The manuscripts of the Koran, Hadith collections and prayer collections caught the eye of 19th century collectors, attesting as they did to the Islamic arts of calligraphy and illumination. At the same time, scholars published and translated texts yielding greater insight into Islam.
The religion is centred on affirmation of the divine unity. Its sacred texts consist of a corpus of 111 epistles written in the 11th century, entitled "Epistles of Wisdom". With the manuscripts arriving in Europe, A. Silvestre de Sacy was able to present their content in French in 1838.
In the Near East, Twelver Shia Islam was predominant in Iran and Iraq, where the mausoleums of 'Alî (Najaf) and other imams are located along with the site of the Battle of Karbala which, in 680, marked the separation between the Shia and the Sunni. Studies on Shiasm gave precedence to the Persian domain
The doctrine of the Alawites, also known as Nusayris in reference to the relevations made in the 9th century to Ibn Nusayr by the 11th imam, are an offshoot of Shia Islam. They revere ‘Alî, the first divine incarnation. Their sacred texts have been handed down by initiation.
The Sufis' mystical quest has often been conveyed through fellowships, or tarîqas, each one practising their own prayer ritual to remember God (dhikr) and sometimes also involving movement and dance, such as the Mevlevi Order, founded in Konya in the 13th century.
Sunni Islamic schools of jurisdiction are distinct in that they give precedence to the different sources of law. The Hanafi school was the most widespread in Turkey and across the Ottoman provinces, but Shafi'i and Maliki schools were also established, particularly in Egypt.