Folk-lore of the Holy Land, Moslem, Christian and Jewish, by J. E. Hanauer , at sacred-texts.com
ON the southern wall inside the great Mesjid El Aksa at Jerusalem, which stands on the site of Justinian's famous Church of St Mary, there hangs in a gilt frame a specimen of ornamental Arabic calligraphy. It is the well-known koranic text concerning Mohammed's night-journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and the guardians of the sanctuary state that it was penned by Sultan Mahmûd, father of Sultan Abd
al Mejìd, and by him presented to this mosque. Sultan Mahmûd was an excellent writer, and hearing people vaunt the penmanship of a certain scribe, he invited him to a trial of skill. The specimens of handwriting thus produced were submitted to various experts of whom, all but one, being courtiers, decided for the Sultan. But one of the judges managed, without offence to the padishah, to be just to his more skilful rival. On the latter's paper he wrote "The handwriting of the best of scribes"; on Mahmûd's, "The handwriting of the best of sultans and scribes." The sultan, struck with his uprightness, made him a splendid present, and sent the text which he had written to the Mosque El Aksa.