April 25, 2021, 04.11 PM

PALEMBANG, KOMPAS.com - The world's giant wooden Quran has attracted both domestic and foreign visitors to Indonesia's oldest city Palembang in South Sumatera province before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Made of Tembesu tree (Fagrea fragans) with a height of up to 15 meters, each page of the Quran measures 1.77 by 1.40 meters (5.8 by 4.6 feet). It exhibits 30 Quranic juz (traditional divisions of the holy book) which are engraved with Palembang-style gold carvings and 630 pages of recitation and prayers for beginners.

The place, which is known as the Al Quran Al Akbar Museum in Palembang's Al Ihsaniyah Gandus boarding school, opened its door to the public on January 30, 2012, after it was inaugurated by then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. At the time, the making of the giant Quran spent a total budget of two billion rupiahs ($137,000).

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Syarkoni, a tour guide, said that many foreign visitors, including from Malaysia, flocked to visit the giant wooden Quran since it was inaugurated as an Islamic travel destination.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, in a day, at least about 500 local and foreign tourists came to visit the giant Al Quran.

"They came in groups, mostly from Malaysia. They came almost every day before the Covid-19 pandemic," said Syarkoni on Saturday, April 24.

Besides, some religious activities also took place at the Al Quran during the holy month of Ramadan. This includes tadarus (Quran recital), lectures, tarawih (evening Ramadan prayers), and breaking the fast.

"However, for now, we close the place for religious activities due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Only tours are allowed," he said.

In the Al Quran, the entrance ticket costs 15,000 rupiahs ($1) for children and 20,000 rupiahs ($1.38) for adults. Currently, the tour is only open from Monday to Saturday due to government regulations.

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Syarkoni explained that the money received from the tickets will be used for its building maintenance, social activities such as developing Islamic boarding schools and helping the orphans.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of visitors has decreased dramatically to about 50 people from 500 people a day. 

"Previously, the government closed all tourist attractions including us. But now they are slowly starting to open again, although only a few visitors come to visit," he said.

During this pandemic, the giant Quran organizer implemented strict health protocols for visitors. Before entering, the visitors are urged to wash their hands and wear a mask. To avoid a crowded place, the visitors will be asked to sit in a designated waiting room when the exhibition area is full of visitors.  

"We do this as our support to the government to strictly implement the health protocols," he said. 

(Writer: Aji YK Putra | Editor: Farid Assifa)

Source: https://regional.kompas.com/read/2021/04/24/163003178/wisata-religi-mengunjungi-al-quran-terbesar-dunia-di-palembang?page=all#page3

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