The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The world's biggest Quran

Interesting story from Syria in the WSJ (look out for a rash of Syria stories as the international press corps exist Lebanon):

DAMASCUS, Syria -- During prayers in his neighborhood mosque, Moktaz Obeyeed used to elbow his way through the big, crowded hall to pick up a small copy of the Quran. How great would it be, he thought one day, if you could just lift your eyes and read the holy book from anywhere in the mosque, without bothering other worshippers? He had a vision of giant pages of the Quran covering the walls.

Since that day nearly 10 years ago, Mr. Obeyeed says he has sunk all his savings into bringing his dream of a huge Quran to life. He's deferred buying a new house despite his wife's pleas, and tapped an international network of 58 calligraphers to handwrite 120 pages of the holy book -- each page measuring six-feet, eight inches high and three-feet, four inches wide.

The size would make it among the world's largest Qurans. But what really sets it apart is the sheer number of artists involved. Mr. Obeyeed's calligraphers are scattered across 17 countries, including all of the Middle East's hot spots: Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories. That has complicated an already difficult undertaking; a Lebanese calligrapher, for instance, recently couldn't be reached for 10 days, prompting a frantic search.