Beijing: An earliest Chinese version of the holy Quran, a handwritten copy completed in 1912, has been found by Muslim culture researchers in China`s northwestern Gansu province.
This Quran was found among old archives by researchers with the Muslim Culture Institute of Lanzhou University. It is believed to have been translated into Chinese by Sha Zhong and Ma Fulu, the two noted imams, or Muslim religious leaders and Arabic calligraphers in Lanzhou, said Ding Shiren, head of the institute, Xinhua reported.
Sha and Ma began translating the Quran in 1909 and completed their work in 1912, said Ding.
Sha then copied out the Chinese text and made three handwritten books, which were widely used in Lanzhou.
Two other Chinese versions of the Quran were finished in Gansu in the 20th century, said Ding, who along with his colleagues are presently making a comparative study of the three versions.
The translation by Sha and Ma is faithful to the Arabic version, though parts of the Chinese text used Lanzhou dialect, he said.
As per experts, Islam was introduced to China in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). But ancient Chinese scholars did not translate the Quran, fearing that they might misinterpret its text, said Ding.