The “Qur'ān Of ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib” (The Ṣanʿāʾ Muṣḥaf) From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra

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First Composed: 14th January 2012

Last Updated: 18th January 2012

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Folios of the Qur'an attributed to Ali b. Abi Talib (known as the Sanaa Mushaf) at Jami al-Kabir, Sanaa, Yemen. (a) folio 91b (b) Folio 153a showing every 10th verse marked with a large floral circle. (c) Folio 184a showing every 100th verse marked with a large rectangle filled with patterns. (d) Folio 243a showing end of sūrah al-Shūra separated by a marker and beginning of sūrah al-Zukhruf. (e) Folio 257b showing a different design of surah separated dividing sūrah al-Fataḥ and sūrah al-Ḥujurāt.


Late 1st century / early 2nd century of hijra.

A facsimile edition of this manuscript appeared in the year 2011.[1] According to Dr. Tayyar Altikulaç, the editor of facsimile edition, the method of dotting and vowelling among other characteristics of this manuscript suggests a second half of the 1st century AH date.[2] He adds that according to Ismāʿīl b. ʿAlī al-Akwaʿ, President of the General Organization of Antiquities and Libraries, Yemen, this manuscript was probably copied in the 2nd century AH. Similar suggestion was also made by calligraphy expert Professor Dr. Muhittin Serin.[3]

Accession Number

Not available.

Size & Folios

Size: 34 cm x 36 cms.

Total number of folios: 275. The extant folios contain about 86% of the text of the Qur'an.[4]

History Of The Manuscript

This is a two volume muṣḥaf attributed to the fourth caliph ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib. Did this Qur'an belong to him? The answer is no. The basis of the claim that this manuscript was copied by ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib comes from the tuck of the binding of the first volume which bears the following expression: “The first half of the muṣḥaf which was copied by the father of the two grandsons and belonging to the two martyrs, Rajab 1395”.[5] Furthermore, at the end of the muṣḥaf there is a statement by Aḥmad b. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Djarafī which says that he first saw it in 1317 AH (i.e., 1900 CE) at Masjid al-Shahidayn when he was 10 years old. As far as he remembers, at the end of the muṣḥaf there was a note saying that this muṣḥaf was copied by Zayd b. Thābit, or by ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib. He also states that when he saw it for the second time after 1322 AH (1904 CE), there were some missing folios.[6]

Script & Ornamentation

Kufic. A general examination of the codex indicates that its script varies slightly. The script is slightly sloping backwards and is reminiscent of the type of well-executed kufic script exhibited during the Umayyad period. Damaged or lost folios were rewritten and added to the codex later and they are clearly of a different hand.

It is extensively dotted perhaps by a later hand. The letters contain vowel marks in the form of red dots according to the method of Abū al-Aswad al-Duʾalī (d. 69 AH / 688 CE). Single dots were placed above, beside or below the letters. Two dots were placed to indicate the nunation known as tanwīn. Diacritical marks are represented by dashes. The ending of verses is indicated by a series of 5 or 6 dashes. The sūrahs are separated by wide horizontal bands in the form of rectangles. The inside of the band is decorated differently for every sūrah separator. The sequence of the sūrahs is just like what is seen in modern day copies of the Qur'an. The codex is contains large ornamentaled circles to indicate every 10 verses. Ornamented rectangular shaped signs are used to indicate every 100 verses.


The contents of the manuscript, as tabulated below, are gathered from the facsimile edition.

Folios Qur'anic Sūrah Image Publication Comments
1b al-Baqarah: 144-146 Altikulaç, 2011 Fragmented
2a al-Baqarah: 148-153 Altikulaç, 2011 -
2b - 3b al-Baqarah: 155-172 Altikulaç, 2011 Fragmented
4a - 15a al-Baqarah: 189-286 Altikulaç, 2011 -
15b - 29b āl-ʿImrān Altikulaç, 2011 Fragmentation of verses 60-64
29b - 44b al-Nisā: 1-175 Altikulaç, 2011 Fragmentation of verses 80-83, 173
45a - 55a al-Mā'idah: 5-120 Altikulaç, 2011 -
55a - 66b al-Anʿām Altikulaç, 2011 -
66b - 79b al-Aʿrāf Altikulaç, 2011 -
80a - 85b al-Anfāl Altikulaç, 2011 Folio 84a-84b damaged. Folio 85a-85b written in a different hand.
85b Tawbah: 2-3 Altikulaç, 2011 -
86a - 96a Tawbah: 12-129 Altikulaç, 2011 -
96a - 103b Yūnus Altikulaç, 2011 -
104a - 111b Hūd Altikulaç, 2011 -
111b - 118b Yūsuf Altikulaç, 2011 Fragmentation of verses 33, 66, 103-104
119a - 122b al-Rʿad Altikulaç, 2011 -
122b - 125b Ibrāhīm Altikulaç, 2011 -
125b - 128b al-Ḥijr Altikulaç, 2011 -
128b - 136a al-Nahl Altikulaç, 2011 Fragmentation of verses 33-35, 38-42
136a - 142b al-Isrāʾ Altikulaç, 2011 Fragmentation of verses 23-28
142b - 148b al-Kahf Altikulaç, 2011 Fragmentation of verse 12. Folio 148a and 148b in different hand to replace damaged folio.
149b - 153b Maryam Altikulaç, 2011 Folio 149b in different hand
153b - 159a Ṭāhā Altikulaç, 2011 -
159a - 164a al-Anbiyā Altikulaç, 2011 -
164a - 169b al-Ḥajj Altikulaç, 2011 -
169b - 173b al-Muʾminūn Altikulaç, 2011 -
173b - 175b al-Nūr: 1-31 Altikulaç, 2011 -
176a - 178a al-Nūr: 40-64 Altikulaç, 2011 -
178a - 181b al-Furqān Altikulaç, 2011 -
181b - 187a al-Shuʿarā Altikulaç, 2011 -
187a - 191b al-Naml Altikulaç, 2011 -
191b - 197a al-Qaṣaṣ Altikulaç, 2011 -
197a - 201a al-ʿAnkabūt Altikulaç, 2011 -
201a - 204a al-Rūm Altikulaç, 2011 -
204a - 206b Luqmān Altikulaç, 2011 -
206b - 208a al-Sajdah Altikulaç, 2011 -
208a - 213b al-Aḥzāb Altikulaç, 2011 -
213b - 217a Sabʾ Altikulaç, 2011 -
217a - 220a Fāṭir Altikulaç, 2011 -
220a - 223a Yāsīn Altikulaç, 2011 -
223a - 226b al-Ṣāffāt Altikulaç, 2011 Folio 226a and 226b in a different hand to replace damaged folio
226b - 227b Ṣād: 1-28 Altikulaç, 2011 -
228a - 228b al-Zumar: 1-17 Altikulaç, 2011 -
229a - 231a al-Zumar: 36-75 Altikulaç, 2011 -
231b - 236b Ghāfir Altikulaç, 2011 -
236b - 239b Fussilat Altikulaç, 2011 -
239b - 243a al-Shūra Altikulaç, 2011 -
243a - 246a al-Zukhruf Altikulaç, 2011 -
246a - 247b al-Dukhān Altikulaç, 2011 -
247b - 250a al-Jāthiya Altikulaç, 2011 -
250a - 252b al-Aḥqāf Altikulaç, 2011 -
253a - 255a Muḥammad Altikulaç, 2011 -
255a - 257b al-Fataḥ Altikulaç, 2011 -
257b - 259a al-Ḥujurāt Altikulaç, 2011 -
259a - 260b Qāf Altikulaç, 2011 -
260b - 262a al-Dhāriyāt Altikulaç, 2011 -
262a - 263a al-Ṭūr Altikulaç, 2011 -
263b - 264b al-Najm Altikulaç, 2011 -
264b - 266a al-Qamar Altikulaç, 2011 -
266b - 267b al-Raḥmān Altikulaç, 2011 -
268a - 269b al-Wāqiʿah Altikulaç, 2011 -
269b - 272a al-Ḥadid Altikulaç, 2011 -
272a - 273b al-Mujādilah Altikulaç, 2011 -
274a - 275a al-Ḥashr: 1-18 Altikulaç, 2011 -


Jāmiʿ al-Kabir, Ṣanʿāʾ, Yemen.

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[1] T. Altikulaç, Al-Muṣḥaf Al-Sharif: Attributed To ʿAli B. ʿAbi Talib (The Copy Of Sana’a), 2011, Organization of the Islamic Cooperation / Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture: Istanbul (Turkey).

[2] ibid., p. 152.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid., p. 148.

[5] ibid., p. 146.

[6] ibid., p. 147.

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