The Manuscripts

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The Manuscript Collection was established in 1406 (1986 A.D.) with the main purpose of collecting original and copied manuscripts, as well as their catalogues and related materials – all of which are available to researchers and inquirers and visitors alike. An Arabic-language database connected to an intranet server houses all such references. The Collection also collects valuable documents, images, paintings and coins from both the Arab and Islamic worlds and beyond. The Collection comprises of nearly 28,000 titles in over 16,000 volumes, over 50,000 images, more than 1,100 manuscript bibliographies from libraries around the world, over 11,000 registered documents and nearly 2,000 valuable coins from various ancient and historical eras.

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16th century A.D. 347 15 x 23 15

This Quran manuscript was part of the library of Sultan Bāyazīd II (Ottoman Turkish: Beyazıt-i s̠ānī), the eldest son and successor of Sultan Muḥammad II al-Fātiḥ (Ottoman Turkish: Fâtih Sultan Meḥmed-i s̠ānī, or Mehmed the Conqueror), ruler of the Ottoman Empire from 886 to 918 (1481 to 1512 A.D.) It was beautifully transcribed by Muṣṭafa bin Khawājah ‘Alī, in Istanbul in 911 (1506 A.D.) The titles of each sūrāh (chapter), the numbering of each the juz’ (one thirtieth of the Quran) and signs of each a’shār (one tenth of the Quran) and ḥizb (stage) are visible in the margins. They are transcribed in white ink, in Thuluth script, inside golden octagrams surrounded by floral ornaments. The first two pages are gold-plated and decorated with plant and floral motifs, connected with golden branches on a blue and golden background. This Quran manuscript was transcribed inside golden frames, with golden ink also used for the floral designs separating the verses. According to different sources, the manuscript used for the transcription of this Quran is the khaṭṭ al-manṣūb (“the well-proportioned script”), a systematic method of writing based on geometry. Its calligraphic form is uniquely powerful as we can see with the design of the median “ك” (kāf) and the “و” (wāw) letters, the symmetry of the long horizontal lines, the use of “ـے‎” (al-yā al-mardūdah, or the returned yā, due to its tail pointing to the right), and the different pen nibs that are approximately one millimeter large.

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14th century A.D. 292 29.8 x 48.8 11

This Quran from India’s northeastern Bihar province is immediately recognizable by the forms of the Arabic letters, chiseled like swords at their ends. The verses are written inside red and blue double frames. The manuscript also includes some transcribed words in red ink in the margins, and tafsīr )Quranic commentaries) written in Persian appearing diagonally alongside an ornamented medallion of varying vivid colors in each footnote. The red ink is used for transcribing the name of God, but also for the iṣṭilāḥāṭ al-ḍabṭ (conventional signs determining the proper pronunciation), the `alāmāt al-waqf (stopping punctuation to guide vocal Quranic recitation) and the tafsīr in the footnotes.

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8th century A.D. 1 19.4 x 25.2 16

The manuscript comprises the verses that range from the 12th verse until the first half of the 19th verse in Sūrah al-Nisā' (“The Women”) written on gazelle skin in traditional Mashq calligraphy, a more developed form of Kufic script. It was made using two needles, allowing the calligraphy to appear on two parallel lines as well as equal spaces between all the words on one same page. Another peculiarity are the pen’s nib marks, visible at the beginning and end of each letter, a common feature of Kufic script. The red dots on the manuscript represent the ḥarakāt (short vowels) of the Arabic language.

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747 A.H./1346 A.D. 156 19 x 27.5 15

This manuscript was written by Muḥammad ibn Alī ibn Sālim ibn Aḥmed al- Ḥanafi. It is the second oldest illustrated copy known of Kalīla wa Dimna. The oldest copy dates from the 13th century and is preserved in the National Library of France, in Paris, under the number 3465. Ḥanafi’s copy contains 96 miniatures representing the models of the Mameluke school, as well as some commentaries and notes in the margins of a number of pages. Each miniature expresses directly the subject of each of the tales. Almost all of the miniatures are preceded by titles that explain their contents.

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17th century A.D. 140 12 x 35.5 19

هو كتاب في علم جميع الأرض؛ في طولها وعرضها، وترسّم مُدنها وحصونها، ومخارج أنهارها، ومجاري بحارها وخلجانها، ومشهور جبالها، وترتيب ممالكها، وإيضاح مسالكها. ألّفه المؤرِّخ الجغرافي أبو عبدالله محمد بن محمد بن عبدالله بن إدريس الإدريسي الحسَني الطالبي (تُوفِّي سنة 560هـ)، وهو مُختصر من كتابه الكبير (نزهة المشتاق في اختراق الآفاق)، وقسم فيه مؤلِّفُه الكرةَ الأرضيةَ سبعة أقاليم. كُتبت نسخة الكتاب بخطّ نسخ جيد، والتاريخ غير مدوَّن، لكن تعود النسخة تقديراً إلى القرن الحادي عشر الهجري/ السابع عشر الميلادي. وكُتب النصّ بالمداد الأسود، واستخدم الناسخ المداد الأحمر في كتابة عناوين المباحث والفصول ورؤوس الفقرات، ورسم خطوط التنبيه فوق بعض الكلمات المهمّة. ولأن هذا الكتاب يتناول علم الجغرافيا فقد احتوت النسخة على رسومات وخرائط بلغت 71 رسماً، استُخدمت فيها الألوان: الأخضر، والأحمر، والأصفر، والأزرق، والبني الداكن.

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13th century A.D. 159 22 x 31 15

This manuscript was written by the poet and author Abu al-Muẓaffar Usama ibn Murshid ibn Ali ibn Muqallid ibn Naṣr ibn Munqidh al-Kināni al-Kalbī who died in the year 584 (1188 A.D.) The book was written in Naskh script. The date is unknown because of missing pages at the end, but it is believed to be from the seventh century (13th century A.D.) Black ink was used for the text and red ink was applied for the titles and chapters. The volume is divided by its author into several books: Kitāb al-Ummahāt (The Book of Mothers), Kitāb al-Zawjāt (The Book of Wives), Kitab al-Banāt (The Book of Daughters), Kitab al-Jaddāt (The Book of Grandmothers), and Kitāb al-Khālāt (The Book of [Maternal] Aunts); each of which is further subdivided into several chapters and segments. It is believed to be the only known existing manuscript of its kind in the world, since no copies or mentions of it appear in the bibliographies of libraries worldwide have been found.

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15th century A.D. 351 16.5 x 28.8 15

This manuscript is a scientific medical document written by the theologian and Islamic scholar Jamāl al-Dīn Abū’l-Faraj ‘Abd al-Raḥman ibn `Alī al-Baghdādī, also known as Ibn al-Jawzī who died in the year 597 (1200 A.D.) The book is divided into 70 chapters and explores various topics related to human health, diseases and treatments. It starts with a chapter on the origin of medicine, followed by a study on its merits, logic and treatment; the creation of Adam; temperaments, sports, rest and fats; nutritional elements and water; types of diseases; and many other topics. The book closes on a chapter about causes of death and their symptoms. This copy was written in Naskh script. It is undated but it is believed to be from the 9th century (15th century A.D.). It was written in black ink, but red ink was also used for the titles of the chapters and segments.

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16th century A.D. 74 15.5 x 20.3 17

This book (The Result of Thinkings about the Cure of Eye Diseases) was written by the oculist Fatḥ al-Dīn Abū al-‘Abbās Aḥmad ibn ‘Uthmān bin Hibat Allāh al-Qaysī al-Maqdisī, who died in 657 (1259 A.D.) It is an ophthalmological study divided into 15 chapters on eye diseases, its causes and treatments; the corneal epithelium disorders; the cornea, uvea, arachnoid layer, retina, and choroid; the nerves and the vena cava; eyelid diseases; visual impairment, and other eye disorders. This copy was written in a Nastaʿlīq script in 919 (1513 A.D.) The scribe wrote it while inside the Sacred Mosque of Mecca. On the title page we can see many notes, some of which date from 1062 (1651 A.D.), and others from 1111 (1699 A.D.)

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