Fragments of what is thought to be the world’s oldest Koran have been found in Birmingham and experts say that the discovery could rewrite the early history of Islam. Scholars found the pages bound within a book at the library of the University of Birmingham and using carbon dating, the pages have been dated to be approximately between 1371 and 1448 years old, the oldest Koran in the world.
The pages were written in ink on parchment made from animal skin, either sheep or goat skin and some historians and experts on Islam believe that the text may even pre-date the Prophet Muhammad, who is considered in Islam to be the last prophet sent to earth by Allah and the founder of the Islam faith.
The book fragments contain chapters of the Koran, Suras 18-20, the content of which has lead experts to believe that it may have been written by someone that actually knew the prophet, thought to have died in 632 AD.
The fact that the fragments have been dated between 568AD and 654AD has sparked a great deal of controversy. If the dates are correct it calls into question the legitimacy of what is currently known about much of the Prophet Muhammad’s life which has the potential to have a big impact on Islam as a whole.
“If carbon dating has provided us with the correct dates, at least parts of the fragments pre-date the prophet Muhammad and it could mean that the prophet did not receive a revelation from the archangel Gabriel from paradise,” says Keith Small from Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.
The actual content of the book fragments have yet to be officially released, however it is thought that the discovery may contradict the views and beliefs of some of the most radical Islamic groups around the world, including that of al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS).
However Muslim scholars dispute the claims that the discovery of the fragments may contradict current ideologies and teachings of Islam. Dr. Mustafa Shah, a senior lecturer in Islamic studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies has stated that “the manuscript if anything has actually consolidated traditional accounts of the Koran’s origins.”