The Qur'an in Print

The Qur'an in Print

From the sixteenth century, when the printing press with movable type was first used in Europe and later in all parts of the world, the pattern of writing and of printing the Qur'an was further standardised.

There were already printed copies of the Qur'an before this, in the so-called block-print form, and some specimens from as early as the tenth century, both of the actual wooden blocks and the printed sheets, have come down to us. [Grohmann, op. cit.. p.38; Exhibition in the British Library, London.]

The first extant Qur'an for which movable type was used was printed in Hamburg (Germany) in 1694. The text is fully vocalised. [Al-Coranus, lex islamitica Muhammedis, Officina Schultzio-Schilleriania. Hamburg, 1694; Exhibition No. 22.] Probably the first Qur'an printed by Muslims is the so-called 'Mulay Usman edition' of 1787, published in St. Petersburg, Russia, followed by others in Kazan (1828), Persia (1833) and Istanbul (1877). [Blachere, R.: Introduction au Coran, Paris, 1947, p. 133.]

In 1858, the German orientalist Fluegel produced together with a useful concordance the so-called 'Fluegel edition' of the Qur'an, printed in Arabic, which has since been used by generations of orientalists. [Fluegel, Gustav: Corani texn Arabicus. Leipzig, 1834.] The Fluegel edition has however a very basic defect: its system of verse numbering is not in accordance with general usage in the Muslim world. [See e.g. 74: 31, where he makes four verses out of one.]

The Egyptian Edition

The Qur'anic text in printed form now used widely in the Muslim world and developing into a 'standard version', is the so-called 'Egyptian' edition, also known as the King Fu'ad edition, since it was introduced in Egypt under King Fu'ad. This edition is based on the reading of Hafs, as reported by 'Asim, and was first printed in Cairo in 1925/1344H. Numerous copies have since been printed.

The Sa'd Nursi Copy

Finally, the Qur'an printed by the followers of Sa'id Nursi from Turkey should be mentioned as an example of combining a hand-written beautifully illuminated text with modern offset printing technology. The text was hand written by the Turkish calligrapher Hamid al-'Amidi. It was first printed in Istanbul in 1947, but since 1976 has been produced in large numbers and various sizes at the printing press run by the followers of Sa'id Nursi in West Berlin (Germany).