Ancient Quran sparks ownership row in Bangladesh

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DHAKA: A 400-year-old handwritten copy of the Quran complete with gold punctuation marks is at the center of an ownership row in the southern Bangladeshi port city of Chittagong, police said Friday.

Police inspector Mohamed Ismail told AFP that a local family says the holy book has been with them for generations, dating back to the Mughal period, but a Muslim cleric has filed papers with a court saying it is his.

“We believe the book belongs to the Chowdhury family because they have papers dating back to 1920 saying it belongs to them, he said.

“For years they have allowed it to sit in two special rooms in a mosque where clerics read it to pilgrims. It is wrapped in 60 cloths and is in excellent condition, with gold markings on every page.

Family head Shamsul Haque Chowdhury told AFP that clerics had signed a contract in 1920 saying they would never allow the book to leave the mosque, but one cleric – Saber Ahammad – had taken it to a family member’s home last month.

“We have the papers to show it is ours, Chowdhury said. “People give money to the mosque to hear the readings and the cleric realized he could take some money for himself, so he took the book away, Chowdhury said.

Chowdhury said once his family had realized what had happened, police helped them to recover the book at the end of last month, but the cleric had now filed an ownership case with a court.

Chowdhury said this particular Quran was of huge historic significance to Bangladesh.

His family had for years resisted government calls to put the book in a museum because blessings could not be given at a museum, only a mosque. -AFP

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