Smithsonian to Host 1st Major U.S. Quran Exhibition
The Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery announced Tuesday that “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts” will bring 48 manuscripts and folios from the museum in Istanbul together with manuscripts from the collection of the Sackler and Freer Gallery of Art, which are together the Smithsonian’s museum of Asian art.
The exhibition is set to open Oct. 15, just weeks before the presidential election, through Feb. 20, 2017. Islam and the Quran may come up during debates and discussions, but Massumeh Farhad, chief curator at the Sackler and Freer and curator of Islamic art, says this exhibition is a chance to present a different story. She calls it an opportunity to “focus on the importance of this as a work of art and importance in art history.
Why are these Qurans special?
The Arabic text of the Quran was fixed as early as the late 7th century, Farhad said, but the variety in Qurans is “staggering.” The exhibition will showcase different styles of calligraphy and illumination. Visitors will be able to compare different Qurans and “see the sweep of history in front of us,” said Sheila Blair, an art history professor who specializes in Islamic art at Boston College and Virginia Commonwealth University. “It shows how diverse the Muslim world is.”
These Qurans were commissioned by elites and created by artisans, but they also had second or third lives noted in inscriptions that reflect the history they witnessed, said Simon Rettig, assistant curator of Islamic art. One Quran completed in 1307 for the tomb of Mongol leader Uljaytu in Soltaniyeh, Iran, was taken to Istanbul by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1531 and went to his relatives. “This book has had more incredible moments than I’ve had in my life,” Rettig said.
How old are they?
These Qurans span nearly a millennium, dating from the late 7th or early 8th centuries (not long after the time of Muhammad) to the 17th century.
Where are they from?
These Qurans originally come from the Near East, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and Iraq. In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, the government transferred valuable artworks across the empire to Istanbul and they’re now kept at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.
Why put on this exhibition?
The show is an opportunity for people to see these Qurans up close in the United States and “reflect on their own assumptions,” said Julian Raby, director of the Sackler and Freer. He calls it a “fitting complement” to a 2006 exhibition of Bibles before the year 1000.
Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture – NMAAHC
For the first time in history, Muslim African Americans will be a part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture-NMAAHC. IMAS is actively consulting with the Smithsonian on the upcoming Exhibit.
NMAAHC will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American and Muslim African American experience. The exhibits will transcend the traditional boundaries of race and culture. They will present an accurate story of the often marginalized, misrepresented and forgotten contributions of African Americans in the shaping of the United States of America. Rather than divide, the exhibits become a window into a story that unites all citizens.
Scheduled to officially open September 24, 2016, the Museum is under construction on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on a five-acre tract adjacent to the Washington Monument. Activities are being held at various locations on site. For updated information contact:
Web: Visitor Information
98th Annual Convention for Association for the Study of African American Life & History- ASALH
The 98th Annual Convention for ASALH was held in Jacksonville, Florida, October 2 – 6, 2013. IMAS – Institute of Muslim American Studies presented what is believed to be the first ever Muslim scholars panel entitled, “The Unbroken Chain of Qur’anic Freedom: From Africa to New Africa”. The event was streamed live nationally by AM 360 Radio, (American Muslim 360 Radio).
The Panel was chaired by distinguished scholar, Dr. Sulayman Nyang and IMAS’s Affiliated Scholars and Chairperson presented the following papers:
- From Slave Revolts to Black Identity: The Historical Influence of Al-Islam and Muslims on the African American Freedom Struggle. Hakim Muhammad Rashid, Howard University, School of Education.
- Spirituality: The Cornerstone of African-American Identity. Qadir Abdus-Sabur, Tawheed Prep School, Chairman of the Board
- Reconciling the Soul and the Intellect: A New Vision for A New People. Zakiyyah Muhammad, Institute of Muslim American Studies.
ASALH was founded by the late Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1915, and today has branches throughout the U.S. and abroad. It is committed to preserving the legacy of Dr. Woodson and disseminating information about African American life, history and culture to the global community.
For additional information contact: 202. 238.5910 or www.asalh.org
Association of Black Women Historians-ABWH
The 2014 Anthology for ABWH is available:
Liberating Minds, Liberating Society: Black Women in the Development of American Culture and Society.
The Anthology includes an article by the Chairperson of IMAS, Dr. Zakiyyah Muhammad, “Muslim African American Women: The Qur’an, Human Excellence and the Four Rivers”. ABWH recommends purchasing the Anthology via Createspace; it is also available via Amazon.com.
Founded in 1979, the Association of Black Women Historians is a dynamic network of scholars representing every region of the country. The organization’s goals are to support scholarship about Black women written by Black women in the history profession.