Million Pound Qu’rans

Ummah Pulse write about a spate of auctions in which ancient Qu’ranic manuscripts have fetched amazing prices:

This week Christies Auction house sold a Qur’an dated from 1203 for a record price of £1,140,500. The Qur’an was an exquisite example of Islamic art with intricate calligraphy written in gold with tafseer notes written in the margins in silver.

The Qur’an is signed by Yahya bin Muhammad ibn Umar and is dated 17th Ramadan AH 599 (6th June 1203AD). It is thought to have originated in Mesopotamia.

The expected selling price was predicted to be between £500,000 and £750,000 and so when the Qur’an sold for more than twice the expected price to an anonymous bidder it caused great excitement.

In the same auction a nearly complete 10th century Qur’an written in Kufic script was sold for £916,500 compared to its pre-sale estimate of £600,000. It is thought to originate from North Africa or the Middle East.

One doesn’t need to go to Christies to buy ancient Islamic manuscripts and antiques. You can now buy them on eBay!


#1 Antish on 11.05.07 at 10:49 am

Tangentially, it’s slightly odd that ordinary, everyday printed Korans are sold (as opposed to given away) at all, doncha think?

#2 Antish on 11.05.07 at 11:59 am

PS – I know that you’re using ‘ancient’ colloquially, but even so, 7thC isn’t ‘ancient’, and I doubt that Islamic items remotely as old as that being sold on ebay.

#3 Sara Tancredi on 11.05.07 at 12:03 pm

Antish, question:

Are you ever a positive person?

#4 Amir on 11.05.07 at 12:07 pm

Antish, the vast majority of them would be given away as they are printed by the Saudi government and distributed around the world. As I recall, they even have a message emblazoned on the inside that it is not to be resold.

However, I don’t see the problem with selling copies of the Qu’ran given there is obviously a cost in producing and distributing them; and, furthermore, selling them ensures that that the people who receive a copy are actually interested in reading it and will treat it appropriately.

#5 Antish on 11.05.07 at 12:20 pm

Amir, I do agree with you, but given the extreme respect with which the actual book is treated in Islam (as opposed to the meaning of the book), I’m surprised that profit-making (and no doubt riba-using) companies are allowed to print the Koran.

Under the caliphate was it any different? Did the Caliph hold earthly copyright on the Koran?

#6 Yusuf on 11.05.07 at 5:28 pm


I wonder how much an omnibus of your collected “works” will be worth in a thousand years?

#7 Antish on 11.05.07 at 11:49 pm

Umm, wot? Non sequiteur there, old bean.

#8 Eudaemonion on 11.07.07 at 1:39 pm

There is Amir thinking like an Austrian.

Perchance, is there a possibility of seeing Mises up there among the links.

#9 Amir on 11.07.07 at 2:18 pm

I have the Austrians at on the list to the right. I’ll add as well.

#10 Andrew Reynolds on 11.07.07 at 3:25 pm

If I remember my history correctly copyright only really became an issue with the invention and spread of the printing press, when the IP in a book became a significant portion of its value.
As printing was banned under the Ottoman Caliphs right up to the 18th C it was not really an issue.

#11 Vrijheid! on 11.09.07 at 7:35 pm

For a second I thought it read “Millions pound Quran” and I was like ‘oh MAN’. I was pleasantly surprised.

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