Meticulously crafted and handwritten in Turkey, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and China, the copies of the holy book have been progressively stored in a small room in Masjid Ba’alawie for more than three decades, Habib Hasan Al-Attas, the mosque’s Imam, told Yahoo Singapore.
One Quran from Turkey, belonging to Habib Muhammad Al-Attas, the Imam’s late father, is 600 years old, with the borders of each sheepskin-made page intricately drawn in gold. The other Quran copies in the mosque at Lewis Road were also made using various unique materials.
This 600-year-old Quran, made in Turkey, belonged to Habib Hasan’s late father. (Yahoo Singapore photo: Safhras Khan)
“It is more than just a display of the Quran as it also tells the story of the holy book (where it is from). The Quran (copies) were produced using different type of materials, some were written on sheepskin while others were written on mulberry leaves,” said Habib Hasan.
The holy books written on mulberry leaves were made in China and Mongolia while those written on sheepskin were mostly from Saudi Arabia, he added.
The task of ensuring that the books are carefully preserved in three tall glass cabinets in the mosque is undertaken by a group of curators.
“They are doing it pro-bono and each of the display cabinets are treated with chemicals to ensure that the books are well-maintained. They also come down regularly to check on the condition of the books,” said Habib Hasan.
One of the curators, M Razali Mahat, said he has been working with Habib Hassan on the rare Quran collection over the past 10 years. “I hope that the Quran exhibit will benefit the next generation,” he said.
Rare Islamic manuscripts
Apart from the Quran copies, there is also a collection of Islamic manuscripts housed in the mosque. Habib Hasan pointed to one manuscript from Turkey that was translated from Arabic to Jawi. Another manuscript from Indonesia was written on tree bark and made 350 years ago.