While workers were busy at construction sites, adding even more glass-and-steel highrise buildings to the skyline, the sun was climbing in the sky, giving a pleasant winter warmth to whomever was outside. I reached a low building with a minaret sticking out of its flat roof, surrounded by trees, an island of peace in rivers of asphalt filled with cars. When I came closer, I saw Koranic verses hewn into the wall of the museum, in Kufic script, and noticed that the minaret had a text around its exterior, too. It was time to enter through the tall glass doors: I had arrived at Beit al Quran, or the house of Koran. I had to leave my bag at the reception of this museum and research centre, and after leaving a voluntary donation in the big box for Beit al Quran, I entered the central hall.
In the high ceiling above me, circular stained glass windows in a large square, the light filtered through it was blue, green, red, and yellow, casting colourful light on the wooden extensions on the top floor. Light was also entering through both sides of the building through large glass doors. A fountain right in the middle of the hall further added to the tranquility of this space, making it a peaceful place to just sit down in one of the benches at the side. Instead, I headed to the beginning of the exhibition on one side of the building. In an open space, with a slight incline leading the visitor to the top floor of the building, I saw a most interesting display of Korans and manuscripts dating back many centuries.
Some samples were right from the 7th century, the age Islam started to spread through these very books. Even though the exhibition is modest in size, I took time to study all works on display. Most of them were true pieces of art, with incredibly beautiful calligraphy in bright colours, often gold - some huge, some so small I needed a loupe to see them properly. The korans came from many different regions of the Islamic world, brought together by an avid collector and donated to Beit al Quran upon its founding in 1990. Apart from the highly interesting collection of holy books, Beit al Quran includes a school, library, research centre, audiovisual hall, and a small mosque. I visited the latter before leaving. A relatively small space in a corner of the building, its enormous stained glass dome is one of the largest in the area and is very impressive: more calligraphy, and the intricate geometric forms in bright colours typical of Islamic art.
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