'The letters are peculiar. They touched the heart of every Tatar, Uzbek, and resident of Central Asia'
Muslim Spiritual Board of Tatarstan presented a font based on the first, most popular edition of the Koran in 1803
Free dissemination of information — this agenda completed the stage of the next project of the Muslim Spiritual Board of the Republic of Tatarstan. On 18 October, they received electronic sources of the Koran edition based on the specially developed computer font 'Kazan Basma'. The most famous edition of the Koran in Russia at the beginning of the 18th century will now be printed not from photocopies, but from a newly proofread original. The first edition is timed to the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria. The Mufti of Tatarstan, Kamil khazrat Samigullin, told reporters at the press conference how significant this event is, and what Musa Bigiyev has to do with it.
“This work should have started many, many years earlier”
The meeting began with that the developer, deputy dean of the department of “Ilahiyat (Sharia)" of Marmara University, Dr. Muhammad Abai, handed Samigullin the flash drive in a case stylized as the Koran. After that, the mufti began to explain in detail, with delight, what was the matter, first pointing out that “this work should have started many, many years earlier”.
Initially, the holy book of Muslims was handwritten. The first printed editions were made in Europe by non-Muslims, which led to errors. In 1803, the first Koran, already prepared by the followers of Islam, was printed in the Asian printing house of the Kazan Gymnasium.
“Our people became famous for this, because, as they wrote in old books, 'The Koran was revealed in Hijaz, read in Cairo, written in Istanbul, and printed in Kazan," the mufti stressed.
The Kazan Koran was published many times. On January 7, 1909, about 300 scientists gathered in the Apanaev house. The reason was the publication of theologian Musa Bigiev, who stated that he found flaws in the Kazan edition and demanded that they correspond to ar-Rasm al-Usmani — that is, the spelling adopted under the third caliph, the companion of the prophet Usman. The eyewitness writes that one of the mullahs called Bigiev an atheist, and he called his colleagues ignoramuses from the Haymarket.
The meeting had to be repeated afterwards. The created commission found 57 places with errors.
“Then well-known events happened in Russia, and the work stopped," Samigullin complained. These disputes were described, after the muftiate found out about them, it was decided to make edits — the Kazan Koran has been published in a new form since 2016. It was also published in Uzbekistan, Istanbul and even in Belarus.
The mufti demonstrated his popularity with a smile by showing a video where the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, reads the Kazan edition.
“He reads it himself, we didn't force him. It is clear from the font that this is a Kazan edition. It is clear from the beard who is reading," he noted.
The problem was that the publication was, in fact, published facsimile: the book was scanned, processed in a photo editor. Last year, at the Mawlid, the celebration of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, Dr. Abai came to the muftiate — and the work began.
As the Turkish guest explained, he has been fond of computers since childhood and at some point decided to combine this with the science of interpreting the Koran. As a result, the Koran was published in Istanbul with the new beautiful font. Already the mufti of Tatarstan, through the Turkish muftiate, came to Abai with a proposal. Before that, local theologians tried to do the same work, but the process did not succeed.
“The proposal inspired me, because Kazan has its own special place in Islamic science," said the doctor, pointing out that the printed Koran appeared in Istanbul only in 1872-1873. Moreover, if other printed versions of the book were not allowed into the country, exceptions were made for the Kazan edition.
“Now we can print even meter letters!”
In Turkey, each letter of “Kazan Basmasy” was scanned, processed and received the font that anyone can now apply. Obviously, it will become the official font of the MSB RT.
“Now we can print even meter letters!” said the mufti. “Someone may not like the font, they say, it does not correspond to the handwritten inscription. But remember that these were lead letters, tash basma. The letters are peculiar. They touched the heart of every Tatar, Uzbek, and resident of Central Asia.”
With this font, a new edition of the Kazan Koran will be prepared for the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria.
“Morocco has a very confusing font. But they love it. In Iran, all official inscriptions are written in the Nastalig font. We now have this font, as in the old Kazan books," the mufti said, explaining how the publication was prepared.
Firstly, the entire text will be changed to modern formats. This is about 600 pages, with 15 lines on each page. At the end of each page, the Ayah should end.
“To make it convenient to memorize the Koran," Samigullin explained. “When we read Tarawih during Eid, we understand — 20 pages, 20 raqaats (the order of words and actions that make up the Muslim prayer — ed.). We need to adjust “Kazan Basma” to a modern format so that our young people want to read it.”
The book with the new old font was read out once, typos were found, which were corrected in Turkey. We printed out 10 copies and checked them again. And then a third time. So a year passed.
“When you look at it, you see the Koran that you read as a child," the mufti delved into the memories. “We used the cover of 1989. It is the same as when it was in childhood. We had a teacher — Raisa khanum. We bought the book 'Mugallim Sani' for five rubles, read it. I dreamed of having my own Koran. It cost 100 rubles. And I was 11 years old. I took it in installments. And then I saw in Kazan on the market that it cost 10 rubles.”
The font itself will be put into free access — for revision, processing and just use.
“We are faced with the problem that the Koran that we have preserved is photographs," Rishat Khamidullin, Deputy Mufti of the Republic of Tatarstan, Director General of Khuzur publishing house of the Duma of the Republic of Tatarstan, repeated. “It was hard to take some verses from there. We processed them in a photo editor. If they took large verses, it lengthened our work even more. We need a computer font for a long time. Other printing houses also turn to us: do we have a font? Central Asia, Caucasus, Russia.”
In addition, Khamidullin noted, it is now possible to publish many books that are stored in the Darul Kutub electronic library. And also, for example, to make the Koran in a larger format for the elderly population.