Mai'l Qur'an

This is one of the very earliest Qur'ans in the world, dating back to the eighth century.  It is thought to come from the Hijaz region of Arabia, a region which contains the holy places of Mecca and Medina, homes of the Prophet Muhammad.

What is the Qur'an?

The Qur'an is the sacred book of Islam. According to Muslim belief, it contains the word of God as revealed through the archangel Jibril (Gabriel) to the Prophet Muhammad in the Arabic language. Muhammad is believed to be the last in a long line of prophets, stretching back to Abraham, from whom all Jews and Christians are also believed to descend. Muslim tradition has it that Muhammad received the divine revelation between the years AD 610 and his death in 632.

The text of the Qur'an is traditionally read aloud, as instructed in the very first revelation that Muhammad received: 'Recite in the name of your Lord'. The word 'Qur'an' comes from the Arabic verb 'to recite'.

What characterises this Qur'an?

The text is written on parchment in an early style of Arabic script called ma'il, one of a number of early Arabic scripts collectively named Hijazi after the region in which they were developed. The word ma'il itself means 'sloping', in this case to the right. Ma'il is also notable for its lack of diacritical marks, the spelling symbols that distinguish between letters of similar shape.

In this Qur'an, as in other ancient fragments, there are no vowel signs or other aids to pronunciation, and the end of each verse is indicated by six small dashes in two stacks of three. The chapter heading in red ink has been added later in nashki script, and differs from the rest of the text.

Taken from: Qur'an, Mecca and Medina
Date: Eighth century
Copyright: By permission of the British Library
Shelfmark: Or. MS 2165, ff. 76v-77