Dr Simon Rettig
Simon Rettig is associate curator for the Arts of the Islamic World at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, DC. Since he joined the museum in 2012, Rettig curated several exhibitions, including The Prince and the
Shah: Royal Portraits from Qajar Iran, and The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. His current projects are an exhibition on the Great Mongol Shahnama opening in August 2024 and a monograph on the Freer’s celebrated manuscript of Nizami’s Khusraw u Shirin.
Turning Prayers into Books: Compilations of Suras and Du‘as in the Central Islamic Lands between 1300 and 1750
The fourteenth century (7th century of Hijra) witnessed the rise of a particular genre of religious book consisting of selected chapters (Sura) of the Qur’an, which could greatly vary from one copy to another. Initially associated with the ruling elite, such compilations of suras began to circulate by the sixteenth century in wider social and religious circles, both for private and public devotional use. This talk introduces the development and evolution of compendiums of prayers in the Arab heartland, Turkey, and Iran from their inception in late Il-Khanid and Jalayirid Baghdad to their apex in Ottoman Istanbul and late Safavid Isfahan. They present an astonishing variety of content, format, and style and their distinctive identities – regional, sectarian, and visual—offer invaluable insight into religious practices in the early modern period.