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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Islamic Museum of the Temple Mount

This museum was established in 1923 by the Islamic Legal Council in Palestine. The manuscript collection of the Islamic Museum consists entirely of masahif of the Qur’an, numbering 644, donated over centuries to Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Some were presented by rulers and private individuals, and others have been donated by such Palestinian cities as Hebron and Nablus.

The Qur’anic manuscripts vary in type, age and size. Many are rab`at (i.e., they were copied in thirty fascicles and stored in a chest, or rab`a). The oldest is Kufic, from the end of the second century after hijra, while the most recent is a copy from the thirteenth century after hijra. Sizes range from 16 x 11.5 cm. to the massive second volume of the Qur’an of the Mamluk Sultan Qa’t Bay (r. 872-901/1468-1496), which measures 110 x 90 cm. and is 15 cm. thick. The majority of the Qur’anic manuscripts are splendidly illuminated and decorated , the exceptions being for the most part the copies of the late Ottoman period.

One of the most important manuscript in this collection is the Kufic copy of the second half of the Qur’an, the transcription of which is attributed to Al-Hasan b. Al-Husayn b. `Ali b. Abi Talib. The pages in this manuscript are beautifully illuminated, with each surah heading bearing its own distinct style of decoration; the covers are also decorated on both sides, but are of the Mamluk period.

The museum also hold an important collection of 883 documents (855 Arabic; 28 persian) from the the 8th/14th century. The complete reference of catalogue of the manuscripts in this museum can be seen in:

[1] G. Roper (ed.), World Survey Of Islamic Manuscripts, 1993, Volume II, Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, London, p.p. 579-581.

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