Codex Marcel 17 A Qur'ānic Manuscript From 1st Century Of Hijra

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First Composed: 10th July 2009

Last Updated: 24th February 2019

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

Folio 20r

Folio 22r

Folio 23r

Folio 18v

Folios from Codex Marcel 17. The above folios belong to the Mingana Collection at University of Birmingham.


1st century of hijra. Seven folios located at University of Birmingham (Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b, earlier part of M. 1572) had been dated to 2nd-3rd century hijra, primarily on the basis of its script which was wrongly categorised as kufic.[1,2] Recent studies on the ḥijāzī manuscripts from Ṣanʿāʾ have resulted in redating of this manuscript to the last part of 1st century hijra.

History Of The Manuscript

The folios of this codex at University of Birmingham belong to what is commonly known as the ‘Mingana Collection’. The core Mingana Collection, of manuscripts and manuscript fragments, was built up between 1924-29 through the common interest and energy of Dr. Edward Cadbury and Alphonse Mingana. Edward Cadbury, owner of family's chocolate factory at Bournville, sponsored Alphonse Mingana in three journeys to the Middle East, and subsequently engaged Mingana to catalogue much of the collection. This must represent one of the last such European Orientalist enterprises undertaken to scour the Middle East for manuscripts.

When Mingana worked in Manchester, from 1915-32, cataloguing the Arabic manuscripts of the John Rylands Library, Edward Cadbury sponsored him to undertake three journeys to the Middle East to collect manuscripts. In the spring of 1924 in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, Mingana acquired twenty-two Arabic and some Syriac manuscripts for the John Rylands Library and other Syriac manuscripts for Cadbury. A visit in the autumn of 1925 to Syria, Iraq and South Kurdistan yielded mostly Syriac manuscripts with some Arabic. Another in 1929 to Sinai Peninsula (St. Catherine's monastery) and Upper Egypt produced mostly Arabic manuscripts, with some Coptic and Greek.[3]

The seven folios of Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b were purchased by Mingana from the Dutch antiquities dealer Erik von Scherling in 1936 and they were subsequently bound along with another two folios separately acquired (M. 1572a) and assigned the inventory number M. 1572. In 2011 a detailed study regarding the history and provenance of this manuscript was made by Alba Fedeli who established that M. 1572 comprised two distinct manuscripts.[4] Hence M. 1572 was split into two individual manuscripts Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a and Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b. Although the provenance of Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b is not clear, a clue of it comes from the aforementioned study by Fedeli who showed that Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b, Marcel 17 (National Library of Russia) and Ms. 67 [Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (Qatar)] belong to the same codex, and, that the likely provenance of the the these parts of the codex are Egypt.[5] At the end of the 18th century, a member of French expedition to Egypt, Jean-Joseph Marcel, acquired quite a few manuscripts kept at the ʿAmr b. al-ʿĀṣ mosque, Fusṭāṭ, which, in 1864, became part of the collection of what is now known as National Library of Russia at St. Petersburg.[6]

Size & Folios

Parchment manuscript with an approximate size of 33.5 cm x 25.0 cm. There are 21-33 lines per page.

Total number of folios are 28 =17 (Marcel 17, National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) + 7 (Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b, University of Birmingham, Birmingham) + 4 (Ms. 67.2007, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha). The extant folios contain ~14.7% of the text of the Qur'an.

Script & Ornamentation


Manuscript on parchment, text in brown ink. The pages have been wrongly folded, so that the text is disordered. The consonants are differentiated by dashes. The muṣḥaf is partly vocalised with red dots by a later(?) hand. Barbed red design separates sūrahs. Usually six or three oval dots punctuate the verses. Every tenth verse is marked by a hollow circle surrounded by dots.


Below are the published information of folios in this codex.

Codex Marcel 17
Folio Number Qur'anic Surah Image Publication Comments
1r 2:269 – 2:277   Marcel 17
1v 2:277 – 2:283   Marcel 17
2r 2:283 – 2:286; 3:1 – 3:7   Marcel 17
2v 3:7 – 3:19   Marcel 17
3r 3:19 – 3:29   Marcel 17
3v 3:29 – 3:42 Déroche, 2009[7] Marcel 17
4r 3:42 – 3:55   Marcel 17
4v 3:55 – 3:68   Marcel 17
5r 3:68 – 3:78   Marcel 17
5v 3:78 – 3:90 Déroche, 2009 Marcel 17
6r 3:90 – 3:102   Marcel 17
6v 3:102 – 3:112   Marcel 17
7r 3:112 – 3:122   Marcel 17
7v 3:122 – 3:135   Marcel 17
8r 3:135 – 3:146   Marcel 17
8v 3:146 – 3:154 Déroche, 2009 Marcel 17
9r 3:154 – 3:164   Marcel 17
9v 3:164 – 3:177   Marcel 17
10r 3:177 – 3:187   Marcel 17
10v 3:187 – 3:198   Marcel 17
11r 3:198 – 3:200; 4:1 – 4:6   Marcel 17
11v 4:6 – 4:12   Marcel 17
12r 4:12 – 4:20   Marcel 17
12v 4:20 – 4:26   Marcel 17
13r 4:26 – 4:36   Marcel 17
13v 4:36 – 4:46   Marcel 17
14r 4:46 – 4:58   Marcel 17
14v 4:58 – 4:67   Marcel 17
15r 4:68 – 4:82   Marcel 17
15v 4:82 – 4:90   Marcel 17
16r 4:90 – 4:95   Marcel 17
16v 4:95 – 4:103   Marcel 17
17r 4:103 – 4:118   Marcel 17
17v 4:118 – 4:129   Marcel 17
18r 4:129 – 4:140 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
18v 4:141 – 4:152 Fedeli, 2011; VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
19r 4:153 – 4:163 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
19v 4:163 – 4:176 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
20r 5:1 – 5:5 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
20v 5:5 – 5:12 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
21r 5:12 – 5:17 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
21v 5:18 – 5:27 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
5:63 – 6:20 Ms. 67.2007
22r 6:74 – 6:90 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
22v 6:90 – 6:97 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
23r 6:97 – 6:110 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
23v 6:110 – 6:122 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
24r 6:122 – 6:132 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b
24v 6:133 – 6:143 VMR, University of Birmingham Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572b


National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg (Russia); University of Birmingham, Birmingham (United Kingdom); Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (Qatar).

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[1] H. L. Gottschalk (Ed.), Catalogue Of The Mingana Collection Of Manuscripts: Now In The Possession Of The Trustees Of The Woodbrooke Settlement, Selly Oak, Birmingham And Preserved At The Selly Oak Colleges Library, 1948, Volume IV - Islamic Arabic Manuscripts, The Selly Oaks Colleges Library: Birmingham, p. 2.

[2] L-A. Hunt, The Mingana And Related Collections: A Survey Of Illustrated Arabic, Greek, Eastern Christian, Persian And Turkish Manuscripts In The Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, 1997, The Mingana Collection, The Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust: Birmingham (UK), p. 11.

[3] Preceding two paragraphs adapted from, ibid., pp. 4-5.

[4] A. Fedeli, "The Provenance Of The Manuscript Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572: Dispersed Folios From A Few Qur'ānic Quires", Manuscripta Orientalia, 2011, Volume 17, pp. 48-52.

[5] ibid., p. 50.

[6] F. Déroche, "The Codex Parisino-Petropolitanus And The Ḥijāzī Scripts", in M. C. A. MacDonald (Ed.), The Development Of Arabic As A Written Language: Papers From The Special Session Of The Seminar For Arabian Studies Held On 24th July 2009, 2010, Supplement To The Proceedings Of The Seminar For Arabian Studies - Volume 40, Archaeopress: Oxford, pp. 113.

[7] F. Déroche, La Transmission Écrite Du Coran Dans Les Débuts De L’Islam: Le Codex Parisino-Petropolitanus, 2009, Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden: The Netherlands, pp. 206-208 and Plates 26-28.

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