Rabat - What may be the oldest fragments of the Koran have been found in the archives of University of Birmingham in England.
Rabat – What may be the oldest fragments of the Koran have been found in the archives of University of Birmingham in England.
According to researchers at University of Birmingham, the fragments are at least 1,370 years old, dating it back to between AD 568 and 645.
“They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam,” University of Birmingham professor of Christianity and Islam David Thomas told the BBC.
The fragments had been mixed in with a collection of other Middle Eastern books and documents for nearly 100 years, unrecognized by the university until now as being one of the earliest Korans that still exist today.
The age of the texts was discovered when a PhD researcher, Alba Fedeli, decided to carry out radiocarbon dating tests after looking at the fragments more closely.
The tests revealed the “startling” news that the fragments, written on either sheep skin or goat skin, could have been written “within a few years of the actual founding of Islam,” according to Professor David Thomas, University of Birmingham’s professor of Christianity and 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 – and that really is quite a thought to conjure with,” said David Thomas.
The manuscript is written in “Hijazi script”, an early form of written Arabic. According to Dr. Waley, a curator at the British Library, the script, written in a “beautiful and surprisingly legible Hijazi hand,” dates the fragments back to a time around the first three caliphs.
“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 and that it can be dated to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed,” said David Thomas.
According to the university, the fragments will be put on display in the Barber Institute in Birmingham in October.
“In any case, this – along with the sheer beauty of the content and the surprisingly clear Hijazi script – is news to rejoice Muslim hearts,” said Dr. Wales