Online Workshop: An Introduction to Arabic Manuscripts

The UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies is offering a free, intensive online workshop, “An Introduction to Arabic Manuscripts,” on August 23-27, 2021. The application link can be found here:


Kitāb al-Diryāq, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Arabe 5847, f. 37r

This week-long workshop features leading authorities on the study of Arabic manuscripts. The workshop will equip emerging scholars with the basic tools to conduct research with original handwritten texts in Arabic script.

Over the course of five days, participants will learn the basics of codicology, paleography, and manuscript production and circulation, in the context of an expansive vision of current debates in Arabic manuscript research.

Topics include:

  • anatomy of the codex
  • canonical and informal scripts
  • colophons, audition notes, owners’ notes, readers’ notes
  • digital collections
  • ethics and best practices
  • scribes and other craftspeople
  • strategies for decipherment
  • supports, bindings
  • technical terminology
  • transmission practices and patterns

Enrollment is free of charge. Full participation is by application only. Others may observe via webinar.

Application deadline is 22 April 2021. Apply at
All applicants are welcome, regardless of home institution; priority will be given to PhD students and untenured scholars with compelling need to use Arabic manuscripts in their research.

Co-sponsored by Princeton and UCLA, which house the two largest repositories of Islamicate manuscripts in North America.

Organizers: Marina Rustow (Princeton) and Luke Yarbrough (UCLA)

UCLA event website and list of sponsors:

Princeton website coming soon!

For questions not addressed above or on the web page, please contact: CNES [at]

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2021. All rights reserved.

Summer School “The Arabic Manuscript: Codicology, Palaeography, and History” Tunis – National Library July 10-15, 2017

The National Library of Tunisia and the University of Strasbourg, with the support of the Barakat Foundation and Max van Berchem Foundation, organize a summer school on “The Arabic Manuscript: Codicology, Palaeography and History,” in Tunis, National Library, July 10-15, 2017.

The history of intellectual production, books and libraries in Tunisia is a very rich and long-standing one. The largest collection of premodern, mainly Arabic manuscripts is preserved in the National Library in Tunis. It consists of ca. 25.000 volumes, in addition to thousands of other codices and leaves in the Centre for the Study of Islamic Arts and Civilisation in Raqqada, Kairouan, and in a few other places. This manuscript heritage covers a period of over a millennium (9th – 19th C.) and contains important testimonies to the history of the region.

The summer school aims at offering a substantial training course on the Arabic manuscript with a focus on this heritage.  During six days, some of the most eminent specialists in the field will propose theoretical and practical workshop sessions on the different aspects of the subject, especially codicology and palaeography, with the objective of providing the participants with the knowledge and methods necessary to analyse Arabic manuscripts in research, editing or cataloguing projects. Moreover, the participants will have the opportunity to access one of the most important manuscript collections in the Maghreb and the Arab world. They will also be able to visit several other collections, museums and monuments in Tunis and Kairouan.

The speakers include Jean-Louis Estève (Ecole Supérieure Estienne des Arts et Industries Graphiques, Paris) ; Alain George (University of Edinburgh) ; Asma Hilali (Institute of Ismaili Studies, London) ; Mustapha Jaouhari (Université Bordeaux Montaigne) ; Francis Richard (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque Universitaire des Langues et Civilisations, Paris) ; Rachida Smine (National Library of Tunisia) ; Aurélia Stréri (independent book conservator, Paris).

The number of participants is limited. Preregistration is compulsory. Masters’ students, PhD candidates, librarians and researchers working on Arabic manuscripts will be given priority. Please send a short CV and cover letter to before April 30, 2017.

The main languages of the summer school are French and Arabic.

Organisation and contacts: Rachida Smine, Deputy Director of the Manuscript Department, National Library of Tunisia, and/or Nourane Ben Azzouna, Associate Professor, University of Strasbourg:

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.


Ecole d’été : Le manuscrit arabe : codicologie, paléographie et histoire
Tunis – Bibliothèque Nationale de Tunisie, 10-15 juillet 2017

La Bibliothèque Nationale de Tunisie et l’Université de Strasbourg, grâce au soutien de la Barakat Foundation et de la Fondation Max van Berchem, organisent une école d’été intitulée « Le manuscrit arabe : codicologie, paléographie et histoire » à Tunis, à la Bibliothèque Nationale de Tunisie, du 10 au 15 juillet 2017.

L’histoire de la production intellectuelle, des livres et des bibliothèques en Tunisie est particulièrement riche et ancienne. La plus grande collection de manuscrits, essentiellement en arabe, est conservée à Tunis, à la Bibliothèque Nationale. Elle se compose d’environ 25.000 volumes, auxquels s’ajoutent plusieurs milliers d’autres volumes et feuillets au Centre d’Etudes de la Civilisation et des Arts Islamiques à Raqqada, Kairouan, et dans quelques autres collections. Ce patrimoine manuscrit couvre une période de plus d’un millénaire (IXe-XIXe s.) et est riche de témoignages importants de l’histoire de la région.

L’école d’été vise à offrir une formation substantielle sur le manuscrit arabe avec un accent sur ce patrimoine. Pendant six jours, quelques-uns des plus éminents spécialistes des manuscrits arabes proposeront des enseignements théoriques et des ateliers pratiques sur les différents aspects du sujet, en particulier la codicologie et la paléographie, dans le but de permettre aux participants d’acquérir les méthodes nécessaires à l’analyse des manuscrits arabes dans le cadre d’un travail de recherche, d’édition ou de catalogage. De plus, les participants auront l’opportunité d’accéder à l’une des plus importantes collections de manuscrits du Maghreb et du monde arabe. Ils pourront aussi visiter plusieurs autres collections, musées et monuments à Tunis et à Kairouan.

Intervenants : Jean-Louis Estève (Ecole Supérieure Estienne des Arts et Industries Graphiques, Paris) ; Alain George (Université d’Edinburgh) ; Asma Hilali (Institut d’Etudes Ismaéliennes, Londres) ; Mustapha Jaouhari (Université Bordeaux Montaigne) ; Francis Richard (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque Universitaire des Langues et Civilisations, Paris) ; Rachida Smine (Bibliothèque Nationale de Tunisie) ; Aurélia Stréri (restauratrice indépendante, Paris).

Le nombre de places est limité. L’inscription est donc obligatoire. Les étudiants en Master 2 et en Doctorat ainsi que les enseignants, chercheurs, bibliothécaires et professionnels qui travaillent sur les manuscrits arabes sont prioritaires. Envoyez un bref CV et lettre de motivation à avant le 30 avril 2017.

La formation sera essentiellement en français et en arabe.

Les participants qui le souhaitent recevront une attestation de formation.

Organisation et contacts : Rachida Smine, Sous-Directrice du Département des Manuscrits, Bibliothèque Nationale de Tunisie et/ou Nourane Ben Azzouna, Maître de conférences, Université de Strasbourg :

©Association internationale des études coraniques, 2017. Tous les droits sont réservés.


دورة تدريبية: المخطوط العربي: الكوديكولوجيا، الخطوط، التاريخ
المكتبة الوطنية التونسية، 10- 15 جويلية 2017، تونس

تنظم المكتبة الوطنية وجامعة سترازبورغ بمساعدة “مؤسسة بركات” و”مؤسسة ماكس فان برشام” دورة تدريبية بعنوان “المخطوط العربي: الكوديكولوجيا، الخطوط، التاريخ” بالمكتبة الوطنية التونسية، 10- 15 جويلية 2017، تونس.

تزخر تونس بإنتاج فكري غزير ويتبيّن ذلك من عدد مخطوطاتها ومكتباتها. تحتوي المكتبة الوطنية على رصيد ثري من المخطوطات العربية ما يقارب 24.000 مجلد، إلى جانب آلاف المخطوطات بمركز الدراسات الاسلامية برقادة- القيروان وبعض الأرصدة الخاصة. يعكس هذا الرصيد حصيلة ما يزيد عن عشرة قرون من التراكم المعرفي والفني (تقريبا من القرن التاسع إلى القرن التاسع عشر)، ويبرز ما شهدته إفريقية والعالم العربي والإسلامي من إشعاع علمي وثقافي.

وتتناول هذه الدورة برنامجا مكثفا حول المخطوطات العربية عموما والتونسية والمغاربية خصوصا وتشتمل على عدة مداخلات في علم المخطوطات (الكوديكولوجيا) والخطوط والفهرسة وﺍﻠﺘﺤﻘﻴﻖ ويعقب ذلك عدد من ورشات العمل تتناول .التطبيق العملي للمحاضرات النظرية. سيحاضر في هذه الدورة مجموعة من الأساتذة والباحثين المختصين

سيتعرف المشاركون، على هامش هذه الدورة، على المكتبة الوطنية وأرصدتها الثرية، ﺇﻠﻰ ﺟﺎﻨﺐ مركز الدراسات الاسلامية .برقادة، القيروان

(المعهد العالي إﻴﺴتيان للفنون والرسوم الصناعية، باريس) Jean-Louis Estève
(جامعة ادنبرة) Alain George
(أسماء هلالي (مركز الدراسات الاسماعيلية، لندن
(مصطفى جوهري (جامعة بوردو، مونتانيو
(المكتبة الوطنية الفرنسية، المكتبة الجامعية للغات والحضارات، باريس) Francis Richard
(رشيدة السمين (المكتبة الوطنية، تونس
(مرمّمة مخطوطات، باريس)Aurélia Stréri

:المشرف على الدورة
(رشيدة السمين (كاهية مدير، المكتبة الوطنية التونسية
(نوران بن عزونة (أستاذة محاضرة، جامعة سترازبورغ


  الطلبة والباحثون المهتمون بالمخطوطات –
اختصاصيو المخطوطات بالمكتبات –

:الزمان والمكان
جويلية 2017، المكتبة الوطنية، تونس

:المدّة وعددالساعات
أيام 6
يوميا من الساعة 8.00 إلى الساعة 14.30

:لغة الدورة
العربية والفرنسية

يُرجى إرسال سيرة ذاتية ومطلب مشاركة على الموقع التالي

الأماكن محدودة لذا يرجى الحجز قبل يوم 30 أفريل 2017

تُسلّم في نهاية الدورة شهادة تفيد المشاركة أو الحضور في الدورة التدريبية

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

Qur’an Manuscripts and the History of the Qur’an (Interview Series Part 4)

An Interview with Eleonore Cellard, by Mehdi Azaiez



This week IQSA continues its interview series with Eleonore Cellard, PhD student in Qur’anic codicology at the Institut National des langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris. In this interview, Eleonore Cellard presents her achievements and research in the transmission of Qur’anic manuscripts in early Islam.

Eleonore, what are your academic achievements in the field of Qur’anic studies?

During my masters in the Arabic Language at INALCO, I had the opportunity to attend Déroche’s seminar about the codicology of Arabic manuscripts. A great part of this seminar was dedicated to the Qur’anic manuscripts. I later obtained state funding for my PHD project at INALCO, titled “The written transmission of the Qur’an: Study of a corpus of manuscripts probably from the second/ninth century.” During these three last years, I conducted my research in conjunction with teaching at INALCO.

Since 2011, I have been involved in the Franco-German project Coranica, working on the edition of the most ancient fragments of the Qur’an. As part of this project, I presented my research at the event “Les Origines du Corans, le Coran des Origines” in the French Academy (March 2011) and organized a workshop, “Manuscripta Coranica,” in Paris (October 2012).

What is the aim of your research?

The Islamic Tradition has meticulously recorded how the Qur’an was written, reformed and read. This history has been transmitted over the generations, relegating the manuscripts to the obscure nooks of the mosque. As testaments to ancient times, the manuscripts have preserved their own history, and today they are starting to reveal the imprecision of our knowledge of the Qur’an’s history.

The aim of recent academic studies is to better understand the manuscripts, their codes and their contexts. Thanks to this analysis, we hope to reach a new vision of the history of the transmission of the Qur’anic text by rearticulating the Islamic Tradition and Qur’anic materials.

Could you explain your work on Qur’anic manuscripts?

My study is based on a corpus of nine fragments kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris). The homogeneity of this corpus was first established according to paleographic criteria; indeed, all the fragments belong to the C group of Déroche’s classification system. According to this classification, these fragments could probably be dated from the second to the eighth century to the beginning of the third to the ninth century.

My analysis focuses on four main problems:

1. The problem of the manuscripts’ dating, using the paleographic criterion

2. The question of the textual division

3. The orthographic rules involving the notation of long vowels

4. The use of a dotting system for indicating the vocalization

1. As of now, the manuscript’s dating remains the main concern in our studies. Indeed, the physical and chemical analyses cannot propose any precise dating without an important chronological margin of +/- 50 years. This margin is considerable regarding the eventful history of the first three Islamic centuries. The paleographic criterion could be another method of dating. Based on comparisons between letters’ forms, it aims at reconstructing the evolution of the Qur’anic script. However, this approach, still undeveloped, presents two major difficulties for us: first, the lack of dated examples—manuscripts or inscriptions—and second, the existence of interferences between different paleographic styles in our C group. It thus implies the coexistence of different scripts, probably used in various regions, and is therefore at variance with the hypothesis of a linear chronological succession of scripts.

2. The question of the textual division covers two aspects:

  • In the different manuscripts, it is possible to notice different options taken by the copyists for separating the text: the separations of the Sura are represented in different manners: blank space, ornamentation, title with verse number, etc. Another separation—the five- and ten-verse division—also presents some variations in form. What do these variations refer to? It is difficult to answer such a question. My purpose here is to make an inventory of these variations.
  • The second aspect focuses on the semantic division within the verse separation. In our observation of the fragments, we find a great variation between the traditional systems of verse division recorded by the Islamic literature, and the divisions represented in the manuscripts. The problem here is to identify all these variations and to understand their origins.

3. At the orthographic level, the corpus reveals inconsistencies in the notation of long vowels: on one hand, we have no systematic notation of the medial alif, and on the other hand, we notice an important confusion between the values of the alif mamdûda and the alif maqsûra. According to these observations, we may wonder: What exact orthographic rules do these fragments follow? Are the variations some sign of a chronological evolution or a geographical repartition? Could these elements reflect the evolution of the Arabic language during this period?

4. The fourth problem concerns the vocalization of the manuscripts. The systems observed differ from what is recorded in the Islamic Tradition on two specific points:

  • According to the Tradition, the peculiarities which can be noticed in the vocalization of the manuscripts are attributed to a precise reader. In the fragments I have analyzed, some of the peculiarities appear frequently and are not directly connected to a given reading: the position of the dots (mainly in the notation of the hamza), the vocalic harmonization of the pronoun -hu/-hum, and a phonetic alteration of the vowel ‘a’ in the treatment of imâla. We may assume the existence of trends among copyists and readers that follow rules ignored by the Tradition.
  • Regarding the bi-colored dotting system, the Tradition tells us that its use refers to a canonical versus non-canonical reading. In the fragments I have analyzed, there is no systematic opposition or attribution of colors to one of the reading systems mentioned by the Tradition. Moreover red and green dots can alternatively refer to the same reader. We may question the real use of the bicolor system and its meaning. If the bi-colored system differentiates readings, it actually seems to be more the result of a competition between multiple readings than it does a difference between canonical and non-canonical readings.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2013. All rights reserved.