An astonishment a day- 
drives your depression away...

The bibliophilic blood donations of Saddam.

For three years, Saddam Hussein donated blood for the purposes of bibliophilia, at least in a certain sense. Altogether, he donated a total of 24 litres of this valuable liquid for the great mosque of Umm Al-Maarik in Baghdad. But his donations were not for a blood bank, but to be used for the writing of the Koran!

This unusual 'edition' of the holy Koran, written in blood, can be found at this mosque and has been shown at exhbitions. Umm Al-Maarik is the name of the mosque, it means also 'Mother of All Wars' - it applies also to the infamous war and annexation of Kuwait in 1991.

Saddam is/was not a particularly faithful Muslim, in fact bin Laden has called him a 'non-believer'. The donations of blood were more an act of propaganda, and intended to pacify mullahs, and also likely to earn him a place in the history of bibliophiles. However, this type of thing is not new, as the writing of the Koran in various ornamental ways is a tradition that dates back many hundreds of years.

This may sound like blasphemy to a Muslims ears, but due to the hunt for Saddam coming to an end (I am writing this on the 8.4.03 at 2pm Warsaw time), we may soon need to identify the dead body or 'wet patches' that are left after the bombing of his palaces. And here, unexpectedly, a couple of words written in blood, may come in handy to solve the puzzle by means of molecular biology (provided that the donated blood was actually his and not one of his doubles). 

A photocopy of this version of the Koran is not available, but instead I have included a sample of the beautiful, Kufic caligraphy. 

Even cheap, current editions of the Koran are full of gilt arabesque ornaments.

(English-Arabic edition of Koran, Lahore, Pakistan, 1986) 
[from book collection of RA]



(C) (selected from publications of 
 R. Antoszewski

Titirangi, Auckland, 
New Zeland

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April 2003