The Qur'an, sura 30

Introduction: The passage of the Qur'an that appears on the unnumbered folio of the Blue Qur'an at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is part of sura 30, al-Rum (the Romans, meaning the Byzantine Empire). One of the suras revealed to Muhammad in Mecca, it addresses the challenges that Byzantium posed to the first adherents of Islam and efforts to spread the new faith. The text on the recto begins in the middle of line 24 of sura 30 and ends in the middle of line 28; the text on the versos, highlighted in bold below, concludes with line 32. To contextualize the passage on the folio, the translation below begins with sura 30:17.

This translation is adapted from M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, The Qur'an (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). Some passages have been simplified and words added in brackets to aid comprehension.

So celebrate God's glory in the evening, in the morning—praise is due to Him in the heavens and the earth—in the late afternoon, and at midday. . . . One of His signs is that He created you from dust and—lo and behold!—you became human and scattered far and wide. . . . There truly are signs in this for those who reflect. . . . Among His signs, too, are that He shows you the lightning that terrifies and inspires hope; that He sends water down from the sky to restore the earth to life after death. There truly are signs in this for those who use their reason. Among His signs, too, is the fact that the heavens and the earth stand firm by His command. In the end, you will all emerge when He calls you from the earth. Everyone in the heavens and earth belongs to Him, and all are obedient to Him. He is the One who originates creation and will do it again—this is even easier for Him. He is above all comparison in the heavens and earth; He has the power to decide.

He gives you this example, drawn from your own lives: do you make your slaves full partners with an equal share in what We have given you? Do you fear them as you fear each other? This is how We make Our messages clear to those who use their reason. And still the idolaters follow their own desires without any knowledge. Who can guide those God leaves to stray, who have no one to help them? So [Prophet] as a man of pure faith, stand firm and true in your devotion to the religion. This is the natural disposition God instilled in mankind—there is no altering God's creation—and this is the right religion, though most people do not realize it. Turn to Him alone, all of you. Be mindful of Him; keep up the prayer; do not join those who ascribe partners to God, those who divide their religion into sects, with each party rejoicing in their own.

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