Poetry and Prayer: Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry and Prayer

Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry Ritual Prayer Recitation Calligraphy Personal Piety Digital Books

W.563: Qur’an

Surat al-fatiha, 1:1–7
Northern India, 15th century

This illuminated double page is the first chapter of the Qur’an, known as the fatiha, or “opening,” recited at the beginning of ritual prayer. The fatiha praises God (Allah) and asks for His guidance along the right path. The seven verses of this chapter are believed to have spiritual and protective power and are often inscribed on tombstones. In this sublimely beautiful manuscript, the fatiha is copied in gold muhaqqaq script outlined in black on a floral background. Throughout the codex, there are inter-linear Persian translation of the Arabic verses. There are also Quranic words and phrases with explanations of their readings according to various reciters inscribed in the margins.

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe,
The Merciful, the Compassionate,
Sovereign of the Day of Judgment!
You alone we worship, and to You alone we turn for help.
Guide us to the straight path,
The path of those whom You have favored,
Not of those who have incurred Your wrath,
Nor of those who have gone astray.

—Qur’an, Surat al-fatiha, 1:1–7