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Birmingham University comes up with 'oldest Quran' fragments

Radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence.

The pages from the Holy Quran, which is considered the word of Allah by Muslims, lay in the university’s library for as much as almost a whole century before being discovered. The university’s expert on such affairs, Dr Muhammad Isa Waley stated that this “exciting discovery” would make Muslims “rejoice”.




The manuscript was kept with other Middle Eastern books and was not identified as the oldest Quran. PhD researcher Alba Fedeli decided to have a radiocarbon test of the pages conducted, after having a close look at the pages of the Holy Quran.

“Finding out we had one of the oldest fragments of the Koran in the whole world has been fantastically exciting.”

The tests, which were carried out by Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, stated that the fragments, which were written on sheep or goat skin, were among the oldest surviving texts from the Holy Quran. These tests provide a range of dates, showing that, with a probability of more than 95%, the parchment was from between 568 and 645.

“They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam,” said David Thomas, the university’s professor of Christianity and Islam.

“According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Koran, the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death.”

According to Professor Thomas, the dating of the folios could also very well mean that the person who wrote the Holy Quran might have well been alive and heard Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) preach.

“The person who actually wrote it could well have known the Prophet Muhammad. He would have seen him probably, he would maybe have heard him preach. He may have known him personally – and that really is quite a thought to conjure with,” he says.



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