Islam was the prevalent in Spain from 711 until the Christian reconquest in 1492, yet few Islamic manuscripts survived. This is a very rare example of a Spanish Qur’an from that era.

How did Islam reach Spain?

After the death of Muhammad, Islam spread quickly from its base in Arabia. During the period of the Umayyad caliphate that ruled from Damascus (661–750), it reached through Egypt to Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. It also expanded into the Iberian Peninsula, becoming the dominant power in Spain from 711.

By the 1100s, Muslim Turks were in control of Jerusalem. But through the 1100s and 1200s, Christian Europe fought to recapture it in a series of bloody wars, known as the Crusades. Through the late 1400s, Christians also fought to reclaim Spain. By 1492 the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella had expelled, or converted, the Muslims and Jews. Their recapture of Granada earned them the title of ‘the Catholic Monarchs’.

What makes this Qur’an special?

Examples of early Andalusian manuscripts from southern Spain are rare, most having been lost during the Christian reconquest. Qur’ans produced in Spain and North Africa were written on parchment in a style of script known as maghribi. This script, which was named after the province of Maghreb in North Africa, became the accepted script for copying Qur’ans and other texts in North Africa and Andalusian Spain.

View images of the entire manuscripts via our Digitised Manuscripts website.