The Qur’an is the Islamic Holy text written approximately 1400 years ago, originally memorized and recited orally, and believed to contain the words of archangel Gabriel revealed to the Prophet Muhammad . It is the most sacred book of the Islamic faith, and yet one particular copy has remained locked away in a secret vault, never to be seen again by the public – the Blood Qur’an.
The Blood Qur’an was written entirely in the blood of the former president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein , who commissioned the book in 1997 to mark his 60th birthday. Bizarrely, the former president allegedly donated 24–27 litres (50 to 57 pints) of his blood to be used as ink to write the 6,000 verses and 336,000 words of the Qur’an.
Saddam takes delivery of a copy of the Qur’an in 2000, in Baghdad. ( Daily Mail )
Saddam Hussein explained in 2000 that he commissioned the book to give thanks to God for helping him through many conspiracies and dangers: ” My life has been full of dangers in which I should have lost a lot of blood … but since I have bled only a little, I asked somebody to write God’s words with my blood in gratitude, ” he said.
From the beginning, the Blood Qur’an set off a storm of controversy, both religious and political. According to Islamic Sharia law, human blood is considered ritually unclean. Therefore, to write the holy word of God in unclean blood is absolutely forbidden. However, also forbidden is the defacement or destruction of the sacred holy text. So, what were officials to do with it?
After the macabre work was handed over to Saddam in a ceremony in September, 2000, it was placed in the Umm al-Ma’arik (Mother Of All Battles) mosque in Baghdad. Its blood-stained pages were displayed in a hexagonal marble building set on an artificial lake within the mosque complex and only invited visitors could view it.
Saddam’s Blood Qur’an was denounced in 2000 by the religious authorities of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and, after his fall from power in 2003, the Qur’an was removed from public display. The custodians of the mosque have put the Blood Qur’an into storage for safekeeping until clerics and politicians can decide just what to do with this troublesome relic.
Top image: Pen with blood ink. Source: VJP / Adobe Stock
By Joanna Gillan