One of world's oldest Quran manuscripts to go on display in UK

A Quran manuscript believed to be among the oldest in the world dating back to at least 1,370 years that places it close to the time of Prophet Muhammad will be put on display in the UK from next week.

PTI| Updated: Sep 22, 2015, 22:07 PM IST

London: A Quran manuscript believed to be among the oldest in the world dating back to at least 1,370 years that places it close to the time of Prophet Muhammad will be put on display in the UK from next week.

The Quran manuscript held by the University of Birmingham has been placed among the oldest in the world thanks to modern scientific methods.

Radiocarbon analysis has dated the parchment on which the text is written to the period between AD 568 and 645 with 95.4 per cent accuracy.

The test was carried out in a laboratory at the University of Oxford. The result places the parchment close to the time of Prophet Muhammad, who is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632.

Researchers conclude that the Quran manuscript is among the earliest written textual evidence of the Islamic holy book known to survive. This gives the Quran manuscript in Birmingham global significance to Muslim heritage and the study of Islam.

Susan Worrall, Director of Special Collections (Cadbury Research Library), at the University of Birmingham, said, "The radiocarbon dating has delivered an exciting result, which contributes significantly to our understanding of the earliest written copies of the Quran. We are thrilled that such an important historical document is here in Birmingham, the most culturally diverse city in the UK."

The Quran manuscript is part of the University's Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts, held in the Cadbury Research Library.

Consisting of two parchment leaves, the Quran manuscript contains parts of Suras (chapters) 18 to 20, written with ink in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi.

The Quran manuscript will be on public display at the University of Birmingham from October 2 till October 25.

It was Caliph Abu Bakr, the first leader of the Muslim community after Muhammad, who ordered their compilation into a book with the final, authoritative written form completed and fixed under the direction of the third leader, Caliph Uthman, in about AD650.

"Muslims believe that the Quran they read today is the same text that was standardised under Uthman and regard it as the exact record of the revelations that were delivered to Muhammad," David Thomas, professor of Christianity?and Islam at the university, explained.