‘Oldest’ Quran fragments found by British university

Experts believed that the manuscript's writer lived in the time of the prophet Muhammad

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Manuscript fragments of the Holy Quran dating back at least 1,370 years have been found among the archives of the British higher education establishment, the University of Birmingham.

The pages of the Muslim holy text, identified to have been written in an early form of Arabic, were part of a collection brought back to Britain from Iraq in the 1920s, but had remained unrecognized in the university library for almost a century, reported the BBC.

Radiocarbon dating indicated that the fragments, which are written on goat or sheepskin, allegedly come from between the years 568 and 645.

The tests, which have an accuracy probability of more than 95%, were carried out by the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit and showed that the fragments were among the oldest surviving texts of the Koran.

“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.

Prof Thomas also stated that the dating of the Birmingham folios would mean that it was quite possible that the person who had written them would have been alive at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Tradition dictates that the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that would eventually form the Koran between 610 and 632, and many scholars believe that portions of the holy text were written down separately on palm leaves, parchment, or the shoulder bones of camels, before being collected into a complete edition around 650.

Dr Muhammad Isa Waley who is the British Library's expert on such manuscripts, said this discovery would make Muslims "rejoice".

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