Quran Fragments, Said to Date From Time of Muhammad, Are Found in Britain

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The ancient fragments of the Quran are believed to be at least 1,370 years old, potentially placing its writing within a few years of the founding of Islam.

BIRMINGHAM UNIVERSITY

By DAN BILEFSKY

JULY 22, 2015

LONDON — Fragments of what researchers say are part of one of the world’s oldest manuscripts of the Quran have been found at the University of Birmingham, the school said on Wednesday.

The global significance of the ancient fragments, which sat in the university’s library for about a century, became apparent after a Ph.D. student noticed their particular calligraphy. The university sent a small piece of the manuscript, written on sheep or goat skin, to Oxford University for radiocarbon dating.

David Thomas, a professor of Christianity and Islam at the University of Birmingham, said that when the results had come back, he and other researchers had been stunned to discover that the manuscript was probably at least 1,370 years old, which would place its writing within a few years of the founding of Islam. He said the author of the text may well have known the Prophet Muhammad.

“We were bowled over, startled indeed,” Professor Thomas said in an interview. The period when the manuscript was produced, he added, “could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam.”

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