Qisas Al-Anbiya

The "Qisas Al-Anbiya" (قصص الأنبياء) or Stories of the Prophets refers to various collections of tales adapted from the Quran. One of the best-known is that composed by al-Kisai in either the 6th or the 13th century; others include the "Ara'is al-majalis" by al-Tha'alabi (d. 427 AH) and the "Qisas an-anbiya" by Ibn Kathir (d. 774 AH).

Because the lives of biblical figures ("prophets," in the Muslim tradition) were covered only briefly in the Quran, scholars, poets, historians, and storytellers felt free to elaborate, clothing the bare bones with flesh and blood. Authors of these texts drew on many traditions available to medieval Islamic civilization such as those of Asia, Africa, China, Europe. Many of these scholars were also authors of commentaries on the Quran; unlike Quran commentaries, however, which follow the order and structure of the Quran itself, the Qisas told its stories of the prophets in chronological order.

The "Qisas" thus usually begin with the creation of the world and its various creatures including angels, and culminating in God's masterpiece, Adam, created by His own hand and given life from His own breath. Following the stories of the Prophet Adam and his family come the tales of Idris, Noah, Shem, Hud, Salih, Abraham, Ishmael and his mother Hagar, Lot, Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Joseph, Shuayb, Moses and his brother Aaron, Khidr, Joshua, Josephus, Eleazar, Elijah, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, and Jonah all the way up to and including John the Baptist and Jesus son of Mary. Sometimes the author incorporated related local folklore or oral traditions, and many of the "Qisas al-anbiya"'s tales echo medieval Christian and Jewish stories.

During the mid-16th century, several gorgeously illuminated versions of the "Qisas" were created by unnamed Ottoman Empire painters. According to Milstein et al, "iconographical study [of the texts] reveals ideological programs and cliché typical of the Ottoman polemical discourse with its Shi'ite rival in Iran, and its Christian neighbors in the West." [ [http://www.mazdapub.com/Stories-Prophets.htm Stories of the Prophets] ]



* [http://www.mazdapub.com/Stories-Prophets.htm Milstein, Rachel, Karin Ruhrdanz, and Barbara Schmitz. "Stories of the Prophets: Illustrated Manuscripts of Qisas al-Anbiya"] (Islamic Art & Architecture Series, No. 8). Mazda Publishers, Inc.:1999
* [http://www.kazi.org/product_info.php?products_id=833 KAZI Publications Inc.: Tales of the Prophets ("Qisas al-anbiya")]
* [http://www.usna.edu/Users/humss/bwheeler/prophets/intro.html Wheeler, Brannon. Stories of the Prophets] - beautiful illuminated manuscript pages

ee also

*Book of the Cave of Treasures
*Midrash Rabbah

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