‘Oldest’ Quranic manuscripts found in Britain

University of Birmingham brings ‘oldest’ Quran to light dating back almost 1,400 years

Photo by: University of Birmingham
Photo by: University of Birmingham

Updated Jul 28, 2015

At least 1,370-year-old Quran fragments have been found in Britain’s University of Birmingham by a PhD researcher.

The Muslim holy text was in the library for almost a hundred years until the researcher recognised it as a unique historic text and asked for a radiocarbon test to determine its age.

As the result of the test, carried out by the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, the manuscripts are found out to be among the earliest in existence and written on sheep or goat skin.

Dr Muhammad Isa Waley, the British Library’s expert called the discovery “exciting” and said that it would make Muslims “rejoice.”

"Finding out we had one of the oldest fragments of the Koran in the whole world has been fantastically exciting," said Susan Worrall, the University’s director of special collections.

With more than 95 percent of probability, the parchment was dating from between 568 and 645.

According to Muslim belief, the Holy Quran was revealed to prophet Mohammad (pbuh) between 610 and 632


"These portions must have been in a form that is very close to the form of the Quran read today, supporting the view that the text has undergone little or no alteration and that it can be dated to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed," said David Thomas, the university's professor of Christianity and Islam.

The fact that the parchments are written in “Hijazi script,” an early form of written Arabic, also supports the idea that it is one of the earliest written fragments of Quran.

The manuscript was brought to Europe by Alphonse Mingana in 1920s along with 3,000 other Middle Eastern documents.

For his trips to bring the precious historical documents into Europe, Mingana, a priest born in Mosul, was sponsored by Edward Cadbury, a British businessman and one of the founders of Selly Oak Colleges which later merged with University of Birmingham.

TRTWorld and agencies