open book

A Quran for the holidays The Esfandiari family gives a treasured heirloom for display alongside other sacred texts in the Fish Interfaith Center


‘Tis the season for giving, especially for Behrooz Esfandiari, a campus planner who has worked for Chapman University’s Campus Planning and Operations Department since 1997. In time for the holidays, Esfandiari recently donated his family’s beloved Quran, the religious text of the Islam faith, to the Leatherby Collection to be displayed in the Fish Interfaith Center alongside other sacred scriptures from around the world.

The topic of donating the Quran came up when Esfandiari was working on installing the plaques for marquetry cabinets containing treligious books in the Interfaith Center. He was asked by Gail Stearns, the dean of the Interfaith Center, if he knew anyone who had a Quran to donate.

“One vision we have is to house sacred books from various religions here to symbolize our commitment to welcome interfaith dialogue and peace among the religions. The gift of this beautiful Quran by Nahid and Behrooz Esfandiari is an important step toward reaching that goal!” Stearns said in a statement.

After asking his wife, Esfandiari donated the Quran to Chapman.

“We decided that we would give the book to Chapman University so it can be displayed for the students of the Islam religion,” Esfandiari said.

Recalling the origins of the donated Quran, Esfandiari says that the Imperial Court of Iran published the book in 1965 and the Shah of Iran ordered that a limited number of prints be made for the senior staff of the Imperial Court. His father-in-law was a senior staff member of the court of the Shah, so he was among those who received copies. Later his wife, Nahid, received the Quran as a gift from her father and has kept it protected in their house ever since.

In addition to its rich history, this Quran is also beautifully decorated. The cover is illustrated with red and yellow flowers on a bright red background, and the title page features the written text surrounded by a framework of colorful geometric and floral images.

Cover of the Quran

Cover of the Quran. Photo by Behrooz Esfandiari


Since this copy of the sacred scripture may be one of a kind after the revolution, Esfandiari is glad that he donated the Quran and has high hopes for its future display at the
Fish Interfaith Center
. Fundraising is underway to commission a permanent display case by the artist William Tunberg, who created the other marquetry cabinets and chancel furnishings in the center.

“I am hoping that one day it will be displayed for the students or other public and visitors which we have from all over the globe in the Interfaith Center,” Esfandiari says.

Top Image: The title page of the Quran. Photo by Behrooz Esfandiari

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Michelle Yee

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