Palestinian calligrapher keen to finish Al-Aqsa Quran

By Qais Abu Samra

RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – Palestinian calligrapher Saher al-Kaabi is racing against time to finish his first Ottoman-illuminated copy of the Quran that will carry the name of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

“It will be the first Quran copy carrying the name of Al-Aqsa Mosque,” al-Kaabi, 40, told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview. “It will also bear the name of Palestine.”

In February 2014, al-Kaabi was asked by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to calligraph the Ottoman-illuminated Quran.

“I spend around 15 hours a day to finish this work,” the Palestinian calligrapher, who is from Balata refugee camp in the West Bank, said. “I almost don’t leave my house in order to finish this work.”

It took almost a year for al-Kaabi to get the necessary licenses and buy the needed material – such as paper and ink – for the project.

“The paper used in this work has been particularly imported from the Turkish city of Istanbul,” al-Kaabi said.

It takes around 24 hours for al-Kaabi to calligraph one page of the Quran.

“I’m keen on decorating this copy of the Quran with Ottoman illuminations similar to those done during the era of Caliph Othman bin Affan,” he said.

Al-Kaabi believes that this work will help raise awareness about Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.

Al-Kaabi is close to finishing eight sections of the 30-part copy of the Ottoman-illuminated Quran. He hopes to finish the mission by the end of the year.

“This Quran copy will be revised by a committee from al-Azhar in Cairo,” al-Kaabi said.

When it is ready, Palestinians are planning to print thousands of copies and distribute them around the world.

“It will be a special envoy for Palestine to the world,” al-Kaabi said.