Item Number: 610
Manuscript Leaflet: Surat Ibrahim (Abraham) & Surat al-Ḥijr (Hijr)
Size: 365 x 210 mm
Size including frame: 475 x 315 mm
Origin: Banda, India
Languages: Arabic and Persian
Frame: Dark brown wood
A magnificent handwritten leaf from a Koran fragment. It originates from Banda, India, and is dated 1790 AD. It contains verses from Surat Ibrahim (Abraham) and Surat al-Ḥijr (Hijr). There are eleven lines of strong black naskh script within gold clouds. Gold roundels appear between verses. It also includes illuminated marginal medallions, markings after every tenth verse, a red Persian interlinear translation, surah headings in red, margins with Tafsir written in black and red. The final folio commentary is dated 1205.
The opening flyleaf is inscribed with a note reading: this copy of the Koran, formally the property of the Bahadoor, Nawab of Banda was delivered after the great victory obtained over Rebels and Mutineers by Major General Whitlocks Troops on the 19th of April 1858 to the Reverend A. Kinloch, the Chaplain of the Horse and present to him as a slight token of affectionate remembrance to the Reverend George Gleed the Vicar of Chalfont St. Peters, Bucks Banda Palace on April 29th 1858. A further note on the final flyleaf reads: This Copy of the Koran was taken from the apartments of Ali Bahadoor, Nawab of Banda after the occupation of his City and Palace by the Madras Column under Major General Whitlock.
Condition of this leaf is Fine.
Ibrāhīm is the fifth in a series of six sūrah s whose opening verses include the letters alif, lām, and rāʾ , and which speak of the Book. It is said to have been revealed in Makkah, with the exception of vv. 28– 29, which belong to the Madinan period, as these two verses are usually considered to refer to the Battle of Badr (My). This sūrah takes its name from the mention of an episode in the life of Abraham (vv. 35– 41) in which he prays for the security of Makkah, protection from idolatry for himself and his children, prosperity for his progeny, and forgiveness for his parents and all believers on the Last Day.
Among the key themes of this sūrah is the stark difference between gratitude and ingratitude for God’s Blessings (see vv. 5, 7– 8, 28, 32– 34, 37), the importance of patience (vv. 5, 12) and trust in God (vv. 11– 12), and the terrible nature of God’s Chastisement, whether in this world or in the next (vv. 16– 17, 29– 31, 42– 44, 48– 50). Another important teaching to be found throughout this sūrah is that those who prefer the life of this world over the Hereafter will end up as losers in the next life. Such people are typified by those who reject God’s messengers (vv. 3, 9– 10, 28– 30), are ungrateful to God for the many blessings that He has given to them (vv. 17– 18), take partners alongside God (v. 30), and succumb to Satan’s false promises (v. 22). The sūrah also emphasizes the importance of prophecy as a means of guiding people out of darkness into light (vv. 1, 5), but notes that whether they are guided or not is ultimately in God’s Hands (vv. 4, 21, 27, 37).
As to Al-Ḥijr, it is the last in a series of six sūrahs whose opening verses include the letters alif, lām, and rāʾ , and which speak of the Book. Like the previous five sūrah s in this series, it belongs to the Makkan period (JJ) and seeks to address the Makkan idolaters’ negative reactions to the Prophet’s message. The sūrah begins with a discussion of the inevitability of God’s Punishment and the inescapability of His Decree, after whose declaration it will be too late to submit to God or defer His Chastisement (vv. 2– 5). It then offers responses to the Makkan idolaters’ challenge that the Prophet bring angels to them (vv. 7– 8) and reminds them that nothing the Prophet brings them would cause them to gain faith and believe (vv. 14– 15).
The sūrah also seeks to console the Prophet in light of the insults and mockery (v. 7) he received from the Makkan idolaters (vv. 95– 97), reminding him that this was a common phenomenon among prophets (v. 11). The rebelliousness of the Makkan idolaters in face of the truth is then juxtaposed with the refusal of Iblīs to bow before Adam when Adam was created by God (vv. 28– 43). The sūrah goes on to recount the stories of the prophets Abraham (vv. 51– 60), Lot (vv. 61– 77), and Shuʿ ayb (vv. 78– 79). The account of the inhabitants of al-Ḥ ijr (vv. 80– 84), the community to whom the Prophet Ṣ āliḥ had been sent, then follows. They bear this name because they inhabited a rocky plain ( ḥ ijr, from which the sūrah derives its title). The sūrah ends by encouraging the Prophet to have forbearance, to worship, to be resolute in spreading the message, and to not grieve over his people’s rejection of it (vv. 88– 99).