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Sana'a manuscript

sana'a manuscript, the sana'a manuscript
The Sana'a palimpsest, dubbed Ṣanʿā’ 1, is one of the oldest Quranic manuscripts in existence1 It was found, along with many other Quranic and non-Quranic fragments, in Yemen in 1972 during restoration of the Great Mosque of Sana'a The manuscript is written on parchment, and comprises two layers of text see palimpsest The upper text conforms to the standard 'Uthmanic Quran, whereas the lower text contains many variants to the standard text An edition of the lower text was published in 20122 A radiocarbon analysis has dated the parchment to before 671 AD with a 99% accuracy3


  • 1 Discovery
  • 2 Restoration project
  • 3 About the manuscript
  • 4 Variants
  • 5 Media coverage
  • 6 See also
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


In 1972, construction workers renovating a wall in the attic of the Great Mosque of Sana'a in Yemen came across large quantities of old manuscripts and parchments, many of which were deteriorated Not realizing their significance, the workers gathered up the documents, packed them away into some twenty potato sacks, and left them on the staircase of one of the mosque's minarets4

Qadhi Isma'il al-Akwa', then the president of the Yemeni Antiquities Authority, realized the potential importance of the find Al-Akwa' sought international assistance in examining and preserving the fragments, and in 1979 managed to interest a visiting German scholar, who in turn persuaded the West German government to organize and fund a restoration project4 The preserved fragments comprise Quranic and non-Quranic material5

Restoration projectedit

Restoration of the fragments began in 1980 under the supervision of the Yemeni Department for Antiquities It was funded by the Cultural Section of the German Foreign Ministry2 The find includes 12,000 Quranic parchment fragments All of them, except 1500–2000 fragments, were assigned to 926 distinct Quranic manuscripts as of 1997 None is complete and many contain only a few folios apiece2 "Albrecht Noth University of Hamburg was the director of the project Work on the ground began in 1981 and continued through the end of 1989, when the project terminated with the end of funding Gerd R Puin University of Saarland was the local director beginning with 1981 His involvement came to an end in 1985, when Hans-Caspar Graf von Bothmer University of Saarland took over as the local director Bothmer left Ṣan'ā' in the following year, but continued to run the project from Germany, traveling to the site almost every year

Beginning in 1982, Ursula Dreibholz served as the conservator for this project, and worked full time in Ṣan'ā' until the end of 1989 She completed the restoration of the manuscripts She also designed the permanent storage, collated many parchment fragments to identify distinct Quranic manuscripts, and directed the Yemeni staff in the same task The manuscripts are located in the House of Manuscripts, the Dār al-Makhṭūṭāt DAM, in Ṣan'ā', Yemen After 1989, Bothmer would visit the collection periodically In the winter of 1996–7, he microfilmed all of the parchment fragments that have been assigned to distinct Quranic manuscripts Of the remaining 1500–2000 fragments, he microfilmed a group of 280 The microfilms are available in Ṣan'ā' in the House of Manuscripts2

About the manuscriptedit

The Sana'a palimpsest is one of the most important manuscripts of the collection in the world This palimpsest has two layers of text, both of which are Quranic and written in the Hijazi script While the upper text is almost identical with the modern Qurans in use with the exception of spelling variants, the lower text contains significant diversions from the standard text For example, in sura 2, verse 87, the lower text has wa-qaffaynā 'alā āthārihi whereas the standard text has wa-qaffaynā min ba'dihi see the "Variants" section below for a selected list2 Such variants are similar to the ones reported for the Quran codices of Companions such as Ibn Mas'ud and Ubayy b Ka'b However, variants occur much more frequently in the Sana'a codex, which contains "by a rough estimate perhaps twenty-five times as many as Ibn Mas'ud's reported variants"6

As can be seen in the sample page from Sadeghi and Goudarzi's edition, the lower text has no vowel marks and rarely uses diacritical marks for distinguishing consonants The lower text was erased and written over, but due to the presence of metals in the ink, the lower text has resurfaced, and now appears in a light brown color7 A number of reasons may have led to erasure of the lower text: some pages of the codex may have been destroyed or worn out, thereby requiring the production of a new codex, for which the already available parchment was used This was a common practice in ancient times When enough of a manuscript's writing wore off—ink does not bond to parchment like it does to paper—all of the writing was washed off to make the expensive parchment usable for a new text This was an ancient way of recycling Alternatively, the standardization of the Quranic text by 'Uthmān may have led to the non-standard lower text becoming obsolete, and thereby erased8 The parchment upon which the lower codex is written has been radiocarbon dated with 99% accuracy to before 671 AD, with a 955% probability of being older than 661 AD and 75% probability from before 646 AD1

The manuscript is not complete About 80 folios are known to exist: 36 in Yemen’s Dār al-Makhṭūṭāt House of Manuscripts,2 4 in private collections after being auctioned abroad,7 and 40 in the Eastern Library of the Grand Mosque in Sana’a9 Many of the folios in the House of Manuscripts are physically incomplete perhaps due to damage,10 whereas those in private possession7 or held by the Eastern Library are all complete9 These 80 folios comprise roughly half of the Quran

The lower text of the folios in the House of Manuscripts and those auctioned abroad were published in March 2012, in a long essay by Behnam Sadeghi Professor of Islamic Studies at Stanford University and Mohsen Goudarzi PhD student at Harvard University2 Prior to that, in 2010, Behnam Sadeghi had published an extensive study of the four folios auctioned abroad, and analyzed their variants using textual critical methods7 The German scholar Elisabeth Puin lecturer at Saarland University, whose husband was the local director of the restoration project until 1985, has also transcribed the lower text of several folios in five successive publications11121314 The lower text of the folios in the Eastern Library has not been published yet


The lower text of the Sana'a palimpsest frequently differs from the standard text of the Quran, although only "a small fraction of the variants do make a difference in meaning" 15 The below table presents some variants, based on the lower text edition provided by Sadeghi and Goudarzi:16

Location Visible Traces Reconstruction Standard Text
Quran 2 al-Baqarah191
Stanford folio, recto, l 4, p 44
ﺣ/ / ٮٯٮــلو کم حَتّی يُقـٰتِلوکُم حَتَّىٰ يُقَـٰتِلُوكُمْ فِيهِ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah191
Stanford folio, recto, l 5, p 44
د لک جز ا ا لکڡر ٮں ذَٰلِکَ جَزاءُ الکـٰفِرينَ كـذَٰلِكَ جَزَآءُ ٱلْكَـٰفِرِينَ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah192
Stanford folio, recto, l 5, p 44
ا نتـﻬـﻮ إنتَهَو انتَهَوا
Quran 2 al-Baqarah193
Stanford folio, recto, l 6, p 44
حتا حَتّا حَتّی
Quran 2 al-Baqarah193
Stanford folio, recto, l 7, p 44
و ٮکو ں ا لد ٮں کله ﻟﻠﻪ و يَكُونَ الدِّينُ كُلُّهُ لِلَّـهِ وَيَكُونَ ٱلدِّينُ لِلَّـهِ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah194
Stanford folio, recto, l 10, p 44
و من اعتدی وَ مَنِ اعتَدَی فَــمَنِ ٱعْتَدَى
Quran 2 al-Baqarah194
Stanford folio, recto, l 11, p 44
ڡا ﻋٮـ/ / و فاعتدو فَٱعْتَدُوا
Quran 2 al-Baqarah194
Stanford folio, recto, l 11, p 44
ما اعتد ی علٮكم ٮه مَا اعتَدَی عَلَيكُم بِه مَا ٱعْتَدَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah196
Stanford folio, recto, l 17, p 44
ڡـﻤ// تٮسر مں ا لهد ی فَما تَيَسَّر مِن الهَدی فما استَيسَرَ مِنَ ٱلْهَدْىِ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah196
Stanford folio, recto, l 17, p 44
و لا تحلٯو ا وَلَا تَحلِقُوا وَلَا تَحْلِقُوا رُءُوسَكُمْ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah196
Stanford folio, recto, l 18, p 44
ڡا ﮞ كا ﮞ ا حد ﻣٮكم فَإن كان أحَدٌ مِنكُم فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم
Quran 2 al-Baqarah196
Stanford folio, recto, l 19, p 45
ڡد ٮه فِديَةٌ فَـفِديَةٌ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah196
Stanford folio, recto, l 20, p 45
مں صٮم او نسک مِن صِيٰمٍ أَو نُسُكٍ مِن صِيَامٍ أَوْ صَدَقَةٍ أَوْ نُسُكٍ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah209
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 5, p 46
مں ٮـﻌﺪ ما ﺣﺎ کم ا ﻟﻬد ی؛ مِّن بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَكُمُ ٱلْهُدَىٰ مِّن بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَتْكُمُ ٱلْبَيِّنَـٰتُ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah210
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 6, p 46
هل ٮـ//ـﻄﺮ و ﮞ ا لا ا ﮞ ٮـﺎ ٮــٮـﮑﻢ ا ﻟﻠﻪ هَلْ تَنظُرُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِيَكُمُ ٱللَّـهُ هَلْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِيَهُمُ ٱللَّـهُ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah211
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 9, p 46
ا لعڡٮ ٱلْعِقٰبِ ٱلْعِقَابِ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah213
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 12, p 46
ڡﺎ // ﺳـﻞ ا لـلـه فَــأَرسَلَ اللهُ فَـــبَعَثَ ٱللَّـهُ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah213
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 13, p 46
ﻟـٮـحکمو ا ٮــٮں ا لٮا س لِــيَحْكُمُوا بَيْنَ ٱلنَّاسِ لِــيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ ٱلنَّاسِ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah213
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 15, p 46
ا ﻟٮــٮـٮــٮت ٱلْبَيِّنَٮٰتُ ٱلْبَيِّنَـٰتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah214
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 17, p 46
ا ﺣﺴـٮٮم أَ حَسِبْتُمْ أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah214
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 17, p 46
ا ﻟـﺪ ٮں ﻣـﮟ ٯٮــلکم ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُم ٱلَّذِينَ خَلَوْا۟ مِن قَبْلِكُم
Quran 2 al-Baqarah214
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 18, p 47
ا لٮسا ٱلْبَٔسَاءُ ٱلْبَأْسَاءُ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah215
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 20, p 47
ٮــسا لو ٮک يَسْأَلُونَكَ يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah217
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 25, p 47
عں ا ﻟﺴﻬﺮ ا لحر م و ﻋـں ٯٮل ڡــٮـﻪ عَنِ ٱلشَّهْرِ ٱلْحَرٰمِ وَعَنْ قِتٰلٍ فِيهِ عَنِ ٱلشَّهْرِ ٱلْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ
Quran 2 al-Baqarah217
David 86/2003 folio, recto, l 26, p 47
؛/--/ و ﺻﺪ عں /------/؛ وَصَدٌّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ17 وَصَدٌّ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّـهِ وَكُفْرٌۢ بِهِ
Quran 11 Hūd105
Folio 4, recto, l 1, p 51
ا لا مں ا ؛ إلّا مَن أَذِنَ لَه إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ
Quran 11 Hūd122
Folio 4, verso, l 4, p 52
ا / / ﻣﻌﮑ/ / ؛ إِنَّا مَعَكُم مُنتَظِرُونَ إِنَّا مُنتَظِرُونَ
Quran 8 al-Anfāl2
Folio 4, verso, l 12, p 52
ڡـﺮ ٯـٮ ْفَرِقَت ْوَجِلَت
Quran 8 al-Anfāl2
Folio 4, verso, l 13, p 52
ا ٮــٮٮـﺎ ءَايَـٰتُنا ءَايَـٰتُهُ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah122
Folio 22, recto, l 3, p 62
ما كـﺎ ﮞ مَا كَانَ وَمَا كَانَ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah122
Folio 22, recto, l 4, p 62
مں كل ا ﻣﻪ مِن كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ مِن كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah124
Folio 22, recto, l 9, p 62
و ا د ا ا ٮر لٮ وَإِذَا أُنزِلَتْ وَإِذَا مَا أُنزِلَتْ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah125
Folio 22, recto, l 12, p 62
ڡی ٯلو ٮهم ر حس فِى قُلُوبِهِم رِجْسٌ فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَرَضٌ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah125
Folio 22, recto, l 13, p 62
ر حر ا ا لی ر ﺣﺴﻬـﻢ رِجزاً إِلَىٰ رِجْسِهِمْ رِجساً إِلَىٰ رِجْسِهِمْ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah125
Folio 22, recto, l 13, p 62
و ما ٮو ا و هم ڡــﺴٯــﻮ ﮞ وَمَاتُوا۟ وَهُمْ فَـٰسِقُونَ وَمَاتُوا۟ وَهُمْ كَـٰفِرُونَ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah126
Folio 22, recto, l 13, p 62
ا و / / ٮر و أَوَلَا يَرَوْ أَوَلَا يَرَوْنَ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah126
Folio 22, recto, l 15, p 62
و لا ٮــٮــﺪ كر و ﮞ وَلَا يَتَذَكَّرُونَ وَلَا هُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah127
Folio 22, recto, l 15, p 62
و ا د ا ا ٮــﺮ ﻟـٮ وَإِذَا أُنزِلَتْ وَإِذَا مَا أُنزِلَتْ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah127
Folio 22, recto, l 16, p 62
هل ٮر ٮٮا هَلْ يَرَىٰنَا هَلْ يَرَىٰكُم
Quran 9 al-Tawbah127
Folio 22, recto, l 17, p 62
ڡا ٮــﺼـﺮ ڡــﻮ ا فَـﭑنصَرَفُوا ثُمَّ انصَرَفُوا
Quran 9 al-Tawbah127
Folio 22, recto, l 17, p 62
ڡصر ڡ ا ﻟـﻠـﻪ فَــصَرَفَ اللهُ صَرَفَ ٱللَّـهُ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah127
Folio 22, recto, l 17, p 62
د لک ٮـﺎ ٮـ//ـﻢ ٯــﻮ م لا ٮڡٯهو ﮞ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَّا يَفْقَهُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَّا يَفْقَهُونَ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah128
Folio 22, recto, l 18, p 62
و لٯد حا کم وَلَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ لَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah128
Folio 22, recto, l 18, p 62
ر سو ل ﻣٮـﮑـﻢ رَسولٌ مِنْكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِنْ أَنْفُسِکُمْ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah128
Folio 22, recto, l 19, p 63
عر ٮر ﻋﻠـٮـﻪ ما عٮٮکم عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنَّتَكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ
Quran 9 al-Tawbah129
Folio 22, recto, l 20, p 63
ڡا / / ٮــﻮ لو ا ﻋـٮــﮏ فَإن تَوَلَّوْا عَنْكَ فَإن تَوَلَّوْا
Quran 9 al-Tawbah129
Folio 22, recto, l 21, p 63
ا لد ی لا ا ﻟﻪ ا لا ﻫﻮ الَّذي لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ
Quran 19 Maryam2
Folio 22, recto, l 24, p 63
ر ﺣـﻤﻪ رَحْمَةِ رَحْمَتِ
Quran 19 Maryam3
Folio 22, recto, l 25, p 63
ا د ٮا د ی ر ٮک ر ﻛـر ٮا إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّــكَ زَكَرِيَّا إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّــهُ
Quran 19 Maryam4
Folio 22, recto, l 25, p 63
و ٯل ر ٮی وَقٰلَ رَبِّــي قالَ رَبِّ
Quran 19 Maryam4
Folio 22, recto, l 26, p 63
و ٯل ر ٮی ا سٮعل ا لر ا س سٮٮا وَقٰلَ رَبِّي ٱشْتَعَلَ ٱلرَّأْسُ شَيْباً قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَهَنَ ٱلْعَظْمُ مِنِّي وَٱشْتَعَلَ ٱلرَّأْسُ شَيْبًا
Quran 19 Maryam4
Folio 22, recto, l 26, p 63
و لم ا کں ر ٮ ٮــد عا ک وَلَمْ أَکُنْ رَبِّ بِدُعَاءِكَ وَلَمْ أَكُن بِدُعَائِكَ رَبِّ
Quran 19 Maryam5
Folio 22, recto, l 27, p 63
و ﺣڡــٮ ا لمو ل مں و ر ا ی وَ خِفْتُ ٱلْمَوَٰل مِن وَرٰاءِى وَإِنِّى خِفْتُ ٱلْمَوَٰلِىَ مِن وَرٰاءِى
Quran 19 Maryam7
Folio 22, verso, l 2-3, p 63
؛ ٯد و هٮٮا لک علما ر کٮا ۝ و ٮسر ٮه ﻪ مں ٯـٮــﻞ ﺳ//ـﻤٮـﺎ ؛ قَد وَهَبْنَا لَكَ غُلٰماً زَكِيَّاً ۝ وَبَشَّرْنٰهُ ﻪُ مِن قَبْلُ سَمِيًّا18 يَـٰزَكَرِيَّا إِنَّا نُبَشِّرُكَ بِغُلَـٰمٍ ٱسْمُهُ يَحْيَىٰ لَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُ مِن قَبْلُ سَمِيًّا
Quran 19 Maryam8
Folio 22, verso, l 3-4, p 63
ا //ﻰ ٮـﮑـﻮ ﮞ لی ﻋـلم ﻟﮑـٮر عٮٮا أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لِى غُلَـٰمٌ لْكِبَرِ عِتِيًّا أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لِى غُلَـٰمٌ وَكَانَتِ ٱمْرَأَتِى عَاقِرًا وَقَدْ بَلَغْتُ مِنَ ٱلْكِبَرِ عِتِيًّا
Quran 19 Maryam9
Folio 22, verso, l 5, p 63
و لم ٮک سا ی وَلَمْ تَكُ شَاي وَلَمْ تَكُ شَيْئًا
Quran 19 Maryam11
Folio 22, verso, l 7, p 64
؛ـم حرح ؛ـمَّ خَرَجَ فَــخَرَجَ
Quran 19 Maryam11
Folio 22, verso, l 7, p 64
ا و ﺣﻰ ا ﻟـٮـﻬﻢ أَوْحَىٰ إِلَيْهِمْ فَــأَوْحَىٰ إِلَيْهِمْ
Quran 19 Maryam12
Folio 22, verso, l 8, p 64
و علمٮه ا ﻟـﺤﮑﻢ وَعَلَّمْنٰهُ الْحُكْمَ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْحُكْمَ صَبِيًّا
Quran 19 Maryam13
Folio 22, verso, l 9, p 64
حننا حَنٰناً وَحَنَاناً
Quran 19 Maryam14
Folio 22, verso, l 10, p 64
و لم ٮک وَلَمْ يَكُ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ
Quran 19 Maryam15
Folio 22, verso, l 10, p 64
و علٮه ا لسلم وَعَلَيْهِ السَّلٰمُ وَسَلَـٰمٌ عَلَيْهِ
Quran 19 Maryam19
Folio 22, verso, l 15, p 64
لنهب لِنَهَبَ لِأَهَبَ
Quran 19 Maryam21
Folio 22, verso, l 17, p 64
و هو ﻋﻠ//ﻪ ﻫـٮــﮟ وَهُوَ عَلَيْهِ هَيِّنٌ ۝ هُوَ عَلَىَّ هَيِّنٌ
Quran 19 Maryam21
Folio 22, verso, l 18, p 64
و ا مر ا مٯصٮا وَأَمْرًا مَّقْضِيًّا وَكَانَ أَمْرًا مَّقْضِيًّا
Quran 19 Maryam22
Folio 22, verso, l 18, p 64
ڡحملٮ فَحَمَلَتْ فَحَمَلَتْــهُ
Quran 19 Maryam23
Folio 22, verso, l 19, p 64
ڡـﻠﻤ// ا حا ها ا لمحص فَــلَمَّا أَجَاءَهَا ٱلْمَخٰضُ فَأَجَاءَهَا ٱلْمَخَاضُ
Quran 19 Maryam23
Folio 22, verso, l 20, p 65
ٯٮل هد ا ا ﻟـٮــو م قَبْلَ هَـٰذَا الْيَوْمِ قَبْلَ هَـٰذَا
Quran 19 Maryam24
Folio 22, verso, l 20-21, p 65
ڡٮــد ٮها مں ٮـﺤٮـﻬ/----------/ ا لا ٮحر ٮی فَنٰدٮٰهَا مِن تَحْتِهَـ/ـا مَلَكٌ/ أَلَّا تَحْزَنِى 19 فَنَادَىٰهَا مِن تَحْتِهَا أَلَّا تَحْزَنِى
Quran 19 Maryam26
Folio 22, verso, l 23, p 65
و ٯـ// ی ﻋـٮٮـﺎ ۝ وَقَرِّى عَيْنًا ۝ وَقَرِّى عَيْنًا
Quran 19 Maryam26
Folio 22, verso, l 24, p 65
ﺻـﻮ ما و ﺻﻤـٮا صَوْماً وَصُمْتاً صَوْماً
Quran 19 Maryam26
Folio 22, verso, l 24, p 65
ﻟﮟ ا کلم لَنْ أُکَلِّمَ فَــلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ
Quran 19 Maryam27
Folio 22, verso, l 25, p 65
؛//ﺎ ٮــت ٯو ﻣﻬ ﺎ فَأَتَتْ قَوْمَهَا فَأَتَتْ بِهِ قَوْمَهَا
Quran 19 Maryam27
Folio 22, verso, l 25, p 65
لٯد ا ﺗٮت لَقَدْ أَتَيْتِ لَقَدْ جِئْتِ
Quran 19 Maryam28
Folio 22, verso, l 26, p 65
ما کا ﮞ ا ٮو ک ا ٮا //ﻮ ا مَا كَانَ أَبُوكِ أَباً سُوءاً مَا كَانَ أَبُوكِ ٱمْرَأَ سَوْءٍ
Quran 12 Yūsuf19
Folio 31, recto, l 4-5, p 71
ْو ﻋﻠٮـ// ٮـﻌﺺ ا ﻟﺴ/ /؛ و عَلَيْهِ بَعْضُ السَّيَّارَةِ وَجَاءَتْ سَيَّارَةٌ
Quran 12 Yūsuf19
Folio 31, recto, l 6, p 71
و ٯل وَقٰلَ قَالَ
Quran 12 Yūsuf19
Folio 31, recto, l 7, p 71
و ا ﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠ//ـﻢ ٮـﻤﺎ ٮڡعلوﮞ وَٱللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَفْعَلُونَ وَٱللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ
Quran 12 Yūsuf28
Folio 31, verso, l 4, p 72
ٯل ا //ﻪ ﻛـٮد ﻛﮟ قٰلَ إِنَّهُ كَيْدَكُنَّ قَالَ إِنَّهُ مِن كَيْدِكُنَّ
Quran 12 Yūsuf30
Folio 31, verso, l 5, p 72
ٮسو ه مں ا هل ا لمد ٮــٮه نِسْوَةٌ مِن أَهْلِ ٱلْمَدِينَةِ نِسْوَةٌ فِي ٱلْمَدِينَةِ
Quran 12 Yūsuf30
Folio 31, verso, l 5-6, p 72
؛/ / ٯــﺪ ﺳﻌڡـﻬﺎ ﺣـٮ ڡٮـ//ﻬﺎ ؛ قَدْ شَغَفَهَا حُبُّ فَتَٮٰهَا20 ٱمْرَأَتُ ٱلْعَزِيزِ تُرَٰوِدُ فَتَٮٰهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِ قَدْ شَغَفَهَا حُبًّا
Quran 12 Yūsuf31
Folio 31, verso, l 7, p 72
ڡلما ﺳﻤﻌ/ / مکرﻫـﮟ فَلَمَّا سَمِعَتْ مَكْرَهُنَّ فَلَمَّا سَمِعَتْ بِــمَكْرِهِنَّ
Quran 12 Yūsuf31
Folio 31, verso, l 8, p 72
و ﺣﻌﻠ/ / ﻟﻬ/ / ﻣٮـﮑ//؛ وَجَعَلَتْ لَهُنَّ مُتَّكَـًٔا وَأَعْتَدَتْ لَهُنَّ مُتَّكَـًٔا
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt15
Folio 28, recto, l 1, p 102
و ٯلو ا هد ا //ٮٮں وَقٰلوا هذا سِحرٌ مُبينٌ وَقالوا إن هـٰذا إِلّا سِحرٌ مُبينٌ
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt19
Folio 28, recto, l 4, p 102
/ /ڡا د ا ﻫـﻢ ﻣﺤـﺼـﺮ فَإذا هُم مُحضَرون فَإِذا هُم يَنظُرونَ
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt22
Folio 28, recto, l 6, p 102
ا ٮـﻌٮـﻮ ا إبعَثوا احشُرُوا
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt22
Folio 28, recto, l 6, p 102
ﻃـ//ـﻤـﻮ ا الَّذينَ ظَلَموا الَّذينَ ظَلَموا وَأَزوٰجَهُم
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt23
Folio 28, recto, l 8, p 102
صر ٮط ا ﻟﺤﺤٮم صِر ٮطِ الجَحيم صِرٰطِ الجَحيمِ
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt25
Folio 28, recto, l 9, p 103
/ / لا ٮٮٮصرو لا تَنٮٰصَرون or لا تَتَنٰصَرون لا تَناصَرون
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt27
Folio 28, recto, l 10, p 103
ڡـﺎ ٯــٮل فَـﺄ قبَلَ وَأَقبَلَ
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt48
Folio 28, verso, l 3, p 103
ﻋـٮــد هم عِندَهُم وَعِندَهُم
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt50
Folio 28, verso, l 4, p 103
علا عَلا عَلی
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt54
Folio 28, verso, l 7, p 103
ٯهل فَــﻬَﻞ هَل
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt56
Folio 28, verso, l 8, p 103
ﻟـٮـﻌـو ٮں لَتُغوِينِ ِلَتُرْدِين
Quran 37 al-Ṣāffāt58
Folio 28, verso, l 9, p 103
و ما ٮحں وَما نَحنُ أَفَما نَحْنُ

The page numbers refer to the edition by Sadeghi and Goudarzi2 In their edition, a reliably read but partially visible letter is put in parentheses, while a less reliably read letter is put inside brackets A pair of forward slashes mark an illegible area on the folio, while braces indicate a missing part of the folio The list here does not include all the spelling variants Note: In the above table, parentheses or brackets are left out if they appear at the very beginning or end of a phrase, to avoid text alignment issues Braces or forward slashes are preserved in all instances, but with the insertion of extra semicolons that help preserve text alignment

Media coverageedit

Puin, and his colleague Graf von Bothmer, have published only short essays on the Ṣana'a find In a 1999 interview with Toby Lester, the executive editor of The Atlantic Monthly website, Puin described the preserved fragments by the following:

Some of the parchment pages in the Yemeni hoard seemed to date back to the seventh and eighth centuries AD, or Islam's first two centuries—they were fragments, in other words, of perhaps the oldest Korans in existence What's more, some of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of Godcitation needed

The mathematician Jeffrey Lang wrote a letter to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly about the interview:

It should be mentioned that the article's alarmist tone concerning the discovery of the Yemeni manuscripts seems totally uncalled for Lester admits that so far the manuscripts show some unconventional verse orderings, minor textual variations, and rare styles of orthography and artistic embellishment However, the past existence of such manuscripts is well known to Muslims and those that did not completely agree with the Uthmanic text were eliminated in various ways The recovery of an ancient manuscript dating back to the earliest history of Islam that differs in minor ways from the Uthmanic text and that was eliminated from circulation will hardly cause Muslims to feel the need to rewrite their history; if anything, it will only confirm it for them21

In another interview, Puin said:

So many Muslims have this belief that everything between the two covers of the Quran is Allah's unaltered word They like to quote the textual work that shows that the Bible has a history and did not fall straight out of the sky, but until now the Quran has been out of this discussion The only way to break through this wall is to prove that the Quran has a history too The Sana'a fragments will help us accomplish this4

Puin claimed that the Yemeni authorities want to keep work on the Ṣana'a manuscripts "low-profile"4

In 2000, The Guardian interviewed a number of academics for their responses to Puin's remarks, including Dr Tarif Khalidi, and Professor Allen Jones, a lecturer in Koranic Studies at Oxford University In regard to Puin's claim that certain words and pronunciations in the Koran were not standardized until the ninth century, The Guardian reported:

Jones admits there have been 'trifling' changes made to the Uthmanic recension Khalidi says the traditional Muslim account of the Koran's development is still more or less true 'I haven't yet seen anything to radically alter my view,' he says Jones believes that the San'a Koran could just be a bad copy that was being used by people to whom the Uthmanic text had not reached yet 'It's not inconceivable that after the promulgation of the Uthmanic text, it took a long time to filter down'22

The article noted some positive Muslim reaction to Puin's research Salim Abdullah, director of the German Islamic Archives, affiliated to the Muslim World League, commented when he was warned of the controversy Puin's work might generate, "I am longing for this kind of discussion on this topic"22

Based on interviews with several scholars, Sadeghi and Goudarzi question Puin's claims regarding Yemeni suppression of research on the manuscripts and Puin's statement that the Yemenis did not want others to know that work was being done on them For instance, they note that in 2007 Sergio Noja Noseda an Italian scholar and Christian Robin a French archaeologist were allowed to take pictures of the Sana'a palimpsest They write that according to Robin, his colleagues were "granted greater access than would have been possible in some European libraries"23 They report a similar view from Ursula Dreibholz, the conservator for the restoration project, who describes the Yemenis as supportive23 They quote Dreibholz as saying that the Yemenis "brought school children, university students, foreign delegations, religious dignitaries, and heads of state, like Franҫois Mitterrand, Gerhard Schröder, and Prince Claus of the Netherlands, to see the collection"23

Sadeghi and Goudarzi conclude:

Although the Yemeni authorities' openness proved a boon to scholarship, they were to be punished for it The American media amplified the erroneous words of G Puin, purveying a narrative that belittled Yemen and misrepresented the work done there The Arab press in turn exaggerated the American story The outcome was a media discourse in Yemen borne of three stages of misrepresentation This embarrassed the Yemeni authorities responsible for the House of Manuscripts, and the Head of the Antiquities Department had to defend before Parliament the decision to bring in the foreigners23

See alsoedit

  • Early Quranic manuscripts
  • Codex Parisino-petropolitanus
  • Topkapi manuscript
  • Samarkand Kufic Quran
  • History of the Quran
  • Criticism of the Quran
  • Historiography of early Islam
  • Textual criticism
  • Gerd R Puin


  1. ^ a b Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 8
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012
  3. ^ Sadeghi 2010, p 353
  4. ^ a b c d Lester 1999
  5. ^ Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 9
  6. ^ Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 20
  7. ^ a b c d Sadeghi 2010
  8. ^ Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 27
  9. ^ a b Hamdoun 2004
  10. ^ Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 37
  11. ^ Puin 2008
  12. ^ Puin 2009
  13. ^ Puin 2010
  14. ^ Puin 2011
  15. ^ Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 19
  16. ^ Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, pp 41-129
  17. ^ Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 47 According to Sadeghi & Goudarzi's fn 118, "The traces after ʿan match sabīlihi" According to next footnote, "The phrase wa-kufrun bihi is not present immediately after sabīlihi Either it is missing or it or a smaller phrase such as wa-kufrun is written at the beginning of the line, before wa-ṣaddun"
  18. ^ Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 63 The hypothetical interpolation of texts for the missing parts in this and the next row are based on Sadeghi & Goudarzi's fn 216 and 218
  19. ^ Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 65 The hypothetical interpolation of text for the illegible part is based on Sadeghi & Goudarzi's fn 229
  20. ^ Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 72 The reconstructed text here is based on suggestions in Sadeghi & Goudarzi's fn 279 and 281
  21. ^ Lang 2000
  22. ^ a b Taher 2000
  23. ^ a b c d Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p 36


  • Sadeghi, Behnam; Goudarzi, Mohsen 2012 "Ṣan'ā' 1 and the Origins of the Qur'ān" Der Islam 87 1-2: 1–129 doi:101515/islam-2011-0025  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= help
  • Sadeghi, Behnam; Bergmann, Uwe 2010 "The Codex of a Companion of the Prophet and the Qurʾān of the Prophet" Arabica 57 4: 343–436 doi:101163/157005810X504518  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= help
  • Puin, Elisabeth 2011 "Ein früher Koranpalimpsest aus Ṣan'ā' DAM 01-271 – Teil IV" Die Entstehung einer Weltreligion II Hans Schiller ISBN 3899303458 
  • Puin, Elisabeth 2010 "Ein früher Koranpalimpsest aus Ṣan'ā' DAM 01-271: Teil III: Ein nicht-'uṯmānischer Koran" Die Entstehung einer Weltreligion I: von der koranischen Bewegung zum Frühislam Hans Schiller ISBN 3899303180 
  • Puin, Elisabeth 2009 "Ein früher Koranpalimpsest aus Ṣan'ā' DAM 01-271: Teil II" Vom Koran zum Islam Hans Schiller ISBN 3899302699 
  • Puin, Elisabeth 2008 "Ein früher Koranpalimpsest aus Ṣan'ā' DAM 01-271" Schlaglichter: Die beiden ersten islamischen Jahrhunderte Hans Schiller ISBN 3899302249 
  • Hamdoun, Razan Ghassan 2004 The Qur'ānic Manuscripts In Ṣan'ā' From The First Century Hijra And The Preservation Of The Qur'ān 
  • Taher, Abul 2000-08-08 "Querying the Koran" Guardian Retrieved 2014-11-25 
  • Lang, Jeffrey 2000 "Response on the article "What is the Koran"" The Atlantic Monthly Archived from the original on March 1, 2001 Retrieved 2014-11-25 
  • Lester, Toby 1999-01-01 "What is the Koran" The Atlantic Monthly Retrieved 2014-11-25 

External linksedit

  • Codex Ṣanʿāʾ – Inv No 01-271: Mid-1st Century Of Hijra, Islamic Awareness
  • Early Qur'anic Manuscripts, Islamic Awareness
  • The UNESCO Restoration Project
  • Islamic Collections from the Museum, pdf UNESCO
  • "A Qur’an written over the Qur’an – why making the effort"

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