Devotion in pictures:
Muslim popular iconography

The Quran

The Quran

Quotations from the Koran are extremely popular as motifs for wall hangings, whether alone and done in beautiful calligraphy or in combination with various pictorial subjects.

The poster includes the complete text of the Koran, 114 Suras in all. The poster bears the title "The Merciful Koran". The first Sura, the "Opening Prayer", is emphasised by the use of larger script. This Sura contains what are probably the most frequently quoted words of the Koran. This Sura forms part of all five of the daily prayers of Islam, and is used in a great many other connections.

"In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy! Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy, Master of the Day of Judgement. It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path: the path of those You have blessed, those who incur no anger and who have not gone astray." (Purchased in Jerusalem.)

The Quran in use


Pictures of women or children praying, reading the Koran or calling to prayer are popular. The upper picture in this poster shows a boy and a girl who are reading the "Opening Prayer" of the Koran. The praying woman on the lower right has the Koran open at verse 34 of Sura 31: "Knowledge of the Hour [of Resurrection] belongs to God; it is He who sends down rain and He who knows what is hidden in the womb. No soul knows what it will reap tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die". The boy on the left is reading verse 194 of Sura 2, which deals with the journey to Mecca and Arafat outside of Mecca: "When you surge down from Arafat remember God at the sacred place. Remember Him: He has guided you. Before that you were astray."

In each of the three pictures on this poster, we can see the symbols for God: the Kabah, and for Muhammad: the green cupola over his grave in Medina. All three pictures also bear the Creed.

The next poster shows a little boy praying and a young mother who is teaching her son to read the Koran. Above these two we see the same symbols for God and the Prophet Muhammad as in the upper poster, framed by the crescent moon, in the upper right corner. Above the Kaba is the number "786", which stands for the sentence "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate". In the middle of the upper part of the picture we find the names of Allah and Muhammad partly intertwined. (Indian posters purchased in Zanzibar.)

The Throne verse

The Throne verse is one of the most often quoted verses of the Koran. It is one of what are known as the "protective verses", and is used by many Muslims, for example inscribed on amulets to ward off evil. The verse often appears in pictures and posters.

""God: there is no god but Him, the Ever Living, the Ever Watchful. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. All that is in the heavens and in the earth belongs to Him. Who is there that can intercede with Him except by His leave? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, but they do not comprehend any of His knowledge except what He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth; it does not weary Him to preserve them both. He is the Most High, the Tremendous." (From M. A. S. Abdel Haleem's translation, The Qur'an, Oxford University Press, 2004.) (Sura 2, verse 255). (Purchased in Istanbul.)

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