BY BRIAN BOOKER
Carbon dating suggests that the Quran, or at least portions of it, may actually be older than the prophet Muhammad himself. If the findings are proven true, it could rewrite early Islamic history and shed doubt on the “heavenly” origins of the holy text.
Scholars now believe that a copy Quran held by the Birmingham Library was actually written sometime between 545 AD and 568, while the Prophet Mohammad was believed to have been born in 570 AD and to have died in 632 AD. The copy of the widely used holy text held by the library is known for being one of the oldest in the world.
Scholars came to this conclusion after researchers carbon dated a small piece of parchment from the Islamic holy book. The carbon dating, which is considered to be extremely accurate, suggests that the Quran may have actually been written before Muhammad was alive, or during the early years of his childhood.
The Quran held by the Birmingham Library is believed to be the oldest known copy in the world. It should be noted, however, that the documents held at the library are not a complete copy of the holy text, instead containing text only for suras (chapters) 18 to 20.
If the carbon dating analysis proves to be accurate, it would raise serious questions as to the origin of the Islamic holy book. It should be noted, however, that the dating was only conducted on the parchment, rather than the ink, so it is possible that the Quran was simply written on old paper.
The Quran was not officially written down until 653 AD, under the orders of the Caliph Uthman, though it is believed that partial written scripts of the Quran were in circulation beforehand. Before the Quran was inked onto paper it was passed along orally, with some devout believers choosing to memorize the entire text by heart.
Some scholars believe, however, that Muhammad did not receive the Quran from heaven, as he claimed during his lifetime, but instead collected texts and scripts that fit his political agenda.