The Qur’anic Manuscripts

The Qur’anic Manuscripts



Mohamad Mostafa Nassar

Twitter:@NassarMohamadMR

There has been a polemic going on that the Qur’an does not have manuscripts from the first century of hijra. However, this is not true. Many fragments of early Qur’anic manuscripts were shown by Orientalists notably Nabia Abbott in her work The Rise of the North Arabic script and its Kur’anic development, with a full description of the Kur’an manuscripts in the Oriental Institute (1939, University of Chicago Press).

There she discusses some of the Quranic manuscripts, dated from second half of the first century hijra onwards, at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. The aim of this page is to highlight some of the early Qur’anic manuscripts to refute the claim that the Qur’an lacks manuscripts from the first century of hijra.

The dig at the Great Mosque in 峁n士膩示, Yemen, had found a large number of manuscripts of the Qur’an dating from first century of hijra. The date of building the Great Mosque in 峁n士膩示 goes back to 6th year of hijra when the Prophet Muhammad entrusted one of his companions to build a mosque.

The mosque was extended and enlarged by Islamic rulers from time to time. In 1385 H/1965 CE heavy rains fell on 峁n士膩示. The Great Mosque was affected and the ceiling in the north west corner was damaged. During the survey, the workers discovered a large vault full of parchment and paper manuscripts of both the Qur’an and non-Qur’anic material.

The UNESCO, an arm of the United Nations, had compiled a CD containing some of the dated 峁n士膩示 manuscripts as a part of “Memory of the World” programme. In this CD there are many Qur’anic manuscripts written in the hijazi script which are dated from 1st century of hijra, one of them belonging to early 1st century. Many more manuscripts have been dated from the period 1st / 2nd century of hijra.We will be showing only a few examples below.

A few more examples of the 1st and 1st / 2nd century hijra Qur’anic manuscripts can be found in the book Ma峁D佱弗if 峁n士膩示 (1985, D膩r al-Athar al-Isl膩miyyah). This book is a catalogue of an exhibition at the Kuwait National Museum, with articles by Hussa Sabah Salim al-Sabah, G. R. Puin, M. Jenkins, U. Dreibholz in both Arabic and English. It is expected that the 峁n士膩示 manuscripts will throw a great deal of light on the early Islamic history of calligraphy and illumination and even the various ahruf (they were seven) in which the Qur’an was revealed.

A few words of caution concerning the dating of the Qur’anic manuscripts need to be mentioned. It is to be remembered that assigning a date to an undated early Qur’anic manuscript is rarely simple especially in the absence of wakf marking.

There is a tendency to assume that those in large scripts and without vowels are of the earliest date. This assumption, true to some extent, is nevertheless misleading in two respects. It ignores that fact that small as well as large ma峁D佱弗if of the Qur’an were among the earliest written and that both types continued to be written thereafter. Though the assumption that manuscripts with the vowels must be considered later than those without is true in some cases, it is not always so,

for some very early manuscripts of the Qur’an, originally written without vowels, may well have been voweled later. Furthermore, the first vowel system came into use shortly after the first ma峁D佱弗if were written. There are also examples of later ma峁D佱弗if which were unvoweled even after 3 centuries after hijra!

As a matter of caution, we stress the fact that we are only showing a single leaf of the manuscripts in the cases below. A manuscript may contain additional s奴rahs. The reader is advised to go through the references for additional information.

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The Arabic Papyri | Arabic & Islamic Inscriptions | The Islamic Coins1. The Qur’anic Script & Palaeography

 The Dotting Of A Script And The Dating Of An Era: The Strange Neglect Of PERF 558, A. Jones, Islamic Culture, 1998, Volume LXXII, No. 4, pp. 95-103.

It is usually assumed that the dotting of the Arabic script began with the advent of dotting of Qur’anic manuscripts. However, recent observation on a 70 year old Arabic papyri has shown conclusively that dotting was available as early as 22 AH, perhaps even earlier.

 From Alphonse Mingana To Christoph Luxenberg: Arabic Script & The Alleged Syriac Origins Of The Qur’an

A path-breaking discourse or is it yet another headline grabbing exercise? You decide!

 Concise List Of Arabic Manuscripts Of The Qur’膩n Attributable To The First Century Hijra.

The study of ancient manuscripts of the Qur’an is steadily gathering pace. In decades past, a few scholars have compiled lists of Qur’anic manuscripts attributable to the 1st century hijra. Although helpful, these lists contain only the barest details, usually only the name of the manuscript concerned or sometimes even less. With this in mind, we have constructed this document that contains additional details providing further insights into these valuable manuscripts, accompanied by full bibliographic references.

A discussion of how scholars date early Qur’anic manuscripts and an assessment of the value of these manuscripts is also provided along with some detailed mathematical calculations. Should one ponder over this list, they will come to the appreciation scholars involved in this field of study suffer from an embarrassment of riches. Quite simply, there is no other work from the Late Antiquity that comes close to the Qur’an in terms of the number of their earliest manuscripts including textual content.

 Radiocarbon (Carbon-14) Dating Of The Manuscripts Of The Qur’膩n.

Radiocarbon dating of ancient Qur’anic manuscripts in the literature is very rare. Can radiocarbon dating provide more accurate results than traditional palaeographic techniques and associated methods? A discussion of the scientific principles underpinning this radiometric dating technique, together with some practical examples from actual Qur’anic manuscripts, highlights the strengths and weaknesses of this procedure as compared to more traditional palaeographic based methods.

 Dated Texts Containing The Qur鈥檃n From 1-100 AH / 622-719 CE.

The corpus of dated texts containing the Qur’an from 1-100 AH / 622-719 CE proving the early codification of the Qur’an in Arabic.

2. Examples Of The Qur’anic Manuscripts

THE 士UTHM膧NIC MANUSCRIPTS

No discussion about the Qur’anic manuscripts begins without the mention of the 士Uthm膩nic manuscripts of the Qur’an. Narrations differ as to how many copies were directly ordered and sent out by the Caliph 士Uthm膩n, but they range from four to seven. It seems certain from various Muslim historical sources that several were lost, through fire amongst other things.

There are some copies that are attributed to 士Uthm膩n. However, it is to be added that there is a disagreement between the scholars whether they are truly 士Uthm膩nic. Some Western scholars have rejected the Qur’anic manuscripts attributed to 士Uthm膩n as “pious forgeries” without showing any scientific evidence (i.e., study of the parchment, script, ink etc.). This itself is unscientific to an extreme. We will discuss some important manuscripts attributed to 士Uthm膩n below.

 The 鈥淨ur’膩n Of 士Uthm膩n鈥 At Tashkent (Samarqand), Uzbekistan, From 2nd Century Hijra.

A folio from a Qur’anic manuscript in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, commonly attributed to caliph 士Uthm膩n, has recently been subject to radiocarbon tests at Oxford, United Kingdom. The dates generated by this radiometric technique and palaeographic studies suggest an 8th century (2nd century hijra) date.

 The 鈥淨ur’膩n Of 士Uthm膩n鈥 At The Topkapi Museum, Istanbul, Turkey, From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra.

This manuscript was written in kufic script and contains 408 folios. The extant folios contain more than 99% of the text of the Qur’an. Only two folios are missing. The manuscript shows the script, illumination and marking of vowels that are from the Umayyad times (i.e., late 1st century / early 2nd century of hijra).

 The 鈥淨ur’膩n Of 士Uthm膩n鈥 At The T眉rk ve 陌slam Eserleri M眉zesi (Turkish and Islamic Art Museum), Istanbul, Turkey, From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra.

A manuscript written in the kufic script on gazelle skin, and contains 439 folios. Interestingly, on the last folio of the manuscript is written in kufic script 鈥Katabahu Uthm膩n bin Aff膩n f墨 sanat thalathyn鈥 (鈥準縐thm膩n bin 士Aff膩n wrote in the year 30鈥). However, the script and ornamentation negates this possibility.

 The 鈥淨ur’膩n Of 士Uthm膩n鈥 At St. Petersburg (Russia), Katta Langar, Bukh膩r膩 And Tashkent (Uzbekistan), From 2nd Century Hijra.

A manuscript written in the late the 岣j膩z墨 script, containing about 40% of the text of the Qur’an, with full texts of 22 surahs and fragments of another 22.

 The 鈥淨ur’膩n Of 士Uthm膩n鈥 At The Al-Hussein Mosque, Cairo, Egypt, From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra.

This monumental Qur’anic manuscript on parchment showing a well-formed kufic script, written in dark-brown ink with sparse diacritical marks and no ornamentation. Total number of folios are 1087. Size: 57 cm x 68 cms. The height of the mu峁a弗af is 40 cm and weighs 80 kgs. The extant folios contain more than 99% of the text of the Qur’an.

 The 鈥淨ur’膩n Of 士Uthm膩n鈥 At The Egyptian National Library (D膩r Al-Kutub Al-Misr墨yya), Cairo, Egypt, From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra.

A monumental Qur’anic manuscript on parchment showing a well-formed kufic script. Total number of folios are 306. The script is slightly sloping backwards with tall ascenders and is strongly reminiscent of the type of well executed kufic script exhibited during the Umayyad period. There is no vocalisation and a very limited amount of consonantal pointing (i.e., diacritical marks) 鈥 on some folios there are no diacritical marks at all.

Multi-coloured (e.g., red, green, black, brown) diagonally arranged dashes are usually used to indicate verse-endings. Groups of five verses are marked with medallions and square cartouches containing quatrefoil emblems are used to indicate groups of ten verses. There are some arcaded bands that separate s奴rahs without mentioning the name of the s奴rah, some containing triangular-shaped crenellations.


THE QUR’ANIC MANUSCRIPTS ATTRIBUTED TO 士ALI B. ABI 峁珹LIB

The third and fourth caliphs, i.e., 士Uthm膩n and 士Al墨, share a very interesting aspect 鈥 attribution of 鈥榓uthorship鈥 of numerous manuscripts of the Qur’an. In this section, we will present the manuscripts attributed to 士Al墨 b. Ab墨 峁乴ib.

 The 鈥淨ur’膩n Of 士Al墨 b. Ab墨 峁乴ib鈥 (The 峁n士膩示 Mu峁a弗af) From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra.

This manuscript was written in kufic script and contains 275 folios. The extant folios contain about 86% of the text of the Qur’an. The script is slightly sloping backwards and is reminiscent of the type of well-executed kufic script exhibited during the Umayyad period. Single dots were placed above, beside or below the letters. Two dots were placed to indicate the nunation known as tanw墨n.

Diacritical marks are represented by dashes. The ending of verses is indicated by a series of 5 or 6 dashes. The s奴rahs are separated by wide horizontal bands in the form of rectangles. The inside of the band is decorated differently for every s奴rah separator. The sequence of the s奴rahs is just like what is seen in modern day copies of the Qur’an. The codex is contains large ornamentaled circles to indicate every 10 verses. Ornamented rectangular shaped signs are used to indicate every 100 verses.


FIRST CENTURY HIJRA

Below are the examples of the 1st century hijra manuscripts written in the 岣j膩z墨 and the Kufic scripts.

 Codex 峁n士膩示 I 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From Mid鈥1st Century Of Hijra.

Perhaps the most significant manuscript of the Qur’an palimpsest so far discovered at 峁n士膩示, this codex is datable to the middle of the first century of hijra and consists of 81 folios. The leaves from Codex 峁n士膩示 I have appeared under the hammer at auction houses like Christies, Sotheby’s and Bonhams; the most recent one at Christies in 2008 fetching a remarkable sum of 拢2,200,000, around fifteen times the estimated asking price.

This codex exemplifies the principal tendencies of the early 岣j膩z墨 script and is of tremendous importance regarding the textual transmission of the Qur’an, Arabic palaeography, codicology and other related disciplines. A detailed description of the folios, including the textual content of scriptio inferior and scriptio inferior, is provided. The extant folios contain about 41% of the text of the Qur’an.

 Codex Parisino-Petropolitanus 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra.

This is one of the most important manuscripts written in the 岣j膩z墨 script from 1st century hijra. Total number of folios are 98 = 56 (Arabe 328a, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris) + 14 (Arabe 328b, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris) + 26 (Marcel 18/1, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 1 (Vaticani Arabi 1605, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City) + 1 (KFQ60, Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London). The extant folios contain about 46% of the text of the Qur’an.

 Codex B. L. Or. 2165 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra.

Hailed as by the earlier keepers of it as “probably the earliest Qur’an ever brought to Europe”, the British Library says that it is the “oldest Qur’an manuscript” in their possession. This manuscript is written in the 岣j膩z墨 (or ma’il) script. It is usually dated around the mid-second century of hijra. However, a recent study by Yasin Dutton has shown that this manuscript is remarkably similar to the first century Qur’anic manuscript MS. Arabe 328a in the Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris. Total number of folios are 128 = 121 (B. L. Or. 2165, British Library, London) + 6 (Arabe 328e, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris) + 1 (LNS 19 CAab (bifolio), D膩r al鈥揂thar al鈥揑sl膩miyyah, Kuwait). These 128 folios contain about 57% of the total text of the Qur’an.

 Codex Mashhad 鈥 An Early Qur’膩n In Ibn Mas士奴d’s Arrangement Of S奴rahs, 1st Century Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. B1a according to the classification of D茅roche. The regionality of this codex corresponds closely with Medina.This manuscript has 251 folios = 122 (MS 18, 膧st膩n-i Quds Library, Mashhad) + 129 (MS 4116, 膧st膩n-i Quds Library, Mashhad). The extant folios contain >90% of the total text of the Qur’an ignoring the folios that contain a later kufic hand used in emendations. The main peculiarity of Codex Mashhad is the order of s奴ras in which it was originally written and late emended to conform to the traditional 士Uthm膩nic order. The original arrangement of s奴ras in this manuscript agrees with that of Ibn Mas士奴d’s order of s奴ras.

 Codex M a VI 165 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From The 1st Century Hijra At The Universit盲tsbibliothek T眉bingen, Germany.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script though listed as kufic in the catalogue entry. This manuscript has been subjected to radiocarbon analysis and dated to 649-675 CE with 95.4% probability. It has 77 folios, containing continuous text of the Qur’an from 17:35 to 36:57. This constitutes about 26.2% of the total text of the Qur’an.

 Codex 峁n士膩示 DAM 01-25.1 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Of Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. The codex consists of 29 folios. There are few diacritical marks but no vocalization. The verses divisions indicate the beginning of the usage of simple ornamentation which is nothing but adjacent strokes. An interesting feature of this early 岣j膩z墨 manuscript is the presence of s奴rah al-F膩ti岣h which is followed immediately by s奴rah al-Baqarah. The presence of s奴rah al-F膩ti岣h is rare in the Qur’ans from first century hijra, the only other known example being the 鈥淕reat Umayyad Qur’膩n鈥, DAM 20-33.1, also from 峁n士膩示.

 Codex 峁n士膩示 DAM 01-29.1 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Of Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. This codex was probably written by at least two different copyists as the scripts differ in various folios. There are few diacritical marks but no vocalization. The s奴rahs are separated by simple ornaments. This manuscript has been subjected to radiocarbon analysis and the combined results give the date 633-665 CE with 95.4% probability. There are 35 folios in this codex and they have ~22% text of the Qur’an. Located at D膩r al-Makht奴t膩t, 峁n士膩示, Yemen.

 The 鈥淕reat Umayyad Qur’膩n鈥 (Codex 峁n士膩示 DAM 20-33.1) From The Time Of Caliph Al-Wal墨d, Late 1st Century Hijra.

This monumental and the earliest kufic Qur’anic manuscript, perhaps one of the most well-studied and is dated to the last decade of the 1st century of hijra, around 710 – 715 CE, in the reign of the Umayyad Caliph al-Wal墨d. This manuscript is unique in the sense that it open with a group of full page images. These images are the only known Qur’an illustrations and are absolutely unique among extant Qur’an manuscripts. Apparently 25(?) folios from this codex survive. Located at D膩r al-Makht奴t膩t, 峁n士膩示, Yemen.

 The 鈥淯mayyad Codex of Damascus鈥 (Codex TIEM 艦E 321) 鈥 1st Century Of Hijra.

This manuscript was dated by D茅roche using art-historical methods to the time after 72 AH / 691-692 CE or more probably during the last quater of the 1st (early 8th) century AH. It is written in kufic or perhaps late 岣j膩z墨 script. The letters are spread over the entire page due to an extensive use of elongation of horizontal connections or to a regular spacing of the letters or groups of letters irrespective of being part of the word or not. The s奴rah headings are illuminated. The illumination of this Qur’an relies on motifs which find their parallels with the mosaics at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The codex has 33+ folios and is located at the T眉rk ve 陌slam Eserleri M眉zesi (Turkish and Islamic Art Museum), Istanbul, Turkey.

 The 鈥淯mayyad Codex of Fus峁佱弓鈥 (Codex Marcel 13) 鈥 1st Century Of Hijra.

D茅roche is of the opinion that this copy may have been one of those that were sent by al-Hajjaj to many cities including Fus峁佱弓 that contained reformed orthography. Total number of folios are 73 = 9 (Arabe 330c, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris) + 12 (Marcel 11, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 42 (Marcel 13, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 10 (Marcel 15, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg). The extant folios contain ~30% of the text of the Qur’an.

 Codex Arabe 331 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 or 岣j膩z墨-like script. This manuscript has 88 folios = 56 (Arabe 331, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris) + 26 (Marcel 3, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 2 (Ms. Leiden Or. 14.545b + Or. 14.545c, University Library, Leiden) + 2 (A 6959 + A 6990, Oriental Institute, Chicago) + 1 (E16264 R, University of Pennsylvania Museum) + 1 (Nab茅cor Ench猫res, 2019, Lot 94). The extant folios contain ~28.5% of the text of the Qur’an. Radiocarbon analyses of folios combinely date the codex to 652-763 CE with 95.4% probability, with that range being broken down into a 89.3% probability that it dates to between 652 and 694 CE and a 6.1% probability that it dates to between 747 and 763 CE.

 Codex Marcel 5 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra.

Written in the kufic script. This manuscript has 35 folios = 17 (Marcel 5, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 10 (Arabe 335, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris) + 4 (Ms. Leiden Or. 14.545a, University Library, Leiden) + 1 (KFQ50, Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London) + 1 (A 6958, Oriental Institute, Chicago) + 1 (E16264 K, University of Pennsylvania Museum) + 1 (Ms. 276, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha). Radiocarbon analyses of folios combinely date the codex to 652-763 CE with 95.4% probability, with that range being broken down into a 89.3% probability that it dates to between 652 and 694 CE and a 6.1% probability that it dates to between 747 and 763 CE.

Codex Marcel 17  A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Of Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. Total number of folios are 28 =17 (Marcel 17, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 7 (Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b, University of Birmingham, Birmingham) + 4 (Ms. 67.2007, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha). The extant folios contain ~14.7% of the text of the Qur’an.

Codex Marcel 18/2  A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Of Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨-like script. Total number of folios are 23 =20 (Marcel 18/2, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 3 (Arabe 328d, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris). The extant folios contain ~9.5% of the text of the Qur’an.

Codex Marcel 19  A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Of Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. Total number of folios are 15 =13 (Marcel 19, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 2 (Arabe 328f, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris). The extant folios contain ~6.8% of the text of the Qur’an.

Codex Arabe 328c 鈥 A Qur’anic Manuscript From 1st Century Of Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. This codex has 18 folios; 16 (Arabe 328c, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris) + 2 (Islamic Arabic 1572a, University of Birmingham, Birmingham). The latter has recently been radiocarbon dated to the period between 568 CE and 645 CE with confidence level (2蟽) of 95.4%. The extant folios contain ~8.3% of the Qur’an.

 Codex Arabe 330g 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. Total number of folios are 43 = 20 (Arabe 330g, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris) + 12 (Marcel 16, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 6 (Rennes Encheres 2011, Lot 151) + 4 (Is. 1615 II, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin) + 1 (Ms. 1611-MKH235, Beit al-Qur’an, Manama). Not taking into account fragmented folios, the rest contain about ~21% of the text of the Qur’an.

 Codex Is. 1615 I 鈥揂 Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. Total number of folios are 47 = 32 (Is. 1615 I, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin) + [5 (Ms. 68.2007), + 2 (Ms. 69.2007), + 6 (Ms. 70.2007), + 1 Ms. 699.2007 (= Sotheby’s October 2008, Lot 3), Museum of Islamic Art, Doha] + 1 (TR:490-2007, Vahid Kooros Private Collection, Houston). Recently, folios from Is. 1615 I have been radiocarbon dated and the combined results give the date 591-643 CE with a confidence level (2蟽) of 95.4%.

 Codex Ms. Q膩f 47 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Of Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. The mu峁a弗af is not vocalised. The consonants are differentiated by dashes. Six oval dots ranked in three pairs usually punctuate the verses. Every tenth verse is marked by a hollow circle surrounded by dots. This manuscript was subject to radiocarbon analysis and has been dated to 606-652 CE with 95% probability. The codex has 36 folios = 29 (Ms. Q膩f 47 including Arabic Palaeography, Plate 44, D膩r al-Kutub al-Misriyya, Cairo) + 7 (Ms. Or. Fol. 4313, Staatsbibliothek, Berlin). The extant folios contain ~16% of the text of the Qur’an.

 Codex Arabe 6140a 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. It has 10 folios; 4 (TIEM 艦E 86, T眉rk ve 陌slam Eserleri M眉zesi, Istanbul) + 4 (Arabe 6140a, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris) + 2 (Camb. Ms. Add. 1125, University Library, University of Cambridge). The format is vertical, and the script which is thin and slender, also has a distinct vertical emphasis, despite the slant to the right. The text is written in brown-black ink, with occasional diacritical strokes.

 Codex Auctionalis 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From Second Half Of 1st Century Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. The codex has 5 folios = 1 (Sotheby’s October 2010, Lot 3) + 1 (Christie’s April 2011, Lot 10) + 1 (Christie’s October 2013, Lot 50) + 1 (Sotheby’s October 2015, Lot 56) + 1 (Sotheby’s October 2019, Lot 104). Notice that all the folios of this codex have appeared at the auction houses and hence the name “Codex Auctionalis”. There are 22-23 lines per folio. S奴rah headings are in red perhaps written by a later hand. Also seen are red vocalisation markers and dotted roundel verse markers. Consonant are differentiated by dots.

 The 鈥楳ingana Palimpsest鈥 鈥 A Manuscript Containing The Qur’膩n From 1st Century Hijra.

Mrs. Agnes Smith Lewis was the first scholar to publish this unique palimpsest that has scriptio superior which is a Christian material (Arabic Christian homilies) and the scriptio inferior consisting of the Qur’anic verses. Mingana presented a full transcription of the Qur’anic text of the scriptio inferior of the manuscript, with the parallel text from the present day Qur’an.

But his claim of “variants” in the Qur’anic text has come under suspicion partly because of his own history of being involved in suspected forgeries. Recent study by Fedeli on this manuscript has confirmed that the “inevitable and easy conclusion” is that all of Mingana’s transcription can be suspected to be wrong. A recent surge of interest in this manuscript is due to the fact that the scriptio inferior was written in the 岣j膩z墨 script.

 An 鈥楿mayyad鈥 Fragment Of The Qur’膩n From 1st Century Hijra.

This private-owned fragment of the Qur’an was recently published by Yasin Dutton. On the basis of palaeography and radiocarbon analysis, he dated it to the second half of the 1st century of hijra / late 7th or early 8th century CE.

 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript In The 岣jazi Script From c. 700 CE.

Eight folios (one fragmentary), 20-27 lines to the page written in brown 岣j膩z墨 script, diacritical marks, where present, consists of oval dots or angled dashes, no vowel points, clusters of brown ink dots to indicate verse divisions, circular devices consisting of green and red dots every ten verses, one long, narrow rectangular panel of green and red decoration with a circular marginal device consisting of coloured dots on final folio, probably to indicate the s奴rah heading of s奴rah al-Nisa, leaves sewn together with original stitching. It contains s奴rah 膩l-鈥業mr膩n, verses 34-184.

 A Perg. 2 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. Yellowish, thin parchment with strong damage. Located at the Austrian National Library, Vienna

 A Perg. 213 鈥 A Qur’anic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra.

Manuscript from the Austrian National Library, Vienna. Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. Two folios extant.

 P. Micha茅lid猫s No. 32 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From First Century Hijra.

Manuscript from the Collection George Micha茅lid猫s, Cairo (Egypt) written in the Kufic(?) script.


FIRST / SECOND CENTURY HIJRA

 Codex Topkap谋 Saray谋 Medina 1a – A Qur’膩n Located At Topkap谋 Saray谋 Museum, Istanbul, From 1st/ 2nd Century Hijra.

One of the most important manuscripts of the Qur’an written in many different hands. This manuscript was written in 岣j膩z墨 script. The total number of folios are 305 as gathered from the Gotthelf-Bergstr盲脽er-Filmarchiv. Originally, it may have contained ~300 folios. The extant folios contain ~78% of the total text of the Qur’an. A palaeographic analysis assigns this manuscript to the Umayyad period, most probably the late first or early second century of hijra. A brief summary of the manuscript is provided along with a selection of images showing the different hands used to scribe the text.

 Codex MIA 24145 鈥 An Early Qur’膩n At The Museum Of Islamic Art, Cairo, 1st /2nd Century Hijra.

This manuscript is written in C1 with 岣j膩z墨-like tendencies according to the classification of D茅roche; written in brown ink. Consonants are indicated by dashes but the usage is not uniform. Red dots were added later for vocalization but used inconsistently. This manuscript has 281 folios. The codex originally may have contained close to 325 folios. The extant folios contain about 87% of the text of the Qur’an.

 Kodex Wetzstein II 1913 – A Qur’膩n Located At Staatsbibliothek, Berlin, From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra.

This manuscript was written in 岣j膩z墨 script and contains 210 folios. Originally, it may have contained 245-250 folios. The extant folios contain about 85% of the text of the Qur’an, thus making it one the earliest and almost complete 岣j膩z墨 Qur’ans.

 Codex 峁n士膩示 DAM 01-30.1 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st / 2nd Century Of Hijra.

It is written in the late 岣j膩z墨 script. There are about 32 lines per page. Few diacritical marks but no vocalization. The indication of the end of every tenth verses has been added later. Total number of extant folios are 10 = 9 (DAM 01-30.1, D膩r al-Makh峁玹膩t, 峁n士膩示) + 1 (Qur-001-TSR, Tareq Rajab Museum, Kuwait).

 Codex Mixt. 917 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra.

This manuscript was written in either the late 岣j膩z墨 or kufic script and contains 105 folios. The extant folios contain about 27% of the text of the Qur’an. A rare form of punctuation is also displayed in this manuscript corroborating its eighth century CE dating.

 Codex 峁n士膩示 DAM 01-28.1 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st / 2nd Century Of Hijra.

This codex, found in the Great Mosque in 峁n士膩示, Yemen, has 60 folios. There is a clear definition of the text area and of the distance between the lines which has given a uniform appearance, a feature which is generally uncommon in the 岣j膩z墨 manuscripts. Diacritical marks are frequent. It has Qur’an 2:1鈥71:14 (fragmented, not sequential text).

 Codex 峁n士膩示 DAM 01-18.3 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 1st / 2nd Century Of Hijra.

Written in the late 岣j膩z墨 script. The codex consists of 16 folios. Few diacritical marks but no vocalization. The vertical format is a common feature of most Qur’ans written in the 岣j膩z墨 style. This example is an exception, where the horizontal format contradicts somewhat vertical features of the script.

 Leiden Or. 8264 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript On Papyrus At University Library, Leiden, From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra.

岣j膩z墨-like writing. The writing here is totally different from the one that is seen in the documentary papyri. The text is not divided into verses, presence of open 士ayn and bottom of the alif bending to the right are perhaps a sign of antiquity of this folio. Qur’ans written on papyrus are quite rare. This is because papyrus, unlike parchment, is not as durable a material for everyday use. Due to their fragile nature combined with regular use of the Qur’an, these manuscripts may not have survived.

 Surah al-Isra’ (17) Verses Number: From 20 To 22 And Part Of 23.

Located at D膩r al-Makht奴t膩t, 峁n士膩示, Yemen.

 Surah al-Mumtahinah (60) Verses Number: Part Of 4 To 8 And Part Of 9.

Located at D膩r al-Makht奴t膩t, 峁n士膩示, Yemen.

 Surah al-Ma’idah. Verses Number: Part Of Verse 94 To Part Of Verse 97.

Manuscript from the Beit al-Qur’an, Manama (Bahrain), written in the Kufic script.


SECOND CENTURY HIJRA

 Codex Amrensis 1 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 2nd Century Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. Total number of folios are 75 = 6 (Arabe 326a, Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris) + 36 (Rennes Encheres I + Rennes Encheres II, 2011, Lot 152) + 32 (Marcel 9, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 1 (KFQ34, Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London). The extant folios contain about 20.5% of the text of the Qur’an.

 Codex 峁n士膩示 DAM 01-32.1 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 2nd Century Of Hijra.

Written in the late 岣j膩z墨 script. About 12 lines per page. It has few diacritical marks but the vocalization is probably contemporary. The style bears many features common to both 岣j膩z墨 and early Kufic, or perhaps show a transition from the former to the latter. The total number of folios in this codex are not known but 7 of them have been published so far. Located at D膩r al-Makht奴t膩t, 峁n士膩示, Yemen.

 Codex 峁n士膩示 DAM 01-29.2 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 2nd Century Of Hijra.

This beautiful codex is one of the two Qur’ans found in 峁n士膩示 which resemble the monumental codex from Syria, the 鈥淕reat Umayyad Qur’膩n鈥 (Codex 峁n士膩示 鈥 DAM 20-33.1). Their similarity in size, proportion, number of lines, script and illumination suggest that the 鈥淕reat Umayyad Qur’an鈥 may have served as a model.

The fragments from this codex reflect the Syrian codex in quality rather than features. The letters are spaciously distributed and once connected individual letters tend to blend with their neighbours. The total number of folios in this codex are not known but 10 of them have been published so far. Located at D膩r al-Makht奴t膩t, 峁n士膩示, Yemen.

 Codex TIEM 艦E 12995 鈥 A Qur’膩nic Manuscript From 2nd Century Of Hijra.

Written in the 岣j膩z墨 script. The interesting part of this manuscript is the use of different colour of inks. Four varieties of ink have been used for the copy of the text. In addition of the most common used brown ink, the scribe also employed a red, an orange and a green one. These inks are not connected with the beginning or the end of s奴rahs.

The usage of inks does not follow any rule or sequence. However, an interesting patterning of the coloured inks is applied to the last three lines of a s奴rah and the first three lines of the next one. For example, the end of s奴rah al-Nis膩 is written in green and contrasts wiith the first and third lines of s奴rah al-M膩’idah which are written in red, the second one being also in green. Only 22 folios of this codex survive. It is written in the reading of Ibn 士膧mir. Located at the T眉rk ve 陌slam Eserleri M眉zesi (Turkish and Islamic Art Museum), Istanbul, Turkey.

 The “Qur’膩n Of 士Uthm膩n” At Tashkent (Samarqand), Uzbekistan, From 2nd Century Hijra.

This famous manuscript, also known as the Samarqand manuscript, housed in Tashkent, is commonly attributed to Caliph 鈥楿thman. A folio from a Qur’anic manuscript in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, has recently been subject to radiocarbon tests at Oxford, United Kingdom. Although the dates generated by this radiometric technique at either confidence level do not rule out the possibility that this manuscript was produced in 鈥楿thman’s time, palaeographic studies suggest an 8th century (2nd century hijra) date.

 The “Qur’膩n Of 士Uthm膩n” At St. Petersburg (Russia), Katta Langar, Bukh膩r膩 And Tashkent (Uzbekistan), From 2nd Century Hijra.

A manuscript written in the late 岣j膩z墨 script, containing about 40% of the text of the Qur’an, with full texts of 22 surahs and fragments of another 22.

 A Perg. 203: A Qur’anic Manuscript From The Beginning Of 2nd Century Hijra In The Austrian National Library.

Manuscript from the Austrian National Library, Vienna. Written in the Kufic script.

 A Perg. 201: A Qur’anic Manuscript From The Beginning Of 2nd Century Hijra In The Austrian National Library.

Manuscript from the Austrian National Library, Vienna. Written in the Kufic script.

 A Perg. 186: A Qur’anic Manuscript From Middle Of 2nd Century Hijra In The Austrian National Library.

Manuscript from the Austrian National Library, Vienna. Written in the Kufic script.

 A Perg. 202: A Qur’anic Manuscript From 2nd Century Hijra In The Austrian National Museum.

Manuscript from the Austrian National Library, Vienna. Written in the Makkan script.

 A Perg. 207: A Qur’anic Manuscript From 2nd Century Hijra In The Austrian National Museum.

Manuscript from the Austrian National Library, Vienna. Written in the Makkan script.

 A Perg. 27: A Qur’anic Manuscript From The End Of 2nd Century Hijra In The Austrian National Museum.

Manuscript from the Austrian National Library, Vienna. Written in themashq script.

 One Of The Earliest Dated Qur’anic Manuscript (107 AH / 725 CE) At Egyptian National Library.

An example of one of the earliest dated Qur’anic manuscripts at the Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyya (Egyptian National Library), Cairo (Egypt).

 A Kufic Manuscript in the King Faisal Centre For Research and Islamic Studies – A Qur’anic Manuscript From 2nd Century Hijra.

A manuscript from the King Faisal Centre For Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia, written in Kufic script [External Link].


SECOND / THIRD CENTURY HIJRA

 Surah Al-Ma’idah, Surah al-An鈥榓m. Part Of 117 (Surah Al-Ma’idah) To Part Of 1 Of Surah Al-An鈥榓m.

Located at D膩r al-Makht奴t膩t, 峁n士膩示, Yemen.

 Surah Al-Baqarah. Part Of 80 To Part Of 81.

Located at D膩r al-Makht奴t膩t, 峁n士膩示, Yemen.

 Surah Al-Mursalat. 5 To 26 And Part Of 27.

Located at D膩r al-Makht奴t膩t, 峁n士膩示, Yemen.


SOME UNIQUE MANUSCRIPTS

 The Famous “Blue” Qur’an.


EXTERNAL LINKS TO THE QUR’ANIC MANUSCRIPTS

 Professor Brannon Wheeler’s Qur’an Manuscripts Page

It contains a healthy collection of Qur’anic manuscripts dated from 1st century of hijra onwards till 14th century of hijra in various scripts such as ma’ilkuficthuluthbiharidiwaniandalusimaghribi and nastaliq.

 The Sch酶yen Collection, National Library Of Norway

It has some good collection of Qur’anic manuscripts dating from as early as 2nd century of hijra.

3. The Qira’at In The Qur’anic Manuscripts

Early Qur’anic manuscripts, unlike the modern printed editions, rarely contain information of the Qira’at in which they were written. Deciphering the Qira’at in the Qur’anic manuscripts is a recent endeavour and a very tedious task. Scholars like Nabia Abbott had only mentioned about Qira’at in the manuscripts in a very cursory way. Recently, in-depth studies have been undertaken to decipher the Qira’at in the Qur’anic manuscripts by Dr. Yasin Dutton of University of Edinburgh. He has been looking into various Qur’anic manuscripts to understand the purpose of using various coloured dots in the writing of the Qur’an and studying the consonantal structure (where dotting is nearly absent as in early Qur’ans written in 岣j膩z墨 or ma’il script) to find out the Qira’at in which the Qur’an manuscript was written. Here are a few examples of the manuscripts in which the Qira’at has been identified.

 The Qira’at Identified In The Qur’anic Manuscripts

We will also mention Dr. Dutton’s publications and provide a brief overview. This section is primarily for those who have access to journals in their libraries.

 Y. Dutton, “An Early Mu峁a弗af According To The Reading Of Ibn 鈥楢mir”, Journal Of Qur’anic Studies, 2001, Volume III (no. I), pp. 71-89.

This study is based on 1st century Qur’anic manuscript “Arabe 328a” in Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris, written in 岣jazi (or ma’il) script. This manuscript has enough material to be able to ascertain the reading it represents. This manuscript is almost devoid of dotting and hence the consonantal structure is used to determine the Qira’at and it was found to be that of Ibn 鈥楢mir (d. 118 / 736) – one of the reading later to be declared indisputably mutawatir by Ibn Mujahid (d. 324 / 926). This study is first of its kind on early Qur’anic manuscripts.

 Y. Dutton, “Some Notes On The British Library’s 鈥極ldest Qur’an Manuscript鈥 (Or. 2165)”, Journal Of Qur’anic Studies, 2004, Volume VI (no. 1), pp. 43-71.

The study by Dr. Dutton has shown that this manuscript is remarkably similar to first century manuscript Arabe 328a in Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris, and was written in the Qira’at of Ibn 鈥楢mir. Based on the similarity between MS. Arabe 328a and MS. Or. 2165, he suggests redating this manuscript to the time just before Umayyad Caliph Walid (r. 86-96 AH), i.e., within the period 30-85 AH with the latter end of this time scale being the safer.

 Y. Dutton, “Red Dots, Green Dots, Yellow Dots & Blue: Some Reflections On The Vocalisation Of Early Qur’anic Manuscripts – Part I”, Journal Of Qur’anic Studies, 1999, Volume I (no. I), pp. 115-140.

Y. Dutton, “Red Dots, Green Dots, Yellow Dots & Blue: Some Reflections On The Vocalisation Of Early Qur’anic Manuscripts – Part II”, Journal Of Qur’anic Studies, 2000, Volume II (no. I), pp. 1-24.

This two-part detailed study is done on the Qur’anic manuscripts from Bodleian Library (Oxford) that date from 3rd / 4th century of hijra. The broad conclusions of this study are:

  1. Variants, including shadhdh variants, are not only marked, but in a sense, highlighted by the use of different coloured dots.
  2. The presence of shadhdh variants alongside Seven, Ten or Fourteen Qira’a suggests that the shadhdh variants were treated as seriously as the main readings by those responsible for vocalization.
  3. The vocalized manuscript enables us to have some idea of the reading, or readings, represented. Where there are only single or limited folios available this is not usually possible, but where there is either a distinctive feature, or enough of a sufficiently well-vocalized manuscript, it is often possible to fix the reading with some precision.

4. The Qur’anic Manuscripts In Museums, Institutes, Libraries & Collections

 Maktabat al-Jami鈥 al-Kabir (Maktabat al-Awqaf), The Great Mosque, San鈥榓’, Yemen (See the manuscripts from 1st1st/2nd2nd and 2nd/3rd century of hijra).

 Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyya (Egyptian National Library), Cairo, Egypt.

 Astan-i Quds-i Razavi Library, Mashhad, Iran.

 Islamic Museum, Jerusalem, Palestine.

 Beit al-Qur’an, Manama, Bahrain (See the manuscripts from 1st and 1st/2nd century of hijra).

 The Nasser David Khalili Collection Of Islamic Art, London, United Kingdom.

 Biblioth猫que Nationale, Paris, France.

 The Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago, Chicago, United States of America.

 The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Ireland.

 The Institute Of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia (See the manuscript from 1st/2nd century of hijra).