British university says Quran among oldest: World’s Oldest Quran

Published: July 24, 2015

British university says Quran among oldest: World’s Oldest Quran, For the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, the idea that the Quran is a seventh century text disseminated by Islam’s founder, the Prophet Muhammad, is neither news, nor particularly controversial.

But in academia the history of this holy text is much more opaque. For researchers in Islamic studies, historical evidence dating the Quran back to Islam’s foundational era has proved elusive. This has led to hotly contested academic debates about the early or late canonisation of the Quran, with a small handful of scholars claiming that the book is a product of a much later (mid-eighth century and after) age of compilation or even confabulation, when ‘Abbasid-era scholars rationalised and expanded the Muslim religious corpus.

Recent scholarly work on early manuscript fragments of the Quran such as those discovered in Sana‘a, Yemen in 1972 gave us portions of Quranic text carbon-dated to a few years after the Quran was officially standardised by one of Muhammad’s early successors, the caliph ‘Uthman, in around 650 CE. But there has been little clinching evidence to settle the debate about the dating of the text from a scholarly rather than devotional perspective.

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