The Best of Poetic Companions for the Noblest of Destinations. A Sage Rhyme on Writing the Holy Qurʼan


Presented here is a 12th-century manuscript copy of ʻAqilat atrab al-qaṣaʼid fi asna al-maqasid manzumah ra’iyah fi rasm al-Quran al-Karim (The best of poetic companions for the noblest of destinations: a sage rhyme on writing the Holy Qurʼan). It is a qasidah (poem) on the Quranic sciences, detailing the history, development, and purposes of correctly writing the Qurʼan. The author, poet al-Qasim ibn Firruh al-Shatibi (1144‒94), was born in Shatibah, near present-day Valencia in Muslim Andalusia (Spain). There he studied the Qur’an and the hadiths before traveling to Mecca. He eventually established himself in Cairo, where he became a Qur’an reader and lectured on the Arabic language and its grammar at al-Fadiliyah school. The poem opens with a versified history of the recensions of the text. The main body of the work is a rhymed commentary on technical matters such as formation of letters, directions on shortening or lengthening letters, and a brief treatment of orthographic issues arising in various surahs (chapters) of the Qurʼan. This poem may be considered a companion to al-Shatibi’s widely used guide to the seven approved readings or recitations of the Qurʼan known as al-Shāṭibīyah (al-Shatibi’s recitations). Al-Shatibi remains to the present day highly regarded and extensively studied by Muslim scholars for guidance on correct rasm (graphic representation of the recited text). His works are also considered by scholars when studying the history of authentic transmission of the Qur’an. The manuscript is complete and is written in a clear naskh script in red and black ink, with headings in red. It has marginal notes and is vowelized. The number of lines per page varies. The manuscript, which was copied by ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn al-Wazir, is dated 590 AH (1194), which puts it very close to the date of the author’s death.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

عقيلة أتراب القصائد في أسنى المقاصد: منظومة رائية في رسم القرآن الكريم

Type of Item

Physical Description

28 pages ; 23 x 17 centimeters


  1. Abdel Haleem, M.A.S. “Qur’anic Orthography: The Written Representation of the Recited Text of the Qur’an,” Islamic Quarterly 38, number 3 (London, 1994).

Last updated: July 28, 2017