I borrowed a copy of this gorgeous and generous folio from a local university library over a year ago. I've been wanting to own a copy of it since then. I can honestly say that, if I had to, I would be willing to pay the full retail price for it ($150). It is worth more than that based upon the quality of book construction and image reproduction alone. The content itself is invaluable.
Martin Lings did a great service in collecting these manuscript samples from among the greatest works of calligraphy and illumination known to the world. Here one can see the testimony that "God is Beautiful, and God loves Beauty!" represented in the most delicate devotional art.
Lings opens the collection with an excellent introduction, which provides much insight about the development, structure and intentions of the art; also serving as a key for contemplation of the works. Here is an excerpt:
"[The chapter heading] is usually set in a wide rectangular panel, often richly framed with gold and other colors, and with an arabesque as background to the letters. This heading is prolonged into the outer margin by means of a palmette, a 'little tree', which points horizontally towards the paper's edge and which achieves for the eye the effect of a liberation of incalculable scope.
The palmette in the margin... is a reminder that the reading or chanting of the Qur'an is the virtual starting point of a limitless vibration, a wave that ultimately breaks on the shore of Eternity; and it is above all that shore that is signified by the margin, towards which all the movement of the painting, in palmette, finial, crenellation and flow of arabesque is directed."
After I returned this volume to the library, I found that a local art museum had two or three illuminated Qur'an pages on continuous display. The beauty radiating from original works of this kind, some 800+ years old, effected a stirring in my heart and made my hair stand on end. And this volume contributed very well in preparing the whole of my being to open to that state of appreciation.