The Readers of Basra

Marijn van Putten, Leiden University, Netherlands
IQSA International Conference 2021 “Giorgio La Pira” Library, Palermo, Italy
Panel 6. Carriers of the Text and Readings 1: Manuscripts, Illustrations, Amulets, and Printed Editions

While recent years have seen a great increase in interest in early Qur’anic manuscripts and what they may tell us about the early history of the Qur’an, the somewhat later corpus of vocalized Qur’anic manuscripts have not yet received the same attention. Yet, such manuscripts are of great interest for those interested in the history of the recitation of the Qur’an, as they form the earliest layer that can give direct insight into how the rasm was interpreted in recitation, centuries before the canonization of the seven reading traditions. In this talk I will focus on a specific subset of manuscripts, all written in the B.II style, all written in the rasm of Basra. These manuscripts have in common that they all have non-canonical pronominal morphology (ʿalayhu, fīhu, bihī; ʿalayhumū, fīhumū, bihumū), and thus represent a layer of pre-canonical recitations that did not make it into the canon. I will compare these readings to the canonical readings, and other non-canonical Basran readings from around the same period, and highlight the commonalities and differences between them.