During the month of Ramadan, the rooms and courtyards of the Jamea Uthmania seminary in Peshwar, the capital city of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, reverberate with Quranic chants, as students and scholars recite the holy verses from early morning to late night.
But for Ali Muhammad Wazir, reading the Quran at the new seminary garden has been the most spiritually rewarding experience of this Ramadan.
“The garden is a good addition to the seminary," said Wazir. “Besides reading the Quran, I water the plants during my leisure time. It gives me immense satisfaction."
Opened to public last year, Hadeeqatul Quran, or the Quranic garden, is the first of its kind in Pakistan. According to the seminary spokesperson Shamsul Islam, it has 21 different types of trees and plants mentioned in the holy book and many of them have been imported from different parts of the world.
"We wanted our students to remember the fruits and vegetables mentioned in the Holy Quran. We believe it would help them increase their knowledge about Islam and also let them know about the medicinal benefits of those plants,” Shamsul told TRT World.
Many of the seminary students, he said, have done deep research and written a detailed thesis on each plant.
The garden also draws hordes of visitors from outside of the gated community. After reading about it in a local newspaper, Taj Gul, a high school student, visited the garden on a recent Wednesday morning. "I am seeing some plants for the first time in my life," Gul said, adding that he had never touched a real fig or olive before.
Compared to Dubai's Holy Quran Park, which has 51 different trees, Peshawar's garden is small and spread across half an acre of land, with fewer trees.
But Mujeeb Ullah, one of the architects of Peshawar's Quranic park, questions the number of trees the Dubai park claims to have. "According to our research only 21 trees and plants have been mentioned in the Holy Book. The ones in Dubai might be in reference to different species of those 21 plants,” the 48-year-old said.
Mujeeb said the garden in Peshawar has nineteen plants and trees which include fig, pomegranate, olive, corn, garlic, onion, lentil, barley, wheat, vineyard, banana, and cucumbers.
“We don’t’ have the plants of al kafoor and Khamt [Miswak tree] as our environment doesn’t support those trees,” Mujeeb said.