Birmingham Qur'an: digital exhibition in Dubai for first time

Sunday 8th of April 2018 03:00

The exhibition takes place at Dubai Design District (d3), in Building 7, from 19 April to 3 May 2018.

Some 25,000 people in total visited the exhibition in November at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) and Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi, where they explored the manuscript in digital form as well as viewing a detailed replica of the holy script.

One of the oldest surviving Islamic manuscripts, the Birmingham Qur’an is considered a global treasure.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, viewed the exhibition in Sharjah after chairing an extraordinary Cabinet meeting at SIBF where the UK was Guest of Honour in celebration of the UK UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration.

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.

“Following the success of this interactive digital exhibition in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, where it was visited by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and thousands of people, we are honoured to bring the exhibition to Dubai.

“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.”

The Birmingham Qur’an exhibition was 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 University of Birmingham has worked closely with the British Council, UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development as strategic partner, and d3 as a venue host to bring the unique exhibition to the UAE.

Immersive exhibition soundtrack
Electro-acoustic music experts at the University of Birmingham’s School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music combined Quranic recitation with sounds inspired by the night sky at the first encounter between Prophet Mohammad and angel Jibreel into the exhibition’s soundtrack.

Researchers Tasawar Bashir and Scott Wilson used a piece of specialist computer software to discover what the night sky would have looked like on 24 August 610. They then turned the brightest elements of the firmament into the music that now accompanies the Birmingham Qur’an digital exhibition. Certain Maqqata’at and verse 109 from Surah Al Kahf are referenced throughout this work – entitled ‘The Revelation’.

Calligraphy workshops for children
The exhibition will feature a range of Birmingham Qur’an-related education activities for young people, including exhibition tours, activity sheets and free calligraphy workshops for local schools designed and delivered by the world famous Dubai based artists Gallery Arabesque.

It will also be possible for people to discover the story behind the treasured manuscript, thanks to an innovative and free online course developed by the team looking after the manuscript at the University’s Cadbury Research Library.

The four-week course, ‘The Birmingham Qur'an: Its Journey from the Islamic Heartlands’ is now open for registration and begins on 14 May.

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.