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  • Analysis

Something old, something new: The Quran goes NFT

The rare copy of the Quran was purported to have been written between 632 AD and 1100 AD
  • Three volumes of ancient manuscript are being tokenised
  • Each NFT will be priced at around $200
  • Consumers advised to do research before investing in crypto assets

In a novel merging of yesterday and tomorrow, one million people have been invited to purchase a non-fungible token (NFT) version of a rare copy of the Quran.

MetaDee, a London-based digital NFT marketplace offering artworks and rare collectibles from around the world, has tokenised an exclusive handwritten Holy Quran manuscript by the personal scribe of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Zayd ibn Thābit, who served as the chief recorder of the Quran text. 

Each volume will mint one million NFTs and each NFT is priced at 0.15 Ether (ETH) or approximately $200.

NFTs are unique cryptographic tokens that exist on a blockchain and cannot be replicated, and can represent real-world items like artwork and real estate. 

The process of turning a digital file into an NFT is called minting.

In the world of Islamic finance, for these products to cater to Muslims, they must meet a technical specification which is classified as ‘halal’ that is in alignment with the Sharia law. 

The rare copy of the Quran, recorded in five volumes, with each in six parts, was purported to have been written between 632 AD and 1100 AD. Three of the five volumes of the Holy Quran are tokenised into NFTs. 

MetaDee said the copies have been authenticated and certified by the University of Oxford’s Research Laboratory for Archaeology and The History of Art, the world-leading authority in dating archaeological artefacts, further to a detailed carbon dating by the university. 

Just 0.1 percent of crypto owners have dabbled in NFT ownership – a few hundred thousand people – according to 2021 data from blockchain analysis platform Chainalysis.

A June 2022 report by ResearchAndMarkets said the global NFT market size is expected to grow from $3 billion in 2022 to $13.6bn by 2027, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35 percent from 2022 to 2027.

According to Statista, as of August 15 the aggregated value of sales involving NFTs over a 30 day period amounted to roughly $43 million.

The rise in NFT interest has been attributed to celebrity influence, growing popularity of collectibles in the gaming industry, and slow but increasing demand for digital artworks fuelled by several high-profile sales.

In March 2021, auction house Christie’s sold an NFT digital collage by American artist Beeple for a whopping $69.3m, making it the most expensive NFT sold as a single work worldwide.

Anonymous artist Pak sold his artwork “The Merge” as an NFT sold for a staggering sum of $91.8m, which was bought by 29,983 people, split into 312,686 coins distributed to buyers.

Metadee’s founder and managing director Deepali Shukla, behind the rare copy of the Quran, recorded in five volumes

Most unique and rare collectible”

With a total market value of $2.2 trillion in 2021, the global Islamic finance industry is sizeable and is anticipated to be worth $3.69trn by 2024, according to data from Refinitiv.

In the press statement MetaDee called the NFT “one of the most unique and rare NFT collectibles in the world”.

Irina Heaver, a leading cryptocurrency and blockchain lawyer, told AGBI in June that consumers need to be careful not to fall for fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) syndrome, and jump on the digital bandwagon without fully understanding what they’re buying into.

She added that potential buyers must recognise that crypto assets are highly volatile, citing the example of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s NFT of his first-ever Twitter post that sold for a whopping $2.9m but drew bids of only a few hundred dollars at an auction a few months later – a 99 percent plunge in value.

“People have to be very careful about how much of their net worth they are allocating to crypto assets,” she added.

Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer at Jacky’s Retail, said that while retail trends are moving more towards “pride of ownership”,  metaverse technologies are still at a stage of “trial and error”.

Earlier this year Citi said the metaverse economy could be worth $13trn by 2030.

In the UAE, crown prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed announced the launch of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy in July aiming to place the emirate among the top 10 metaverse economies in the world.

The plan is to attract more than 1,000 firms in the sector, generate up to $4 billion in extra GDP by 2030 and support as many as 40,000 virtual jobs.

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