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Islam Qur'an Commentary

Al-Baydawi. Anwar al-Tanzil [Lights of Revelation]. Istanbul(?), Ottoman Empire, AH 976 (1569 CE). NYPL, Manuscripts and Archives Division.

Qur'an commentaries, or tafsir, serve several purposes. They explain the words of the Qur'an, as well as explore its philosophical, mystical, and historical implications. Al-Baydawi's summary of Zamakhshari's Kashshaf al-Tanzil (1132–33), composed ca. 1300 and named Anwar al-Tanzil [Lights of Revelation], exists in many copies and is appreciated for its succinct statements.

The popularity of al-Baydawi's commentaries continued during the Ottoman period. The striking appearance of this volume with its colorful illumination and golden opening pages reflects the taste of the Ottoman court. A note on its flyleaf suggests that it was intended as a gift for the Sultan Sulayman (reigned 1520–1566).

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