Codex B. L. Or. 2165 – A Qur'ānic Manuscript From 1st Century Hijra

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First Composed: 27th August 2005

Last Updated: 25th January 2015

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

B. L. Or. 2165, f. 32r

B. L. Or. 2165, f. 33r

Arabe 328e, f. 90v

Arabe 328e, f. 94r



LNS 19 CAab (bifolio), recto (top) and verso (bottom).

Folios of Codex B. L. Or. 2165.

Date

Second half of the 1st century of hijra.

The dating of B. L. Or. 2165 has an interesting history.[1] William Wright was perhaps the first scholar to publish this manuscript and he dated it to the 8th century CE.[2] This date was accepted by Josef von Karabacek who dated the manuscript to the early 8th century CE, i.e., the end of the 1st century of hijra or the beginning of the 2nd century.[3] On the other hand, based on a careful evaluation of the palaeographic considerations, Adolf Grohmann dated this manuscript to the 1st century of hijra.[4] Furthermore, Noseda places this manuscript in the 1st century of hijra.[5]

For reasons which remain unelaborated, Martin Lings and Yasin Safadi dated B. L. Or. 2165 to the late 2nd century of hijra (i.e., 8th century CE).[6] However, a study by Dutton has shown that this manuscript is remarkably similar to the 1st century Qur'anic manuscript Arabe 328a in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, suggesting that it was written in the qira'at of Ibn ʿAmir.[7] This manuscript was recently studied by Intisar A. Rabb, who corrected Dutton's initial suggestion showing that it has the non–canonical Ḥimṣī reading.[8] Based on the similarity between Arabe 328a and B. L. Or. 2165, Dutton suggests re–dating this manuscript to the time just before the Umayyad Caliph Walid (r. 86–96 AH), i.e., within the period 30–85 AH with the latter end of this time scale being safer. The last part of first century hijra dating for this manuscript was also suggested by Rabb.[9] Thus, these studies confirm the earlier datings of Karabacek and Grohmann.

History Of The Manuscript

A note appears on a fly leaf at the end of the manuscript "Bt of the Rev. Greville J. Chester, 29 Apr. 1879". Reverend Greville J. Chester was one of the most active helpers in purchasing objects abroad for the British Museum and several other institutions. Almost every winter he would travel abroad, and Egypt was a favourite destination. Most likely this manuscript was purchased by Rev. Chester in Egypt.

Another clue about the provenance of this manuscript comes from the history of Arabe 328 of which Arabe 328e is a part. Arabe 328 was acquired by Jean–Louis Asselin de Cherville (d. 1822), consular agent of France in Egypt. Subsequently in 1833 the whole collection was sold to the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. The ultimate provenance of all these folios is the ʿAmr b. al–ʿĀṣ mosque, Fusṭāṭ. Thus it is highly likely that both B. L. Or. 2165 and Arabe 328e came from Egypt. However, the actual provenance of the manuscript could be Syria as gathered from the readings discussed above. As for the bifolio LNS 19 CAab, it was acquired by Dār al–Athar al–Islāmiyyah, Kuwait, in an auction conducted by Sotheby's in 1979.[10]

Size & Folios

Parchment area: 31.5 cm x 21.5 cm. Writing area: 28.8 cm x 20.0 cm.

Total number of folios are 128 = 121 (B. L. Or. 2165, British Library, London)[11] + 6 (Arabe 328e, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris)[12] + 1 (LNS 19 CAab (bifolio), Dār al–Athar al–Islāmiyyah, Kuwait).[13] These 128 folios contain about 57% of the total text of the Qur'an.

A volume of the facsimile edition of B. L. Or. 2165 published by Déroche and Noseda only includes the first 61 folios of the total of 121.[14]

Script & Ornamentation

Ḥijāzī.

Manuscript on vellum. The muṣḥaf is not vocalised. The consonants are frequently differentiated by dashes. Six oval dots ranked in three pairs punctuate the verses. Every tenth verse is marked by a red hollow circle surrounded by dots.

Contents

The contents of the manuscript, as tabulated below, have been primarily gathered from the (partial) facsimile edition.. The folio numbering is according to the one given by their respective collection.

Codex B. L. Or. 2165
Folios Qur'anic Surah / Ayah Image Publication Comments
90r 5:7 – 5:17   Arabe 328e
90v 5:17 – 5:26   Arabe 328e
91r 5:26 – 5:40   Arabe 328e
91v 5:40 – 5:46   Arabe 328e
92r 5:46 – 5:54   Arabe 328e
92v 5:54 – 5:65   Arabe 328e
5:89 – 5:120 (bifolio)   LNS 19 CAab
5:120; 6:1 – 6:12 (bifolio) Jenkins, 1983 LNS 19 CAab
93r 6:39 – 6:53   Arabe 328e
93v 6:53 – 6:67   Arabe 328e
94r 6:67 – 6:80   Arabe 328e
94v 6:80 – 6:92   Arabe 328e
95r 6:92 – 6:101   Arabe 328e
95v 6:101 – 6:113   Arabe 328e
1r 7:42 – 7:53 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
1v 7:53 – 7:65 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
2r 7:65 – 7:75 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
2v 7:75 – 7:88 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
3r 7:88 – 7:101 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
3v 7:101 – 7:124 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
4r 7:124 – 7:136 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
4v 7:136 – 7:146 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
5r 7:146 – 7:155 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
5v 7:155 – 7:161 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
6r 7:161 – 7:171 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
6v 7:171 – 7:185 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
7r 7:185 – 7:201 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
7v 7:201 – 7:206; 8:1 – 8:9 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
8r 8:9 – 8:24 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
8v 8:24 – 8:37 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
9r 8:37 – 8:47 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
9v 8:47 – 8:63 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
10r 8:63 – 8:74 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
10v 8:75; 9:1 – 9:9 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
11r 9:9 – 9:21 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
11v 9:21 – 9:30 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
12r 9:30 – 9:39 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
12v 9:39 – 9:40 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
13r 9:40 – 9:63 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
13v 9:63 – 9:73 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
14r 9:73 – 9:84 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
14v 9:84 – 9:95 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
15r 10:9 – 10:21 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
15v 10:21 – 10:29 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
16r 10:29 – 10:39 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
16v 10:39 – 10:53 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
17r 10:53 – 10:65 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
17v 10:65 – 10:77 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
18r 10:78 – 10:92 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
18v 10:92 – 10:107 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
19r 10:107 – 10:109; 11:1 – 11:8 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
19v 11:8 – 11:19 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
20r 11:19 – 11:31 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
20v 11:31 – 11:45 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
21r 11:45 – 11:56 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
21v 11:56 – 11:69 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
22r 11:69 – 11:85 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
22v 11:85 – 11:98 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
23r 11:98 – 11:114 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
23v 11:114 – 11:123; 12:1 – 12:8 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
24r 12:8 – 12:22 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
24v 12:23 – 12:34 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
25r 12:34 – 12:45 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
25v 12:45 – 12:59 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
26r 12:59 – 12:72 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
26v 12:72 – 12: 86 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
27r 12:86 – 12:100 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
27v 12:101 – 12:111; 13:1 – 13:2 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
28r 13:2 – 13:13 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
28v 13:13 – 13:21 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
29r 13:22 – 13:31 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
29v 13:31 – 13:43 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
30r 14:1 – 14:10 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
30v 14:10 – 14:22 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
31r 14:22 – 14:34 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
31v 14:34 – 14:49 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
32r 14:49 – 14:52; 15:1 – 15:19 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
32v 15:19 – 15:50 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
33r 15:50 – 15:84 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
33v 15:84 – 15:99; 16:1 – 16:7 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
34r 16:7 – 16:23 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
34v 16:23 – 16:35 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
35r 16:35 – 16:50 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
35v 16:50 – 16:65 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
36r 16:65 – 16:75 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
36v 16:75 – 16:85 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
37r 16:85 – 16:94 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
37v 16:94 – 16:106 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
38r 16:106 – 16:116 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
38v 16:116 – 16:128; 17:1 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
39r 17:1 – 17:12 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
39v 17:12 – 17:25 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
40r 17:25 – 17:40 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
40v 17:40 – 17:54 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
41r 17:55 – 17:66 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
41v 17:66 – 17:80 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
42r 17:80 – 17:95 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
42v 17:95 – 17:107 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
43r 17:107 – 17:111; 18:1 – 18:12 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
43v 18:13 – 18:20 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
44r 18:20 – 18:28 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
44v 18:28 – 18:36 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
45r 18:37 – 18:47 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
45v 18:48 – 18:56 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
46r 18:56 – 18:69 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
46v 18:69 – 18:82 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
47r 18:82 – 18:96 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
47v 18:96 – 18:110 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
48r 19:1 – 19:18 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
48v 19:18 – 19:37 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
49r 19:37 – 19:53 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
49v 19:53 – 19:67 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
50r 19:68 – 19:86 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
50v 19:86 – 19:98; 20:1 – 20:13 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
51r 20:13 – 20:40 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
51v 20:40 – 20:59 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
52r 20:60 – 20:73 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
52v 20:73 – 20:86 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
53r 20:87 – 20:100 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
53v 20:100 – 20:117 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
54r 20:117 – 20:130 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
54v 20:130 – 20:135; 21:1 – 21:5 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
55r 21:6 – 21:22 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
55v 21:22 – 21:35 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
56r 21:35 – 21:47 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
56v 21:47 – 21:65 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
57r 21:65 – 21:80 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
57v 21:80 – 21:94 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
58r 21:94 – 21:111 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
58v 21:111 – 21:112; 22:1 – 22:9 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
59r 22:9 – 22:19 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
59v 22:19 – 22:30 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
60r 22:30 – 22:39 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
60v 22:40 – 22:49 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
61r 22:49 – 22:60 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165
61v 22:61 – 22:72 Déroche and Noseda, 2001 B. L. Or. 2165

Location

British Library, London (United Kingdom); Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (France); Dār al–Athar al–Islāmiyyah, Kuwait (Kuwait).

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References & Notes

[1] The dating of MS. Or. 2165 has also taken some interesting twists on the internet as well – on a website no less prestigious than that of the British Library. In early 2005, the Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures Of The British Library: Sacred Texts stated MS. Or. 2165 was a "Qur'an in Ma'il script, probably Mecca or Medina, late 7th century." However, later in the same year the date was unexpectedly changed to the 8th century.

[2] W. Wright, Facsimiles Of Manuscripts And Inscriptions (Oriental Series), 1875–1883, The Palæographical Society, William Clowes and Sons, Ltd.: London, Plate LIX.

[3] J. von Karabacek, "Julius Euting's Sinaïtische Inschriften", Vienna Oriental Journal (Wiener Zeitschrift Für Die Kunde Des Morgenlandes), 1891, Volume 5, p. 324; idem., "Arabic Palaeography", Vienna Oriental Journal (Wiener Zeitschrift Für Die Kunde Des Morgenlandes), 1906, Volume 20, p. 137. For a similar dating of bifolio LNS 19 CAab that is part of this codex, see B. Gruendler, The Development Of The Arabic Scripts: From The Nabatean Era To The First Islamic Century According To Dated Texts, 1993, Harvard Semitic Series No. 43, Scholars Press: Atlanta (GA), p. 135.

[4] A. Grohmann, "Zum Problem Der Datierung Der Ältesten Koran–Handschriften" in H. Franke (Ed.), Akten Des Vierundzwanzigsten Internationalen Orientalisten–Kongresses München, 28. August Bis 4. September 1957, 1959, Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft e.V.: Weisbaden, p. 272.

[5] S. Noja Noseda, "Note Esterne In Margin Al 1° Volume Dei ‘Materiali Per Un'edizione Critica Del Corano’", Rendiconti: Classe Di Lettere E Scienze Morali E Storiche, 2000, Vol. 134, Fasc. 1, pp. 19–25.

[6] M. Lings & Y. H. Safadi, The Qur'an: Catalogue Of An Exhibition Of Qur'anic Manuscripts At The British Library 3 April – 15 August 1976, 1976, Published for the British Library by the World of Islam Publishing Company, p. 20. Official British Library publications also record an 8th century date. For instance, see C. F. Baker (Ed.), Subject Guide To The Arabic Manuscripts In The British Library, 2001, The British Library: London, p. 1.

[7] Y. Dutton, "Some Notes On The British Library's 'Oldest Qur'an Manuscript' (Or. 2165)", Journal Of Qur'anic Studies, 2004, Volume 6, No. 1, pp. 43–71.

[8] I. A. Rabb, "A Non–Canonical Reading Of The Qur'ān: Recognition & Authenticity (The Ḥimṣī Reading)" Journal Of Qur'anic Studies, 2006, Volume 8, No. 2, pp. 84–126.

[9] ibid., p. 108.

[10] Oriental Manuscripts And Miniatures: The Property Of The Hagop Kevorkian Fund, 23rd April 1979, 1979, Sotheby's: London, Lot 13.

[11] Y. Dutton, "Some Notes On The British Library's 'Oldest Qur'an Manuscript' (Or. 2165)", Journal Of Qur'anic Studies, 2004, op. cit., p. 44.

[12] F. Déroche, Catalogue Des Manuscrits Arabes: Deuxième Partie: Manuscrits Musulmans – Tome I, 1: Les Manuscrits Du Coran: Aux Origines De La Calligraphie Coranique, 1983, Bibliothèque Nationale: Paris, p. 62.

[13] M. Jenkins (Ed.), The Al–Sabah Collection: Islamic Art In The Kuwait National Museum, 1983, Sotheby, p. 18.

[14] F. Déroche and S. N. Noseda (Eds.), Sources de la transmission manuscrite du texte coranique. I. Les manuscrits de style hijazi. Volume 2. Tome I. Le manuscrit Or. 2165 (f. 1 à 61) de la British Library, 2001, Fondazione Ferni Noja Noseda, Leda, and British Library: London.

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