RIYADH: The King Abdulaziz Public Library inaugurated a rare exhibition on the Holy Quran in Riyadh on Thursday to celebrate World Heritage Day.
The event aims to highlight the richness and peaceful practices of Islamic civilizations.
“We are proud that this exhibition is related to the service of the Holy Quran, the two holy mosques and Islamic civilizations,” said Faisal bin Muammar, general supervisor of the King Abdulaziz Public Library.
“The purpose of the exhibition is to celebrate the richness of Islamic culture and the Holy Quran in this great month of Ramadan,” Muammar added.
The collection, consisting of 267 copies of the Quran and 20 valuable museum copies, is unique in the characters, type, font, decoration and dates of the texts, most of which were written between the 10th century and the 13th century AH
The general supervisor of the library said that the exhibition also highlights the diversity of Islamic civilizations.
“The library has set up an exhibition which contains distinguished models from the Quran collection, which contains about 300 copies of the Quran, including a very rare collection which differs in place, time, calligraphy method and nationality of the calligrapher,” said Bandar Al-Mobarak, director general of the King Abdulaziz Public Library.
“We have Qurans from India, Timbuktu and China, and you can tell them apart by the fonts used,” he added.
The Library and its surrounding institutions across the Kingdom have spent over 30 years collecting the best manuscripts from around the world to share.
Muslims around the world have long decorated Qurans with Islamic embellishments such as geometric lines, patterns, shapes, Arabic fonts, plant motifs and colors, turning texts into works of art.
In light of recent events in Sweden, the display of the Quran is another way for the Kingdom to reinforce the peaceful practices and values of the Islamic faith.
“We know that in Islam and especially in Saudi Arabia, we respect every religion and every culture, and we respect each other’s civilizations,” Muammar said.
“I’m sure anyone who does a horrible act like what happened in Sweden doesn’t care about their own beliefs or their own religion,” he added.
The General Supervisor emphasized that the exhibition is not a response to the events in Sweden, but rather a peaceful exhibition to showcase the ancient manuscripts of the Holy Quran.
“Whatever they do (in Sweden), they want other people to react violently, so it’s not the best way to react – ignoring them is the best way,” he said.
“I speak on behalf of the King Abdulaziz Public Library – the best response (to the events in Sweden) is to do exhibitions and send peaceful messages,” Muammar added.
The General Supervisor said another way to respond is to strengthen communication and connections with other faiths in a “peaceful and understanding way”.
He added: “God has commanded us to know each other, it is the best way to serve our religion and our faith.
“For us, the purpose of this exhibition is not to answer. It is an individual act,” Muammar said.
During the exhibition, visitors will be able to see a complete Quran from Surah Al-Fatihah to Surah Al-Nas, written in Makkah in front of the Kaaba during the month of Ramadan in 1025 AH The text has been rewritten by the scholar Mullah Ali Al-Qari, who used black ink in the red and blue paintings.
The collection includes more than decorated Qurans in Arabic. There are also Indian texts with floral decorations, as well as samples of Chinese and Kashmiri Qurans, and some Mamluk versions.
Different fonts, such as Kufic, Naskh, Thuluth, Timbuktu and late Sudanese scripts, as well as scripts from the Levant, Iraq, Egypt and Yemen, Najd and Hijazi were used to write the Korans, demonstrating the diversity of Islamic arts and the integration of the artistic vision of each culture in the transcription of the Holy Book.
Al-Mobarak said: “This exhibition is an extension of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s interest in the Quran and an extension of the celebration of World Heritage Day on April 18, as well as a celebration of Ramadan, the month of the Quran.”
The library also houses manuscripts written in gold water. There are 30 sheets of two pages each which constitute a complete part of the Holy Quran.
The first page was decorated with plant motifs using bright colors and gold water, while the rest of the pages were rounded and fully gilded. The side frames used colored and gilded floral designs and copies in the Naskh script in 1240 AH
More than 8,000 manuscripts covering the Quran and its sciences, the origins of religion, hadiths, jurisprudence and its origins, the biography of the Prophet, preaching and advice, the Arabic language, history and philosophy, among others, are housed in the library.
It is also linked to the library’s specialized exhibits, which cover rare Islamic coins and Arabic calligraphy, as a contribution to Arabic and Islamic history.
The general supervisor said the library is working on a virtual version of the exhibit, which can be viewed online worldwide.
“We invite people to learn more about Saudi Arabia and its role in serving Islamic civilization and serving the Holy Quran,” he added.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, since its unification, has taken many steps to publish the Holy Quran in many languages, translate it and print it.”