The opening pages of this eighteenth-century manuscript illustrate important conventions of Quran manuscripts. The two pages together form a rich image for which the gutter functions as the axis of a symmetrical composition. The pages are designed as mirror images with the marginal band of gold lobes holding the two blocks of text together. The even distribution of the text on the opening pages - there are seven lines in each block - supports the symmetrical composition: the short sura 1 (sūrat al-Fatīḥa) on the right side is placed opposite the beginning of sura 2 (sūrat al-Baqara).
In the Islamic tradition, the suras are identified by their names - for example, al-Fatīḥa (the Opening) and al-Baqara (the Cow) - not by their number, that is: suras 1 and 2. Each sura has a heading stating its name and whether it was revealed at Mecca or Medina. In this manuscript, the red sura headings are written in the gold cartouches above the textblocks. Although headings often indicate the number of verses (sing. āyah, pl. āyāt) in a sura - as is the case in this manuscript - traditionally the individual verses are not numbered.
The manuscript has a signed colophon, but the place of copying is not mentioned. The symmetrical composition chosen for the beginning of the Quran text and the Persian interlinear translation suggest that the manuscript was produced in India. Different scripts are used for the two languages: the Arabic text is written in a black Naskh, clearly distinguished from the Persian translation written in a smaller red Nastaliq between the lines.
At a first glance a Persian translation of the Quran appears as a blatant violation of the Islamic dogma of the inimitability of the Arabic Quran’s perfect language. Yet Persian glosses of the Quran are preserved in tenth-century Quran manuscripts and in early Persian translations of Arabic Quran commentaries. The point at which Persian interlinear translations of the complete Quran became fairly common is a matter of debate, since most of the extant Arabic-Persian Quran manuscripts were copied after 1500 CE.