Double Folio from a Qur'an
Chapter 5, "The Table" (al-Ma'ida), Verses 72-74
Artist/maker unknown, Central Asia or Turkey
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As in the western tradition, Islamic books have a vertical format with paper pages sewn together into a binding. Early Muslim settlers from central and western Asia carried Islamic book traditions into India, especially in the form of Qur'ans, such as the one from which these pages come. Since the Qur'an, the holy scripture of Islam, was communicated in Arabic to the Prophet Muhammad by God in the seventh century, its words are venerated, as is the writing that communicates them. Three distinct calligraphic scripts appear on this page. Large, bold lines give the Qur'an verses in the original Arabic; zigzag bands of smaller letters translate the verses into Persian; and red, blockish characters with verses from the Hadith (Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad) serve as a decorative frame.