Sharjah book fair
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November 8, 2023

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The rare scripture dates back to early-to mid-8th century

A copy of the Topkapi Quran dated back to the second century of the Islamic Hijri calendar, or early-to mid-8th century of the Gregorian calendar has made its way to the UAE at the 42nd edition of the Sharjah Book Fair (SIBF).

The Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey, houses this manuscript, traditionally credited to third caliphate Uthman Ibn Affan (656 AD), said Taha Zahid Ozdemir, who works for the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), Turkey.

Speaking to Media, Ozdemir added, “We are showcasing one of the oldest Qurans, the original copy from Topkapi Palace Museum. As this is the copy from the original one, therefore, it is of high quality.”

Copies of ancient Quran on sale for Dh13,000 at Sharjah book fair

Revealing the patron here, he adds, “This Quran is sponsored by none other than His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.”

“Some such unique copies of the Quran are at the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, one in Uzbekistan, one in Cairo, and one at the London Museum.”

History has it that Mehmed Ali Pasha, Governor of Egypt, sent this manuscript to the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II as a gift in the 19th century (CE).

It’s said that comparable illuminations can also be observed in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, and other Umayyad structures.

Copies of ancient Quran on sale for Dh13,000 at Sharjah book fair

“If somebody wants to buy it we are selling this as well. It’s close to Dh13,000. We’ve got two of these to the UAE for the Sharjah Book Fair. One of these limited editions of the Quran has already been sold. A lot of museums and libraries are showing interest in buying this.”

An analysis of the Topkapı Mushaf (refers to a written copy of the Quran) reveals that it was penned using an evolved Kufic script.

Shedding light on the Quranic manuscript, calligraphy, and scripts, Ozdemir continued, “The letter shapes do not align with the writing style found in the early Mushafs ascribed to Caliph Uthman, which were inscribed on vellum (animal skin or membrane) during his era. It appears that the method introduced by Abu al-Aswad al-Du’ali which may have been created after Caliph Uthman’s passing, was meticulously followed when adding vowel marks to the Topkapı Palace copy. Red ink single dots were placed above, beside, or below the letters.”

“Very few of the original ones were created and this was distributed to different regions so that people got to know about the Quran. If we don’t manage to sell the second copy, then we will take it back to our centre in Istanbul. We also sell this online, although it’s part of our limited edition.”

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