World’s Oldest (Probably) Koran Fragments Found at Birmingham Uni
Koran fragments have been found in a library at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and they could be the oldest to have been discovered in the world, ever.
The Koran, or Qur’an, is the Muslim holy text, and records the various revelations that the Prophet Muhammad received in the 22 years leading up to his death in 632.
The recently discovered pages – two leaves – had been sat in the university library for almost a century, kept amongst a compilation of Middle Eastern books and documents called the Mingana Collection.
The collection has over 3,000 manuscripts in more than 20 languages, so it’s understandable how the parchment could have been missed for all this time!
PhD researcher Dr Alba Fedeli decided to look more closely at the pages and thought it would be a good idea to test them to see just how old they were.
The pages were carried out by the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, which found that the fragments were written on goat or sheep skin. They also discovered that it dated back to between 568 and 645, with a probability of more than 95%. This would make the manuscript around 1,370 years old!
Professor David Thomas of Christianity and Islam said that even the latest date puts the fragments within a mere few years of the actual founding of Islam.
“The person who actually wrote it could well have known the Prophet Muhammad,” he explained. “He may have known him personally, and that really is quite a thought to conjure with.”
Professor Thomas added that it is thought the original text has undergone little to no alteration over the decades, and the fragments support that theory.
Susan Worrall is the university’s Director of Special Collections, and she said that no one could have thought the manuscript would be as old as it was.
“Finding out we had one of the oldest fragments of the Koran in the whole world has been fantastically exciting,” she exclaimed.
The local Muslim community is also thrilled with the news. “When I saw these pages, I was very moved,” said Birmingham Central Mosque chairperson Muhammad Afzal. “There were tears of joy and emotion in my eyes.”
Image Source: University of Birmingham