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In India, the love of the Holy Qur'an is limitless

April 11, 2019

Our journey to New Delhi in July 2018, to witness the distribution of the Holy Qur'an in schools, universities and Islamic centers, was almost similar to the stories of Sindbad and his marvelous travels in the wonderland.

We were simply unable to imagine the greatness of this wonderful country, with its pleasant inhabitants and its outstanding historical monuments. The monuments of New Delhi and Taj Mahal and the Red Palace of the city of Agra remind us of the greatness of India, despite the ruthless colonization that systematically looted for more than a century.

As you stroll through the streets of New Delhi, your attention will immediately be focused on the signs that are written in several languages, including the Indian and Urdu languages written in Arabic letters. As a foreigner dressed differently from the local Indians who surround me, it was simply impossible for me to differentiate the Hindus from the Muslims or other followers of Indian cultural or religious traditions. Indeed, all Indians wear the same clothes, speak the same languages and share the same traditions. It was necessary to cross the doors of mosques and temples to do it. However, by visiting the mosques Indians, features distinguishing Hinduism and Islam disappears squarely and you will face a presentation of the Traditional Sheikh in the same way that the Hindu Saints you meet on posters everywhere in the streets .

We accompanied for several days local associations that distribute the Holy Qur’an made available by the Foundation; and we have with each discovered move another dimension of the size of the Indian man, his attachment to his values, his modesty, the nobility of his character and his sensitivity. The students presented for us theatrical scenes, songs and poems in Arabic language and watch with shining eyes the copies of the Holy Qur'an prepared for distribution. Whenever one of them touches his priceless gift, he holds it to his chest with both hands, as if he fears its loss. One of them aged 10 cried, so touched. His teacher on our side informs us that this little one must finish the memorization of the Holy Quran in its entirety in a short time.

We were very surprised by the love that the Indians give to the Holy Qur'an. We cannot claim to have the same sensitivity and love of the holy book as these brave Indians, despite the fact that in our homes, we sometimes hold several copies and that for them, it may happen that they touch him only in the mosques and schools.

During a trip to Quranic school, I approached a bookshelf to see the condition of the books at their disposal and I was literally shocked. All the books were in deplorable condition, torn and stuck several times, but in a respectful way. I then learned that schools are doing the technique of dividing the single book into several parts to allow as many students as possible to consult it. This is done mostly in remote areas of major cities.

During a visit to the New Delhi Center, we had the chance to meet one of the most famous people in the Muslim world, His Excellency Sheikh Mohamed Ilyas Albara Benkawi, who is the person who completed and edited the famous book of Mohamed Yousif Al Kandauli Hayatoussahaba ”The life of the companions of the prophet”. We were very happy to meet him at his girls school he runs. He invited us to his office and now we sit on plastic chairs around a bed. We then learned that he uses the bed at night to rest and the day he serves it as a desk to teach and run the school. In his office he had only a small cupboard full of books. We wanted to take pictures with him but he very kindly apologized by preferring writing a little word on the book he gave us as a gift. We left with an unforgettable lesson. Now this person, who embodies the scholarly India, who has abandoned all the riches of this life, finds the recognition and the love of a nation of two billion around the world, without any noise or publicity .

On the last day of our visit, we met a dozen of celebrities from the Muslim Indian community and university professors. We were struck by the fact that the Holy Qur’an was not yet translated into an official Indian language, spoken by more than a billion people. And so a new and beautiful story has emerged, that we will write its chapters with our dear donors.

We ended our visit to India after the distribution of more than 80'000 copies, in addition to the 210'000 copies already distributed in the four corners of India in 2017. We have returned to our countries with a memory filled with splendid images, colors and music crossing time and space. We will remember 200 million Indian Muslims living in complete harmony with one billion of their fellow citizens in peace and ancestral fraternity. The troubles are only passing.