On october 15, 1991, Haji Muhammad Soeharto, President of Indonesia, became the first official calligrapher for the Al-Qur'an Mushaf Istiqlal—The National Independence Illuminated Qur'an—by inking in the initial letter of the Basmallah in the opening sura (Al-Fatihah, the prologue; see Fig. 1). Four years later, just after commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Indonesian independence, he put the finishing touch to the closing sura of the Qur'an (An-Naas, or “Humanity,” Suta 114), signed the completed manuscript, and presented it to the people of Indonesia and to the Muslim world community. Although he is adept at using or reciting the Qur'anic Arabic needed for daily prayer, the profession of faith, and the verbal exchanges that bond Muslims with each other, Soeharto is a decidedly unpracticed calligrapher when it comes to Arabic orthography.

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