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A recent discovery at the University of Birmingham is a big deal for Muslims

SHARE A recent discovery at the University of Birmingham is a big deal for Muslims

Documents preserved at the University of Birmingham in London have recently been identified as segments of the Quran dating back to almost the day of Islam’s prophet Muhammad himself.

“The ancient fragments are probably at least 1,370 years old,” The New York Times reported on July 22. “Which could place the manuscript’s writing within a few years of the founding of Islam.”

The New York Times also states that it’s entirely possible that the writer of this particular copy of the Quran may have even known the Prophet Muhammad himself.

Suffice it to say, this was a very important discovery for scholars who study the history of Islam, principally because it gives important insight into the development of the holy text over the centuries.

According to a video produced by The Times, one of the major findings in the text is that little seems to have changed in the Quran since it was first written. “The Quran that we now have is, more or less, very close indeed to the Quran as it was brought together,” David Thomas, professor of Christianity and Islam at the University of Birmingham, said in the video.

To those outside the Islamic tradition, it can be easy to underestimate the significance of such a finding. "The Koran is the charter for the (Muslim) community, the document that called it into existence,” R. Stephen Humphreys, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, told The Atlantic in 1999.

“Islamic history,” he continued, “has been the effort to pursue and work out the commandments of the Koran in human life.”

For this reason, the recent discovery at the University of Birmingham is considered a treasure of “global significance to Muslim heritage and the study of Islam,” Susan Worrall, director of Special Collections at the University of Birmingham, told The Times.

It is also, according to Worrall, “a great source of pride to the local community.”

JJ Feinauer is a writer for Deseret News National. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: jjfeinauer.