The “Qur'ān Of ʿUthmān” At The Al-Hussein Mosque, Cairo, Egypt, From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra

Islamic Awareness

© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

First Composed: 21st May 2000

Last Updated: 16th September 2009

submit to reddit

Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:







Figures: (a) Folios 23a and 24a showing sūrah al-Baqarah - part of verse 139 to beginning of verse 143. (b) Folios 511b and 512a showing sūrah al-Isrāʾ - part of verse 110 to the end, and sūrah al-Kahf - from the beginning until part of verse 5. (c) Folios 541b and 542a showing sūrah Maryam - part of verse 85 to the end, and the beginning of sūrah Ṭāhā. (d) Folios 500b and 501a - the former shows the missing folio written in a later hand and the latter shows fixing of lacunae in the manuscript, especially at the bottom left hand side edge, presumably by the same later hand. The folios contain sūrah al-Isrāʾ part of verse 58 to end of verse 62. (e) Display and (f) restoration of the monumental Qur'an attributed to caliph Uthmān at the al-Hussein mosque by Mohamed Seif el-Shazli and his son Ahmed.


Late 1st century / early 2nd century of hijra. Moritz publishd four folios of this manuscript and dated them to 1st / 2nd century of hijra.[1] A facsimile edition of this manuscript was prepared by Dr. Tayyar Altikulaç in the year 2009.[2]

The dating of this manuscript by various scholars has been summarized by Dr. Altikulaç.[3] Muḥammad Bakhit considers it to be one of ʿUthmāni muṣḥaf. Labīb al-Saʿīd opines that it may be the muṣḥaf sent to Madinah or Syria. Muḥammad ʿAbd al-ʿAẓīm al-Zurqānī, author of Manāhil al-ʿIrfan, considers it to be a copy of one of the ʿUthmāni muṣḥaf. On the other hand, palaeographer Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Munajjid did not consider this manuscript to be from the time of caliph ʿUthmān.[4] His says that, in all probability, it was a copy made on the order of the Governor of Egypt ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Marwān, brother of Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān. Therefore, it can be said that this is one of the oldest copies of the Qur'an written in Egypt in the second half of 1st century hijra. This dating is also endorsed by Dr. Altikulaç, the editor of the facsimile edition, as well as others.[5] Finally, Dr. Suʿād Maher, who examined this Qur'an, believes that it is not one of the Qur'ans sent by the third caliph ʿUthmān to various regions of the Islamic Empire.[6]

Furthermore, there are palaeographic reasons to believe that this Qur'an does not belong to time of the third caliph ʿUthmān. There are good number of other Qur'ans [such as the ones at St. Petersburg, Cairo, Samarqand and two in Istanbul (Topkapi Library and TIEM)] having at times turned up in different parts of the Islamic world, almost all purporting to show the traces of the blood of the third caliph ʿUthmān upon certain pages, and thus the genuine ʿUthmānic Qur'an, the imām, which he was reading at the time of his death. The manuscript clearly shows the script, illumination and marking of vowels that are from the Umayyad times, i.e., late 1st century / early 2nd century of hijra.

Accession Number


Size & Folios

Total number of folios: 1087. Only 4 folios are missing (after folios nos. 100, 637, 883, 1051) and others restored by a later hand (folio nos. 43, 63, 64, 65, 500, 1051, 1053, 1086, 1087). Size: 57 cm x 68 cms. Written area: 48 cm x 51 cm. The height of the muṣḥaf is 40 cm and weighs 80 kgs.[7] The extant folios contain more than 99% of the text of the Qur'an.

History Of The Manuscript

The manuscript was kept in the special collection of Qadhi ʿAbd al-Raḥīm al-Bisānī al-Asqalānī in Madrasah Al-Faḍiliyah in the Ayyubid period [596 AH / 1200 CE], then transferred to the dome, next the madrasah, built by Mamluk Sultan Al-Gūrī [922 AH / 1516 CE]. It remained there until 1275 AH / 1858-59 CE. From the dome, it was shifted to Masjid al-Zainabī, then to Muḥammad ʿAlī's castle, then to Dīwān al-Awqāf in the year 1304 AH / 1886-87 CE, then to Qasr Abidīn next year, arriving finally at al-Mashad al-Husseini in the year 1305 AH / 1887-88 CE. It remained there until 2006 CE until it was transferred to the Centre Library for Islamic Manuscripts, Masjid al-Sayyida Zaynab.

Script & Ornamentation


This monumental Qur'anic manuscript on parchment showing a well-formed Kufic script, written in dark-brown ink with sparse diacritical marks and no ornamentation. There are 12 lines per folio, but some folios also have 8-10 lines. The verse endings are marked by a set of diagonal dashes; the tenth verse is marked with a square medallion illuminated in blue, green, and red with a stellar design. A rectangular ornate band separates the two sūrahs. The verse endings and the tenth verse marker in this manuscript show striking similarity with those present in the Samarqand manuscript attributed to ʿUthmān. This suggests that these two manuscripts are probably contemporary.

There are some lacunae in this manuscript such as missing folios or worn out writing. Some of them were fixed by adding extra folios or reinking the existing text - both of them clearly done using a later hand [Figure (d)]. This has resulted in copying mistakes - 7 out of 22 mistakes are due to restorations. The parchment of this Qur'an was restored in the time of Sultan al-Gūrī, the last of the Mamluk sultans, and was restored from time to time since then due to wear and tear.


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

Folios Qur'anic Sūrah Image Publication Comments
1b al-Fātiḥah Altikulaç, 2009 Fragmented on the sides
1b - 59a al-Baqarah Altikulaç, 2009 Folios 2a-4b fragmented on the sides. Folios 43a and 43b are written in a later hand due to lacunae.
59a - 99b āl-ʿImrān Altikulaç, 2009; Moritz 1905, Pls. 13, 14 (end of sūrah) Folios 63a-65b are written in a later hand due to lacunae.
99b - 148a al-Nisā Altikulaç, 2009; Moritz 1905, Pls. 13, 14 (beginning of sūrah) Part of the verse 6 to part of verse 8 are missing due to lacunae.
148a - 186a al-Mā'idah Altikulaç, 2009 -
186a - 231b al-Anʿām Altikulaç, 2009 -
231b - 286a al-Aʿrāf Altikulaç, 2009 -
286a - 307a al-Anfāl Altikulaç, 2009 -
307a - 343b Tawbah Altikulaç, 2009 -
343b - 371a Yūnus Altikulaç, 2009 -
371a - 400b Hūd Altikulaç, 2009 -
400b - 427a Yūsuf Altikulaç, 2009 -
427a - 439a al-Rʿad Altikulaç, 2009 -
439a - 451a Ibrāhīm Altikulaç, 2009 -
451a - 460a al-Ḥijr Altikulaç, 2009 -
460b - 486b al-Nahl Altikulaç, 2009 -
487a - 511b al-Isrāʾ Altikulaç, 2009 Folios 500a-500b are written in a later hand due to lacunae.
511b - 533b al-Kahf Altikulaç, 2009 -
534a - 542a Maryam Altikulaç, 2009 -
542a - 554a Ṭāhā Altikulaç, 2009 -
554a - 566a al-Anbiyā Altikulaç, 2009 -
566a - 579a al-Ḥajj Altikulaç, 2009 -
579b - 592a al-Muʾminūn Altikulaç, 2009 -
592a - 608b al-Nūr Altikulaç, 2009 -
608b - 620b al-Furqān Altikulaç, 2009 -
620b - 638a al-Shuʿarā Altikulaç, 2009 Verse 211 to part of verse 225 are missing due to lacunae.
638a - 654b al-Naml Altikulaç, 2009 -
654b - 673a al-Qaṣaṣ Altikulaç, 2009 -
673a - 687b al-ʿAnkabūt Altikulaç, 2009 -
687b - 700a al-Rūm Altikulaç, 2009 -
700a - 708b Luqmān Altikulaç, 2009 -
708b - 714a al-Sajdah Altikulaç, 2009; Moritz, 1905, Pl. 15 (end of sūrah). -
714a - 735a al-Aḥzāb Altikulaç, 2009; Moritz, 1905, Pl. 15 (beginning of sūrah). -
735a - 749a Sabʾ Altikulaç, 2009 -
749a - 762a Fāṭir Altikulaç, 2009 -
762a - 774a Yāsīn Altikulaç, 2009 -
774a - 787a al-Ṣāffāt Altikulaç, 2009 -
787a - 797a Ṣād Altikulaç, 2009 -
797a - 814a al-Zumar Altikulaç, 2009 -
814a - 834b Ghāfir Altikulaç, 2009 -
834b - 846a Fussilat Altikulaç, 2009 -
846b - 859b al-Shūra Altikulaç, 2009 -
859b - 873a al-Zukhruf Altikulaç, 2009 -
873a - 878a al-Dukhān Altikulaç, 2009 -
878a - 883b al-Jāthiya Altikulaç, 2009 Verse 33 to the end of surah are missing due to lacunae.
884a - 892b al-Aḥqāf Altikulaç, 2009 Verse 1 to part of verse 2 are missing due to lacunae.
892b - 900b Muḥammad Altikulaç, 2009 -
900b - 909a al-Fataḥ Altikulaç, 2009; Moritz, 1905, Pl. 16 (end of sūrah). -
909b - 914b al-Ḥujurāt Altikulaç, 2009 -
914b - 920a Qāf Altikulaç, 2009 -
920a - 925b al-Dhāriyāt Altikulaç, 2009 -
925b - 929b al-Ṭūr Altikulaç, 2009 -
930a - 935b al-Najm Altikulaç, 2009 -
935b - 941a al-Qamar Altikulaç, 2009 -
941a - 946b al-Raḥmān Altikulaç, 2009 -
947a - 952b al-Wāqiʿah Altikulaç, 2009 -
953a - 961b al-Ḥadid Altikulaç, 2009 -
961b - 968b al-Mujādilah Altikulaç, 2009 -
969a - 975b al-Ḥashr Altikulaç, 2009 -
975b - 981b al-Mumtaḥinah Altikulaç, 2009 -
982a - 985a al-Ṣaff Altikulaç, 2009 -
985a - 988a al-Jumuʿah Altikulaç, 2009 -
988a - 990b al-Munāfiqūn Altikulaç, 2009 -
990b - 995a al-Taghābūn Altikulaç, 2009 -
995a - 999b al-Talāq Altikulaç, 2009 -
999b - 1004a al-Tahrīm Altikulaç, 2009 -
1004a - 1009b al-Mulk Altikulaç, 2009 -
1009b - 1014b al-Qalam Altikulaç, 2009 -
1014b - 1018b al-Ḥaqqah Altikulaç, 2009 -
1018b - 1022a al-Maʿārij Altikulaç, 2009 -
1022a - 1026a Nūḥ Altikulaç, 2009 -
1026a - 1030b al-Jinn Altikulaç, 2009 -
1031a - 1034a al-Muzzammil Altikulaç, 2009 -
1034b - 1038b al-Muddathir Altikulaç, 2009 -
1038b - 1041a al-Qiyāmah Altikulaç, 2009 -
1041a - 1045b al-Insān Altikulaç, 2009 -
1045b - 1048b al-Mursalāt Altikulaç, 2009 -
1048b - 1051a al-Nabāʾ Altikulaç, 2009 Folio 1051a is written in a later hand due to lacunae.
1051a - 1053a al-Nāziʿāt Altikulaç, 2009 Folios 1051a-1051b and 1053a are written in a later hand due to lacunae. Verse 20 to part of verse 31 are missing due to lacunae.
1053a - 1055a al-ʿAbasa Altikulaç, 2009 Folios 1053a-1053b are written in a later hand due to lacunae.
1055a - 1056b al-Takwīr Altikulaç, 2009 -
1057a - 1058a al-Intifār Altikulaç, 2009 -
1058a - 1060b al-Mutaffifīn Altikulaç, 2009 -
1060b - 1062b al-Inshiqāq Altikulaç, 2009 -
1062b - 1064a al-Burūj Altikulaç, 2009 -
1064a - 1065a al-Tāriq Altikulaç, 2009 -
1065a - 1066a al-ʿAlā Altikulaç, 2009 -
1066b - 1067b al-Ghāshīyah Altikulaç, 2009 -
1068a - 1070a al-Fajr Altikulaç, 2009 -
1070a - 1071b al-Balad Altikulaç, 2009 -
1071b - 1072b al-Shams Altikulaç, 2009 -
1072b - 1073b al-Layl Altikulaç, 2009 -
1073b - 1074a al-Ḍuḥa Altikulaç, 2009 -
1074b - 1075a al-Sharḥ Altikulaç, 2009 -
1075a - 1075b al-Ṭīn Altikulaç, 2009 -
1075b - 1076b al-ʿAlaq Altikulaç, 2009 -
1077a al-Qadr Altikulaç, 2009 -
1077b - 1078b al-Bayyinah Altikulaç, 2009 -
1079a - 1079b al-Zalzalah Altikulaç, 2009 -
1079b - 1080a al-ʿAdiyāt Altikulaç, 2009 -
1080a - 1081a al-Qāriʿah Altikulaç, 2009 -
1081a - 1081b al-Takāthur Altikulaç, 2009 -
1081a - 1082a al-ʿAsr Altikulaç, 2009 -
1082a - 1082b al-Humazah Altikulaç, 2009 -
1082b - 1083a al-Fīl Altikulaç, 2009 -
1083a - 1083b al-Quraysh Altikulaç, 2009 -
1083b - 1084a al-Māʿun Altikulaç, 2009 -
1084a - 1084b al-Kawthar Altikulaç, 2009 -
1084b - 1085a al-Kafirūn Altikulaç, 2009 -
1085a - 1085b al-Naṣr Altikulaç, 2009 -
1085b - 1086a al-Masad Altikulaç, 2009 -
1086a al-Ikhlās Altikulaç, 2009 Folio 1086a is written in a later hand due to lacunae.
1086b al-Falaq Altikulaç, 2009 Folio 1086b is written in a later hand due to lacunae.
1087a al-Nās Altikulaç, 2009 Folio 1087a is written in a later hand due to lacunae.


Al-Hussein Mosque, Cairo, and now shifted to the Centre Library for Islamic Manuscripts, Masjid al-Sayyida Zaynab, Cairo, Egypt.

Bookmark and Share


[1] B. Moritz (Ed.), Arabic Palaeography: A Collection Of Arabic Texts From The First Century Of The Hidjra Till The Year 1000, 1905, Publications of the Khedivial Library - No. 16, Cairo, Plates 13-16.

[2] T. Altikulaç, HzOsman’a Nisbet Edilen MushafI Şerîf (Kahire El-Meşhedü’l-Hüseynî Nüshası), 2009, Volumes I and II, Organization of the Islamic Conference Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture: Istanbul (Turkey).

[3] ibid., pp. 119-120 (Volume I, Turkish section), pp. 139-140 (Volume I, Arabic section).

[4] S. al-Munajjid, Dirāsāt fī Tārīkh al-Khatt al-ʿArabī Mundhu Bidayatihi ilā Nihayat al-ʿAsr al-Umawi (French Title: Etudes De Paleographie Arabe), 1972, Dār al-Kitāb al-Jadid: Beirut (Lebanon), pp. 53-54.

[5] T. Altikulaç, HzOsman’a Nisbet Edilen MushafI Şerîf (Kahire El-Meşhedü’l-Hüseynî Nüshası), 2009, Volume I, op. cit., p. 120 (Turkish section) and p. 140 (Arabic section).

[6] S. al-Munajjid, Dirāsāt fī Tārīkh al-Khatt al-ʿArabī Mundhu Bidayatihi ilā Nihayat al-ʿAsr al-Umawi (French Title: Etudes De Paleographie Arabe), 1972, op. cit., pp. 53-54.

[7] T. Altikulaç, HzOsman’a Nisbet Edilen MushafI Şerîf (Kahire El-Meşhedü’l-Hüseynî Nüshası), 2009, Volume I, op. cit., p. 116; Also see S. N. Noseda, "Uno Dei Cosiddetti ‘Corani Di ʿUṭmān’: Quello Nella Moschea Ḥusayn Al Cairo", Studi Magrebini, 2006, New Series, Volume IV, p. 262.

The images above are 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