‘Oldest’ Koran fragments found in Birmingham University

‘Oldest’ Koran fragments found in Birmingham University

‘Oldest’ Koran fragments found in Birmingham University What may be the world’s oldest Quran fragments have been found by the University of Birmingham, the BBC has reported.

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

The pages of the Muslim holy text had remained unrecognized in the university’s library for almost a century.

A British Library expert on such manuscripts, Dr. Muhammad Isa Waley, said this “exciting discovery” would make Muslims “rejoice.”

The manuscript had been kept with a collection of other Middle Eastern books and documents, without being identified as one of the oldest Quran pieces in the world.

When a PhD researcher looked more closely at its pages, the decision was made to do a radiocarbon dating of the book and the results were “startling.”

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

“Finding out we had one of the oldest fragments of a Quran in the whole world has been fantastically exciting,” she added. 

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 a 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 Quran, the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death.”