Written in ink in an early form of Arabic script on parchment made from animal skin, the pages contain parts of the Suras, or chapters, 18 to 20, which may have been written by someone who actually knew the Prophet Muhammad - founder of the Islamic faith.
Although Muslims believe that Islam is a faith that has always existed and was gradually revealed to humanity by a number of prophets, Muhammad is the one said to have made the complete revelation in the seventh century.A manuscript of the Koran found buried away in a Birmingham library is more likely than not the oldest known direct record of the Prophet Mohamed's teachings, according to an expert at the university where it was discovered.Amid claims the fragments could throw the traditional view of the origins of Islam into question, a member of the team involved in the discovery said further analysis of the ancient artefact threw up a "problem" with this theory.Carbon dating revealed last month that the four delicate pages of script etched on animal skin were at least 1,370 years old, potentially making it the oldest partial copy of the Koran in the world.Modern methods can only accurately provide a range of dates for the Birmingham manuscripts origins, however, opening up a controversial time window during which the pages could have been created.Speaking to Given the significance of the work, he said, the animal was likely killed specifically for the purposes of making the manuscript – meaning this date is likely to be very close to the assembly of the book itself.
Traditional teachings about the origins of Islam state that the Prophet Mohamed was alive between the years 570 and 632, and that he received the revelations which make up the Koran from 610 until his death.
“If we were to take the early dating [as fact] then it overthrows Islamic history as it is understood,” Professor Thomas said.
The traditional story of the Koran tells how one night in 610 Muhammad, a deeply spiritual and religious man, was meditating in a cave on Mount Hira when he was visited by the angel Jibreel who ordered him to recite.
When he began to recite the Koran, Muhammad and his small group of followers suffered persecution from unbelievers.
In 622 God gave them the command to migrate from Mecca to the city of Medina, some 260 miles to the north, which marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
Shortly before Muhammad died, at the age of 63, the majority of the Arabian Peninsula had become Muslim.