Beit Al Qur’an, a Manama, Bahrain facility has been hosting an international exhibition of Qur’an (Koran) manuscripts.
This was the first time I had seen the Koran, and it was fitting to start with the first verse, which we saw repeated in endlessly enchanting forms through finely detailed calligraphic manuscripts across nations and centuries.
In a previous conversation with medical director for a large health and wellness facility in the region, I had noted that spirituality is considered a form of CAM. I also observed that spirituality is universal and encompasses many different forms of religious expression. The physician agreed that in his experience, spiritual expression and outpouring helps patients and that sharing the presence of this spiritual expression–even across religious beliefs–can intensify the intangible therapeutic bond that maximizes healing.
Beit Qur’an further highlighted this shared sense of the importance of spiritual expression in healing. According to the brochure, Beit Al Qur’an “is dedicated to the service of the Holy Qur’an and to the better and wider understanding of Islam as a religion and a civilization…. [W]hatever their nationalities or religious background … [v]isitors … will be able to learn more about the Holy Qur’an, Islam and its code of ethics and moral values.” This was of interest given my focus on legal and ethical issues in complementary medicine. The exhibition, entitled “The Spirit Illuminated,” presented selections from the finest and most precious Qur’an manuscripts.
Although I could not read the Arabic (except a few letters) I caught the energy of bliss emanating from those many people who spent hours (and no doubt their fingers and eyesight) inscribing the ornately wrought texts in praise of a merciful and loving Allah. Seeing the Quranic verses, even as an outsider to Islam, gave an appreciation and feeling for the spiritual impulse of Islam’s far-flung adherents, as well as their common spiritual bond through the shared sense of revealed scripture.
The felt passion of our companions emanated through their eyes, voices and hands, as they translated various verses or commented on the particular script or style of each manuscript.
As I had written in Future Medicine: “it is one thing to look at the ocean, another to dive in.” Visiting Beit Qur’an felt like plunging directly into the oceanic awareness that sustains and binds the believers of Islam. And for a mystic, the ecstasy of divine love is a universal (and non-local) phenomenon. Our visit here transformed the linear time allotted to a museum into the breath of the Eternal.