British experts find world’s oldest Quran in Birmingham, England

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University of Birmingham in England has discovered what’s believed to be the world’s oldest fragments of Quran, Muslims’ holy book.

According to the BBC, radiocarbon dating found that the manuscript was at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence.

What’s astonishing is that the pages of Quran existed in the university for at least 100 years but it had gone unrecognised. These manuscripts existed with other middle-eastern books without catching anybody’s attention that they were the oldest fragments of Quran.

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Alba Fedeli, a Phd researcher looked more closely at these pages before deciding to carry out a radiocarbon dating test and the results were “startling.”

The tests, carried out by the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, showed that the fragments, written on sheep or goat skin, were among the very oldest surviving texts of the Koran.

The university’s director of special collections, Susan Worrall, said researchers had not expected “in our wildest dreams” that it would be so old.

According to an expert on such manuscripts in the British Library, Dr Muhammad Isa Waley, said this “exciting discovery” would make Muslims “rejoice.”

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“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.

Prof Thomas says that some of the passages of the Quran were written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and the shoulder blades of camels – and a final version, collected in book form, was completed in about 650.

He says that “the parts of the Quran that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Muhammad’s death.”

Dr Waley, curator for such manuscripts at the British Library, said “these two folios, in a beautiful and surprisingly legible Hijazi hand, almost certainly date from the time of the first three caliphs”.

The first three caliphs were leaders in the Muslim community between about 632 and 656.

Dr Waley says that under the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, copies of the “definitive edition” were distributed.

Muslims believe that the words of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel over 22 years from 610. The first English translation of this holy book was done in 1734 even though it was littered with too many mistakes.

 

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