Qurʼanic Chapters 1 and 114


This calligraphic fragment is executed in fine shikastah (literally, “broken”) script and includes an initial bismillah (in the name of God) and surahs (chapters) one and 114 of the Qurʼan. At the top appears the first chapter of the Qurʼan, entitled al-Fatihah (The opening). It reads: “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. / Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds; / The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful; / Master of the Day of Judgment. / You do we worship, and Your aid do we seek. / Show us the straight way, / The way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.” Below the Fatihah appears one of the shortest chapters of the Qurʼan entitled Surat al-Nas (Mankind). It praises God as the Malak al-Nas (Lord of mankind) and as the Protector from Satan al-waswas (literally, the “Whisperer”): “Say, I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind, / the King of Mankind, / The God of Mankind, / From the mischief of the Whisperer who withdraws / And who whispers in the hearts of mankind among the spirits and men.” These two surahs from the Qurʼan appear together here probably because they are short and easily memorized and recited aloud. It is quite unusual, however, to find Qurʼanic verses executed in shikastah, a very fluid script invented in Persia (Iran) by the 18th-century calligrapher Darvish ʻAbd al-Majid al-Taliqani. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Qurʼans were generally written in naskh or nastaʻliq, as these scripts were more legible than shikastah. For this reason, this particular fragment stands out as rare proof that some Qurʼanic ayahs were executed in shikastah in Iran during the 18th−19th centuries.

Last updated: September 30, 2016