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Sultan Baybars' Qur'an Text - Introduction

Image of Sultan Baybars' Qur'an cover
British Library Add. MS 59874
Copyright © The British Library Board

Sultan Baybars' Qur'an is one of the most magnificent Qur'ans in the British Library. Produced in Cairo in seven volumes between 1304-1306 AD (704-705 in the Muslim calendar), it is named after the Mamluk ruler who commissioned it, Rukn al-Din Baybars al-Jashnagir. It is the earliest dated Qur'an of the Mamluk period.

The Qur'an is the central text of the Islamic faith. The word Qur'an comes from the Arabic verb meaning 'to read' and, traditionally, the Qur'an is recited aloud. For Muslims, the Qur'an is the actual word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in Arabic by the archangel Gabriel.

The calligraphic script used in this Qur'an is thuluth, written here throughout in gold. This was a rare choice for copying an entire Qur'an, as it was generally used for ornamental headings. The calligrapher was Muhammad ibn al-Wahid and this Qur'an is the only known surviving example of his work. The Baybars Qur'an was sumptuously illuminated by a team headed by the master illuminator, Abu Bakr, also known as Sandal.

It was purchased by the British Museum Library in 1858.

Arabic is written from right to left so the Qur'an opens from the right.

British Library Additional MSS 22406-22412.

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