7th Century Holy Quran pamphlet on auction at Christie’s
April 23, 2018 | 2:21 PM
by Times News Service
Photo: Supplied

Muscat: A pamphlet set of the Holy Quran that dates back to the 7th Century is on auction at Christie’s for more than £80,000.

The pages of Islam’s holiest book are the only ones of their kind to be copied on a Coptic Bible. They are part of an incredible and stunning discovery of nine folios that date back to the earliest periods of Islam.

With the help of French scholar Dr. Eléonore Cellard, a remarkable discovery was made, as the folios are in fact palimpsests, a manuscript from which the first writing has been effaced so that the vellum could be reused. Beneath the Arabic script, an original Coptic text can clearly be seen.

Cultural interactions

Cellard said, “This is a very important discovery for the history of the Quran and early Islam. We have here a witness of cultural interactions between different religious communities.”

The leaves from these folios are derived from an earlier Coptic manuscript containing passages from the Book of Deuteronomy, which is part of the Torah and the Christian Old Testament. It was probably produced in Egypt, home to the Coptic community, at the time of the Arab conquest.

The pamphlet set appears to be the only recorded example of a Quran written above Christian text. These folios resonate with the historical reality of religious communities in the Near East, and as such, are an invaluable survival from the earliest centuries of Islam.

The set will be on sale as part of the “Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds Including Oriental Rugs and Carpets” auction on April 26.

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