June 23, 2024

In the Name of Allah—the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.


 The Oldest Manuscript of the Quran

The Birmingham Quran
manuscript is a parchment manuscript of the Quran, which was discovered in the
University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library in 2015. The manuscript is
written in Hijazi script and has been carbon-dated to the period between 568 CE
and 645 CE, making it one of the oldest known copies of the Quran in existence.

The manuscript contains parts of Surahs 18 to 20 of the Quran,
and its text is very similar to that of the standard Quranic text used today.
The manuscript’s discovery has been described as a significant contribution to
the understanding of the early history of Islam and the development of the
the written text of the Quran.

The manuscript is believed to have been produced in the Hijaz region, which includes the cities of Mecca and Medina in modern-day Saudi Arabia, where the Prophet Muhammad Muhammad (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him) lived and preached. The manuscript’s discovery confirms that the written text of the Quran had already been established during the early Islamic period, which supports the traditional Islamic belief that the Quran was compiled and written down during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him).

The manuscript was
purchased by Alphonse Mingana, an Assyrian Christian scholar of Syriac and
Arabic, in the early 20th century. It is not known exactly where or how Mingana
acquired the manuscript, but it is believed to have been found in the region of
the Hijaz, which includes the cities of Mecca and Medina in modern-day Saudi
Arabia.

The manuscript remained in the Mingana Collection for nearly a
century until it was rediscovered in 2015 by researchers who were studying the
the collection as part of a larger project to digitize the University of
Birmingham’s Middle Eastern manuscripts.

Through a detailed comparison of the characteristics of the
handwriting and parchment, it is proposed that the Bibliothèque nationale de
France in Paris holds a further 16 pages from the same Qur’an manuscript,
catalogued as BnF Arabe 328c. That section has a provenance linked to the
Mosque of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As in Fusṭāṭ, the ancient Islamic capital of Egypt.
Built-in 642 as the first mosque in Egypt, it is now part of Old Cairo. The
whereabouts of the remainder of this manuscript is unknown.
[1]

Sayyiduna
Amr ibn al-‘Aas (May Allah be pleased with him)
was
a prominent Arab general and companion of the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah
shower His blessings and peace on him) who played a significant role in the
early Islamic conquests.

Born in 585 CE in the
city of Mecca, Amr ibn al-‘Aas
(May
Allah be pleased with him)
was initially an opponent of Islam and played a key role in the
Battle of Uhud, which was fought between the Muslims and the Meccans in 625 CE.
However, he later converted to Islam in 629 CE, following the Treaty of
Hudaybiyyah, which was a peace agreement between the Muslims and the Meccans.

After his conversion,
Amr ibn al-‘Aas
(May Allah be pleased
with him)  
played a crucial role in the
Islamic conquests of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. He led the Muslim army in
several key battles, including the Battle of Mu’tah in 629 CE and the Battle of
Heliopolis in 640 CE, and he was instrumental in the capture of the city of
Alexandria in 642 CE.

Amr
ibn al-‘Aas
(May Allah be pleased
with him)  
was known for his military
prowess, his diplomatic skills, and his loyalty to the Prophet Muhammad. He
lived to a ripe old age and died in 664 CE, having played a key role in the
early expansion of the Islamic empire.

Amr ibn al-‘Aas (May Allah be pleased with him) is thought to be the person
who brought the said manuscript of the Quran to Egypt from Madinah. The manuscript
was written in 
Ḥijāzi script, which derives its name from the region where it
developed. The particular slanting style of this script is also known as māʾil, meaning ‘sloping’.

The manuscript is not on public exhibition due to the long-term preservation requirements. Free images can be downloaded for private study from the Cadbury Research Library’s Flickr. For publication please contact the Cadbury Research Library Imaging services.


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