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Manuscript/Mixed Material Fal-i Qur'an (divination by the Qur'an)

About this Item


  • Fal-i Qur'an (divination by the Qur'an)

Created / Published

  • c. 1550-1600


  • -  Calligraphy, Arabic
  • -  Calligraphy, Persian
  • -  Manuscripts, Persian--Washington (D.C.)
  • -  Iran
  • -  Arabic script calligraphy
  • -  Illuminated Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Islamic calligraphy
  • -  Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Nasta'liq


  • -  Safavid Iranian Fortune Readings in Persian based on the Qur'an.
  • -  Although divination by the Qur'an appears largely in a Safavid Shi'ite context, other examples of fals by means of the Qur'an entitled "Fi tafa'ul min kalam Allah al-majid" (on divination by means of Allah's glorious words) and "dar fal-i mushaf" (on divination by the Book) also appear in Sunni Ottoman artistic traditions during the latter part of the 16th century. For example, an Ottoman Turkish Qur'an signed by a certain 'Abdallah and dated 980/1573 in the Keir Collection, England (VII.49) also contains a terminal fal (Robinson 1976, 294). The reason prognostication by the Qur'an has largely been seen as a Shi'ite phenomenon is due to the fact that the practice, as well as the text, often times is attributed to 'Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. In another extant Safavid Qur'an, for example, the divination text is entitled "Falnamah-ya hazrat-i Amir al-Mu'minin, 'Ali b. Abi Talib" (Keir VII.52, Robinson 1976, 294).
  • -  Dimensions of Written Surface: 19.8 (w) x 30.9 (h) cm
  • -  The pasting of the rectangular bands in the two vertical columns, as well as the illumination running around the text frame, may be tantamount to censorship in Sunni Ottoman hands, perhaps at the request of Sultan Ahmed III (r. 1703-30), whose tugra (royal emblem) appears on the folio's verso (see 1-84-154.42 V). In particular, the pasted bands in the right vertical column hide individual letters of the alphabet, beginning with the letter "lam" (l), from which a poetical divination was extracted. In other words, the poetical prognostication remains, while the letters themselves have been concealed. Furthermore, this particular fragment must have been the third folio of the original divination text. Today, it appears that the title and the first two pages (containing the letters "alif" through "kaf") of the fal do not survive.
  • -  This single sheet of a Fal-i Qur'an lays out in rhyming Persian distichs (couplets) the means of divination by letters selected at random when opening to a page of the Qur'an. This now single-page folio originally was included at the very end of a Safavid Persian Qur'an, immediately after the last surah (Surat al-Nas) and a closing prayer (du'a ba'd khatim al-Qur'an) on behalf of the Prophet and his family (e.g., see 1-85-154.74 R and V). The layout of the divination text, the script, and the remaining original illumination in the text frame are typical of fals included at the end of Qur'ans made in Shiraz or Qazvin during the second half of the 16th century (see James 1992b: 172-81, cat nos. 39 and 43).
  • -  Script: nasta'liq
  • -  1-84-154.42 R


  • 1 volume ; 28.7 (w) x 48.8 (h) cm


  • Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2019714467

Online Format

  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

The contents of the Library of Congress Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions and are free to use and reuse.

Credit Line: Library of Congress, African and Middle East Division, Near East Section Persian Manuscript Collection

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Fal-i Qur'an divination by the Qur'an. to 1600, 1550. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

(1550) Fal-i Qur'an divination by the Qur'an. to 1600. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Fal-i Qur'an divination by the Qur'an. to 1600, 1550. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.