Item Number: 619
Surat Ghāfir (The Forgiver) and Surat Fuṣṣilat (Expounded)
Size: 180 x 130 mm
Size including frame: 280 x 230 mm
Frame: Dark brown wood
Handwritten Qur’an manuscript, possibly of Ottoman origin. It is one single paper with two pages, and contains verses from Surat Ghāfir (The Forgiver) and Surat Fuṣṣilat (Expounded). The text is written with beautiful Arabic Calligraphy and the border is illumined with Gold Leaf. It contains a Gold leaf Medallion, with plant motifs, outside the border. The leaf is in good condition with some spotting.
Sūrah Ghāfir, takes its name from the reference to God as the Forgiver of sins in v. 3, but it is also known as “The Believer” (al- Muʾ min ), because of the discussion of a believing man from the House of Pharaoh (v. 28). It is also known by the title “The Bounty” (al-Faḍ l ), because of the reference to God as Possessed of Bounty in v. 3.
Ghāfir is the first in a series of seven sūrah s whose opening verses begin with the separated Arabic letters ḥāʾ and mīm and are followed by a reference to the Quran. Revealed during the same period, these sūrah s are known collectively as the Ḥawāmīm, and as “The Brides”. Addressing several recurring themes, they provide solace to the Muslim community at a time of persecution, foretelling the triumph of the revelation and the demise of those who oppose it.
The sūrah opens with an affirmation of the revelation and of God’s Mercy and Forgiveness (vv. 2– 3), followed by a repudiation of those who dispute the signs of God (vv. 4– 6), which becomes a recurring theme of the sūrah, and an extended prayer uttered by the angels for human beings (vv. 7– 9). Vv. 10– 20 then tell of the place of the disbelievers in the Hereafter, warning of their ultimate demise. This section serves as the thematic backdrop for an extended account of the story of Moses and Pharaoh (vv. 21– 50), the main feature of which is the story of a believing man from the House of Pharaoh who challenges Pharaoh’s opposition to Moses (vv. 28– 45).
An affirmation of the Divine Aid that God sends upon His messengers (vv. 51– 60) concludes with a condemnation of those who are too arrogant to worship God (v. 60), which segues into a discussion of God’s Power over all of creation (vv. 61– 68). The sūrah then discusses the punishment that awaits the disbelievers (vv. 69– 76) and counsels the Prophet to have patience, citing the examples of prophets who prevailed before him (vv. 77– 78). After a reflection on some signs of God’s Generosity and Power (vv. 79– 82), the sūrah concludes with an assurance that those who oppose God’s messengers will be defeated in the end (vv. 83– 85).
As to Surah Fuṣṣilat, it is a Makkan sūrah believed to have been revealed directly after the preceding sūrah, Ghāfir. It takes its name from the reference to the Quran in v. 3 as a Book whose signs have been expounded . This sūrah is also known as Sajdah, “Prostration,” and as ḥā Mīm Sajdah. Other less common names for this sūrah are “The Lamps” (al-Maṣābīḥ ), for the phrase We adorned the lowest heaven with lamps and a guard in v. 12, and “Means of Sustenance” (al-Aqwāt ), from the reference to God having apportioned means of sustenance for all things on the earth in v. 10.
According to some, Fuṣṣilat follows the previous sūrah, because the discussion of the punishments that befell the pre-Islamic Arabian tribes of ʿĀd and Thamūd and the similar punishments that are foretold for the Quraysh echo the warnings of 40:82: Have they not journeyed upon the earth and observed how those before them fared in the end? They were more numerous than them, and greater than them in strength, and left firmer traces upon the earth. But that which they used to earn availed them not. In this same vein, v. 2 can be seen as a warning to the Quraysh that echoes 40:83, And when their messengers brought them clear proofs, they exulted in the knowledge they possessed, and that which they used to mock beset them, since the Quraysh were said to mock the Quran, as in v. 26: And those who disbelieve will say, “Listen not to this Quran, but speak dismissively of it, that haply you might prevail”.
The sūrah begins with a brief discussion of the nature of the Quran (vv. 1– 4), which is followed by advice to the Prophet regarding those who refuse to pay it heed (vv. 5– 6), juxtaposing the disbelievers and the believers (vv. 7– 8). After calling for reflection upon the manner in which God created the heavens and the earth (vv. 9– 12), the sūrah invokes the calamities that befell the pre-Islamic Arabian tribes of ʿĀd and Thamūd as examples of the fate that awaits disbelievers in this world (vv. 13– 18), followed by a warning of the fate that awaits them in the Hereafter (vv. 19– 25). A discussion of the fate that awaits those who reject the Quran (vv. 26– 28) then transitions into another juxtaposition of the believers and the disbelievers (vv. 29– 32) and an exhortation to the believers to maintain respectful speech and conduct even with the disbelievers (vv. 33– 39). This is followed by a return to a discussion of the nature of the Quran and the fate that awaits those who reject it (vv. 40– 46). The final section (vv. 47– 54), which reflects upon the vagaries of the human condition, includes one of the most important verses for the discussion of the manner in which God reveals the truth to human beings (v. 53).