Item Number: 617
Manuscript Leaflet: Surah al-Anaam (The Cattle)
Frame: Dark brown wood
Detailed Description:Handwritten Qur’an manuscript, of Persian origin, dated 1796 AD. It is one single paper with two pages, and contains verses from Surat al-Anʿām. The text is written with beautiful Arabic Calligraphy and and is illuminated with a Gold Leaf border. There is a beautiful Gold Lead Medallion mentioning the section in red, blue and white outside the border. The leaf is in good condition.
Revealed in the Makkan period, al-Anʿām clearly addresses the challenges faced by the Prophet and the Muslims engaged in a religious struggle with the idolatrous Makkans. The sūrah takes its name from the discussion of idolatrous ritual prohibitions on the consumption of certain kinds of cattle and the Quranic assertion, in response, that God puts no such restrictions on the cattle He has created and allowed for human consumption (vv. 136– 45). The primary concern of the sūrah is to refute through powerful arguments various kinds of idolatry in general— including the worship of idols, celestial bodies, and jinn— and to discredit the idolatrous and humanly invented ritual practices of the Makkans in particular. Many consider this sūrah to be a late Makkan one and thus to reflect the culmination of the Prophet’s struggle and effort to persuade the Makkans to abandon idolatry and follow the Quranic message prior to his migration from Makkah to Madinah in 622. The Prophet is directly addressed throughout the sūrah and given specific arguments and challenges to pose to the disbelievers in Makkah. Its verses collectively sum up the Quranic argument against all forms of idolatry.
According to a ḥadīth, “Sūrat al-Anʿām was sent down all at once, accompanied by seventy thousand angels, hymning glorifications and praises”. A longer version of this ḥadīth cited by al-Zamakhsharī adds, “So whoever recites al-Anʿām, praise and blessings be upon him; these seventy thousand angels seek forgiveness for him with each verse of Sūrat al-Anʿām, day and night.” Another report mentions that one particular verse (v. 59, which begins, And with Him are the keys of the Unseen. None knows them but He ) was sent down with twelve thousand angels of its own. Some early authorities, however, considered certain verses, perhaps vv. 20, 23, 91, 93, 114, 141, and 151– 53, to have been revealed in Madinah. Some consider v. 145, which designates four kinds of meat forbidden to Muslims, to have been revealed during the Farewell Pilgrimage on the Day of ʿArafah.
The sūrah begins with a powerful statement of God as the universal and omniscient Creator (vv. 1– 3). After rejecting the Makkans’ excuses for not heeding the warning of the Prophet Muhammad, the sūrah continues with a reminder of the fate that befell previous generations who had ignored the warnings of the messengers God had sent them and a preview of the fate that awaits them in the Hereafter (vv. 4– 31). Vv. 32– 36 seek to console the Prophet in the face of the Makkans’ rejection, and vv. 37– 73 include a series of arguments and statements that the Prophet is instructed to present in the face of the idolaters’ continued rejection of the Quranic message. In vv. 74– 83, there is the account of Abraham’s argument against worshipping anything other than God, in which he points out to his people that even the celestial bodies, which they considered to have great power over the earth and its inhabitants, were ephemeral and changing. This pericope about Abraham is followed by a mention of the prophets and revelations that came after him, concluding with a mention of the Quran as part of, and a confirmer of, this prophetic and scriptural legacy (vv. 84– 92).
Vv. 95– 99 discuss God as the giver of both life and death, in this world and the next. Several verses in the latter half of the sūrah address the arbitrary restrictions on the consumption of certain kinds of meat as observed by the Makkan idolaters— along with the pre-Islamic Makkan practice of “slaying their children” (vv. 137, 140)— and counters with a simpler set of dietary restrictions as revealed to the Prophet (vv. 116– 21, 136, 138– 50) and a concise list of Divinely imposed commands and prohibitions (vv. 151– 53). After further warnings to the Makkans about the consequences of rejecting the Quranic message, the sūrah concludes with a powerful statement of monotheistic belief and utter devotion to the One God that the Prophet is instructed to issue in the face of continuing Makkan resistance (vv. 161– 64). Perhaps by way of warning, the final verse (v. 165) invokes the idea that God causes generations to succeed one another in the life of the world, whose vagaries are merely a test of individual human character.