Thursday, 23 July 2015

Ancient Quran found in England at University of Birmingham Library

Oldest Quran manuscript rediscovered at University of Birmingham 

How fitting that a week after Eid al Fitr, a manuscript from a 7th century Quran has been found in the research library at the University of Birmingham. The ancient Quran was carbon dated with the help of the lab technicians at the Oxford University to date to 646 AD a little after the passing Prophet Muhammad. Written in Hijazi Arabic which is still spoken in Western Saudi Arabia in the Hijaz region, the 1, 500 year old Quranic pages has excited and surprised university historians, culture preservers and even the media pundits in Birmingham and other parts of England. The texts is split among three pages from Surat 18-20. Poignantly all three surahs make references on faith, trust and universal stories found in the Bible. Surah 18 Al Kahf The Cave features parables and allegories on having faith in God (Allah), Surah 19 Maryam (Mary) tells the stories of both Jesus and Mary but also Zacharia and John and Surah 20 Taha tells the story of Moses, guidance offered by God through the prophets including Jesus and the fundamental truths of religion.

The Quranic manuscript that brought joy to England and the wider world across religious and political lines. Photo from ArabianBusiness.

The Quran is said to have come to U of Birmingham nearly 100 years ago in the 1920s from Iraq through the Chaldean Priest Alphonse Mingana who was working to preserve Iraqi heritage including the quran and other manuscripts for future generations. His work has paid off greatly. The research library's Arabic manuscript collection where the quran had been stored for all these decades was named after Mingana. Edward Cardbury, yes the legendary Cardbury Chocolatier originally financed Mingana's research project. Cardbury is honorably mentioned as Cardbury Research Library and Mingana's greatest aid in preserving the collections. The Quran is being well cared for and protected. It will be put on display for the British and international public in Birmingham's library. The Chairman of Birmingham's Central Mosque Mohammad Afzal nearly cried tears of joy hearing about the discovery. Birmingham has a large Muslim community that is equally elated to hear about the Quran. Religion and politics aside, many people are pleasantly surprised. Cultural history has proven that animosity can be buried when heritage and well being of humanity comes first. 

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