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Part of the seventh-century Quran manuscript held by the University of Birmingham.

Dating of manuscripts controversially suggests Quran may be older than Prophet Mohammed

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Recent tests conducted on the oldest known pages of the Quran in existence have determined they were written nearly 1,400 years ago, between 568 and 645 AD. Reports raise the possibility that the fragments are not just contemporary to the Islamic Prophet Mohammed, but that they may predate him.

These religious texts, the oldest surviving Quranic manuscript pages ever found, have been in a collection within the University of Birmingham's library for over a century. New radiocarbon analysis by University of Oxford have dated the folios to between 568 and 645 AD with 95.4% accuracy, according to a press release .

News website Digital Journal reports, “Scholars came to this conclusion after researchers carbon dated a small piece of parchment from the Islamic holy book. The carbon dating, which is considered to be extremely accurate, suggests that the Quran may have actually been written before Muhammad was alive, or during the early years of his childhood.”

These results may cause controversy among scholars as Islam’s Prophet Mohammad—believed to be the historic founder of Islam and “messenger of god” to Muslims— was thought to have been born in 570 AD and to have died in 632 AD. Some reports suggest then that these parchments might predate Mohammed , and rewrite the early history of Islam.

“The Koran was memorised and recited orally but Caliph Abu Bakr, the first leader of the Muslim community after Muhammad's death, ordered the Koranic material to be collected into a book,” reports MailOnline. “The final authoritative written form was not completed until 650AD under the third leader Caliph Uthman”.

The Quran is the most sacred book of the Islamic faith, and Muslims consider it the direct word of god. Scholars who have examined the Birmingham manuscript say it is in a form that is very close to the book read today , with very little alteration. Followers believe the words in the Quran were revealed by the archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad over 22 years, from 610 AD.

Historian Tom Holland suggested to The Times that the recent dating of the pages may upend the chronology, saying “It destabilizes, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Koran emerged - and that in turn has implications for the history of Muhammad and the Companions.”

The Birmingham manuscripts “consist of parts of Suras [chapters] 18 to 20 of the holy book, written in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijaz. The pages were mistakenly kept with the leaves of a similar Quran, which only dates back as far as the seventh century,” notes IBTimes.

An exceedingly rare discovery: two pages of the Quran on parchment or animal skin, reportedly contemporary with the prophet Mohammed.

An exceedingly rare discovery: two pages of the Quran on parchment or animal skin, reportedly contemporary with the prophet Mohammed. Public Domain

Mohammed himself was said not to be a scholar or a scribe, but it is possible he knew the person who wrote down this section of the Quran.

The individual who wrote the scriptures on these pages “would have seen [Mohammed] probably. He would have maybe heard him preach,” said David Thomas, University of Birmingham professor of Christianity and Islam to BBC News.

Thomas explained, “According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Koran, the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death.”

Fozia Bora, lecturer in Middle Eastern History and Islamic History at University of Leeds writes in an article published by CNN that the discovery will have detractors for various reasons. Bora notes that the radiocarbon analysis on the sheep- or goatskin manuscript dates the page fragments themselves, or the death of the animal whose skin was used, but not the timeline of when the script was actually applied to the skin.

Yet others may challenge radiocarbon dating itself as a tool of evidence, as it creates a range of possible ages, not definitive dates.

The newly dated manuscript is not the only hidden treasure to be found at the Birmingham University’s research library. Also within their collections are the “Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts, a stupendous collection of more than 3,000 manuscripts written in over 20 languages across a span of nearly 2,000 years,” notes a university press release .

Manuscript of the Quran in the Brooklyn Museum, USA. 

Manuscript of the Quran in the Brooklyn Museum, USA. Public Domain

Some of these manuscripts have been digitized and published online, in order to make the various beliefs and artifacts of the ancient past accessible to all.

The Birmingham manuscript will be on public display for the first time ever from October 2 to October 25 of this year at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts .

Featured Image: Part of the seventh-century Quran manuscript held by the University of Birmingham. Public Domain

By Liz Leafloor      

Comments

Just saw the documentary of Tom Holland the other day: Islam - The Untold Story. There Holland says that Mohammed probably never existed either. 'Either' as in all the other mythical characters that never existed according to modern schollars: Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Ismael, Isak, Mozes... All fictional characters. Even Jesus was probably totally made up.
So Mohammed.... Join the club!!! LOL
Islam - The Untold Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzKk0L6H1ms

First we've probably found Jesus' bones, now this. Of course none of this matters to the respective faithful.

Man created god.
The thora is stolen and rewritten information of other cultures.
The bible is a fraud (thora + more false info).
The quran is bullshit (thora + more false info).
There is no jahweh, no allah or any other imaginairy friend.
Religion is the root of all evil and it will bring forth illusion, lies and oppression in any way, shape or form. Only the simpleton will eat it as holy fruit.

+1

These are just attempts to discredit Islam. The Quran was safely saved as hard copy and with high fidelity persevered by heart transferring from the Prophet Muhammad to his friends Sahaba. Then, it was precisely inherited from ancestors to fathers to the sons, the present Muslim of today. The Quran in one and was only received through Prophet Mohammed to the World with no other single Quran verse and/or page known before Prophet Mohammed advent. The Arab tribes of Quraish, the most insidious enemy of Islam during its first ten years, have NEVER EVER said anything about any predated Quran version, including the Jewish or the Christians of the area or any other non-believers. And now, why is it only this time to hear such allegation popping up coincidentally with ISIS non-Islamic doings! What you say does not affect a Muslim and cannot be a cause to divert from Islam! We know that anti-Islam are doing their best to defame Islam, it’s just an attempt like the other previous ones! It will not succeed because, what Quraish have said in the era of the Prophet was the most horrible, and Muslims were firmly kept holding Islam as their salvation religion. Believe me no single Muslim will leave the Islam because of this ridiculous intentionally fashioned confusion!!!

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