The Art of Translation: An Early Persian Commentary of the Qurʾān

in Journal of Abbasid Studies
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This article presents a description and analysis of a Persian translation and commentary of the Qurʾān, entitled Tafsīr-i munīr, by Abū Naṣr al-Ḥaddādī (d. after 400/1009), the earliest exegetical work in Persian whose author can be identified. A manuscript of this multivolume work housed in the Topkapı Palace Museum of Istanbul offers an important historical testament to the calligraphic development of Persian exegetical writing and the manners in which scholars and authorities sought creative ways to visually balance the sacred Arabic text of the Qurʾān with vernacular exegetic material. The manuscript also reveals a good deal about Qurʾānic book art, as well as the development of Persian commentaries and translations, thus offering further insight into the history of the Qurʾān across the frontiers of Central Asia and Khurasan.

The Art of Translation: An Early Persian Commentary of the Qurʾān

in Journal of Abbasid Studies

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15

ḤarbīTaḥzīb172; cf. Zarkashī (d. 794/1392) Burhāni 250; Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) “Fī taḥzīb al-Qurʾān” Majmūʿaxiii 219-25.

25

On workshops see Déroche et al.Islamic Codicology191-3. On the profession of Qurʾān copyists and the role of workshops see Déroche Copier des manuscrits.

27

See BloomPaper Before Print47-56; Toorawa Ibn Abī Ṭāhir Ṭayfūr 56-60; Déroche et al. Islamic Codicology 186-9.

30

ToorawaIbn Abī Ṭāhir Ṭayfūr57.

32

See ToorawaIbn Abī Ṭāhir Ṭayfūr57. Pedersen references instances in which warrāqs hired slaves for copying books The Arabic Book 46; Déroche also mentions cases in which some copyists were slaves Copier des manuscrits 138; Déroche et al. Islamic Codicology 191.

59

See Hudhalī (d. 465/1072-3)Kāmil187 216 217.

60

See ḤaddādīMadkhal51 107. Dāwūdī edited the untitled and anonymous fragment that precedes the Madkhal in the Chester Beatty ms 3883 (fols. 228b-44a) and published it as the Muwaḍḍiḥ of Ḥaddādī. However this ascription has been convincingly rejected by Iṣlāḥī A-hādhā; see also Ḥāʾirī Yaftahā-yi digārī 117-8.

67

ḤāʾirīKuhantarīn13-5 19-20 31; ibid. Muqaddima 12-3 18 20.

72

See ZadehVernacular Qurʾan382-418.

77

See ZadehVernacular Qurʾan302-23; ibid. Persian Translations.

91

ḤaddādīMadkhal600; on Ibn Manjawayh see Samʿānī Ansābxi 492-4 s.v. Manjawayh; Dhahabī Siyarxvii 438-40 §293; and the editor’s introduction to Ibn Manjawayh Rijāl 21-2.

102

ThaʿlabīMuqaddima24-7; cf. Gilliot Muqātil 46 n37.

107

See VersteeghArabic Grammar130-1.

110

See ThaʿlabīMuqaddima69-71; see also Gilliot Muqātil 40-8.

111

VersteeghArabic Grammar114.

112

ḤaddādīTafsīr-i munīr193. For other transmissions of Abū Ṣaliḥ via Kalbī see ibid. 39 (Q 19:22) 381 (Q 24:47) the last citation giving the following form “Kalbī guft ka Bū Ṣāliḥ guft ka Ibn ʿAbbās guft . . . ” Compare this with the citation of Abū Ṣāliḥ’s transmission of Ibn ʿAbbās with no mention of Kalbī ibid. 219 (Q 21:100). On Abū Ṣāliḥ Bādhān (or Bādhām) see Ibn Saʿd (d. 230/845) Ṭabaqātviii 413 §3179 Ibn Abī Ḥātim (d. 327/938) Jarḥii 431-2 §1716; Mizzī (d. 742/1341) Tahdhībiv 6-8 §636.

116

See ThaʿlabīMuqaddima30-5; Ḥajjī Khalīfa Kashfi 457.

126

On this period see KaramustafaSufism1-55.

128

See ThaʿlabīMuqaddima106.

136

ḤāʾirīKuhantarīn18-9; idem Muqaddima 15-7.

140

See van EssUngenützte60; Madelung Religious Trends 41; Zadeh Vernacular Qurʾan 484-5 530.

142

MaqdasīAḥsan323; Chabbi Remarques 44.

149

BosworthGhaznavids129-30. Compare this to the famed comments by Bīrūnī (d. 440/1048) who notes that while Maḥmūd of Ghazna i (r. 388-421/998-1030) loathed Arabic he recognized its importance for science and learning Kitāb al-Ṣaydana 14.

150

See Rypka et al.History of Iranian Literature196-7; de Bruijn Of Piety and Poetry 53 148-9; Sharma Persian Poetry 35-6.

156

Naṣr Allāh MunshīTarjuma-i Kalīla wa-Dimna12-3.

159

See ZadehVernacular Qurʾan342 358-9.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Colophon of ʿUthmān b. al-Ḥasan al-Warrāq al-Ghaznawī, dated 484/1091-2 (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Kütüphanesi, e.h. 209, fol. 239v), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Illuminated finispiece at the orders of Sultan Ibrāhīm b. Masʿūd (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, e.h. 209, fol. 238v-239r), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Title page, with name of author and volume of the collection (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, e.h. 209, fol. 2r), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Title page, with name of author and volume of the collection (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, e.h. 209, fol. 2r), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Detail of four corners which note al-warrāq/al-ghaznawī/ghafara Allāhu/lahu (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, e.h. 209, fol. 3r).
  • View in gallery
    Reconstructed illuminated frontispiece, opening with Q 18:60, which is marked in the marginal panels as the one hundred and eightieth juzʾ of three hundred and sixty. An abbreviated title and volume number appear in the six roundels across the top of the bi-folium (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, e.h. 209, fol. 2v, 6r), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Khamsa marker indicating a section of five verses, with the inscription “the Handiwork (ʿamal) of ʿAlī at the bottom of the medallion (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, e.h. 209, fol. 7v), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Sajda marker at Q 19:58, indicating that prostration is required when reciting the verse (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, e.h. 209, fol. 63v), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Panel division for Sūrat Tāhā (Q 20), with the note in the top that this is handiwork of Muḥammad. Marginal markers indicating that this begins the one hundred and eighty-seventh of three hundred and sixty divisions, as well as the thirty-second of sixty divisions (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, E.H. 209, fol. 85r), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Bi-folium spread commenting on Q 19:71, with five types of calligraphic specimens illustrated (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, e.h. 209, fol. 70v-71r), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Arabic report of the scripture found in the treasure (kanz) referenced in Q 18:81, written here in round monumental lines coloured in red or blue with vocalization that alternates in colour; the accompanying interlinear Persian translation, continues onto the verso side of the folio (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, e.h. 209, fol. 12v-13r), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Stylistic backward extension of the yāʾ in the word fī, in Q 18:61, “fa-ttakhadha sabīlahu fī l-baḥr saraban” (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i munīr, tsmk, e.h. 209, fol. 4r), courtesy of the Topkapı Palace Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Bi-folium spread of Q 20:49-53 (Ḥaddādī, Tafsīr-i Munīr, British Library or 6573, fol. 61b-62a) © The British Library Board.

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