This ancient and glorious manuscript of the Holy Quran was obtained by the art collector F.R Martin and has been known to the world since 1912. There have been many debates about the time and place where this manuscript of the Quran was copied but there is no perfect method to know these exact details, and delving into this is not this article’s primary objective. The most accepted view is that it is a late 9th- to early 10th-century Fatimid Tunisian Qur’an manuscript, probably copied in North Africa for the Great Mosque (Mosque of Uqba) of Qairawan. Not the entire manuscript but only the pages of this script of the Quran are present in different places in the world because collectors also separate the folios for selling at various locations.
The verses in the above picture are the verses of Surah Al-Raad, verses 23-28 (this page starts from the middle of verse 23). Yes, we can not read this! This is because it is written in the grand Kufic script. It is Arabic, but the calligraphic style is Kufic. The people at that time could read it. It is not written on paper but a parchment. A parchment is a writing material made from specially prepared untanned skins of animals – primarily sheep, calves, and goats. This manuscript uses ‘vellum’ which is the finest and the highest quality parchment, and that makes it the most expensive parchment. The vellum was dyed with indigo to give it this beautiful, deep blue color.
The astounding thing about this manuscript is that it is written in gold and silver! Silver marks were used consistently to punctuate the text. Where they have not flaked off, they have tarnished to a dull dark gray. Each verse ends with a round marker. The medallion type mark at the left side is an indicator or tag for something that is not in ‘my’ knowledge. It shows that it was a very costly work! Therefore, it could only have been commissioned by royalty, noblemen or other wealthy people; a higher chance being that of royalty because this Quran is more of a ‘luxury’ Quran, which could have meant as a royal gift. It would not have been effortless to read even for the people of that time. However, these are just theories based on human research. It is Allah who knows best. The history attached to a single manuscript of the Qur’an shows us how unaware we are of our glorious heritage
By Mahnoor Naveed.