Clara Berger

When choosing an artifact in the display to examine I was drawn to the open Qur’an. Throughout the course we have studied the spiritual and authoritative role that the Qur’an holds in Islamic society. As explained in the display’s description, the Qur’an is “as sacred to Muslims as Christ’s body is to Christians”. Its physicality is not simply an element within worship, but is divine in itself. Unlike the stories in the Bible and Torah, the Qur’an is considered the direct speech of God, relayed by the Prophet Muhammad through revelations from Allah. The verses pertain to both questions and codes surrounding morality, worship, ritual, and daily life. The Qur’an is considered the most sacred text in any Muslim’s life, and their are many elaborations and codes by which how to handle and care for the physical copy. The text must be kept clean, safe, and it’s handlers must be pure and respectful.

The physical copy on display shows the holistic influence of the Qur’an in Islamic culture. The Qur’an has become the central theme of the artistic world, an inspiration for artists, scholars, and writers. The pages themselves are large, the verses written and enhanced by a gold coloring. Although there are no actual images, the text itself is illustrious. As we have learned, the verses of the Qur’an are not simply read, but recited as an art form of melody and rhythm. This traditional act of recitation is seen not only as an element of worship and ritual, but a way to contemplate and internalize the message of Allah. In the Qur’an on display, the borders of the verses are lined with commentaries and instructions on the correct form of recitation. Held as the physical embodiment of Allah’s presence and his instruction to society, the Qur’an holds a divine value as a text that is unique to the religion of Islam.