clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Is the world's oldest Quran older than Muhammad?

Fragments of the oldest version of the Quran were found in Birmingham, England, last month inside another Quran from the late seventh century, BBC reported. Oxford University researchers used carbon dating to find the pages were from about 1,448 to 1,371 years ago, according to BBC.

But now, historians say the fragments may predate the Prophet Muhammad, which could reshape early Islamic history, according to the Daily Mail.

Upon this Quran’s discovery last month, experts believed that it could have been written by the Prophet Muhammad himself and may have included many of his teachings, BBC reported.

But now historians say the Quran’s parchment may have been produced between 568 and 645 A.D., the Daily Mail reported. Muhammad’s existence is often believed to be between 570 and 623 A.D., according to the Daily Mail.

“It destabilizes, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Quran emerged — and that in turn has implications for the history of Muhammad and the Companions,” historian Tom Holland told The Times.

Muhammad is believed to have verbally received the Quran’s words from God, which he used in his teachings, Breitbart News reported. After his death, his companions wrote the Quran based on his teachings, Breitbart reported. But if this book existed before Muhammad was born, it would mean the religion was created years earlier.

“This would radically alter the edifice of Islamic tradition and the history of the rise of Islam in late Near Eastern antiquity would have to be completely revised, somehow accounting for another book of scripture coming into existence 50 to 100 years before, and then also explaining how this was co-opted into what became the entity of Islam by around A.D. 700,” Holland said, according to Breitbart.

Still, Keith Small, a Quranic manuscript consultant at Oxford, said the carbon dating applies to the parchment, not the ink, according to Breitbart. The calligraphy is also similar to a style of writing developed later than the parchment’s dating, which would mean this Quran was created after Muhammad existed.

Take a look at the Quran in the slideshow below:

For more on the Quran:

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

At Ramadan, an online petition for female Quran reciters

Why you shouldn’t blame scripture for acts of terrorism

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at hscribner@deseretdigital.com or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.