The "Qisas Al-Anbiya" (قصص الأنبياء) or Stories of the Prophets is any of various collections of tales adapted from the Quran and other Islamic literature, closely related to exegesis of the Qur'an. One of the best-known is that composed by Kisa'i in either the 6th or the 13th century; others include the Ara'is al-majalis by al-Tha'alabi (d. 427 AH, 1035 CE) and the Qasas al-anbiya by Ibn Kathir (d. 774 AH, 1372 CE).
Because the lives of biblical figures ("prophets," in the Muslim tradition) were covered only briefly in the Quran, scholars, poets, historians, and storytellers felt free to elaborate, clothing the bare bones with flesh and blood. Authors of these texts drew on many traditions available to medieval Islamic civilization such as those of Asia, Africa, China, Europe. Many of these scholars were also authors of commentaries on the Quran; unlike Quran commentaries, however, which follow the order and structure of the Quran itself, the Qisas told its stories of the prophets in chronological order - which makes them similar to the Jewish and Christian versions of the Bible.
The Qisas thus usually begin with the creation of the world and its various creatures including angels, and culminating in God's masterpiece, Adam, created by His own hand and given life from His own breath. Following the stories of the Prophet Adam and his family come the tales of Idris, Nuh, Shem, Hud, Salih, Ibrahim, Ismail and his mother Hajar, Lut, Ishaq, Jacob and Esau, Yousuf, Shuaib, Musa and his brother Aaron, Khidr, Joshua, Josephus, Eleazar, Elijah, Samuel, Saul, Dawud, Sulaiman, Yunus, Dhul-Kifl and Dhul-Qarnayn all the way up to and including Yahya and Isa son of Marium. Sometimes the author incorporated related local folklore or oral traditions, and many of the Qisas al-anbiya's tales echo medieval Christian and Jewish stories.
During the mid-16th century, several gorgeously illuminated versions of the Qisas were created by unnamed Ottoman Empire painters. According to Milstein et al., "iconographical study [of the texts] reveals ideological programs and cliché typical of the Ottoman polemical discourse with its Shi'ite rival in Iran, and its Christian neighbors in the West."1
- Book of the Cave of Treasures
- Midrash Rabbah
- Biblical narratives and the Qur'an
- History of the Qur'an
- Legends and the Qur'an
- Prophets of Islam
- Milstein, Rachel, Karin Ruhrdanz, and Barbara Schmitz. Stories of the Prophets: Illustrated Manuscripts of Qisas al-Anbiya (Islamic Art & Architecture Series, No. 8). Mazda Publishers, Inc.:1999
- KAZI Publications Inc.: Tales of the Prophets (Qisas al-anbiya)
- Wheeler, Brannon. Stories of the Prophets – illuminated manuscript pages
- Stories of the Prophets - World Digital Library