The University of Birmingham is bringing a major interactive digital exhibition telling the fascinating story of the Birmingham Qur’an to the UAE for the first time.

image Hijazi Qur'an - Birmingham Qur'an, MS1572A, Cadbury Research Library University of Birmingham / Image Credit © University of Birmingham

One of the oldest surviving Islamic manuscripts, the Birmingham Qur’an is considered a global treasure. Exhibition visitors will be able to explore the manuscript in digital form as well as viewing a detailed replica of the holy script. Working closely with the British Council and the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development as strategic partner, the University is bringing the unique exhibition to Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The exhibition will form a highlight of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative collaboration, held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and HRH The Prince of Wales. The exhibition will open on November 1, at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) 2017, and will be on view until November 11, 2017. The exhibition will travel next to the Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi (November 20-29, 2017) and then to Dubai in spring, 2018 – dates and venue to be announced.

At each venue, the exhibition will feature a range of Birmingham Qur’an-related education activities for young people, including exhibition tours. A free calligraphy workshops led by Narjes Nourreddine and Bassem Zbeeb from Gallery Arabesque will be organized in Abu Dhabi for students from local schools and young visitors (age 8-18). Schools should email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to book places.

Susan Worrall, Director of Special Collections at the Cadbury Research Library, said: “This excellent free workshop will allow children to learn how to produce calligraphy similar to that found in the Birmingham Qur’an and other ancient manuscripts. Students will also learn more about the University’s Mingana collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts and their relevance to the 21st century. The workshops promise to be a valuable complement to a fascinating and ‘hands-on’ exhibition.”

image Hijazi Qur'an - Birmingham Qur'an, MS1572A, Cadbury Research Library University of Birmingham / Image Credit © University of Birmingham

The UK is the designated Country of Honour for SIBF 2017, as part of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. SIBF is the largest Book Fair in the Arab Region and the fourth largest in the world.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood said: “The Birmingham Qur’an manuscript is of huge significance to Muslim heritage and the academic study of Islam. We are immensely proud to host such a treasure at the University of Birmingham. By bringing this interactive digital exhibition to the UAE for the first time, we are privileged to offer an opportunity for people to celebrate this holy work. Together with the development of our campus in Dubai, this exhibition symbolizes the University’s deep commitment to working with partners in UAE to enhance academic opportunities and cultural understanding.”

Accompanying the exhibition, a four-week course, ‘The Birmingham Qur'an: Its Journey from the Islamic Heartlands’ is now open for registration and begins on November 20, 2017. The course explores the origins and journey of the Birmingham Qur’an from the Islamic heartlands, its significance and the methods used to determine its age and how it is cared for at the University of Birmingham.

Susan Worrall, Director of Special Collections at the Cadbury Research Library, said: “This excellent free course will allow participants to learn how to identify features of Qur’an manuscripts and how they influenced the arts of the book in Islamic manuscript culture. Students will also learn more about the University’s Mingana collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts and their relevance to the 21st century.”

image Hijazi Qur'an - Birmingham Qur'an, MS1572A, Cadbury Research Library University of Birmingham / Image Credit © University of Birmingham

Topics covered by the course include:
  • How the manuscript came to the University of Birmingham
  • How the Birmingham Qur’an relates to development of the Arabic written tradition
  • The Arts of Qur’an manuscripts and Islamic manuscript culture
  • Conservation and care of historic manuscripts
  • The value of primary historic sources as a valuable resource for research
  • Other historic manuscripts of the Mingana collection
  • The ethics of collecting from different cultures

This course is designed for anyone who has an interest in the history of religious texts, the study of Islam, manuscript culture, Islamic arts, how historic collections are cared for, and their value for research. Participants will learn with experts including Susan Worrall, Director of Special Collections; Neelam Hussain, Curator of The Mingana Collection of Islamic Arabic Manuscripts; Sarah Kilroy, Head of Conservation; Robin Johnson, Education Consultant and Honorary Lecturer at the University of Birmingham. In support of the exhibition of the Birmingham Qur’an, the University of Birmingham, the British Council and The London Book Fair will present a discussion at SIBF about the history and science of the Birmingham Qur’an amongst leading academics.


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