By Amine El Kounti
Marrakech – The following is a reader reaction to the original article “Birmingham Koran May Have Belonged to Prophet Muhammad’s Friend Abu Bakr” by Morocco World News.
In his article, the author addresses the issue of the discovery of an ancient copy of the Koran at the University of Birmingham last year and claims that evidence suggests that this copy of the Holy Koran may have belonged to Abu Bakr, Prophet Muhammad’s friend and one of the world’s first ever Muslims.
After stating how the manuscript is thought to have arrived in Birmingham, the author, based on the Radiocarbon testing of the manuscript, suggests that the copy of the Koran may have been written between 568 and 645 A.D., which places it 13 years after the death of Prophet Muhammad in 632 A.D.
According to this test I totally agree that this manuscript could be a portion of the oldest copy of the Koran in the world. Based on the same test and according to the Islamic history that illustrated how and when Muslims gathered the verses of the Holy Koran in one book, I may not agree with the choice of Abu Bakr as the owner of this ancient copy.
The Islamic history states that the Holy Koran gathered in one book between 644 and 656, under the rule of the caliph Othman. Abu Bakr became the first ever Muslim caliph in 632, ruling for 27 months until his death in 634 AD. This short period of ruling would not have allowed Abu Bakr to collect all the written copies of the Koran, revising and correcting them and the most important convincing the companions of the prophet of such crucial matter (having the Koran in one book).
On the other hand, if we assumed that such an early document could only have been commissioned by Abu Bakr, this does not mean that it belongs to him. After the death of Prophet Muhammad many important figures were still alive and may have been the owner of this significant and honorable document as the prophet’s wives and daughters, the three other caliphs Omar, Othman and Ali …etc.
As a university student and young Moroccan, I like how the article is represented. However this topic does need a longer and more detailed press report. Since this is related to religion, I would like the readers to consider the Muslims perspective towards their Holy Book and the big different between how Christians consider the Bible and Muslims treat the Koran.
Unlike many Christians that count holy books as books written by people inspired by God, Muslims believe that The Koran is the words of God. The verses of the Koran are memorized by millions of Muslims all around the world since the era of the prophet Mohammad till nowadays.
Unlike The Bible there is one version of the Koran inherited from generation to generation back to the prophet Mohammad. Any ancient manuscript that will be discovered will not be of any interest to the Muslim communities and will be rejected if it has a verse different of what we have in our present Holy Book.
Finally, I believe that too much emphasis has been placed on dating the manuscript while neglecting its content. Personally I would prefer that scientists ‘attention divert to the study of The Koran as a text because Muslims globally from the very beginning have never worried about the preservation of The Koran.
English in Media is a Master’s level course in Linguistics at Cadi Ayyad University. The course aims to increase students’ media literacy and awareness of media bias. It also trains students to simplify their English for better communication with non-native English speakers. Morocco World News is partnering with the students of this course to provide them with a real-life opportunity to use and show what they study.
Amine El Kounti is a 1st year Master’s student in the Linguistics and Advanced English Studies program at Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakech. This reaction is part of a class on English in Media.
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