University of Birmingham Qur’an manuscript among world’s oldest

University of Birmingham Qur’an manuscript among world’s oldest

October 18, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


This Qur’anic manuscript, held at the University
of Birmingham, forms part of our Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts in the Cadbury
Research Library. We’ve recently made a very exciting discovery: we’ve had the manuscript
radiocarbon dated, and it’s proved to be one of the earliest Qur’anic manuscripts
in the world. The dating of this manuscript is a great discovery for the University. We’re
now aware of a genuine treasure in the University of Birmingham’s Special Collections; a treasure
that is of global significance to Muslim heritage and to the study of Islam, as well as being
a source of great pride to the local community. The context of the Birmingham manuscript,
if it is what we now think it is, is very important indeed. Islam is associated, of
course, with the Prophet Muhammad, and he lived in the late sixth and early seventh
century. Now this manuscript could well have been written just after he died. The parts
of the Qur’an that are contained in those fragments are very similar indeed to the Qur’an
as we have it today, and so this tends to support the view that the Qur’an that we
now have is more or less very close indeed to the Qur’an as it was brought together
in the early years of Islam. The two leaves that have been carbon dated
were put together with seven leaves from another manuscript – probably
because of the similar script, the Hijazi
script (also called Ma’il script, which means slanting because of the characteristic
of the script). Muhammad Afzal: I am honoured to see this
manuscript, which is very unique and goes back to the very early stages of Islam. I
think it was written in the period of the third Caliph, Uthman, and all the Muslims
in the world would love to see this manuscript. [Imam reads from manuscript]