Fragments of the world's oldest Koran may predate the Prophet Muhammad and reportedly could wind up rewriting the early history of Islam.
The pages were discovered last month bound within the pages of another Koran from the late seventh century at the library of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, the Times of London reports.
The pages were carbon-dated by experts at the University of Oxford, a process that showed the Islamic holy book manuscript could be the oldest Koran in the world; several historians suggest the parchment might even predate Muhammad, the Times reports.
According to the Times, the Birmingham Koran was produced between 568 AD and 645 AD, while the dates usually given for Muhammad are between 570 AD and 632 AD.
"It destabilizes, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Koran emerged – and that in turn has implications for the history of Muhammad and the Companions," historian Tom Holland tells the Times.
Keith Small, from the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, added: "This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Koran's genesis, like that Muhammad and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Muhammad receiving a revelation from heaven."
Muslim scholars disagree, with Mustafa Shah from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London telling the Times: "If anything, the manuscript has consolidated traditional accounts of the Koran's origins."
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