Found In A UK Library, The 'World’s Oldest Koran' That Gathered Dust For A Century

Found In A UK Library, The 'World’s Oldest Koran' That Gathered Dust For A Century

FOR almost 100 years,
two small pieces of parchment have been bound & stored away on a
university library shelf.

Originally brought back
from the Middle East in the 1920s they were put inside a late
7th-century manuscript & left to gather dust.

But now it has emerged
the ancient parchment could in fact be pages from the world’s oldest
Koran.

p>It is possible the
author personally knew the Prophet Muhammad & had written his
teachings after hearing him preach first-hand, experts suggest.

Their sensational claim
was made after radiocarbon dating revealed the parchment – made
from a combination of stone, palm leaves & camel shoulder blades –
dates back at least 1,370 years.

Written in ink, the
passages – which contain parts of chapters, or ‘Suras’, 18-20 of
the Koran – are penned in an early form of Arabic script known as
Hijazi.

Dr Alba Fedeli, of Birmingham Universoty, examined the document as part of his PhD
and tests at Oxford University revealed it was written between 568 AD
and 645 AD – making it one of the oldest in existence.

Muslims
believe that the Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad
through the angel Jibril from 609 AD until his death in 632 AD.

Dr
Fedeli 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 Bibliothque Nationale de France in
Paris.’

David Thomas, professor of Christianity & Islam at
Birmingham University, said: 'The radiocarbon dating of the
Birmingham Koran folios has yielded a startling result & reveals
one of the most surprising secrets of the university’s
collections.

'They could well take us back to within a few years
of the actual founding of Islam.

'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 – & that really is quite a thought
to conjure with.

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

'At this time, the divine message was not compiled
into the book form in which it appears today. 

'Instead, the
revelations were preserved in the memories of men.’

Nadir Dinshaw,
professor of Interreligious Relations, said: 'Parts of it had also
been written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves & the shoulder
blades of camels. 

'The tests carried out on the parchment of
the Birmingham folios yield the strong probability that the animal
from which it was taken was alive during the lifetime of the Prophet
Muhammad or shortly afterwards. 

'This means that the parts
of the Koran that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of
confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Muhammad’s
death.

'These portions must have been in a form that is very close
to the form of the Koran read today, supporting the view that the
text has undergone little or no alteration & that it can be dated
to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed.’

Dr
Muhammed Isa Waley, lead curator for Persian & Turkish manuscripts
at the British Library, said: 'We know now that these two folios, in
a nicely & surprisingly legible Hijazi hand, almost certainly
date from the time of the first three Caliphs.

'According to the
classic accounts, it was under the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan,
that the Quranic text was compiled & edited in the order of Suras
familiar today, chiefly on the basis of the text as compiled by Zayd
ibn Thabit under the first Caliph, Abu Bakr.

'Copies of the
definitive edition were then distributed to the main cities under
Muslim rule. 

'The Muslim community was not wealthy enough to
stockpile animal skins for decades, & to produce a complete Mushaf,
or copy, of the Holy Koran required a tremendous many of them. 

'This
discovery, along with the sheer beauty of the content & the
surprisingly clear Hijazi script is news to rejoice Muslim
hearts.’

The manuscript is part of the Mingana Collection of more
than 3,000 Middle Eastern documents gathered in the 1920s by Alphonse
Mingana, a Chaldean priest born near Mosul in modern-day Iraq.

He
was sponsored to take collecting trips to the Middle East by Edward
Cadbury, who was part of the chocolate-making dynasty in Birmingham.

Pictures courtesy of News Team International

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Source: “Yahoo News”

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