Qur’an Cup



This piece responds to the reading Drinking the Koran: The Meaning of Koranic Verses in Berti Erasure. The author, Abdullahi Osman El-Tom, speaks to one mode by which the Berti people of Northern Darfur, Sudan, understand the Koran. He states:

“The highest form of the possession of the Koran is its commitment to memory, which amounts to its internalization in head, the superior part of the body, whence it can be instantly reproduced by recitation. But the Koran can also be internalized in the body by being drunk. Although drinking the Koran is seen as being far less effective than memorizing it, it is superior to carrying it on the body through the use of amulets.”

With this in mind, I decided to create an avant-garde art piece that literalized this practice by writing the following Surah on the outside of a coffee cup:


…Who created me, and

It is He Who guides me…

And when I am ill,

It is He Who cures me.


And whose help I need

On the day of judgment,

Oh, My Lord! Bestow on me

The wisdom of the prophet

And the righteous people.


By the sky

And the Night Visitant


Surely God is able

To bring him back

To life after death.

Surah 26: 78, 80


Of course, this piece has a deep component of social commentary. Placing a Surah on the outside of a coffee cup connoted with a big American monopoly — a veritable icon — creates quite the juxtaposition. At the same time, it may suggest that were people to privilege symbolically imbibing the Surah as much as they privilege the rush, efficiency, and capitalism associated with to-go coffee from coffee monopolies, the world might be a different place.

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