Arabic School Board


Shown here is a wooden tablet, of a kind familiar in Qurʼanic schools in many parts of the world, with text from the Qurʼan on both sides. The recto is framed with an ornate arc and spandrels, with decoration incorporating green, red, and blue motifs. The verso has all 19 verses of Surat al-'Aʻlá (The Most High). There is also one separate line of text at the bottom, but water stains have made it illegible. The recto has verses 67−75 of Surat al-Baqarah (The cow), the second and longest chapter in the Qurʼan. Below these verses are two lines stating that this al-silkah (a Moroccan word for completing memorization of the Qurʼan, or a section of it) was completed by al-ʻabd al-daʻīf (the helpless servant) but no name is given to that poor servant, which is unusual. The two lines go on to thank Allah for his help with the completion, and cite prayers for the Prophet Muhammad. The word al-silkah is typically associated with a Qurʼan party, where food is served and fellow students recite the silkah together to celebrate the student’s achievement. Because of the word silkah and the Maghribi script, it is plausible to suggest that this tablet originates from a Qur’anic school in the Maghrib region or in Andalusia. The date is unknown. Such tablets are typically written by the students themselves, before their teachers review them to make corrections. That there are very few corrections reinforces the assumption that this silkah was successfully completed. Traces of an older text are visible between the lines on the verso, which suggests that the tablet was used many times before and wiped clean each time to start a new silkah. Surahs on both the verso and the recto have verses that mention Moses.

Last updated: July 8, 2015