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Fragments of the Possibly the Oldest Surviving Manuscript of the Qur'an are Discovered at the University of Birmingham

Circa 640 CE
Birmingham Quran manuscript

'Seventh-century Quran manuscript held by the University of Birmingham. Folio 2 recto (left) and folio 1 verso (right). From the end of Chapter 19 s:ar:القرآن الكريم/سورة مريم to the beginning of Chapter 20 s:ar:القرآن الكريم/سورة طه."

In July 2015 the University of Birmingham announced that two parchment leaves written in Hijazi script, which contain parts of suras (chapters) 18 to 20 of the Qur'an, had been dated by the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit to within from 568 to 645 with a 94% probability. This would place the writing of these leaves within a few years of the founding of Islam. According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad received the revelations that form the Qur'an between 610 and 632, the year of his death. Thus it is believed that the two leaves at Birmingham were probably written by someone who might have known Muhammad, or might have heard him preach.

The ancient age of the two leaves was previously unnoticed because they were bound with a later manuscript  in the Mingana Collection of more than 3,000 documents from the Middle East. This collection was amassed in the 1920s by Alphonse Mingana, a theologian and historian who was born in what is now Iraq. 

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