The Quran is considered by Muslims to be the exact word of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad in Arabic. Recently a Quran written over 800 years ago has sold for 1.14 million ($2.3 million) at an auction in London.
The Quran written in 1203, signed by Yahya bin Muhammad ibn Umar, is dated 17 Ramadan 599 (June 1203). The inscription in the manuscript was done in gold outlined in thin black lines, and the marginal notes are in silver outlined in red. This holy book was estimated to sell for up to $715,000 but it fetched $2,327,300 on 23 October at Christie's auction house in London.
At the same auction two new world auction records were made for any Islamic manuscript. Along with it another 10th-century Kufic Quran from North Africa or the near East, was sold for $1,870,000. Both ancient manuscripts were offered for sale by the Hispanic Society of America, and were purchased by trade buyers in London.
The Kufic Quran was written on paper in a landscape format, a change from the earlier style of copying on horizontal parchment, Christie's catalog said.
The Kufic script takes its name from Kufah in Iraq, an early centre of Islamic scholarship.
The Hispanic Society is a museum and reference library in New York for the study of the arts and cultures of Spain, Portugal and Latin America, and has a centre devoted to medieval studies.
The gold script Quran was bought in Cairo in 1905 by Archer Milton Huntington, the adopted son of railroad and ship-building magnate Collis P. Huntington and founder of the Hispanic Society.
Christie's sold 5.95 million ($11.8 million) of art from the Islamic and Indian worlds at its sale on Tuesday.
"Today's extraordinary sale total is one of the highest ever for Islamic art at Christie's, reflecting the depth of demand and very strong prices realized throughout the field,'' William Robinson, director of Islamic art and carpets at Christie's, said in a statement.
Muslim historians document that the Quranic revelation was communicated to Prophet Muhammad by Angel Gabriel while he was meditating in the cave of Hira near Makkah in 610 AD.
According to Muslim tradition the complete Quran was revealed over a period of 22 years in segments during the life of the Prophet. The order and sequence of the Quran was Divinely inspired and was instructed to the Prophet by God through archangel Gabriel. Whenever the Prophet recited a revelation to his companions, he would also mention in which chapter and after which verse the new revelation belonged.
It is recorded that the verses were written on separate pieces of different material, scrapes of leather, thin flat stones, leaflets, palm branches, shoulder blades, etc. After the demise of the prophet, Abu Bakr, the first caliph of Islam ordered that the Quran be copied from the various materials on to a common material which was in the shape of sheets. At the same time several companions of the Prophet had memorized the complete Quran.
It is important to note that "Quran" means "Recitation". Even today schools that specialize in teaching Quranic memorization can trace the teachers back to these first Muslims who had committed the entire Quran to memory.
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