This Qur’an from India, copied around 1500 during the rule of the Delhi sultans, shows a Persian translation of the Arabic text.
How does the script aid translation?
This Qur’an is a fine example of how script can be used for both visual appeal and functionality. Scripts in various styles and colours were used to identify hierarchy where there was more than one text. Because the Qur’an is the word of God, and was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in Arabic, only the Arabic original version of the Qur’an has sacred authority. Any translation can only be considered an interpretation, and in many translations (such as here) the original Arabic is given in parallel.
Here the text of the Qur’an is in black ink, is in a variety of naskhi known as bihari, named after the province of Bihar in northern India with which this style of script became associated. The Persian translation is written between the lines and is penned in red naskhi script in a minute hand (so as not to diminish the status of the sacred text). Emphasis is given to the word Allah (God), the name being highlighted in blue throughout the text, and in gold where mentioned in the pious basmalah or invocation (In the name of God) beneath the illuminated chapter heading.
- Full title:
- Qur'an with Persian translation
- Early 16th century, India
- Usage terms
Public Domain. Please consider cultural, religious & ethical sensitivities when re-using this material.
- Held by
- British Library
- Add MS 5551
- Article by:
- Colin F Baker
- Illuminated texts, Islam
Arabic calligraphy is a form of reverence for the Qur’an. Dr Colin Baker outlines the development of qur’anic calligraphy, from some of the earliest existing Qur’ans. He also explores geographic variations in scripts alongside developments in Arabic grammar, changing mediums and Qur’an formats.