On a recent trip to Madinah, as we stepped out of Masjid An Nabawi after prayer, we heard a bilingual representative of the mosque announcing a free-entry Qur’an exhibition further ahead, which we decided to go to.
Upon entering, we heard a guide addressing a number of visitors about the Quran and its significance. Most of our fellow visitors were pilgrims from abroad who perhaps were visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time.
Our guide went through the exhibition and the visitors, some of them elderly, tried to match his pace as he walked through several halls each covering a different aspect of the Quran. Some highlighted its miracles and others showed the contribution of the Saudi government towards the preservation of the Qur’an.
There were guided tours every few minutes or so as groups upon groups led by guides entered the exhibition. The tours were conducted in a number of languages. There were, nonetheless, some visitors who couldn’t understand the languages that the tours were being conducted in, so they wandered inside the maze-like halls on their own.
The posters in each hall were so edifying, it almost felt like another round of spiritual upliftment – another round as it is, as we had just come out of Masjid An Nabawi feeling the peace and serenity that Madinah is famous for.
Accompanying the posters were several interactive visual displays, each having its own audio outlets to provide visitors with an audio-visual experience. Seeing that and other state-of-the-art installations in the exhibition, we could see that huge amounts of money, skill, and expertise were invested in setting the place up. But at the pace in which our guide was leading us, we barely managed to read the posters let alone have time to listen to the audio clips.
We reached a hall wherein was kept one of the largest handwritten manuscripts of the Quran. Weighing over 154 kilograms, it was written by an Afghan, Ghulam Mohiuddin, almost 200 years ago. The manuscript itself was so intricate and beautiful that we were all left in awe. It raised our expectations for what lay ahead, and we weren’t in let down by what was to come.
Right adjacent was a hall in which there were many age-old manuscripts, some of them dating back to just a few centuries after the hijra. These manuscripts were brought in from all around the Muslim World and were written by some of the most well-known calligraphers of their time.
Seeing how amazed some of our fellow visitors were reminded us of school field trips when we would follow our teacher obediently in a straight line. Here, it wasn’t a straight line, but we still followed our guide, eagerly awaiting what he was about to say next.
We then stopped in a room that had a huge screen almost covering its entire length presenting a short documentary on the Quran. After the video finished, we were guided towards the exit where a small souvenir shop was selling memorabilia related to the exhibition.
After stepping out, we passed another exhibition under construction, said to focus on the history of Masjid An Nabawi once opened.
Walking through the exhibition for us was like going through a book, turning page after page starting from when the Quran was first revealed to how it was compiled and to how organizations today are contributing to its upkeep. Definitely, a good addition to Madinah’s growing list of places to visit.
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