China has got the entire world’s market of religious paraphernalia cornered. Not only have Chinese manufacturers been making everything from statues of Guru Nanak (revered by the Sikhs), to Hindu gods such as Shiva, Vishnu and Ganesh, to the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico, they’ve also been edging out producers of Ramadan lanterns and keffiyeh’s in the Middle East.
Now, apparently, even publishers in the Islamic Republic of Iran have been quietly outsourcing the printing of their Qurans to China, to save on printing costs. Unfortunately, many of the made-in-China Qurans have come out full of spelling errors. And the problem has been deemed serious enough by Ahmad Haji-Sharif, Director of the Department of Evaluation on Publication of the Holy Quran, to ask importers NOT to bring in Qurans from China.
Haji-Sharif also raised doubts as to whether Chinese printers were following strict Islamic requirements when dealing with the holy book. He said, “We Muslims also believe that those who are involved with the Holy Quran should perform ablutions first before touching the holy verses and the pages of the Quran.”
Pointing to the 1,000 publishers of the Quran in Iran that print 108 different translations of the book, Haji-Sharif asked, “Why should we send our publications outside Iran?”
Long-time readers of Shanghaiist may also recall that China is, in fact, the world’s largest supplier of Bibles. The city of Nanjing, some 250km away from Shanghai, is home to an aircraft hangar-sized plant called Amity Printing that is capable of producing 1 million Bibles a month, or one Bible per second, and it’s been printing copies of the holy book in 90 languages, from Braille to Slovakian to Swahili.