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One of world's oldest Quran manuscripts found in Birmingham

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have stumbled on what are believed to be the world’s oldest fragments of the Quran dating back more than 1,300 years.

world Updated: Jul 22, 2015 19:47 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
One of world's oldest Quran manuscripts has been found in University of Birmingham. (Photo Credit: Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham)
One of world's oldest Quran manuscripts has been found in University of Birmingham. (Photo Credit: Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham)

In a rare find, a Quran manuscript long held by the University of Birmingham has been assessed to be among the oldest in the world after carbon dating its parchments at the University of Oxford.

Radiocarbon analysis at Oxford dated the parchment on which the text is written to the period between AD 568 and 645 with 95.4% accuracy. The result places the leaves close to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, who is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632.

Researchers conclude that the Quran manuscript is among the earliest written textual evidence of the Islamic holy book known to survive. This gives the Quran manuscript in Birmingham global significance to Muslim heritage and the study of Islam, a university release said.

Susan Worrall, Director of Special Collections (Cadbury Research Library), at the University of Birmingham, said: “The radiocarbon dating has delivered an exciting result, which contributes significantly to our understanding of the earliest written copies of the Quran”.

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Radiocarbon analysis at University of Oxford places the leaves close to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, who is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632. (Photo Credit: Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham)



The Quran manuscript is part of the University’s Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts, held in the Cadbury Research Library.



Consisting of two parchment leaves, the Quran manuscript is believed to contain parts of Suras (chapters) 18 to 20, written with ink in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi. For many years, the manuscript had been misbound with leaves of a similar Quran manuscript, which is datable to the late seventh century.



Worrall said: "By separating the two leaves and analysing the parchment, we have brought to light an amazing find within the Mingana Collection."



Alba Fedeli, who studied the leaves as part of her PhD research, said: "The two leaves, which were radiocarbon dated to the early part of the seventh century, come from the same codex as a manuscript kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris."