A locked vault in a Baghdad mosque contains a Quran written in lovely, sweeping Arabic calligraphy which, if not for its ink, could be displayed in a museum. But this holy book was written in blood—Saddam Hussein’s blood to be precise.
Following an assassination attempt on the life of his son, Uday, the former dictator became a devout Muslim. Ironically though, with infinite resources it’s difficult to demonstrate your piety. In an attempted display of devotion, Saddam had roughly 27 liters of his blood drawn and given to a calligrapher over a period of two years.
Over the course of two years the artist, Abbas Shakir Joudi al-Baghdadi, wrote some 600 pages of the Quran using the Iraqi president’s blood as ink.
Authorities don’t know what to do with the document. On the one hand, it is a significant, if gruesome, artifact of a particular era in Iraqi history. On the other hand, displaying it could cause it to be glorified by Saddam’s supporters, the Ba’ath Party. Additionally, some Sufi leaders have called the macabre method of writing such a Quran “haraam,” or forbidden.
For now, the Blood Quran resides in a basement under strict lock and key. It was previously on display in Saddam’s “Mother of All Battles” Mosque. Now, that room is sealed by three vaulted doors, the keys to which have been distributed between a sheikh, the city police commissioner, and a secret third party. In order to even be considered for a visit to the Blood Quran, one has to submit to deliberation by a government committee. So for now, it sits in the mosque, growing more curious and grisly by the day.