The respect and care given to the book by Muslims as well as the fast development of literary culture, substantiated in the form of a codex, a book or a volume have been incredibly great since the beginning of the history of Islamic society. The respect for the book, the recorded word, as well as the material used for recording undoubtedly rooted in the fact that the first text that had been put down and given the form of a book volume, was the Koran, the Gods revelation to the people mediated by the Prophet Muhammad. Bigger or smaller parts of these oldest Koranic copies on parchment, dating back to the first centuries of Islam, furnish, at the same time, an evidence of how great a care was given not only to the wording of the text, but also to the script used to fix the text. These early Koranic copies represent the development of the oldest forms of non-cursive faces of Arabic script, from which the face usually called Kufic was soon developed in the course of 8. century AD. Of a revolutionary importance for the expansion of the bookly culture and, first of all, for the swift development of artistic and scientific literary creation was the acquisition of the production of paper that superseded fragile papyrus and limited the use of expensive parchment to the creation of luxury copies of the Koran.
The recording of the Koranic text in the form of a codex leaded to the formation of monumentalizing type of script that soon acquired a certain character of holiness as well as the constituting of a cursive type used for the recodings of another type - for administrative purposes and private records, including the recording of literary texts. This face is called naskhí, the copiers or scribes script. Unlike Kufi face, this script looks more natural, it is more cursive, more rounded, without the exceedingly lengthened vertical strokes and the depressed, lengthened letters written on the line. It has been the most frequently used graphic form of the printed and written Arabic script until the present day, first of all in Arabic countries proper. During the first centuries of Islamic history, the Arabic calligraphers derived several other faces out of naskhí, some of which were used as "beautiful scripts" and others as the scripts of state chanceries - díwáns. These "beautiful scripts", the best-known of which are "rayhání" and "muhakkak", are among the faces with a known authorship. They are the so-called "pedigree" scripts and the proportions of individual letters in various positions of the word (the beginning, the middle, the ending, and the solitary) were strictly defined by their creators. Similarly "canonized" were the proportions of the individual graphemes of the above-mentioned naskh. The Arabic script in the Arabic West, the so-called Maghrib in North Africa had a different development from that in the Arabic East. The base of this Maghrib face was probably a simplified type of the oldest forms of Kufic face. Other forms of Arabic script were also created in the Islamic East. Calligraphers in the region of Iraq and Iran, probably of Iranian origin, created approximately in the 13th century their own faces, the best-known of which is taclík, the "suspended" face, which is esthetically unusually impressive through its elegance. It is characterized by the lengthening of the end stroke, deepened arches under the "line", simplification of some graphemes in certain positions and, first of all, by the fact that the position of the pen in writing a group of linked letters is above the "line" and the group slants towards the line or even reaches below it, and the beginning of another group of letters is positioned above the last letters of the preceding group. The script makes an impression of the beginnings of the groups of letters being "hung".
There is a simpler face between naskh and taclík, derived from taclík, which is called nastaclík (nas/kh/-taclík) and which preserves the lengthened end strokes, the deep, rounded underline strokes and simplifies certain letters, but words are written on the line. Both faces excel in meticulous shading and the refinement of the proportions of the letters, and an effort to place diacritical marks in an esthetic manner. They were used in Iran and by the Ottoman Turks, but only exceptionally in Arabic countries. In 18th century, a face called šikeste (the broken one) was created in Iran from taclík and the office script. It was characterized by lengthened end and arch strokes and a great simplification of many letters, and also by writing whole graphical groups under each other. It has been used until the present day. At the same time, a new script called rikca, excelling in economical strokes, was created from naskh and nastaclík in the Ottoman empire and the Arabic countries controlled by the Ottomans.
These types of script were used for the recording of artistic literary works - lyrics, epics, and belles-lettres as well as historical and legal works, and works from the sphere of natural sciences. The most intense care was given to copies of the Koran, from 13th century written with the cursive muhakkak or rayhání or an elaborate naskh, and in the West with decorative faces of Maghrib script, rather than with Kufi script. In the East, first of all in Iran, but also in Central Asia and the Islamic India, taclík was mainly used for the recording of poetic works - collections of poems and lyric epics. The rest of literature was written in naskh or, more often, in nastaclík, which was also used in poetic works. The Ottoman scribes used naskh, nastaclík and later rikca.
Muslim manuscripts as well as the manuscripts of non-muslims and those in Christian Europe were accompanied by illustrations - miniatures. It may seem at the first sight that this counterdicts the Islam which, according to the popular conviction, prohibits the depicting of living creatures. It has actually been banned to depict living creatures on public places, first of all in places of cult. Otherwise, it seems that nothing intervened depicting animals and human figures as a decorative element on textiles, armour, home equipment (furniture, vessels, etc.), in spite of the condemnation of strict protectors of the monotheism. At the very beginning of Arabic educative prose, an independent art of illustration appeared under the influence of Iranian tradition. It came to be prolific in the Iraq of 13th century and reached its peak in Iran in 14th century and in the empire of Indian Mughals, the Ottoman empire and Central Asia in 16th century. A number of artistic schools with many well-known illuminators, supported by rulers, appeared at the rulers courts. Illustrations were added not only to Persian and Turkish heroic and romantic epics, but also to historical works. Besides these illustrations, accompanying the plot, also treatises from the sphere of natural sciences became to be illustrated: astronomy, medicine, pharmacology and botanics, zoology, and mechanics. These scientific illustrations were added even to the manuscripts coming from the Arab world, where otherwise no illustration of belles-lettres occured. Illuminations in the form of arabesque, geometrical or herbal designs are often met with in manuscripts coming from the Islamic countries from North Africa to India. Such is usually the decoration of the title page: the text is in a decorative frame, topped with a coloured arabesque pattern in a rectangular frame jutting upwards, usually into a cusp crowned by raised tendrils. It is the so-called cunwán, the decorative rubric. Exceptionally decorative manuscripts have arabesque decoration on the board paper too.
All of these elements of book culture - script, illustration, decoration and also binding - manifest the respect for the written word, for the book. The book was regarded as a means of communication and a means of education, and its artistic rendition enriched its function with an esthetic dimension.
As a consequence of these social and cultural functions, books came to be collected in the hands of intellectuals and scholars as well as in huge libraries at academies established by rulers, at schools, cult institutions, that were available to scientific community.