MS. Or. 2165 – A Qur'ānic Manuscript From The 1st Century Hijra In The British Library

Islamic Awareness

© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

First Composed: 27th August 2005

Last Updated: 16th July 2008

submit to reddit

Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

(a)

(b)

(a) Folios 32a and (b) 33a of Ms. 2165 at the British Library, London.

Date

Second half of the 1st century of hijra.

The dating of MS. 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]

For reasons which remain unelaborated, Martin Lings and Yasin Safadi dated MS. Or. 2165 to the late 2nd century of hijra (i.e., 8th century CE).[5] However, a study by Dutton has shown that this manuscript is remarkably similar to the 1st century Qur'anic manuscript MS. Arabe 328a in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, and that it was written in the qira'at of Ibn ʿAmir.[6] This manuscript was recently studied by Intisar A. Rabb, who suggested that it has the non-canonical Ḥimṣī reading.[7] Based on the similarity between MS. Arabe 328a and MS. 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.[8] Thus, these studies confirm the earlier datings of Karabacek and Grohmann.

Manuscript Number

MS. Or. 2165.

Size & Folios

31.5 cm x 21.5 cm.

A volume of the facsimile edition published by Déroche and Noseda only includes the first 61 folios of the total of 121.[9] Very briefly, folios 1-14: Qur'an 7:42-9:95; folios 15-113: Qur'an 10:9-39:47; folios 114-21: Qur'an 40:61-43:71. These 121 folios contains about 53% of the total text of the Qur'an.

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. However, the actual provenance of the manuscript could be Syria as gathered from the readings discussed above.

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, are gathered from this facsimile edition.

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

Location

British Library, London (United Kingdom).

Bookmark and Share


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 transformed 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.

[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] 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.

[6] 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.

[7] 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.

[8] ibid., p. 108.

[9] 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.

The image above is reproduced from the stated sources under the provisions of the copyright law. This allows for the reproduction of portions of copyrighted material for non-commercial, educational purposes.

With the exception for those images which have passed into the public domain, the use of these images for commercial purposes is expressly prohibited without the consent of the copyright holder.

Back To The Qur'anic Manuscripts