Poetry and Prayer: Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry and Prayer

Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

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W.583: Collection of Prayers for the Prophet Muhammad

This manuscript is an illuminated copy of the well-known collection of prayers for the Prophet Muhammad entitled Dalā’il al-khayrāt, which was composed by Muḥammad al-Jazūlī (d. 877 AH / 1472 CE). Written on paper in Turkish naskh script, this prayer book was probably made in the 11th century AH / 17th CE. It contains two facing illustrations (fols.15b-16a), featuring the mosque compound in Medina with the tombs of Muhammad, Abū Bakr, and ‘Umar.






Folio 12a

Folio from an Islamic Manuscript

Folio 11b

Folio from an Islamic Manuscript

Dala’il al-khayrat is a collection of prayers complied in the 15th century by Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli. The prayers ask for blessings for the prophet Muhammad. The individual reciting the prayers would also receive God’s blessings. Like many copies of this text, this manuscript includes additional devotional material, such as lists of “the noble names” (al-asma al-sharifa) accorded to the prophet Muhammad. These include “messenger” (rasul), “purified one” (mutahhar), and “glorifier of God” (muzakkir), seen here.

Paper with ink, paint, and gold
W.583, fols. 11b–12a, acquired by Henry Walters


Folio 16a

Folio from an Islamic Manuscript

The left side of a double page composition, which bears the following inscription (15b-16a): ‘This is the description [i.e. image] of the blessed garden in which is buried the Apostle [i.e. Prophet] of God, may God bless and save him, and his two companions Abu Bakr and 'Umar, may God be pleased with them.’ On this side of the page is depicted the Prophet’s minbar, which is a pulpit-like structure from which the imam delivers the khutba (sermon).

Folio 15b

Folio from an Islamic Manuscript

The right side of a double page composition featuring the mosque compound in Medina with the tombs of Muhammad, Abū Bakr and ‘Umar. The inscription on the two pages (15b-16a) may be translated as ‘This is the description [i.e. image] of the blessed garden in which is buried the Apostle [i.e. Prophet] of God, may God bless and save him, and his two companions Abu Bakr and 'Umar, may God be pleased with them.’

Folio 1b

Folio from an Islamic Manuscript

This opening page has an illuminated headpiece. The gilding between the lines increases the manuscript’s decorative quality. This approach to creating a highly embellished folio is common in Islamic manuscripts. It is believed that this method of interlinear decoration was inspired by Chinese prototypes.