Spring 2020 Student Scholar

The relevance of old Arabic/Islamic manuscripts in the 21st Century and the evolution of their artworks.

Moamen Elmassry is a Ph.D. candidate and graduate teaching/research assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences at Texas Tech University. He earned his Ph.D. in May of 2020, after the conclusion of his Student Scholar project with The Remnant Trust. He is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related closure of the Texas Tech campus in March 2020, Moamen was unable to provide his public lecture. He recorded the following video at home, please take your time to watch it:


(Mohammed Ben Ziyad Al Waddah, Fath Al Samad Ben Raslan, #0935.)

This image from the above manuscript shows that the manuscript was copied by Ahmad Ben Abu Bakr on Sunday afternoon, October 1, 1775.

An Arabic grammatical miscellany that contains five works, including Kitab Kafiya and Kitab Misbah, dated to 1672-1673, #1300.

The bulk of Moamen’s project focuses on the Dala’il al-Khayrat and the Qasidat al-Burda, dated to approximately 1750, #0526.

The primary focus in this work is the illustration found in the Dala’il al-Khayrat and how this illustration has changed throughout the years.

Moamen utilized several manuscripts from collections across the globe and discovered that the illustrations in the Dala’il Khayrat changed dramatically between the 18th and 19th centuries. The illustrations below are from a Turkish manuscript by Mehmed Reja’l in the late 18th century; part of the Shakerine Collection.

Ultimately, Moamen found that these ancient manuscripts are still used daily in one form or another by various Muslim groups around the world, where others are still memorized and recited in communal settings to celebrate certain Islamic events. He also asserts that the illustrations in these manuscripts should be considered as artworks and that they are continuously evolving.