The month of Ramadan is a time of daily fasting, prayer and acts of charity for Muslims around the world. In Libya, a group of volunteers work day and night to restore damaged or weathered Korans. A way to spend the month of Ramadan closer to Allah.
While some people choose to stay at home for these moments of consecration, others have preferred to embark on the restoration of holy books in a damaged state. Indeed, a group of Muslim volunteers have chosen to put their time at the service of the spiritual by renovating worn or damaged Korans. Khaled al-Drebi, one of Libya’s best-known restorers of the Islamic holy book, is among those who arrive daily at a workshop in Tripoli. For him, “It was a tradition to buy a Koran before the beginning of the month of Ramadan” but Libyans, who are very careful with their daily expenses because of the economic crisis, “prefer to restore their books rather than buy new ones”. Thus, restoring old Qur’ans could essentially meet the needs of the influx of Korans during Ramadan. Moreover, the prices of this holy book have increased because the state has stopped printing in Libya.
A work of spirituality and concentration
For Muslims, Ramadan is a month of spirituality, where daily fasting from dawn to dusk is accompanied by prayers and acts of charity, which often result in an increase in the purchase of Korans. In this workshop, the Korans are listed according to their degree of deterioration and the duration of the necessary intervention, which varies from one to several hours. “Heavily damaged Korans (…) have to be taken apart, restored and then bound,” a painstaking process that requires time and concentration, said Abdel Razzaq al-Aroussi, a technician at the workshop in Tripoli’s Mizran Street.
The time of Ramadan is one of the most important times of the year for Muslims. It is devoted to prayer and reading the holy book of Islam. And this year, with the lifting of restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, mosques are anticipating an influx of worshippers, prayer rugs and Korans. This explains the large crowd at the workshop in Mizran Street. Everyone wants to repair their old Koran instead of buying a new one. Moreover, for some, this holy book represents a memory or heritage of the father or a grandparent to whom they are affectionately linked.
The Mizran workshop
Created in 2008, the Mizran workshop has already restored nearly half a million copies of the Koran and more than 1,500 trainees, mainly men, have been trained there. But more and more, women attracted by this profession, which combines know-how and spirituality, are coming to learn it before becoming trainers in their turn. They enjoy doing this in the comfort of their homes or in women-only workshops like the one run by Khadija Mahmoud in Zaouia (45 km west of Tripoli). In addition, a new generation has joined the workshop, bringingnew techniques using computers for graphic design and software such as Photoshop to reproduce the missing pages of a Koran.