Taroudant - The British Library's Digitized Manuscripts website claims to have one of the oldest copies of the Quran, dating back to the eighth century.
Taroudant – The British Library’s Digitized Manuscripts website claims to have one of the oldest copies of the Quran, dating back to the eighth century.
The Library said that the old manuscript, which was compiled more than 1,200 years ago and arrived in Europe about 130 years ago, is now fully digitized and available online.
Placed on the library’s digitized manuscripts website, it comprises 121 folios containing over two-thirds of the complete text.
“It comprises 121 folios containing over two-thirds of the complete text and is one of the largest of known fragments of an early Qur??n written in the m??il script,” the website stated.
According to the British Library, the Arabic word m?’il means, “sloping” and refers to the sloping style of the script.
The m?’il is one of a number of early Arabic fonts collectively named “Hijazi”, after the region of Hijaz, formerly an independent region that contains the Islamic holy cities of Medina and Mecca.
The manuscript was purchased by the British Museum in 1879 from Reverend Greville John Chester as noted on a flyleaf at the back of the manuscript.
An Oxford alumnus and ordained clergyman, Chester (1830–1892) devoted the latter half of his life to travel and exploration in Egypt and the Levant, where he collected archaeological artifacts for the British Museum and other institutions.
According to the British Library, “It is very likely Chester acquired this Qur’?n when he was in Egypt.”
The same source said that the manuscript lacks diacritical marks to distinguish between letters of similar shape, like other early versions of the Qurans, which had no vowel signs.
The importance of this Quran “cannot be overestimated.” The same source said that this manuscript, along with other Quranic fragments available, “provides the only available evidence for the early development of the written recording of the holy text and helps understand how early Quran codices were produced.”