Last Updated: Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:28 am (KSA) 07:28 am (GMT)

Algeria septuagenarian woman breaks illiteracy barrier, handwrites 5 Quran copies

Aisha Moheildin, a 70-year-old woman who wrote five copies of the Holy Quran. (File photo)
Aisha Moheildin, a 70-year-old woman who wrote five copies of the Holy Quran. (File photo)

After long years of hard work, a 70-year-old Algerian woman has finally managed not only to become fully literate, but also to write five copies of the Holy Quran in what she regarded as her way to thank God for the blessing He bestowed upon her.

“The alphabet looked like riddles to me,” Aisha Moheildin, who lives in the Blida province southwest of the capital Algiers, told Al Arabiya. “But some force inside me pushed me towards deciphering them.”

In the first year, she learnt the alphabet and writing and in the second, she was capable of reading the whole Quran. When she entered her third literacy year, Ms. Moheildin decided to write the Quran herself.

“This was my way of thanking God for granting me this gift: through writing His blessed words.”

Ms. Moheildin, who took part in the Algerian Revolution, said she was a poor peasant forced to work to earn her bread and later to raise her children so she was never able to get an education.

One day, she was at the cemetery where she works and while looking at one of the graves, raised her hands to the sky and pleaded, “God, please don’t make me die illiterate.”

The following day, Ms. Moheildin recounted, a woman who worked in a nearby mosque came to the cemetery and announced the launch of a project to teach the elderly how to read and write.

“I felt God had responded to my pleas, so I joined that classes. That was in 1991.”

By 1996, Ms. Moheildin was already capable of reading and writing perfectly. It was in 2006 that she decided to write the Quran.

“My son had gotten me a 40-page notepad so I could learn calligraphy and there I wrote the first verses of the Quran.”

When she finished the first chapter, she started contemplating writing the entire holy book.

“God gave me a super power and in 13 months I wrote the first copy of the Quran.”

As for her writing rituals, Ms. Moheildin said she used to wake up every day at dawn, prayers then start writing while sipping on her coffee. Whenever she finished a part, she took it to her mentor at the mosque for revision.

The second copy took her five months and made her keener on writing more copies until she ended up with five.

“My fingers got used to writing the words of God and I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

In the holy month of Ramadan, Ms. Moheildin plans to resume her efforts, but this time with exegesis and jurisprudence books.

“I hereby declare a war on ignorance illiteracy,” she concluded.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

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