This year, the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr begins on the evening of Tuesday 4th June. The festival marks the end of Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting and reflection. During Ramadan the Holy Qur’ān was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This blog looks at two copies of the Qur’ān along with a book of Sufi (Islamic) mystical poetry by Jāmī.
This is a magnificent copy of al-Qur’ān written in the Persian Naskhi style. The anwans (titles) are beautifully illuminated and coloured in gold, blue and orange. This page is from Chapter 97 and it reads as Al-Qadr, the Night of Decree, about the revelation of the word of Allah (the Qur’ān) to Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).
- Indeed, We have sent the Qur’ān down in the Night of Decree. 2. And what will make you know what is the Night of Decree? 3. The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. 4. The angels and the Spirit descent therein by permission of their Lord to every matter. 5. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.
Al-Qadr – the Night of Decree – is the best time to recite the Qur’ān and pray the whole night for forgiveness. Al-Qadr takes place during the month of Ramadan; there is no specific date for the revelation, but Muslims traditionally observe it in the last ten days of the month.
Al Qur’ān in African Arabic Characters
This copy of the Qur’ān has exquisiteness of its own given its African style of writing and the combination of colors and emblems. It was written by Abdallah bin Abdallah bin Isa bin Abdallah Rahmuni at Fez during the reign of Sultan Ahamad Abbas Mancur, a ruler of the Moroccan Wattasids (Banu Wattas) dynasty, probably between the years 1526 and 1545. The pictured page is from the start of the Qur’ān, surah AL-Fattiha:
- In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. 2. All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the World. 3. The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. 4. Sovereign of the Day of Recompense. 5. It is You we worship and You we ask for help. 6. Guide us to the straight path. 7. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked Your anger or of those who are astray.
Khamsa-i Jāmī (Five Poems by Jāmī)
Jāmī (d. 1492) was a Persian and Sufi poet from the Timurid Herat court, famous for his mystical and didactic poetry. He is one of the most esteemed poets in the Persian-speaking world. This manuscript contains Jāmī’s mystical Islamic (Sufi) poems, collectively known as the Haft Awrang, the Seven Thrones. In this edition it is called Khamsa, the Five and is written in Nastaliq Persian style with some magnificent illustrations depicting scenes from the poems. It was transcribed by Abdullah ul-Hardi in the year 1531 and has an oriental binding.
The illuminations above depict two scenes from the popular romance and Islamic mystical spiritual allegory of Layli u Majnun about two struggling lovers from different clans. In the image on the left, Majnun (the lover/seeker) has left society behind and wanders in the wilderness among the wild animals. He has become a vegan abstaining from any human activities and fasting and is searching for his beloved/God. While on the right, in contrast, Layli (the beloved) is in her encampment enjoying the company of her slave-girls. The entire digitised manuscript can be viewed here.
With thanks to Parwana Fayyaz.