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Morocco: Arabic calligraphy exhibition celebrates Islamic heritage

For illustration purposes: An Afghan refugee reads the Quran during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in a mosque on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan on Aug. 8, 2012.   -  
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Muhammed Muheisen/AP


Tracking the journey of writing the Quran through various stages in history. This was the aim of an exhibition held in northwestern Morocco

Items on display date back to the Andaluzian period, the Ottoman period and even the 8th century.

The president of the Moroccan Club for Manuscripts, Coins and Stamps in the city of Safi was particularly proud of one piece in the exhibit.

"We have a small copy of the Quran, the smallest Quran with a length of 20 millimeters, a width of 17 millimeters and a height of 12 millimeters, covered with gold water and written with gum Arabic,"  Said al-Jedyani said.

"This copy of the Quran is not read with the naked eye, only with a microscope. Also, one of the most important antiques in this exhibition is an astronomical painting on deer skin which shows that the heart of the globe is Mecca."

According to Islamic belief, the Quran is the world of Allah which was revealed by an angel to the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca and Medina.

Said al-Jedyani who has his own collection, said that each item has a story behind.

"This collection that I own includes some items that I bought when I traveled to some cities, some that I acquired at auctions and some that were given to me by my friends from outside Morocco." 

The Quran was printed in the late 1800s, but the handwritten copies remain highly prized for both its artistic and historical value.

But the deterioration in preserving the art of calligraphy could endanger the handwritten copies.

"We see a serious deterioration in the art of calligraphy. Perhaps it is on its way toward going completely extinct, so most of the important calligraphers and those who still practice this profession are suffering in silence without getting any care, even though they practice this ancient art. The reasons are related to globalization."

Items featured at the show include graduation certificates, written on wooden pla: ques, that were once handed to students who memorized the entire sacred scripture of Islam.

The exhibition was held in the city of Safi during the month of Ramadan.

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