Sultan Baybars' Qur'an


This seven-volume Qur'an was produced in Cairo for the Mamluk Sultan Baybars by the calligrapher Muhammad ibn al-Wahid and a team of illuminators. 

The Qur'an is the central text of the Islamic faith and is believed to be the actual word of Allah, as revealed by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad.

The manuscript is handwritten in gold, in a form of thuluth, a cursive Arabic script that was not frerquently used for copying Qur'ans at the time. Each volume has an intricate frontispiece combining intricate geometric patterns with ornamental script. It took around two years to complete, and was finished in 1306 (705 in the Islamic calendar) when Baybars was a high-ranking court official. He later deposed Sultan Nasir Muhammad to become the first ruler of the Mamluk Sultanate.

The Mamluk Sultanate was the greatest Islamic empire of the Middle Ages, occupying lands from Egypt to Syria and across the Red Sea. In Arabic, mamluk means 'owned' and was used to describe non-Muslim slaves brought to Egypt to serve as soldiers (to avoid the religious prohibition of Muslim fighting Muslim). Many converted and, like Baybars, obtained high positions. The Mamluks eventually took control in Egypt and later the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. This Qur'an is the earliest dated Qur'an from the Mamluk period and is one of the most beautiful in the British Library's collection.

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Full title:
Sultan Baybars' Qur'an
Held by:
British Library
Add. MS 22406

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