Interlinear Qurʼan (5: 89-95)


This interlinear Qurʼan fragment of Surat al-Ma'idah (The table/the repast) is believed to belong to a manuscript dating from A.H. 1207 (A.D. 1792–93). The Qurʼan includes translation in Persian written in complete sentences in red ink between each verse of the Arabic original. The late 18th-century practice of translation (or even paraphrasing) reflects the development of the production of interlinear Qurʼans over the centuries. Some of the earliest bilingual Qurʼans include only word-by-word translations; this is especially the case for Qurʼans from the Ilkhanid period (1256–1353). Three gold leaf-shaped cartouches appear at the top, bottom, and left margins of the folio. Each cartouche contains writing in red ink, which reads: Surat al-Ma'idah, nuzilat fi al-Madinah (The chapter of the repast, revealed in Medina). The verses on this folio (5:89–95) discuss the importance of keeping one’s oath, giving food and clothing to the indigent, and avoiding gambling and divination. At the top, bottom, and center of the right margin of the fragment’s verso appear four gold leaf-shaped cartouches bearing writing in red ink. These three cartouches read: al-juz' al-sabi' min ajza' al-thalathin (the seventh part of the thirtieth part). The Qurʼan is divided into approximately 30 equal sections called ajza', in order to facilitate the location of particular parts and to help in the process of memorizing and reciting Qurʼanic verses. Although not as refined as some Persian interlinear Qurʼans made for Safavid rulers, this fragment reveals the extent to which translation into Persian and other non-Arabic languages was an integral part of Qurʼanic production.

Last updated: May 7, 2015