IO, Palembang – Palembang is more than just the locale of the delicious rustic fish dumpling, the empek-empek. Here in this bustling port city, you can also find religious heritage like the biggest Qur’an in the world, the Bayt Al Quran Al Akbar (Great Qur’an Book). It is located at Jalan Moh. Amin, Gandus, Palembang City. The Indonesian Record Museum (Museum Rekor Indonesia – “MURI”) has acknowledged this giant Qur’an as the biggest and heaviest transcription of the scripture in the world.
The holy words of the Qur’an – all 30 juzs (sections), 114 suras (chapters), and 6236 ayats (verses) -are carved on 316 boards made out of tembesu wood and painted in gold paint. The wood, which grows in the marshy woods of Sumatra, is better known as the trembesi in Java and the ulin in Kalimantan. Each board is 2.5 cm thick, 144 cm wide, and 177 tall, and weighs 50 kg. That’s a total of 50 cm3 tembesu wood collected from all corners of South Sumatra.
This Quran is such a great exhibit that it comprises the sole content of the eponymous museum. The 600 pages of the great wooden Qur’an can be turned like pages of a bound Qur’an thanks to its hinged mechanism that allows them to move back and forth like doors. The boards are arranged in 5 stories, wherein each story covers 3 juz of the Qur’an. The golden calligraphy of this Quran on an elegant dark brown background evokes the divinity of the verses with its beauty.
The Al Qur’an museum construction cost IDR 2 billion. More and more visitors come to the museum; both the curious and the ones actually performing a religious pilgrimage, whether local residents, national citizens, or foreign tourists. Most of the foreign visitors come from Arab Gulf countries. They intentionally came to witness the existence of such a unique art work of religious significance. 2,000-3,000 people visit the museum every week, or about 500,000 to a million visitors every year. Peak visiting periods are during the Ramadan or fasting month to Eid-el-Fitr every year.
Entry tickets are IDR 20,000.00 per adult or IDR 15,000.00 per child. For entry to the museum, there is a special ruling: women must wear a hijab or at least a head covering other than dressing properly, while men must at least wear long trousers.
If you arrive from outside Palembang, it is very easy for you to get to this site from Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II International Airport. When you arrive at the airport, you can get a taxi for a short ride, or use the more economical yet equally good options from Palembang’s public transport array, the Trans Musi bus line or the Palembang LRT. (Dsy)