Presentation of a Unique Computer Font ‘Kazan Basma’ Was Held in Kazan

21 October 2021


A historical event for Muslims in Russia and the world took place in Kazan: the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Republic of Tatarstan received the electronic sources of the Quran edition based on a specially designed computer font ‘Kazan Basma’. The digital materials of the project were received by Mufti of Tatarstan Kamil Samigullin from the hands of the developer, Muhammad Abay, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Ilahiyat (Shariah) at Marmar University.

The first Kazan Quran

It is widely known that the Quran was sent down in Hejaz, read in Cairo, written in Istanbul, and printed in Kazan. In Kazan in 1803, the Quran was first published in two volumes, and the original is still preserved to this day. This historical event was made possible only by the relocation of the Asiatic printing house to Kazan.

‘Since then the Quran has been republished many times. There have been numerous disputed as to which methodology to use in doing so: regarding the grammar or the relatively old muskhaf of the Prophet’s companion. In this regard, a large meeting of prominent Tatar scholars took place at the Apanaevs’ house on January 7, 1909. The main reason for the meeting was an article in the newspaper of Musa Bigiev about shortcomings in the Kazan edition of the Noble Quran, which were to be corrected so that they met the muskhaf. The book ‘Corrections of the Official Writing of the Quran’ was released in the Tatar language. After the first meeting, great Tatar minds did not come to a common opinion and they met again a week later. The result of the discussion was the establishment of the commission, aimed at finding flaws and correcting them. A total of 57 such places were found’, the Tatarstan Mufti explained.

For various objective reasons, including the revolution in 1917, scholars did not manage to complete what had been started, but the book ‘Taskhih Rasm Hatt al-Quran’ and the work ‘Fawaid al-Muhimma’, in which the author Shigabutdin Marjani also spoke about the errors that occurred in copies of the Russian edition of the Quran, became the basis for the work of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Tatarstan in developing the updated ‘Kazan Basma’. As a result, today specialists from the Spiritual Administration typed the text anew using the design font of the same name, taking into account the comments of 1909 and in accordance with the modern international standards. This was made possible within the framework of preparations for the celebration of the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria.

To date, the texts of the new ‘Kazan Basma’ have been checked and proofread in their entirety. The updated edition will meet the accepted global standards of ‘Ar-Rasm Al-Usmani’. The Kazan Basma design computer font itself is based on an authentic typographic print.




The Kazan Basma edition is popular not only in Russia

According to Kamil Samigullin, the Kazan Basma edition is read not only by residents of Russia, but also by Muslims from Central Asia. ‘We wanted to republish the old Tatar Quran. In 2016, we printed an updated Kazan edition of the Holy Quran based on what we had already had. Since that year, we have reprinted it five times. This edition was also published in Belarus’, Samigullin added.

Updating an ancient Kazan font

The computer font developed is characterized by sharper lettering and makes it possible to enlarge the format for printing.

The value of the ancient Kazan font is also confirmed by the statements of world scholars. According to the Mufti of Tatarstan, old Kazan books are rarer and valuable than manuscripts of the Islamic world. ‘So correctly our scholars verified each book and letter and tried not to make mistakes’, Kamil Samigullin explained.

Muhammad Abay, a Quranic tafsir expert from Turkey, designed the font. Over the years, he has been trying to combine his computer skills and developments with the science of Quranic interpretation. ‘If we refer to the history of the distribution of the Quran, we will find out that the Quran used to be distributed by hand. In 1937, it was printed in Italy. It was the first attempt to publish the Quran in Europe. There were several other attempts in Germany. This work was done by non-Muslims. The first Quran printed by Muslims was published in Kazan. In 1872-73, the first printed Quran was published in Istanbul, 70 years later. Kazan Muslims fulfilled the Ummah’s need for printed copies of the Holy Quran earlier. Kazan possesses a special place in Islamic sciences. And only the Kazan edition was allowed into the territory of the Ottoman Empire’, Muhammad Abay explained.

A flash drive containing the electronic sources of the Quran edition based on the specially developed computer font ‘Kazan Basma’ was presented together with a new cover of the upcoming Quran edition. The development opens up new opportunities for Quran printing and will contribute to the revival and development of Tatar traditions of Quranic printing and book printing.

Apart from the Quran edition, the ‘Kazan’ font will also be used for other literature, including literature related to Tatar religious heritage and related to the study of the Quran.



Ilmira Gafiyatullina