GHARBIA, EGYPT // An Egyptian artist who educated himself after dropping out of school has spent three years creating what he hopes is the world’s biggest Quran.
Saad Mohammed, who has hand-painted Islamic motifs on the walls and ceilings of his home in Gharbia, a town north of Cairo, has reproduced the holy book on a 700-metre-long paper scroll.
He displays the intricately decorated manuscript in a large wooden box with rollers at each end.
“This Quran is 700 metres long, and of course that’s a large amount of paper,” he said. “I have self-funded this project for the past three years – and I’m an average person. I don’t have assets or anything.”
Mr Mohammed wants to submit his Quran for inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records. Guinness has said that while there is a record for the world’s biggest printed Quran, there is so far no record holder for the largest handwritten version.
Mr Mohammed said he is hoping for help with the costs of applying to Guinness from the government or any other interested party.
Meanwhile in Cairo, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a nearly 4,000 year old model garden outside a tomb in the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes.
The antiquities ministry said a Spanish team made the find in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis across the Nile from the modern-day city of Luxor. Measuring three metres by two metres, the garden consists of 30cm square plots in an open courtyard outside a Middle Kingdom (2050 to 1800BC) tomb.
“The like has never been found in ancient Thebes,” said Jose Galan, head of the Spanish team. It is thought the garden played a role in funerary rites.
The ministry’s head of ancient Egyptian antiquities, Mahmoud Afifi, said the tiny square plots seem to have each contained different species of plants and flowers, with the preserved root and trunk of a 4,000-year-old tree in one corner and next to it, a bowl containing dates and other fruits, which could have been offerings.
In ancient Egypt, the dead were traditionally surrounded by objects they enjoyed in life, so they could continue to enjoy them in the afterlife.
* Reuters and Agence France-Presse