Omani antique silver Koran-box
Koran boxes or Hirz in Arabic are typically amulets that contain a verse from the Koran, as the name already suggests. However they can also can contain some sort of black pitch to prevent the silver from denting or more likely to add extra cheap weight for the silver-dealer.
Koran boxes are in fact also talismans and therefore it could be argued that they should be part of the Amulet section of our website. The smaller Koran-boxes are for children.
S.M. Zwemer writes in 1902 in his book "Topsy Turvy Land Arabia pictured for Children" a few verses from the Koran are written out and put in a leather or silver case and also tied around the arm or neck of the baby. If the child shows signs of illness the mother makes it swallow some of the Koran. That is, a portion is written out and the ink washed off with water and this dirty (ink) water is taken by the patient"
Omani antique silver Koranbox
Emily Ruete in her book Memoirs of an Arabian princess 1886 writes: "In cases of severe illness one turns to God and to this end verses from the Kuran are considered to be salutary. A person generally considered devout writes the appropriate verses on a white plate with a solution of saffron . The writing is dissolved with a little water (mostly rose-water) and this mixture is given to the sick person to drink. Three times a day he has to take this medicine, One has to take special care that no drop of the sanctified liquid drips on the floor"
Godfrey Dale in the book "The peoples of Zanzibar, their customs and religious beliefs 1920 " writes on page 38 "Belief in witchcraft and magic seems to be universal amongst the people of Africa, and even in Zanzibar and Pemba in spite of the presence of Islam, has a very strong hold on the minds of the people. Mohammed himself evidently believed in it, is said to have suffered from the consequences of it, and to have been given the last chapters of the Koran in order to enable him to recover from these consequences. In fact these two last chapters are considered to be of great value as a preservative against witchcraft, and are constantly inscribed on talismans or recited for this purpose etc."