The Qur'an of 'Uthman (St. Petersburg, Katta-Langar, Bukhara, Tashkent)
Since the late 15th century, the Qur'anic manuscript, one of the most important in the world, was preserved in the memorial complex of the 'Ishqiyya Sufi brotherhood in the small village of Katta-Langar, some 100 km to the south of Samarqand. It was venerated for centuries as a genuine copy of the 'Uthmanic Qur'an, written in the hand of the third righteous caliph and bearing traces of his blood.
Ninety seven large parchment folios in Hijazi script dated to the 8th century A.D. are held now in St. Petersburg, Katta-Langar, Bukhara and Tashkent. They contain approximately half the text of the Qur'an. The history of the manuscript spans at least twelve centuries and tells a remarkable tale of dynasties and states, cities and people. It is, in essence, the story of Islamic civilisation itself, from its emergence in Arabia in the seventh century to the triumph of Islam, which survived and outlasted communism in the Muslim republics of the former USSR.
Prof. Efim Rezvan, author of the project, is the well known specialist in Qur'anic studies, Deputy Director of the Kunstkamera Museum and Editor-in-Chief of "Manuscripta Orientalia", International Journal for Oriental MSS Research. His latest book "The Qur'an and Its World" received the UNESCO award ("for the important contribution to the culture of non-violence and dialogue among the civilisations"), the title of the best book published in Russia in 2001 and the World Prize for the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2002).
New monograph of the scholar presents a thorough study of the manuscript, viewing it historically through the prism of how the Qur'anic text was gradually established. The very existence of the manuscript proves Muslim legends of the early origin of the Holy Book. The study is equipped with a facsimile reproduction of the manuscript (black and white in the book and in full colour in the DVD). The DVD also contains video film by Efim Rezvan and Sasha Abashkin "Searching for the Qur'an of 'Uthman" (52 minutes). This is the first attempt to realize the concept of "three-dimensional publishing". The first dimension is the printed text, which can be stored on a floppy disk because of the small volume of information. The second is a CD-ROM with numerous color illustrations, maps, Internet links, etc. The third is a video DVD to supply the "reader" with another level of information. The third level provides a link between pure scholarship and educational material for the general reader.
The story of the Muslim scripture based on the unique manuscript and field materials could be very important for mutual understanding and inter-confessional dialogue both in Russia and world-wide.
The publication (hard cover, A4 format, parallel texts in English and Russian, DVD) just appeared from press in St. Petersburg, Russia.
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