It wasn’t exactly an ordinary gathering when the Snoqualmie Mosque community celebrated Iftar Sunday evening at Jeanne Hansen Park. It was, after all, nearly the last day of the holy month of Ramadan, and the eve of the holiday Eid.
When the members gathered around a picnic shelter just before sunset that evening, though, they received an extraordinary gift.
Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson presented the mosque with a hand-written copy of the Quran, which he estimated to be more than 200 years old. He said he bought the book years earlier when he was traveling with his wife in Turkey.
A theology student, Larson said he’d been interested in some hand-written Qurans in a book store on the trip, but they were not high quality. At the shop keeper’s suggestion, he said, they drove to the man’s home, where he kept the copy Larson eventually bought.
“It immediately caught my eye as something of both religious and cultural value,” Larson said.
The fragile, hand-lettered pages are vibrantly colored works of art. Many bear watermarks used by paper manufacturers as far back as the mid-1700s, which helped Larson to estimate the date of the manuscript.
Imam Khalid Masude said “I haven’t seen such a Quran before, ever, in my life.”
Participants crowded around the imam and the mayor for a closer look at the historic holy book.
Larson said he’d thought about donating the book, carefully stored for years in a sealed shadow-box, to his college manuscript library, at St. John’s University in St. Joseph, Minn.
However, he decided to transfer it to the care of the Snoqualmie Mosque, in a show of support for the community whose religion and culture have been the target of harsh rhetoric in the past year.
“It seems a more powerful symbol here in the Snoqualmie mosque,” Larson said.
Following the presentation and prayers the community, larger now with people from other communities and other religious traditions, broke its fast and started its celebration of the upcoming holidays.