The Documents

Religious Revolutions

The Koran

Koran

Page from a Qurían ('Umar-i Aqta'). Iran, present-day Afghanistan,
Timurid dynasty, circa 1400.
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper Muqaqqaq script.

Short Description

According to Muslim tradition, the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the early 7th century CE as God’s final revelation to humanity prior to the Day of Judgment. The preeminent unifying force among Muslims across time and space, the sacred book is represented here by a handwritten manuscript and a copy of the first English translation printed in America.

Remnant Trust Description

Literally meaning “recitation”, the Koran (or, more properly Qur’an), is the sacred book of Islam which according to Muslim tradition was revealed piecemeal to the Prophet Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel from about 610 CE until his death in 632 CE. Cast in an eloquent, rhymed Arabic prose, it is about the length of the Greek New Testament and is organized into 114 chapters arranged in more-or-less decreasing order of length. Although its substantive content mirrors themes found in the normative biblical tradition, in contradistinction to the sacred texts of its cousin faiths, the Qur’an is not marked by a straightforward thematic or narrative arrangement, but rather weaves together vivid eschatological monitions, theological pronouncements, narratives concerning previous prophets, and prescripts concerning moral, ritual and civil matters into a thickly textured picture of a humanity called by God to return to the pure monotheism of the ever-faithful Abraham. Unarguably, the Qur’an has served as the preeminent unifying force among Muslims across time and place, not only informing the rapid political transformation of the Near East beginning in the 7th century but also serving as the basic source and reference for matters of law and theology, of state and polity, of ritual, social, and cultural life in uniquely far-reaching and historically significant ways. The copy on display here comes in the form of a handwritten manuscript.