Tag Archives: manuscript

Bible Passages on a Quranic Manuscript?

Given the discovery of the palimpsest text that is now up for auction at Christie’s, it should be pointed out that one of the primary reasons we do not find much manuscripts like this is because Muslims aren’t allowed to desecrate the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians.

‘O believers!’ Do not insult what they invoke besides God or they will insult God spitefully out of ignorance. – Qur’an 6:108 (translation by Dr. Mustafa Khattab).

Briefly, a palimpsest text occurs when you have a written document that has been erased/ scrubbed off, for a new writing to be written on the freshly erased surface. This involves physical removal of the written text, think of it as writing something with a pencil on a piece of paper, you then physically remove that writing by using an eraser, and then you can write whatever you want on the freshly erased surface. The same principle applies here.

We also need to remember that when you write with a pencil, it imprints on the paper, so even if you did “erase” what you had written with the pencil, the “erased text” can still be read. It’s not an exactly one to one correlation, but the same principles apply to the manuscript that has made the news.

Generally speaking, Muslims can’t and are not allowed to desecrate the Bible, so new copies of the Qur’an were written on new parchment. It is beautiful that this manuscript can show the respect that Muslims can have towards other faiths where our own scribal and scriptural traditions preserve not one religious scripture but two!


#islam #quran #peace

Understanding the Birmingham University’s Find of the Oldest Qur’anic Manuscripts

General Information:

The collection at Birmingham University is known as the Mingana Arabic 1572 collection. It consists of 9 manuscripts (leaves, pages, folios). Earlier today, Birmingham University re-classified the dating of 2 of the manuscripts from the collection. The collection was then split into two classifications: Mingana Arabic 1572a and Mingana Arabic 1572b.

The collection that was carbon dated to between 568 CE and 645 CE with a 95% probability is Mingana Arabic 1572a. This collection can be understood as follows:

  • It consists of 2 manuscripts (pages, leaves, folios).
  • Each manuscript contains writing on its recto (front) and verso (back).
  • The manuscript is made of parchment (goat or sheep skin).
  •  Of the 9 manuscripts, the 2 in this newly classified collection are manuscripts 1 and 7.
  • The style of writing or the script (orthography) is Hijazi (writing originating in the Western Arabic Peninsula).

The manuscripts are readable and its writing is easy to identify, Ilm Feed has produced a wonderful comparison:


Another person has superimposed the modern text of the Qur’an over the text of one of the manuscripts, the accuracy is incredible:


Click to Enlarge

Question and Answer:

Does this make it the earliest known Qur’anic manuscript(s)?

Yes, it does. The earliest manuscript before this was the C1 text of the Sana’aa Palimpsest (DAM 01 – 27), which dated to before 671 CE with a probability of 99%, before 661 CE with a probability of 95.5% and a before 646 CE with a probability of 75%. See Behnam Sadeghi, Mohsen Goudarzi, “Sana’aa and the Origins of the Qur’an”, Der Islam (2012), Vol. 87, p. 8.

Do these manuscripts contain vowels?

Yes, there are several dots and verse endings, otherwise known as “diacritical marks”. These however, may not have been written by the original “author” (scribe) and could have been added by a later one seeking to update the text or to make it readable.

What style of Arabic Script is it written in?

It’s written in Hijazi script, which is one of the oldest Arabic scripts known. It’s referred to as Hijazi because it was developed or most prominently used in the Western Arabian Peninsula’s region of the Hijaz (alt: Hejaz), which includes the cities of Makkah and Madina.

Do we know who wrote it?

In regard to the identity of the author or the scribe, or the amanuensis, we may never know their identity. It is equally probable that it was written by a Companion of the Prophet (ﷺ) during or after the Prophet’s lifetime (ﷺ), or by a student of a Companion.

Why split the collection into two different collections?

This is to help palaeographers and textual critics differentiate between the manuscripts they are studying and it is purely done for academic purposes. The other 7 manuscripts, remain dated to within the 1st century of the Hijrah (622 to 722 CE).

What parts of the Qur’an do these manuscripts contain?

Manuscript 1 (Recto/ Front) contains: Qur’an 19:91 – 20:13.

Manuscript 1 (Verso/ Back) contains: Qur’an 20:13 – 20:40.

Manuscript 7 (Recto/ Front) contains: Qur’an 18:17 – 18:23.

Manuscript 7 (Verso/ Back) contains: Qur’an 18:23 – 18:31.

I’ll update this post according to the questions received. If you’d like a question answered, send us a message or post it in the comments section.

and Allah knows best.

Response to Jay Smith Being Published Soon (14 or 15.10.14)

Edit: Delayed to 14th or 15th due to unforeseen circumstances.

My paper critiquing Jay Smith’s allegations and claims in his recent debate with Dr. Shabir Ally, entitled, “The Bible or the Qur’an: Which is the Word of God?“, will be published tomorrow via a PDF on both Scribd and Google Drive. I cannot at this moment give a specific time when the paper would be published, but barring any sudden and unexpected incidents I expect it to be published during the course of tomorrow. At present, the only hindrance to the publishing of the document would be a translation I’m awaiting of a French work that is otherwise not available in English. Considering the inclusion of the French quote’s data as a peripheral to the cause of the paper, when it is made available to me, I shall append it in due course. Following the publishing of my paper, another paper by another Muslim speaker would be subsequently published on a similar theme but more in depth concerning a specific work referenced during the debate. While my response is a point by point rebuttal to Jay’s allegations, this coming work is an overtly critical analysis of an academic work that was mentioned but not really used during the debate. I have not worked in conjunction with this other Muslim speaker, but we have exchanged sources during the course of our writing.

Perhaps what is most interesting is the silly claim that because I have not published any works on this site which include the literature of Deroche or Walid Saleh, it then means that I did not know of them before the debate with Jay hence the lengthy duration of time it took for me to prepare the paper. The assumption or rather the assertion is that I was unfamiliar with their works completely. This is an absurdly baseless allegation. There are many works I read on a daily basis which I do not quote or reference on this site or in my debates, but of which I post to my private Facebook account or which I use in personal correspondence in response to questions. Case in point, I have dug through my personal Facebook timeline, to dig up this post by me on August 4th, 2014:


This is one of the many examples on which I’ve commented on either of these men’s works. I’ve blurred out the name of the evangelical missionary apologist I was condemning in this post which in retrospect was unfair of me and not of proper decorum. For those who are my Facebook friend, you’d be able to see this post on my timeline which I’ve re-posted today so that we all can access it in an easy manner. I have stated before and I will state this again, the only impediment in regard to my writing of the paper has been my health which has been on a steady decline for some two years now via a chronic illness to which no medical institution has been able to adequately decipher. A state of health which most missionaries and apologists are well aware of. Following the publishing of the paper, a video response will accompany it in the coming weeks which at this time I cannot give a definitive date for.

and Allaah knows best.

Missionary Mishap: Oxyrhynchus 3057

I had a bit of a strange incident in the twilight of yesterday’s morning. See, I had ventured into a Christian dialogue/ debate room and proceeded to ask a nonchalant question on the importance or lack thereof, of an early Christian letter: Oxyrhynchus 3057. This is what the manuscript looks like[1]:



Its transcription and translation reads as follows[2]:

Ammonios to Apollonios his brother greeting. I received the crossed letter and the portmanteau and the cloak and (l. 5) your good reeds. I received the cloaks not as  old but as better than new because of your intention. I do not want you, brother,  to weigh me down with continuous philanthropy, not being able to repay, but we  suppose we only (l. 10) offer to you the intention of friendly disposition. I exhort  you, brother, no longer to concern yourself with the key of the single room. For  I do not want you, the brethren, on account of me or (l. 15) another to have any  difference. For I pray that oneness of mind and mutual concord remain among  you so that you are free from gossip and you are not like us. For the trial leads  me to impel you to peace and not to give (l. 20) a starting point to others against  you. And so attempt to do this for me, favoring me, which in the meantime you  will recognize as good. Write to me if the wool you received from Silvanus in full  measure is pleasing to you. I wrote ridiculous things to you in a (l. 25) former  epistle, which you should disregard. For my soul becomes careless whenever your  name is present, and this though it has no habit to rest on account of the things that are happening, but it [soul] endures. I, Leonas, greet you, master, and (l. 30) all your people. Farewell, most honored friend. (back) To Apollonius, son of Apollo(?) surveyer, brother.

The manuscript is dated to be from the late first century, to early second century CE. What happened next took me a bit by surprise. A missionary of some sort responded to my question and stated that the manuscript in question contained several important passages from the Gospel accounts. If you read the above transcription and translation, not a single sentence is related to, or from any Gospel account in the New Testament, or otherwise. I found his claim to be quite, odd. I took the initiative and asked him if he knew that for certain or if he just Googled it, and merely read one of the results as a response to my question. He did reply honestly and confirmed that he did Google for an answer and read one of the resulting articles, thereby making him uncertain that his response was accurate.

This however, was not the strangest statement he was to make. Our conversation progressed for sometime until he asked me a question in relation to the Muslim understanding of Surah 4, Verse 157. My response involved the dating of Papyri 52, which I mentioned was the earliest extant manuscript of any of the four Gospels. To this, he was surprised and he subsequently proceeded to validate my statement by again, searching via Google. When I realised that he doubted what I had said about Papyri 52, I then realised the discussion was useless, as he was most certainly uninformed about the most basic information about New Testament manuscripts. I have to admit though, that since I’ve begun to ask questions about textual criticism and New Testament development, many polemical and missionary Christians have all attempted to respond to me in a plethora of ways. A significant majority of those had no idea what they were talking about, and it’s been quite a thrill listening to many of these individuals tell me of the extant manuscripts of the disciples which were written in the first century, in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I’ve found though, that once I introduce them to textual criticism and inform them of their wrong understanding, they’d become quite hostile and begin to make crass remarks about my person.

Perhaps, what I’m trying to say after having had all of these strange experiences with many polemical and missionary Christians, is that while I do value the time I spend with them, I’m quickly realising that a majority of lay Christians are uninformed about their scripture, its history, development and preservation. Nothing though, can beat the expression on their faces when they learn that Textus Receptus (which the KJV Bible is based upon) was codified and published by a humanist, Desiderius Erasmus, a disbeliever in the Christian God. Oh, what a sight that is to behold.


[1] – “Oxyrhynchus 3057“, Recto.

[2] – “Is P.OXY. XLII 3057 The Earliest Christian Letter”, by Licoln H. Blumell, Early Christian Manuscripts: Examples of Applied Method and Approach, Edited by Thomas J. Kraus & Tobias Nicklas (Boston: 2010).

and Allaah knows best.