Since Quranic inscriptions dominate the epigraphic decoration of Cairene Islamic religious monuments, the target of this thesis has been to investigate the Quranic inscriptions of some selected religious monuments of each main era of the Islamic history of Cairo: Fatimid, Mamluk and Ottoman. The questions examined are the following: what was the frequency of utilizing Quranic inscriptions compared to other types of inscriptions? What are the common architectural locations of Quranic quotations compared to other types of inscriptions? Regardless of the form of the script, whether naskhi or kufic, what were the common stylistic visual forms of inscriptions on religious monuments of each period - linear, concentric, square, etc.? What were the various symbolic significances that have been ascribed to these visual forms if any? What are the common Quranic verses that were inscribed on the religious monuments of each period? Were certain Quranic verses used in a certain era that never appeared in others? Were certain Quranic verses dedicated to certain architectural features, such as façades, domes, minarets, etc.? Did these locations change from one period to another? What are the subjects of the Quranic verses of each period? Were Quranic inscriptions chosen casually or with deliberation? Finally who was the real audience of the inscriptions in general and the Quranic ones in particular? The first chapter of the thesis is an overview and evaluation to the previous studies that have been considering monumental inscriptions in general and Quranic ones in particular. The second chapter is dedicated to investigate the various verse-numbering systems of the Arabic text of the Quran exist in several areas of the Islamic lands, and the various fashions of quoting verses from the Quran. The third, fourth and fifth chapters consecutively are dedicated to explore the various types of inscriptions inscribed on the religious monuments of the Fatimid, Mamluk and Ottoman periods respectively and to analyze the Quranic ones in particular. Of these monuments, inscriptions on doors, windows, minbars, dikkas and Quran’s kursis are not included. The thesis is supplemented by four indexes. Each documents the various types of inscriptions as they occur on the exterior and interior of some selected monuments from each era: Fatimid, Mamluk and Ottoman. The monuments selected are the ones whose original architectural and decorative features are still extant, accessible and not under restoration. Each index is divided into two sections; the first documents the inscriptions on the religious institutions and the second is dedicated to the inscriptions on the freestanding mausoleums. The thesis also contains three tables, each documenting the common Quranic verses utilized on the religious monuments of each era: Fatimid, Mamluk and Ottoman. Each table documents the exterior and interior architectural location or locations of each verse, its form whether complete, partial or paraphrased, whether it is attached to another Quranic verse or group of verses or other inscription type, then the number of the Quranic quotation, which is documented in the indexes. Charts illustrate the frequency of the various types of inscriptions on the exterior and interior of the monuments of each period. They apply to the inscriptions that are documented in the indexes, and the frequency of the Quranic inscriptions illustrated on the charts includes both the purely Quranic quotations and the Quranic quotations attached to other types of inscriptions, most often the foundation and the date.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Degree Name

MA in Arabic Studies

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

O'Kane, Bernard

Committee Member 1

Scanlon, George

Committee Member 2

Bacharach, Jere

Document Type



247 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Islamic inscriptions

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Islamic architecture


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Call Number

Thesis 2001/11