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Oldest fragments of the Koran found in Birmingham, UK


A British university says fragments of a Koran manuscript found in its library were from one of the oldest surviving copies of the Islamic text in the world, possibly written by someone who might have known Prophet Mohammad.

Radiocarbon dating suggested that the parchment folios held by the University of Birmingham were at least 1,370 years old, which would make them one of the earliest written forms of the Islamic holy book in existence.

“They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam,” said David Thomas, Professor of Christianity and Islam at the university.

Researchers said the manuscript consisted of two parchment leaves and was written with ink in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi.

The university said for years it had been misbound with leaves of a similar Koran manuscript which dated from the late seventh century.

The radiocarbon dating, said to have a 95.4 percent accuracy, found the parchment dated from between 568 and 645. Mohammad is believed to have lived between 570 and 632.

The university said it will put the manuscript on public display in October, and Muhammad Afzal, chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, said he expected it to attract people from all over Britain.

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