NAJAF, Iraq - Hussein al-Kharsan kneels, bent over a giant sheet of paper, laboriously writing the words of Islam's holy book, the Koran, in beautiful Arabic script with a traditional wood and feather pen.
The 25-year-old Iraqi aims to take an unusual path to fame: writing the longest copy of the Koran in the world. Kharsan says the scroll is to be between 5,500 and 6,000 metres long, or 3.4 and 3.7 miles.
His aim, he says, is to set a Guinness World Record.
If that happens, it will be another entry on the Islamic holy text, which expressly prohibits the consumption of alcohol, in a record book conceived by the managing director of a brewery.
The copy of the Koran was supposed to be shown this year, when Najaf was to be the Islamic Capital of Culture, but that project has been postponed indefinitely amid serial delays and allegations of corruption.
It has not however stopped Kharsan, who graduated from Baghdad University's college of fine arts, from continuing his work inside a religious school in Najaf, despite pains in his neck and back from long hours of carefully writing out one verse after another.