Monday, October 08, 2007

Lost in Translation?

Several English-language news sources from the Middle East (Qatar Peninsula, Arabian Business) are reporting that a Qatari man has been offered up to $4.3 million for a 400-year old Quran manuscript. The man, Saeed Ali Al Suwaidi, says he received the book from a Yemeni scholar during a trip to Mecca last Ramadan. "We began talking after a preliminary introduction. He told me that he had a rare copy of a Holy Quran. It was handwritten and a little less than 400 years old. He asked me if I would accept it for safekeeping."

The scholar, who is unnamed in the news reports, told Suwaidi that the Quran was created over a five-year period by Mohamed bin Ahmed bin Qassem Al Aqwa, and was completed in 1034 Hijri (the Islamic equivalent of 1624 CE).

Suwaidi: "I agreed to accept the copy for I felt I was being blessed. It was a huge responsibility. I took immense care and preserved the manuscript so sunlight and moist air did not spoil it. It was a proud possession and the most valuable asset of my life." Recently, he told the Peninsula, he's had offers to buy the Quran, including one bid of $4.3 million. "I might agree to part with it if I get a good offer," Suwaidi said.

Either I'm missing something here or Mr. Suwaidi has a very different conception of "safekeeping" than I do.

[h/t Rare Book News]