Supplication Attributed to Caliph Ali


Caliph ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (circa 601−61) is one of the most revered religious and holy figures of Islam. His honorary name, Amīr al-Mu‘minīn, translates from Persian as the “prince of the believers.” Written works by ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and sayings attributed to him are sacred to the Shiite faithful, particularly among Persian speakers. Shown here is an illuminated 18th-century manuscript copy of the Munājāt (Supplication) of ʻAli ibn Abī Ṭālib. Included are both the original Arabic and a translation into Persian. The text is written on a moderately heavy cream-colored paper in gold (folio 1b and 2a) and black ink (folio 2b to the end) within five borders. The borders are colored in, from the outermost to the innermost, in blue, red, gold, red, and green. The pages are divided into four boxes to accommodate the main text and the translation, three containing two lines and one containing one line, or seven lines for each page. The Arabic text, in naskhi script, is in larger boxes with elaborate interlinear decoration; the Persian translation, in nastaʻlīq script, is in narrower boxes with panels of floral decoration on either side. An unknown Persian text appears on folio 1a, part of which is missing along the left margin due to trimming and on the upper-right margin due to damage to the first folio (mended with some loss of this text but no damage to main text). The name and date “Vahīd Ḥusaynī 1209” (1794 or 1795) appears at the lower-left corner of the written area of folio 7b; an unknown Persian text in a later hand appears on the endpaper.

Last updated: September 5, 2014