Maghrebi Qur’an manuscript
Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Commander of the Faithful, Abu al-Hasan Ali, the first Marinid (ruled in the Maghreb AH 732–49 / AD 1331–48)
Hegira 745 / AD 1344
Calligrapher: Abu al-Hasan al-Marini.
Black ink on gazelle parchment; binding of illuminated leather.
Length 22 cm, width 20 cm, depth 5 cm
A rab’a, a Qur'anic manuscript divided into 30 parts, each of which has an independent binding. The rab’a was preserved in a square wooden box covered on the outside with leather and embellished by four embossed decorative bands that incorporate geometric patterns outlined with silver thread. In between the four bands are three silver belts which reach from the back to the front of the box to support it. Each belt is decorated with three star-like shapes made from silver and overlaid with blue enamel. In all, the box bears 10 decorative forms in the same style; on the four corners of the box, for example, there are geometric shapes inlaid with mother-of-pearl and red and blue enamel.
The bindings of all 30 parts are made from embossed red leather, with both the front and back embellished with ornamentation and text, which is identical on all the volumes. On each cover there are four inscription bands that form a square, and which are encircled by silver thread. The text is gilded, and in the middle of each front cover there is a silver-braided circle. Within the circle in gilded text is a Chapter from the Qur'an (14: 52), which tells the story of Ibrahim (Abraham). It reads: “Here is a message for mankind. Let them take warning there from, and let them know that he is (no other than) One God. Let men of understanding take heed”.On the back cover there is another quote from the Qur'an “al-Baqara” (“the Cow”, 2: 181), which reads: “If anyone changes the bequest after hearing it. The guilt shall be on those who make the change. For Allah hears and knows (All things)”.
Each part of the rab'a begins with two identical illuminated panels that differ in design from one volume to the next. Most of the square-shaped panels are surrounded by broad illuminated frames and contain decoration consisting of lines, circles and squares painted in more than one colour, but predominantly in gold. The rab'a is written in Maghrebi-style script with black ink, with five lines to each page. Verses are divided from each other by the word “verse” written in gold and surrounded by three circles. The waqf charter of the rab'a, written in an illuminated kufic script within a square that is also illuminated, is on the last two pages of each volume.
A rab’a, a Qur’anic manuscript in 30 parts, preserved in a wooden box covered with leather and decorated with silver bands. The texts are in Maghrebi kufic script, written with saffron water on gazelle parchment. The rab’a is filled with decorative motifs, colours and illumination. This is one of three rab’a written for Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem; only the last copy has come down to us.
The rab’a is dated by an inscription.
The piece was transferred at an unknown date from al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to the Islamic Museum.
The Maghreb was narrowed down as the place of production for this manuscript based on the waqf charter that appears at the end of each volume. For example, the waqf in the eighth volume reads: “The eighth volume of this Holy Qur'anic manuscript completes a part of a thirty volume series, all of which have been written in the handwriting of Abd Allah Ali, amir of the Muslims, son of the amir of the Muslims, Abi Said Uthman, son of the amir of the Muslims, Abi Yusuf Ya'qub bin Abd al-Haqq, ruler of the Maghreb, May God bless him, and it has been endowed for recitation in al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Al-Makri, A., (d. 1041 / 1631), Nafaha al-Tayab (al-Tayb) min Ghasan Ghusn al-Andalus al-Ratib [A Pleasant Breeze from the Branch of Verdant al-Andalus], Vol. 2, Leiden, 1860.
Al-Maqrizi, A., (d. 845 / 1442), Al-Suluk li Ma'arifat duwal al-Muluk [The Right Ways to Know the Lands of the Rulers), Vol. 2, Cairo, 1971.
Al-Qalakshandi, A., (d. 821 / 1418), Subah al-'Asha fi Sana'at al-Inasha' [The Break of Evening in the Making of Literary Creation], Cairo, 1913.
Rosen-Ayalon, M., “Some Comments on a Maghrebi Qur'an”, in Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, No. 19, 1995, pp.73–80.
Salameh, K., Al-Makhtutat al-Qur'aniya fi al-Muthaf al-Islami fi al-Haram al-Sharif, al-Quds [Qur'anic Manuscripts in the Islamic Museum in al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem], Paris, 2003.
Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza, pp.72–3.
Khader Salameh "Maghrebi rab’a" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2024. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;26;en
Prepared by: Khader SalamehKhader Salameh
Khader Salameh has been the Director of the Islamic Museum and Al-Aqsa Library in Jerusalem for more than two decades. He was previously employed in the Hebrew University Library and worked as a librarian in Saudi Arabia and as a teacher in Libya. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Ottoman History. He received a Certificate of Librarianship in 1986 from the Hebrew University. He obtained his BA degree from Beirut University in 1980. He catalogued the Manuscripts Collections of the Haram al-Sharif, which was published in six parts in several countries. His publications include many articles on different subjects and a recent publication in English and Arabic on the Qur'an manuscripts in the Islamic Museum.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: PA 26
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Arabic Calligraphy | The Holy Qur’an Pilgrimage | The Quest for Baraka – Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Palestine The Muslim West | Mosques: A Place for Prayer
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