Name of Object:

Rab’a of Sultan Murad



Holding Museum:

Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif

About Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif,

Date of Object:

Hegira 1001 / AD 1593

Museum Inventory Number:

م/ ش/40

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Coloured ink and gilding on paper; the binding embossed and illuminated leather. The box made from wood, covered with decorative stucco.


Length 36 cm, width 24.5 cm, depth 2 cm

Period / Dynasty:





A rab’a (Qur'an divided into 30 parts) that has been preserved in two identical wooden cube-shaped boxes, each of which is covered with a level of stucco and painted black. A number of inscription bands form part of the decoration and contain gilded texts written in thuluth script. The texts include hadiths of the Prophet to encourage study of the Qur'an. The corners of each box are decorated with vegetal designs composed of intertwining plant motifs gathered within a frame of zigzag lines.
Each volume of the rab’a is bound by a two-leaf cover and a library marker. Each leaf of the cover holds a medallion with a helical frame and an illuminated background. The spine is decorated with independent illuminated vegetal motifs. Each medallion is connected at the top and bottom by two suspended ornaments. The two inside covers are decorated with a medallion, divided into illuminated geometric forms on a blue, black, red and green background. The medallion is connected at the top and bottom to a smaller medallion.
The endowment charter of the entire rab’a appears at the beginning of the first volume. On the first page of every volume there is a condensed version of the charter surrounded at both the top and bottom by two decorative bands that are different in size and decorative style from one volume to the next.
Folio 2b–3a forms the beginning of each volume. The frontispiece consists of two identically decorated pages. Five lines are written on each of the two pages, in alternating gold and black, the text surrounded by a number of bands with extremely beautiful ornamentation in polychrome; specifically red and gold against a background of blue. The text is intercepted with independent vegetal decoration in a variety of different colours.
Each page of the 30 volumes of the rab’a is divided into five horizontal rectangles. In each of the first, third and fifth rectangles, there is a single line of the Qur'an written in a large and illuminated rayhani script. In each of the second and fourth rectangles, four lines are written in black thuluth script. The second and fourth rectangles are intersected on both sides by two side-bands ornamented with illuminated motifs consisting of intertwining vegetal decoration against a white background.
The layout of this rab’a is reminiscent of the Qur'anic manuscript of Sultan Bayezid.

View Short Description

A rab’a (Qur’an in 30 parts) in two wooden boxes covered with stucco and painted black with inscriptions and vegetal designs. The rab’a was donated by Sultan Murad to al-Aqsa Mosque. Each page is divided into five parts, three in illuminated rayhani script and two in thuluth script written with black ink. The word ‘Majestic’, chapter names, verse numbers and their area are illuminated.

Original Owner:

Sultan Murad III (r. AH 982–1003 / AD 1574–95)

How date and origin were established:

The rab’a is inscribed with the date and endowment.

How Object was obtained:

The rab’a was transferred from al-Aqsa Mosque to the Islamic Museum but it is not known when.

How provenance was established:

Turkey was narrowed down as the place of production for this manuscript supported by the text of the waqf charter which appears on the third page of the Qur'an. The name of the copyist, illuminator and the place of production does not appear.

Selected bibliography:

Farid, M., Tarikh al-Daula al-'Ulya al-Othmaniya [History of the Ottoman Empire], Beirut, 1981.
Salameh, K., Al-Makhtutat al-Qur'aniya fi al-Muthaf al-Islami fi al-Haram al-Sharif, al-Quds [The Qur'anic Manuscripts in the Islamic Museum in al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem], Paris, 2003.

Citation of this web page:

Khader Salameh "Rab’a of Sultan Murad" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;pa;Mus01;36;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 36


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