The Ma’il Qur’an

Description

The Ma’il Qur’an is one of the very earliest Qur’ans in the world.

Why is it so important?

It dates back to the 8th century, some 150 years after the Prophet Muhammad’s death. As far as can be ascertained, it was produced in the Hijaz region of Arabia where the Prophet hailed from and where the holy places of Mecca and Medina are. It contains over two-thirds of the Qur’an text, making it an almost complete codex and one of the oldest Qur’ans in existence. There is evidence that it was a complete text but the rest has been lost over time. Its importance cannot be overestimated as it provides important evidence of the early development of the written recording of the Qur’an.

The manuscript

The text is penned on vellum, a writing material prepared from calf skin. It is written in an early style of Arabic script called ma’il, meaning ‘sloping’. This style is one of a number of early Arabic scripts collectively named Hijazi after the region in which they were developed. It is notable for its lack of diacritical marks, the spelling symbols that distinguish between letters of similar shape. 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 headings in red ink have been added later in naskhi script.

 

Explore this manuscript in full on our Digitised Manuscripts website.

Full title:
Qur'ān, eighth-century
Created:
700–799 CE, Saudi Arabia
Format:
Manuscript
Language:
Arabic
Usage terms

Public Domain. Please consider cultural, religious & ethical sensitivities when re-using this material.

Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
Or 2165

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The Qur’an

Article by:
Mustafa Shah
Themes:
Sacred texts, Islam

The Qur’an, the sacred text of Islam, is believed to be the Word of God as revealed to the Prophet. Here Dr Mustafa Shah describes the historical context of its revelation, its transmission and codification and its shared spiritual heritage with the other main Abrahamic faiths.

Islam introduction

Article by:
The British Library
Theme:
Islam

An overview of articles and British Library resources relating to Islam.

Prophecy and revelation in Islam

Article by:
Walid A. Saleh
Theme:
Islam

Muhammad is the Prophet of Islam. Professor Walid Saleh explains the role of prophecy in Islam, discussing the primacy of the Prophet Muhammad and his life, as well as exploring other biblical and Arabian prophets present in the Qur’an, and the tradition of literature about them.

Related collection items