Word of God, Art of Man: The Qur'an and its Creative Expressions (Book report)

The title is a book in the Quranic field, by Fahmida Suleman published by Oxford University Press in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies as one of the Qur'anic Studies Series. The following is a report of the book.[1]


• First comprehensive collection of essays in English to cover artistic expressions of the Qur'an in a wide range of media, from manuscripts, architecture and textiles to coinage and contemporary painting

• Illustrated throughout in full colour, with some artefacts published for the first time


Muslim reverence for the Qur'an as the Word of God has manifested itself in various artistic forms throughout history and up to the present day. This innovative collection of essays explores creative expressions of the Qur'an in a wide range of media. Contributors include museum curators and leading academics in art and architectural history, palaeography and material anthropology, and their studies span four continents and cover topics from medieval coins and early illuminated copies of the Qur'an to contemporary painting. They offer a multidisciplinary approach to the questions of how, why and in what contexts the Qur'an has inspired Muslim artists and craftspeople to adorn the spaces they inhabit and the objects they cherish with its verses. The volume includes 120 colour illustrations, some published for the first time, and an extensive bibliography.

Table of Contents

1:Introduction, Fahmida Suleman

Opening Reflections

2:1 The Qur'an as a source of artistic inspiration, Oleg Grabar

Qur'anic Calligraphy and Inscriptions in the Medieval Muslim World

3:Beyond the secular and the sacred: Qur'anic inscriptions in medieval Islamic art and material culture, Doris Behrens-Abouseif

4:Arts of the 'Celestial Pen': Qur'ans from the Library of The Institute of Ismaili Studies, Duncan Haldane

5:Qur'anic inscriptions on Sinan's imperial mosques: a comparison with their Safavid and Mughal counterparts, Gülru Necipoglu

6:'And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truthfulness and righteousness': Qur'anic inscriptions on Fatimid coinage, AH 296-488/AD 909-1095, Alnoor Jehangir Merchant

Amulets, Talismans and Magic

7:Amulets inscribed with the names of the 'Seven Sleepers' of Ephesus in the British Museum, Venetia Porter

8:A magic mirror in the Louvre and additional observations on the use of magic mirrors in Yemen today, Anne Regourd

9:Persian glosses on a Qur'anic manuscript from Central Asia, Marie Efthymiou

The Qur'anic Text in Recent Times

10:The art of Qur'anic penmanship and illumination among Muslim scholars in southwestern Nigeria, Ismaheel Akinade Jimoh

11:The art of the Qur'an in Southeast Asia, Annabel Teh Gallop

12:Qur'anic inscriptions on woodcarvings from the Malay Peninsula, Huism Tan

13:Sacred calligraphy in contemporary art, Ayse Turgut

Qur'anic Inscriptions on Textiles

14:Ka'ba covers and their inscriptions, Hülya Tezcan

15:Qur'anic inscriptions on the so-called 'Pennon of Las Navas de Tolosa' and three Marinid banners, Miriam Ali-de-Unzaga

Final Reflections

16:Written, spoken, envisioned: the many facets of the Qur'an in art, Sheila S. Blair

Author Information

Edited by Fahmida Suleman, Research Associate and Qur'anic Studies Project Coordinator, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London


Fahmida Suleman

Oleg Grabar

Doris Behrens-Abouseif

Duncan Haldane

Gülru Necipoglu

Alnoor Jehangir Merchant

Venetia Porter

Anne Regourd

Marie Efthymiou

Ismaheel Akinade Jimoh

Annabel Teh Gallop

Huism Tan

Ayse Turgut

Hülya Tezcan

Miriam Ali-de-Unzaga

Sheila S. Blair

Reviews and Awards

"A superb collection... Over and above the consistently high quality of the individual contributions, a major strength of Suleman's collection is its breadth of chronological and geographic coverage." - John Renard, Religion and the Arts

"This is a beautifully presented and carefully edited collection of studies, capable of engaging readers from outside the narrow confines of Islamic art history as well as those within it." - Margaret Graves, Der Islam