1,300-Year-Old Copy of Holy Qur’an in Abha

P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News

From: http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=50493&d=26&m=8&y=2004

JEDDAH, 26 August 2004 — A Saudi in the southern city of Abha claims to own one of the oldest handwritten copies of the Holy Qur’an. On the first page of the Qur’an, there is a note that the copy was written in the Hijrah year 116 — more than 1,300 years ago. Muhammad ibn Nasser Al-Kudry said he bought the Qur’an some years ago from an old man and that he paid a large sum for it. Covered in natural leather with Islamic calligraphy, the Qur’an is written in an Arabic script known as cursive Neskhi.

Anwar Muhammad Al-Khalil, supervisor of the Shada Archaeological Palace in Abha, described the Qur’an as beautiful. “I cannot say exactly when it was written. In order to find that out, we must have it examined at a specialized research center,” he explained. According to the Saudi Press Agency, the Qur’an is written on natural paper and is free of ornamentation.

A large number of old Qur’ans are in libraries and museums all over the world. At the library of the Great Mosque in Sanaa, there is a copy of the Qur’an reputed to be in the handwriting of Imam Ali ibn Abu Taleb, Zayd ibn Thabit and Salman Al-Farsi. Written in large unvoweled Kufic script, the Qur’an is in two parts of 150 pages each.

UNESCO has compiled a CD of more than 40 Qur’anic manuscripts which date from the 1st century Hijrah (in both Hijazi and Kufic scripts). One of them is from early 1st century. A library in Mashhad, Iran has 11,000 Qur’anic manuscripts, the world’s largest collection of its kind. The Islamic Museum in Jerusalem is also a repository of Qur’anic manuscripts of varying types, ages and sizes.