan Mahmud II as a gift in 1811, with a request that it should be kept at the Topkapi Palace. Some have opined this manuscript is more probably copied from the original Mushaf produced by Caliph Uthman (ra). The Topkapi Mushaf, written on antelope skin, consists of 408 folios with the dimensions of 41x46cm. The thickness of each folio is 11cm. Each folio on average has 18 lines.
Second half of 1st century Hijra
Surah Hud Surah 11:73-95. Additional and corroborating evidence was obtained by radiocarbon dating the fragment at University of Oxford. Two calibration data-sets, viz., INTCAL98 and INTCAL04 were used. The results are as follows. Results with INTCAL98 calibration data-set: The radiocarbon age of 1363 ± 33 BP yielded a 68.2% probability that the parchment in question dates to between 647 and 685 CE (i.e., 26–66 AH), a 95.4% probability that it dates to between 610 and 770 CE (i.e., twelve years before the hijra to 153 AH), with that range being broken down into a 90.5% probability that it dates to between 610 and 720 CE (i.e., twelve years before the Hijra to 102 AH) and a 4.9% probability that it dates to between 740 and 770 CE (i.e., 122–53 AH). This suggests, as the report from the University of Oxford Radiocarbon Acceleration Unit put it, that ‘it is most likely that the parchment was made between AD 610 and AD 720’, that is, broadly speaking, from some time within the first century of the Hijra.
1st Century Hijrah (7th Century CE)
Surah al-Layl 92:1 onward. The Topkapi manuscript, which is generally attributed to Caliph Uthman, is preserved at the Sacred Relics Section at the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul. A folio in the beginning of the manuscript, written in Ottoman Turkish on June 12, 1811, states that this manuscript was copied by Caliph Uthman himself, that it was originally kept in a library in Cairo, and that Mehmet Ali Pasha, governor of Egypt, sent it to Sultan Mahmud II as a gift in 1811, with a request that it should be kept at the Topkapi Palace. Some have opined this manuscript is more probably copied from the original Mushaf produced by Caliph Uthman (ra). The Topkapi Mushaf, written on antelope skin, consists of 408 folios with the dimensions of 41x46cm. The thickness of each folio is 11cm. Each folio on average has 18 lines.
1st century / early 2nd century of Hijra
Surah al-Isra part of verse 110 to the end, and Surah al-Kahf - from the beginning until part of verse 5. The manuscript was kept in the special collection of Qadhi Abd al-Rah?im al-Bisani al-Asqalani in Madrasah Al-Fad?iliyah in the Ayyubid period [596 AH / 1200 CE], then transferred to the dome, next the madrasah, built by Mamluk Sultan Al-G?r? [922 AH / 1516 CE]. It remained there until 1275 AH / 1858-59 CE. From the dome, it was shifted to Masjid al-Zainabi, then to Muh?ammad Ali's castle, then to Diwan al-Awqaf in the year 1304 AH / 1886-87 CE, then to Qasr Abidin next year, arriving finally at al-Mashad al-Husseini in the year 1305 AH / 1887-88 CE. It remained there until 2006 CE until it was transferred to the Centre Library for Islamic Manuscripts, Masjid al-Sayyida Zaynab.
2nd Century of Hijrah
End of Surah an-Nisa and start of Surah al-Maidah. This manuscript was found in the Great Mosque in Sana, Yemen.
2nd / 3rd Century of Hijrah
Surah al-Ahzab and Surah as-Saba.
3rd Century Hijrah
End of Surah al-Ma'un, al-Kawthar and al-Kafirun. A manuscript comprising the second half of the Holy Qur'an that was placed for recitation in the Dome of the Rock for a number of centuries.
Surah an-Nahl 16:66 onwards. Fragment of a Maghribi Qur'an probably written in the fourth century A.H. / tenth century C.E, containing verses 16-128 from Sura al-Nahl. Kept at the University of Cambridge Library.
4th Century Hijrah (10th CE)
Surah an-Nisa 135-137.
6th-7th Century H (12/13th CE)
Surah Hud 11:40.
6th Century H (12th century)
Surah al-Baqarah 2:255 - Ayat al-Kursi. This large rectangular profusely decorated stone cenotaph belongs to a type that was widely distributed in Syria and Mesopotamia during the AH 6th / AD 12th century. The shape is reminiscent of a classical sarcophagus with a concave base, a cubic centre composed of two side stones, a front and a back stone, a solid convex lintel and a separate lid on the top (today some of the stones are broken). The decoration consists of a magnificent inscription in foliated kufic script taken from the Qur'anic verse “Ayat al-Kursi” (“Throne Verse”). The verse runs in bands around all four sides of the tomb, only interrupted by the carved vine-stem motif corner blocks. Two weave-like friezes decorate the base and the lintel of the cenotaph. Four small vertical cartouches are centrally located on each side of the cenotaph. These mention the deceased, Husayn b. Hasan al-Shukri, but no date. The form and decoration of this cenotaph belongs to the theme of classical continuity in stone carving, typical of Northern Syria during the early Zangid period. The intricate inscription has a close counterpart in the epigraphy of the Madrasa al-Shu'aybiyya, dated AH 545 / AD 1150, which is one of the last examples of the use of kufic script in monumental architecture in Syria before it was generally replaced by cursive naskhi and thuluth scripts. The cenotaph was found in the Cemetery of Salihin, one of the oldest and certainly the most prestigious funerary site in Aleppo. The cemetery lies to the south of the city and extends around Maqam Ibrahim, an ancient shrine containing a sacred rock associated with the Prophet Abraham, and thus an auspicious burial ground. It is now located in the National Museum of Aleppo.
7th/8th Century H (13th/14th CE)
Surah az-Zumar 39.
8th Century H (14th Century CE)
Surah as-Saffat 37:22.
Surah Al-Isra 17. Ayah 60-64. MS.Arab. c. 38 fol. 13r; Surah al-Isra' ( The Night Journey), 17:60-64; 8th/2nd century.
Surah Sad, 38. And Surat az-Zumar, 39. MS Marsh 178 fol. 33v, 34r; Surat az- Zumar (The Groups), 9th/3rd century
Surah ar-Ra'd 13:15-16. MS Marsh 2 fol. 7v; surah al-Ra'd (The Thunder), 13:15-16;10th/4th century.
Surah Muhammad, 47:38 through Surah al-Fath 48:3. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. Surat Muhammad, 47:38 through Surat al-Fath (The Victory), 48:3; 11th/5th- 12th/6th century.
Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. Surah Abasa (He Frowned), 80:32-38; 13th/7th century.
Surah an Nisa', 4:174. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. Surah an-Nisa' (The Women), 4:174; late 13th/7th-early 14th/8th century.
Late 9th – early 10th century AD
Surah an-Nisa' 66-9. The vocalization is indicated by red dots, but the green diacriticals are later additions, probably when the script had become so old-fashioned that it was no longer legible to the common reader. Verses are punctuated by three superimposed gold dots, while a gold Kufic letter ha’ marks the passage of five verses.
Surah sad, 38. start of Surah, az-Zumar, 39. Beautifully decorated Qur'an leaf written in black bihari script with important words such as 'Allah' written in gold. The surah header text is heavily decorated. Simple gold coloured rosette shapes act as verse separators.
Surah al-Fatihah, 1:1-7 and Surah al-Baqarah 2:1-5, MS Laud Or. 246 fol. IV , Surah al-Fatihah (The Opening), 1:1-7 and Surat al-Baqarah (The Crow), 2:1-5; 16th/10th century.
Surah al-Qamar, 54:31;55. Double Pages from a superb two volume Qur'an elegantly written in fine maghribi style script using black ink. Vocalisation is in red, saffron and green ink with the surah headers in red.
Surah al-Fatihah 1:1-7. and Surah al-Baqarah 2:1-4. MS Digby Or. 2 fol. 4v 5r; Surat al-Fatihah (The Opening),1:1-7 and Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow), 2:1-4; 17th/11th century.
Surah al-Baqarah, 2:134;142. A few pages from a 12th century Qur'an from North Africa, or possibly Andalusia. There are ten lines of script per page written in a flowing maghribi script in brown ink. The text is fully vocalised with the various diacritical markings written in a range of colours. Written on beige coloured vellum with light staining in places; vellum would have been the traditional used in this period. A large gold coloured roundel on the margin indicates the start of the second juz' of the Qur'an from the word sayaqulu. The page shows part of Surah al-Baqarah, 2 (The Heifer) with the last word of verse 134 through to start of verse 142. The vellum has suffered some water damage in places over time.
Surah Ya Sin, 36:1-12. MS. Arab. e. 182 fol. Surah Ya Sin, 36:1-12; 18th/12 century.
Surah ad-Dhariyat, 51. Both sides from a rare kufic page written during the 13th century from the Middle East. Kufic script had been largely superseded by this period in Islamic history, so this page is unusual. The text has been written using a thick nib on folios prepared from vellum. The manuscript has undergone some deterioration, with heavy staining in many places. The page has nine large lines of kufic type script written in black ink. A banner consisting of simple red and black dots marks the beginning of Surah adh-Dhariyat, 51 (The Winds That Scatter). The test is unvocalised and the dotting scheme in red is only minimal.
Surah al-Baqarah 2 :1-5. MS Arab. d. 215 fol. Ir; Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) , 2:1-5; 19th/13th century.
Surah an-Naml, 27:60. At over 600 years old, this unique Qur'an was written in the Anatolian region prior to the Ottoman empire. Each page has seven lines of naskh script with the first, middle and last lines copied in a large hand, set within a simply ruled frame. The word Allah always appears in red ink throughout this manuscript. Another feature of this Qur'an is the Arabic commentary and notes on recitation written in the margins and between the lines of the main text is in a nasta'liq like script using red and black ink. This manuscript is unusual in many respects, the additional notes for instance are sometime written horizontally and even upside down. The material used is thick hand made paper. The manuscript is in several segments and is no longer bound together in one volume as the covers have been lost. The double pages show verse 60-63 of Surah an-Nalm (The Ants, 27). The blue text on top of the right hand page indicates the twentieth juz'.
Surah al-Baqarah, 2:185;188. Thirteen lines of fine black muhaqqaq calligraphy with the first, middle and last lines written in a variant of thuluth script, from the early Ottoman period dated to around the 15th/16th century. Each section of muhaqqaq text is bordered by exquisitely designed floral panels on either side. The text is fully vocalised with individual verses separated by floret shapes. There are no marginal ornaments to indicate the number of verses. The image shows Surah al-Baqarah (The Heifer,2) starting with part of verse 185 to verse 188. Location: Topkapi saray Museum, Istanbul.
Surah al-Haqqah, 69;17. Surah al-Ma'arji, 70. Beautiful decorated 16th century Qur'an from Persia or possibly Iraq. Every page is set within an orange and gold coloured multi-line frame. Qur'anic text is written in an elegant rayhani script, with coloured circles separating individual verses. The surah header text embellished in white opon gold foliate work and indicates the start of Surah al-Ma'arji, 70 (The Ways of Ascent ). Alternating blue and gold marginal ornaments indicates every fifth and tenth verse. This page has text from Surah al-Haqqah, 69 (The Inevitable) Starting half way through verse 17. An interesting point to note here is how the scribe has mistakenly left out a few verses (19-24) and then made the correction by writing sideways in the extended text frame. This type of occurrence highlights how Qur'ans would always be thoroughly checked for mistakes upon completion. The first word of the following page is functionally repeated beneath the text compartment to aid smooth recitation.
Surah an-Naba, 78. Magnificent double pages from a 17th century Qur'an from Persia written in naskh. (Location: British Library). Written in black naskh script, with interlinear Qur'anic translation in Persian, written in nasta- 'liq script using red ink. Alternating blue and gold marginal medallions indicate every fifth and tenth verse. The word khamsa (five) is written in thuluth script after every five verses in gold ink within a blue medallion. The word ashara (ten) indicates every ten verses in blue ink within a gold coloured medallion. Verse ending are marked using a simple circular design in blue and gold. Ornate header frame written in white thuluth script and shows the start of Surah an-Naba, 78 (The News). Large marginal ornamentation indicates the start of the 30th juz' of the Qur'an. The first word of the following page is written in the bottom margin to aid recitation.
Last few verses of Surah at-Taghabun, 64. Start of Surah at-Talaaq, 65. Finely written pages containing different surahs from an 18th century Persian Qur'an. Written in black naskh script with interlinear Persian translation in nasta'liq script using red ink within ruled lines. Qur'anic commentary in Persian is written in the margins using nasta'liq script. Alternating red and green leaf motifs act as single verse separators. The start of Surah al-Mulk, 67 (The Dominion) is embellished in red ink within a gilded blue and gold header panel. The page shows the last few verses of Surah at-Taghabun, 64 (Mutual Loss and Gain). Each page is divided into a number of ruled section with the text of the Qur'an alternating with a Persian translation. Gilded header panel indicates the start of Surah at-Talaaq, 65 (The Divorce).
Surah al-Falaq, 113. Surah al-Nas, 114. Decorative end pages from a South East Asian Qur'an early 19th century. The text compartment is split into three sections; the header and footer panels and a central text compartment. The body of the text is fully vocalised and written in a naskh style. Traditional decorative floral design work surrounds the text compartment. A lattice framework encloses the central text panel. Surah al-Flaq, 113 (The Daybreak) is written on the right hand page with Surah an-Nas, 114 (Mankind) opposite.
565 (dated between 565 and 645 i.e the era of companions) - Manuscript shows Surah Taha; it is held in Birmingham collections - Download
650 - Manuscript of Caliph Uthman R.A. - This manuscript (held in the Religious Administration of Muslims in Tashkent) has been carbon-dated to be between 595 and 855 A.D. with a likelihood of 95% - Download
750 (approximated) - Quran in Kufic script - Download
800 - Parchment of a very rare and historic manuscript; preserved in 1925 to prevent any damage; Kufic script - Download
850 - Orphaned leaf from a Qur'ān (chapter Yusūf) - In Kufic Hand; Purchased by McGill University in 1938 for the amount of 100 dollars - Read / Download
875 - A parchment from the era of Abbasids - Download
1000 - 13 lines per sheet, vocalized, rubricated; In Kufic Hand; An orphaned leaf, part of the Qur'ān; Calligraphy text on the both sides; Damaged on the side and in the middle, laid down on a yellow paper - Download
1200 - A parchment from Quran; Writen in Kufic script; 6 lines per sheet, vocalized, rubricated - Download
1203 - Executed in Naskh hands, fully vocalized; Main text in black, surah headings in red, versemarkers in red; Tarwis on alif, lam; Contains the marginal words ḥizb, niṣf, rub', sajdah; Calligraphed by the hand of 'Abd al-Wahhāb - Download
1250 - A manuscript by Abbasid Caligrapher Ibn Muqlah - Download
1400 - A leaf from a Qur'ān, includes following chapters: Sūrat al-Munāfiqūn, Sūrat al-Taghābun, Sūrat al , Sūrat al-Mulk, Sūrat al-Taḥrīm, Sūrat al-Ḥāqqa, Sūrat al-Qalam, Sūrat al-Nūḥ, Sūrat al-Ma'ārij, Sūrat al-Ṣaff; In Micrography-naskh Hand; marginal words in lieu of punctuation: 'Ashar in red ink repeated numerously on both sides; Illuminated chapter heading panels, chapter heading in gold, contains illuminated gold roundal verse markers, laid down on a paper between gold frames and yellow paper borders by crude marginal decoration - Download
1400 - 3 lines per sheet, vocalized, separating marks; In Maghribi script; contains some verses from Sūrat al-Tawba [68-69];
3 polychrom medallions on the margins on both sides; Calligraphy text on the both sides; Contains polychrom roundel verse markers, illuminated medallions on the margins, laid down on a paper between red and black frames filled with gold, and yellow paper borders - Download
1450 (approximated) - Some verses from Surah Burooj - Contains illuminated round polychrom double medallions on the margin of both sides; A golden and blue illuminated headpiece; Calligraphy text on the both sides; Contains gold polychrome floral roundel verse markers, illuminated marginal medallions, laid down on a paper between gold and blue frames, and yellow paper borders - Download
1500 - Script: Written in thuluth in black ink; pointed and vocalized; Decoration: Textblock border ruled in gold, red, blue; marginal text partition markers in blue and gold; readings in red; word "Allāh" in gold outlined in red; chapter titles in gold outlined in black; gold roundels with black design and green and red dots mark verse endings - Download
1600 (approximated) - A portion of tafseer jalalain (surah Naba and others) - Read / Download
1600 - Some verses from Surah Anfal and Surah Aaraf - Elegant Naskh Hand-written; Parchment leaf, contains gold and polychrom roundal verse markers, illuminated chapter heading panel, includes one illuminated vignette denoting the word "ḥizb" and another for the "sajdah" on the margins, laid down on card between illuminated floral gold and green frame, red blue-speckled paper borders on one side, green with green-speckled paper border on the other side - Download
1600 - Written in India; Gold line divider; Incomplete copy, from al-Kawthar (108) to the end (114) is missing. The first two folios are fragmentary with clean marginal repairs; much of the marginal decoration is lost - Download
1650 - Unbound leaf containing verses of the Qur'ān from the third word of 3:80 to the end of 3:91; Written in Naskh - Read / Download
1650 - Juzz 27, containing the first word of 51:31 to the final word of 57:29; Written in very large letters - Read / Download
1680 - Clear line dividers; 15 lines per page; gold sprinkled pages; complete copy of the Quran - Download
1700 - Surat Al-Sajdah [ XXXII: 4-22]; Contains illuminated round polychrom medallion in the margin with the word sajda; Contains gold polychrome floral roundel verse markers, laid down on a paper between gold and red frames, and yellow paper borders, part of the marginal border is cut off, includes a protective sheet - Download
1700 - Likely copied in Iran or Turkey; 256 leafs - Download
1700 - Beautiful caligraphy and decoration; 304 leafs; written in naskh; complete copy - Download
1700 - A leaf showing some verses from Surah Taha; From the McGill University collection - Download
1770 - Surah Yasin, Surah Waqiah and some other Surahs from the Ottomon times - Download
1776 - Layout: 18 long lines; Script: Written in naskh in black ink; pointed and vocalized; Decoration: Polychrome [red, blue, green] and gold illuminated frontispiece (f. 3v-4r) with text in cloudbands; polychrome [gold, red, blue] marginal verse markers; textblock border ruled [gold, black]; page openings framed in black rules; readings in red and chapter titles in gold; gold roundels with red and blue dots mark verse endings - Read / Download
1795 - A copy from Ottomon times - Written in a superb Naskh. Title and frontispiece fully illuminated in gold, red, pink, blue, yellow. Floral border in each corner. Gold medallions scattered throughout the text. Text enclosed within gold frame. Verse headings in gold. Accents in red. Marginalia in red. Surah headings in white on gold enclosed within light blue border - Read / Download
1800 - 13 lines per page, laid European paper; Copied by two Naskh-based hands, the second being very cursive and characterized by a pronounced tilt to the right; Rule-borders, sūrah-headings and round dots are executed in red; The last sūrah is followed by a comment in Ottoman Turkish on the mystical significance of the Arabic letters- Download
1817 - Ottomon copy of the Quran; 307 leafs - Download
1822 - 13 lines per page, thickish non-European laid paper of biscuit colour, characterized by wavy laid lines; Fully vocalized Naskh hand with the word Allāh in gold and recitation marks in red ink; No tarwis except in the case of lām alif al-warrāqīyah where it occurs on the alif and points to the left; The text is enclosed in a golden frame and blue rul-eborders; Sūrah-headings are executed in white and gold background, enclosed in illuminated headpieces; Executed by Ḥusayn ibn 'Alī al-Āmāsī, Imam of the Abū al-Fatḥ Sultan Muḥammad Khān Mosque; Waqf note hs been addressed to al-Sayyidah Ḥanīfah, daughter of 'Alī Bāshā, dated 15 Jumādaʹ I 1237AH i.e. 1822. - Download
1888 - Tarjuman Al Quran Ba Lataif Bayaan - by Syed Mohd Sideq Hussain Khan - Partial - Download
1960 - Translation in Farsi by Shah Waliulah and Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani - Read / Download