Friday, October 19

Explore

You can explore online. Among the destinations of the British Museum's online tours is Arabic Script: Mightier than the Sword, an exhibit that explains how writing spread Islam.


Above is a page from the oldest known Koran. The British Museum explains that the text is from chapter 4 of the Koran, called "al-Nisa," or "The Women," from the end of verse 157 to the beginning of verse 161:

And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.
Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.
And there is not one of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his death, and on the day of resurrection he (Isa) shall be a witness against them.
Wherefore for the iniquity of those who are Jews did We disallow to them the good things which had been made lawful for them and for their hindering many (people) from Allah's way.


Interesting, these are the verses the British Museum decided to post as an image, with no translation provided. The verses are on parchment in dark ink. "The format of the book is oblong, characteristic of early copies of the Qur'an, and traces of the original binding are visible to the right," the exhibit notes.

Also on display is a mosque lamp, a carved tombstone, tools, clothing, jewelry, calligraphy, an engraved brass ewer, a bowl, an etched jar, coins, a Persian tile with poetry, and other art and objects spanning many centuries and countries.

The exhibit notes, "To this day the versatile Arabic alphabet remains a source of inspiration to artists from the Islamic world."

Photo courtesy of British Museum.

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