A Marabout embellished this carved board on both sides with scripture from the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. The last three verses of the surah (chapter) 2 appear on one side. While Muslims believe that God revealed all other verses of the Qur’an to the prophet Mohammed while he was alive, these three came after he ascended to heaven. In some cultures, a person offers these particular verses, along with the surah 1 and the beginning of surah 2, in prayer after reading the entire Qur’an. The other side features the surah 1 in its entirety and the first four verses of surah 2.
In West African Islamic culture, carved boards serve several purposes. Students at Islamic schools (madrassas) practice writing the Arabic alphabet and Qur’anic verses on wooden boards. They wash and use the boards over and over again. Marabouts, or Islamic religious leaders in Africa, also use scripture boards in healing practices and for prayer.