Makkah: The Birmingham University has agreed to send the 'oldest copy' of the Qur’an to the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) in Istanbul for further examination, Makkah daily reported quoting the director general of the center Halit Eren.
The university had announced existence of the oldest copy of Quran in July. According to the university’s version, the manuscript dates close to the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) making it one of the oldest in the world.
“The center will carefully study the manuscript using as reference the available manuscripts and the books on various types of recitations to confirm the date of the Birmingham copy,” he said.
Eren said radiocarbon analysis conducted by the university does not usually give the exact date and can be at least 10 years more or less. He warned against the machinations of some Orientalists who were attempting to cast doubts on the originality of the present copies of the holy book the Muslims all over the world are using.
“Some Orientalists are trying to find differences between the copies of Caliphs Othman Bin Affan and Ali Bin Abi Talib. We could not find any disparities between them and the small differences here and there do not change the meaning,” he added.
The director believes that the oldest copies of the Qur’an exist in Turkey, Tashkent and Egypt in addition to Yemen.
“When the current incidents in Yemen are over, we will examine its copies of the Qur’an which may be the oldest in the world,” he added.
The leaves, kept in the university’s Mingana Collection, contain parts of chapters 18 to 20 of the Qur’an. They were written in ink on an animal skin in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi.
The university’s radiocarbon analysis dates the manuscripts to between the years 568 AD and 645 AD which coincide with the time of the Prophet, who is believed to have lived between 570 AD and 632 AD.
However, a number of Saudi scholars and historians have doubted the authenticity of the Birmingham University’s copy. Other historians and manuscript experts have also cast doubt on the credibility of the Birmingham University claim that it had discovered the oldest copy of the Qur’an.
Quoting the experts, Makkah daily said that the manuscript might have possibly been written after the time of the Prophet (pbuh) due to several factors.
Experts contend that during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) there was no separation between the Surahs (chapters) in red colors, no red ink was used in writing “Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem” with which a Surah begins and that the holy book itself was not put in its today’s order.
Abdul Sattar Al-Halouji, a manuscript expert, said the university’s claim at this particular time might just be a ploy to seek publicity.
“It is not possible to ascertain that the parchments were written close to the time of the Prophet (pbuh). The university should have examined the ink not the hide on which it was written,” he said.
“The manuscript might possibly be from the time of Othman Bin Affan who became Caliph many years after the death of the Prophet (pbuh),” an archeologist said.