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‘World’s oldest’ Quran found at Birmingham University

23 July 2015 17:05



Researchers at the UK’s University of Birmingham say they have found the world’s oldest manuscript of the Quran.

The fragments of the Muslim holy book are believed to date back to nearly 1,400 years. According to a radiocarbon analysis carried out by the University of Oxford, the parchment on which the text is written dates back to the period between 568CE and 645CE, close to the time of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

Some experts believe it was quite possible that the person who had written the pages of holy book would have been alive at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”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,” David Thomas, the Birmingham University’s professor of Christianity and Islam was quoted as saying by the British media.

The manuscripts were found in Birmingham University’s library, after remaining there unrecognized for nearly a century.The fragments consist of parts of chapters 18 to 20 of the Quran, written in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi which is still clearly legible.

“I think this is extremely important discovery for two reasons: First of all, this Quran is written in Hijazi script as against all other texts that are in Kufic script which shows that initially the Quran was written in Hijazi script but later on Kufic being nicer and better replaced the Hijazi script. Secondly, it shows that the Quran was written and compiled at the time of the Prophet himself and rejects historical accounts of its compilation at the time of the first caliph”, Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour, a London-based Islamic scholar and researcher told Press TV.


Bahmanpour also rejected century some old assertions, especially by some western scholars that the Muslim holy book was compiled years after the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

“Usually, it is assumed based on certain narrations that the Quran was not compiled at the time of the Prophet rather at the time of Caliph Abu Bakr or Caliph Osman that of course no one would deny. However, that doesn’t mean that it was not complied at the time of the Prophet. They were just additional compilations ordered by Abu Bakr for example. It doesn’t of course contradict or has any conflict to assume that the Quran was compiled at the time of the Prophet by Abdullah ibn Masood and Ali ibn abi Talib (AS)”.

He added that the discovery of this text would put an end to all those authorizations or hypotheses which are based on very weak evidence.

“I think this is yet another proof that the Quran has reached us intact the way it was preached at the time of the Prophet (PBUH) and the way it was complied. Probably, this is the oldest text of the Quran found till now and it is exactly the same as the Quran that we read today”, Bahmanpour concluded.

The fragments consist of parts of Suras 18 to 20 of the Quran, written in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijaz which is still clearly legible.

It was decided to carry out a radiocarbon test only after a PhD student looked more closely at the pages of the Quran and concluded that they should be properly examined.

“Finding out we had one of the oldest fragments of the Quran in the whole world has been fantastically exciting.” Said Birmingham University’s director of special collections.

The manuscripts are part of the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts, which are held in the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham.

The pages of the world’s oldest Quran are expected to be on public display at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, from October 2 until October 25.


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