First Latin Quran, Arabic Bible on show at fair

  • Khaleej Times
  • 2. November 2019

Rare first edition of the Arabic Bible and the first Latin edition of the Holy Quran are on display at the 38th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).

Both the original texts are available in Antiquariat Inlibris pavilion at the SIBF.

Hugo Wetscherek from Antiquariat Inlibris told Khaleej Times that the Quran Latin edition was based primarily on an Arabic manuscript acquired by Pierre de Cluny and Bernard de Clair Vaux in Toledo in the 12th century. "De Cluny had it translated into Latin by the Englishman Robert of Ketton who completed his translation in 1143." 

Wetscherek pointed out that Martin Luther acquired a copy of Ketton's 400-year-old Quran translation and had Theodor Bibliander edit and publish it. In addition to Ketton's Latin translation, Bibliander also consulted three other manuscripts for comparison. "Although the text is now known to contain many errors, it was a remarkable effort to make the text of Quran available among Western scholars. It long remained the only source for any European who wished to study Quran, out of interest in Islamic culture."

Journey of Arabic Bible

Referring to the rare first edition of the Bible in Arabic, Wetscherek said the first work was issued from the Medicean Press, directed by G. B. Raimondi. It is printed in Granjon's famous large fount, generally considered the first satisfactory Arabic printing type. 

Antiquariat Inlibris, a regular participant at the SIBF, has returned to the fair with a new set of antiquities including rare books, maps, photographs, drawings and manuscripts that celebrate 12 centuries of Islamic culture, history and geography of the Arab world.

Wetscherek said the SIBF is among the top book fairs in the world that attracts both the institutional customers and private collectors.

"The UAE has become quite important during the past one decade. We visit the top 10 book fairs across the world, and the SIBF is one of them," he said.

The rarest exhibit, perhaps, is the only surviving fragment of one of the earliest known copies of the Holy Quran, possibly from the Ummayad Caliphate. It is supposed to be produced between 95-125 after Hijri.

On display is a set of five of the earliest and best photographs of the two holiest sites for Muslims - the Kaaba in Makkah and the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah.

The photographs are beautifully preserved as silver gelatin glass plates.