A feat on feet: From Karachi to Kingdom ... with banner of peace

Updated 02 October 2013
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A feat on feet: From Karachi to Kingdom ... with banner of peace

Kharlzada Kasrat, a Pakistani man who entered the Kingdom on foot from Pakistan, embarked on a walk for peace from Karachi to Makkah on June 7 and arrived in the Kingdom through the Jordanian border on Monday.
Kasrat, who twice staged the longest peace walks in the world, was provided with a medical team and security escorts by Saudi authorities upon his arrival into the Kingdom. He walked through Iran, Iraq and Jordan. The total distance from Karachi to Makkah is 6,387 km by foot.
Speaking with Arab News, he said he had chosen Makkah as his final destination given its spiritual significance. He said he was congratulated by residents in Tabuk in large numbers. He said he was touched with the warm welcome and hospitality of Saudis when he crossed into border.
“The purpose of my visit is to promote peace on the basis of humanity, as Islam preaches. Pakistani tribes that were previously known for their hospitality are now branded as terrorists and are being subject to persecution,” said Kasrat.
“I sold my personal items to embark on the walk as I lack financial resources.”
Kasrat said: “I am thankful to Saudi authorities and I hope they will provide me with accommodation.”
He said he had walked 1,301 km in Pakistan, 2,640 km in Iran, 600 km in Iraq and 800 km in Jordan before reaching the Kingdom.
Kharlzada has recalled his harrowing experience in the Iraqi desert, where he walked a 100-km stretch that was completely deserted.
He also said that militants in Baluchistan in Pakistan attempted to kidnap him. He said he slept at a check post in Tabuk upon arrival, then left Tabuk hoping to reach Madinah on Sept. 20 and Makkah on Oct. 1. Kharlzada is walking on average 50 km per day.
It took him two days to reach Tabuk from the border.


Rare silk Qur’an helps preserve Afghanistan’s cultural heritage

Updated 23 May 2018
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Rare silk Qur’an helps preserve Afghanistan’s cultural heritage

  • Each of the Islamic holy book’s 610 pages was produced by hand in a painstaking process that took a team of 38 calligraphers and artists specializing in miniatures nearly two years to finish
  • Turquoise Mountain began work in 2006 in Kabul with the aim of preserving ancient Afghan craftsmanship, including ceramics, carpentry and calligraphy

KABUL: One of the only Qur’ans ever made from silk fabric has been completed in Afghanistan — a feat its creators hope will help preserve the country’s centuries-old tradition of calligraphy.
Each of the Islamic holy book’s 610 pages was produced by hand in a painstaking process that took a team of 38 calligraphers and artists specializing in miniatures nearly two years to finish.
Bound in goat leather and weighing 8.6 kilograms, the Qur’an was produced by Afghan artisans, many of them trained at British foundation Turquoise Mountain in Kabul.
“Our intention was to ensure that calligraphy does not die out in this country — writing is part of our culture,” Khwaja Qamaruddin Chishti, a 66-year-old master calligrapher, said in a cramped office inside Turquoise Mountain’s labyrinthine mud-brick and wood-paneled complex.
With the Qur’an considered a sacred text, calligraphy is highly venerated in Islam and Islamic art.
“When it comes to art we cannot put a price on it. God has entrusted us with this work (the Qur’an) ... and this means more to us than the financial aspect,” Chishti continued.
Using a bamboo or reed ink pen, Chishti and his fellow calligraphers spent up to two days carefully copying Qur’anic verses onto a single page — sometimes longer if they made a mistake and had to start again.
They used the Naskh script, a calligraphic style developed in early Islam to replace Kufic because it was easier to read and write.
The decoration around the script, known as illumination, was more time-consuming, each page taking more than a week to complete.
A team of artists used paint made from natural materials, including ground lapis, gold and bronze, to recreate the delicate patterns popular during the Timurid dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries in the western city of Herat.
“All the colors we have used are from nature,” Mohammad Tamim Sahibzada, a master miniature artist who was responsible for creating the vibrant colors used in the Qur’an, said.
Sahibzada said working on silk fabric for the first time was challenging. The locally sourced material — all 305 meters (1,000 feet) of it — was treated in a solution made from the dried seeds of ispaghula, or psyllium, to stop the ink from spreading.
Turquoise Mountain began work in 2006 in Kabul with the aim of preserving ancient Afghan craftsmanship, including ceramics, carpentry and calligraphy.
It hopes the silk Qur’an will generate demand for more handmade Islamic religious texts that could create employment for its artisans and help finance the institute.
“We will show it to other Islamic countries to see if it is possible to create job opportunities for graduates to work on another Qur’an,” said Abdul Waheed Khalili, the organization’s Afghan director.
For now, it will be kept in a specially made hand-carved walnut wooden box to protect its delicate pages from the elements at Turquoise Mountain’s offices, which are in the restored Murad Khani, a historic commercial and residential area in Kabul’s oldest district.
There Turquoise Mountain has trained thousands of artisans with the support of Britain’s Prince Charles, the British Council, and USAID.
“The copying of the Qur’an onto silk is very rare,” country director Nathan Stroupe said.
He said the project has been “an amazing way to train our students at an incredibly high level in a very traditional type of work.”
“If a book collector in London... was interested in it, we would be thinking in the $100,000 to $200,000 (price) range,” he added.