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Learn/ Educators/ Curriculum Resources/ Art of the Islamic World/ Unit One: Islam and Religious Art/ The Written Word in Islam

The Written Word in Islam

Muslims believe that the Qur'an contains the literal words of God, which were spoken in Arabic. Their written form is considered the purest expression of God's intent. Muslims throughout the world share a linguistic bond based on the desire to read the Qur'an in its original language.

Because of the exalted position of the Qur'an in Muslim societies, historically special attention was paid to the production, illumination, decoration, and display of Qur'an manuscripts. Due to its association with the written word of God, calligraphy is considered by Muslims to be the highest art form. Luxuriously embellished Qur'an manuscripts are often placed on specially designed bookstands (rahla) and prominently featured in mosques and religious schools (madrasas). (See image 5.)

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