North Africa (Tunisia)
dated 2 Safar 436 (29 August 1044)
This cylindrical tombstone is evidently a reused late Roman or Byzantine colonnette, modified by a deep groove at the top and rounded with a hemispherical cap.
The epitaph is in floriated Kufic. Around the top of the tombstone is surah al-‘Ankabut (XXIX), verse 57. Following a short prayer for the Prophet Muhammad and his family in an arched panel on the shaft are surah Al ‘Imran (III), verse 185, and surah Sad (XXXVIII), verses 67–8. The inscription continues with ‘This is the tomb of Ni‘mah ibn ‘Ammar al-katib [‘The Scribe’], who died on the second of Safar, the year four hundred and thirty six, and who bears witness that there is no god but God, and Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger. Verily Paradise is truth, and Hell is truth and Resurrection is Truth’; surah al-Hajj (XXII), verse 7. It concludes, ‘and God has mercy on the one who reads [this] and prays for forgiveness [for the deceased]’.
J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.157, p.132.