Page of manuscript with Moses, Muhammad and the Archangel Gabriel
Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Hegira end of 10th century / AD end of 16th century; probably during the reign of Sultan Murad III (AH 982-1003 / AD 1574–95)
Ink, gouache on paper, gilding.
Height 31 cm, width 20.5 cm
This single sheet from a manuscript features, between bands of script, the prophets Moses and Muhammad and the Archangel Gabriel conversing in heaven. Angels, perched on five clouds behind these three principal characters, appear to be listening. The scene portrayed is one from Muhammad’s visionary ascension to heaven. Muhammad stands on the right-hand side in a long green robe and turban, and Moses, wearing a long dark red robe, is on the left, in front of his heavenly throne, which is denoted by an inscription in Arabic lettering. Moses is gesturing his hands in speech. Muhammad, with whom he is conversing, stands on the opposite side. A white veil conceals his face, while his hands are hidden in the long sleeves of his gown. The heads of both prophets are crowned with halos, within which their names, written in a black script, can be deciphered. The Archangel Gabriel stands between Muhammad and Moses, turning towards Muhammad. He is characterised by a twin pair of multicoloured wings and a crown. Gabriel already featured in the Old Testament as the gate-keeper of Paradise. As one of two angels standing in the presence of God (Luke 1: 19), it was Gabriel who explained the story of the Messiah (Daniel 8: 16ff.). He was supposed to have announced the wording of the Qur’an to Muhammad. In Sura 2 verse 97 it is written that: Gabriel ‘has by God’s grace revealed it [the Qur’an] to you [Muhammad] to your heart’.
The text above the three personages, which describes the story, is written in Ottoman Turkish. It includes the account of Muhammad discussing with God the number of daily prayers. Both eventually agreed on five daily prayers. Moses is Muhammad’s heavenly adviser and Gabriel is his companion. The direct speech of all those involved is written in Arabic. The text is taken from a biography of the prophet which had appeared from the AH 1st century / AD 7th century on. The generic term for this type of biography is sira, which translates as ‘life facts’ or ‘way of life’. This single sheet probably came from a handwritten work completed for the Ottoman Sultan Murad III (r. AH 982–1003 / AD 1574–95).
This painted page from a book shows the Archangel Gabriel with the Prophets Moses (left) and Muhammad (right). Surrounded by angels they discuss the question of daily prayers. This happened during Muhammad’s ascent to heaven. Because it was forbidden to show Muhammad, his face is veiled.
Possibly Sultan Murad III (r. AH 982-1003 / AD 1574–95)
The date has been established through the handwriting on the single manuscript page, which was transcribed for the Ottoman Sultan Murad III (982–1003 / 1574–95).
From a London gallery in 1976.
Both the text and the style of this page suggest that this consists of a single leaf written by a single writer in the same handwriting, which was made for the Ottoman Sultan Murad III.
Budde, H. and Nachama, A. (eds.), Die Reise nach Jerusalem, Berlin, 1995, p.180, cat. 1/121, ill. 180.
Kalter, J. and Schönberger, I., Der Lange Weg der Türken, 1500 Jahre Türkische Kultur,Stuttgart, 2003, pp.138, ill. 149.
Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin Catalogue,Stuttgart; Zürich, 1980, no. 40.
Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin Catalogue,Berlin, 1979, no. 668.
Petspoulos, Yanni (ed.), Kunst und Kunsthandwerk unter den Osmanen. Munich, 1982, p.200, ill. no. 209.
Annette Hagedorn "Page of manuscript with Moses, Muhammad and the Archangel Gabriel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;37;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn
Translation by: Maria Vlotides, Brigitte Finkbeiner
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: GE 48
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Pilgrimage | The Quest for Baraka – Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Palestine Arabic Calligraphy | The Holy Qur’an The Ottomans | The Palace and the Arts
Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail
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