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Afghanistan's humongous holy book

The world's largest Quran weighs 1,100 pounds and took more than five years to create.

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The world’s biggest Quran, on display in Kabul.

Musadeq Sadeq/AP

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Amid Afghanistan’s seemingly endless war, one local calligrapher has endeavored to prove that his nation still has a rich, vibrant culture by creating the world’s largest Quran.

Measuring in at 7-1/2-by-5-feet, the recently unveiled holy book took more than five years to create. Its 218 pages are adorned with script and ornamentation that use real gold, and the book’s cover is fashioned from 21 goatskins.

The record-breaking Quran, which weighs 1,100 pounds, is now on display in a specially designed viewing area made of imported Italian and Turkish stones at Kabul’s Hakim Nasir Khusraw Balkhi Cultural Center.

While the giant Quran is a point of pride for many in the devout Muslim nation, some Afghans are raising eyebrows at the price tag of the record-breaking book and its specially designed display area, a combined cost of more than $1 million.

“This is just a heavy book in a case and no one can even use it,” says Hassan, a cellphone vender who, like many Afghans, has only one name. “It’s the holy book, but they should use the money in a good way.”

Aside from the nation’s ongoing security problems, Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Less than a third of the population has access to electricity, and Kabul is the only capital city without a sewage system.

Syed Mansoor Naderi, a prominent member of Afghanistan’s Shia Ismaili community, funded the project.

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