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Seton Hall University

Archives and Special Collections Restores and Digitizes 17th Century Qur'an  

Qur'an before 320 pic

The Qur'an prior to restoration.

The Archives and Special Collections Center in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Committee has restored and digitized an illuminated 17th century Qur'an. When undergoing restoration, the individual pages of the book were scanned for digitization, thereby making the religious text (and work of art) available now to students and scholars throughout the world— as well as here in South Orange in the University Libraries' rare books collection.

"It is the work of a university to both preserve and spread knowledge. The Libraries at Seton Hall work to do that in every way possible and we are proud to have played a key role in preserving this important piece of religious, cultural and artistic history. And through our collaboration with the Digital Humanities Committee, this beautiful manuscript is now available online for study and appreciation across the globe," said John Buschman, Dean of the University Libraries.

A look inside a page of the digitized Qur'an. He continued, "Our Institutional eRepository just recently hit the two million mark for worldwide downloads, a milestone of record in our University's history that marks a significant contribution in the world of scholarship. The restoration of this Qur'an coupled with its newfound digital access is certainly a capstone to that success and in some ways the herald of a new era in our Libraries' role as a leading institution of intellectual inquiry."

Cultural and religious-minded students on campus have taken interest in the restoration and what it means to now have access to a historically significant edition of Islam's sacred work. President of the Muslim Students Association at Seton Hall, Aamna Aamir, said:

"As a Muslim, it gives me great joy to know that here on campus resides with me the word of God, Allah. That this beautiful and historic version of the great recitation is now available world-wide via digital form is, as well, a blessing that will advance scholarship and, I think, appreciation for the beauty of Islam and for Seton Hall for the painstaking work and care it took to restore this volume of historic and artistic significance. I also see it as a sign of support from the School for the Muslim students to be able to have access to something so deeply rooted in their hearts but also in history."

Amatullah Shah, Secretary of the Muslim Students Association agreed, "I see the restoration of this Qur'an as message to students, faculty and the Seton Hall community that part of the Catholic mission is to love thy neighbor. In portraying a sacred text from another religion in an honorable way it further affirms that mission and the love for the various religious groups we have here on campus."

A page of the digitized Qur'an. The Qur'an was originally brought from Lebanon by Edwin D. Hardin, who was a missionary stationed at the American University of Beirut from approximately 1900 to 1915. It first came to Seton Hall in 2003 when it was featured in a Walsh Gallery exhibition entitled "The Beauty of Sacred Texts: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies." The lender, Mr. Peter Kennedy, had intended to gift the volume to the University and in 2016 officially donated the Qur'an to the Archives & Special Collections Center.

The volume, in its original state, had undergone some repairs and was re-bound for the first time sometime during the 18th or 19th century. By the time it reached the Archives & Special Collections Center, the book required numerous repairs to its envelope flap, covers and binding. While being restored by Etherington Conservation Services in North Carolina, the individual pages of the piece were scanned for digitization.

A page of the digitally restored Qur'an. Recently returned to the Walsh Library, the Qur'an was completely stabilized for handling and presentation within the rare books collection.

"Not only is the historic Qur'an now stable enough for handling and display, the digital images of the Qur'an's beautifully illuminated pages and intricate marginal decorations can also be made available online," Records Manager of The Archives & Special Collections Center Brianna LoSardo said. "By restoring and digitizing the work it has given researchers and interested members of the University community the opportunity to view the text without putting stress on the physical volume. It will also open up many possibilities for research, such as a potential project to decipher and translate the annotations that appear throughout the volume," LoSardo added. "In short, we've made a significant piece of religious, cultural and artistic history accessible."

Categories: Arts and Culture

For more information, please contact:

  • Michael Ricciardelli
  • (973) 378-9845
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