Quran gift
Sean Murphy presents a rare copy of the Holy Quran to Mohammad Ahmad Al Murr on during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai on Thursday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Remember the rare copy of the Quran that was displayed at the US pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai? That English language Quran from 1764 will now adorn Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Library permanently, it was announced on Thursday.

During an exceptional donation ceremony at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the United States Mission to the UAE presented the Mohammed bin Rashid Library with the 1764 edition of an English-language translation of the Quran, which will be permanently displayed in the library’s Treasures of the Library exhibition.

The event was organised by the Emirates Literature Foundation in collaboration with the US Mission to the UAE and the Mohammed bin Rashid Library.

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The rare two-volume set is a copy from the second edition of the 1764 English language translation of the Quran by English author George Sale. Third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson owned a copy from the same 1764 edition, which was displayed at the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai on loan from the US Library of Congress.

This was the first time this treasured exhibit travelled outside of the U.S. Capitol, and it was one of the top attractions at the USA Pavilion.

While studying law in 1765, Thomas Jefferson, who had a lifelong interest in world religions, bought this version at the age of 22. Following the return of the Thomas Jefferson-owned Quran to the US Library of Congress, the rare edition Quran translation was acquired to continue the exhibition at the USA Pavilion.

Celebrating values that shaped UAE

“We are here today to celebrate the values that shape the United Arab Emirates, tolerance, peace, and harmony; and to witness history being made as this rare edition of the Holy Quran is transferred for the first time since the 18th century to be permanently displayed at the Mohammed bin Rashid library, the region’s largest cultural centre,” Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of Emirates Literature Foundation said.

“We are delighted and honoured to work with the U.S. Mission to the UAE and the Mohammed bin Rashid Library to support the UAE’s mission of preserving Islamic and Arabic heritage and reinforcing its position in society and the world.”

This rare edition will be permanently displayed at the library’s Treasures of the Library exhibition which features a unique collection of rare and ancient books, atlases, and manuscripts from around the world.

Valuable addition

Welcoming the delegation, Mohammad Ahmad Al Murr, chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library Foundation, said: “I am pleased to welcome you to the Mohammed bin Rashid Library, and specifically to the Treasures of the Library Exhibition which houses rare collections dating back to the thirteenth century. The Treasures of The Library Exhibition features unique religious manuscripts, antique atlases, poetry collections, and other valuable items. The collection also includes rare copies of the Holy Quran, early print editions of literary classics, Latin translations of scholarly works from the Islamic Golden Age, and rare Arabic periodicals from the Arab world and beyond.”

“The rare, translated copy of the Holy Quran, donated to the Mohammed bin Rashid Library, is a valuable and significant addition to the Treasures of the Library exhibition, complementing a collection of classical literature publications telling the story of decades of knowledge and civilisation,” Al Murr added.

He thanked the US Mission for the valuable gift which reflects the depth and strength of the strategic and cultural relations and partnerships between the two countries.

Symbol of respect

Charge d’Affaires Sean Murphy at the US Embassy Abu Dhabi stated: “The U.S. Mission to the UAE is proud to gift a rare edition English-language translation of the Quran and a map of Arabia published in 1764 that were on display at the USA Pavilion during Expo 2020 Dubai to the Mohammed bin Rashid Library. This exhibit is a strong symbol of respect for religious diversity, and our shared values of religious tolerance and co-existence.”

According to the mission, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, took his oath of office on Jefferson’s Quran in 2006 and noted it demonstrated that from the very beginning of the United States, there were people who were visionary, who were religiously tolerant, who believed that knowledge and wisdom could be gleaned from any number of sources, including the Quran.