China to build museum to preserve Quran copy

Beijing: A county in northwest China will spend four million yuan (around $635,000) to build a museum for the preservation of a 1,000-year-old copy of the Quran.

Officials from Dongxiang county in Gansu province said the money will be used to build an 800-square-metre museum with exhibition halls and digital display systems.

The ancient copy of the Quran, written in Arabic and comprising 536 pages, was discovered in Dongxiang in 2009, Xinhua reported.

Experts from China, Britain and Japan have analysed the document and said it was likely created between the 9th and 11th centuries.

The museum will use advanced methods to preserve the ancient holy book and slow down its deterioration.

Construction on the museum is scheduled to start in April and will finish by the end of the year.

"The copy has been classified as a cultural property under national protection and is likely to be one of the earliest copies of the Quran in existence," said Imam Ma Qingfang, a local religious leader.

Ma said he has refused outside offers for the document, believing it to be priceless and referring to it as the "book of soul" for the people of Dongxiang.

"The document is of great significance for the study of the history of Dongxiang`s ethnic groups, the history of Islam in China and Chinese civilization," said Chen Hailong, deputy head of the county administration.



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