Qurʼanic Verses (4: 94-100, 100-105)


This fragment contains verses 94–100 of the fourth surah (chapter) of the Qurʼan, al-Nisa' (The women). The surah addresses the social problems faced by the Muslim community and the need to establish law and order through regulated communal practice. It deals largely with women, orphans, inheritance, marriage, and family rights. These particular verses recommend leaving places hostile to Islam and praise believers who keep their faith when abroad. The verso of the fragment includes verses 100–105 from the same surah, which discuss religious duties during periods of war and suggest that at such times prayer should be carried out with vigilance. The verses are executed on brown paper in a script known as eastern Kufi. During the 10th–13th centuries, Kufi script underwent some variations in eastern Islamic lands (Iraq and Persia) that set it apart from its western equivalents. Many of the letters are drawn out at the vertical, have sharpened angles, and incline slightly, thus giving this script the name “bent Kufi.” The elongation of the letters occurred at the same time as Qurʼans began to be produced in vertical format (rather than oblong, as used for the early and some western Kufi Qurʼans) and the writing surface changed from vellum to paper. Qurʼans in eastern Kufi script, such as this fragment, typically were executed on medium brown paper. Many Qurʼans written in eastern Kufi, such as this example, bear the complete vowel system invented by the eighth-century philologist al-Khalil b. Ahmad, which set the standard for Arabic orthography for centuries to come. Unlike earlier Kufi Qurʼans, diagonal slashes representing vowels began to replace round dots. On this folio, verse markers are almost unnoticeable: they consist of small red circles with a plain center and appear as if added at a later date.

Last updated: May 7, 2015