World’s oldest Quran discovered and may be linked to Imam Ali

A copy of the newly discovered Ma VI 165 Quranic script - which may be the oldest copy of the Quran in the world.

WASHINGTON, November 19, 2014 — Researchers from the Project Coranica at the University Library in Tübingen, Germany have discovered a copy of the Quran that may be the oldest in the world, dating to within 20-40 years of the death of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The copy of the Quran, dubbed Ma VI 165 by scientists, appears in the famous “Kufic script”, popularized by Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib who moved the center of the Islamic government to Kufa in the after being elected as “Caliph” in 656 AD. The manuscript “with a 95.4% statistical probability can be dated to the period between Ad 649 -675,” according to Medieval Histories Magazine.

The timeline for when the manuscript was created, coupled with the fact that Imam Ali was one of the few early Muslims that was literate, lends strongly to the notion that this manuscript is linked to the Imam. The theory is bolstered by the fact that of the first several Muslim leaders after the death of Prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali was the only one who had memorized the Quran in its entirety and became a “Hafiz.”

That the manuscript is on a high quality parchment that has survived for more than 1,339 years – with minimal preservation methods employed, further indicates that the document was created for official purposes, perhaps in relation to the work of Imam Ali’s Islamic government.

Imam Ali is viewed by Shiite Muslims as the true successor to Prophet Muhammad, and the first in a line of holy leaders tasked with bringing justice to the world. For Sunni Muslims, Imam Ali is revered as the fourth and final “righteous” Caliph.

The manuscript will be on display in Germany, as the University Library states “This coming autumn one of the parchment fragments will be on view to the public in Antwerp in the exhibition ‘Holy Scriptures – Holy Places. Judaism, Christianity, Islam’, in the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library. This will be a perfect opportunity to bring these new findings to the attention of a wider audience.”

According to university representative Dr. Eva Mira Youssef-Grob, “The Coranica project includes a module named computatio radiocarbonica where palaeographical analysis and dating of the oldest manuscripts of the Qurʾān will be supplemented by scientific methods such as radicarbon dating…

“The results for manuscripts dated by colophon and their C14-age will be set in relation to the measured values ​​of undated pieces…

“With this research, the actual precision and significance of C14 datings can be determined for early manuscripts of the Qurʾān. The selection forms a representative sample from the known manuscripts in ḥiǧāzī ductus, which are considered the oldest written textual witnesses of the Qur’an – their temporal proximity to the proclamation of Muḥammad is still discussed today.”

The MA VI 165 manuscript appears to contain a large section of the Quran, from Chapter 17, verse 37 to Chapter 36, verse 57. Interestingly, the first verse of the manuscript seems to poetically foretell the preservation of the document. The first part of the verse is translated as “Nor walk on the earth with insolence: for thou canst not tear the earth apart…”

The entire manuscript can be viewed here. Up until today, the famous Sana’a manuscript has been viewed as the oldest manuscript, dating back to almost exactly 671 AD. The MA VI 165 script cannot be narrowed down further than betwee 649 AD to 675 AD, so now both documents are tied for the “oldest copy” record.

The MA VI 165 script is viewed as a “very early Quran” because it is written in something called the “Hijazi” variant, a type of Arabic writing that is sloped and has a distinctive style. Quranic manuscripts that utilize the Hijazi variant typically draw immediate attention from researchers, as the script is only used in very early Quran manuscripts.

Imam Ali has gained great attention this year, having been quoted by notable celebrities and politicians. In the most recent instance, NFL player Pierre Garcon posted a famous saying of Imam Ali on social media.

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  • Guest

    What a priceless discovery!

  • AnonymousConvert

    Very interesting indeed. The article doesn’t mention how / where it was discovered, however…

  • Guest

    where was it discovered? Was it in a library and only now researched? Where did the library obtain it from?

  • John Smith

    Fundie Islamis lose it in 3..2..1….

  • BillClitone

    we need more ed’s.

  • AccessDenied

    shut up!

    • BillClitone

      definitely toilet paper.

  • Abubakr bin Hassan

    Rahat Hussain,

    It is actually in ANCIENT HIJAZI SCRIPT, the first script in which Quran was written, not Kufic. Hijazi script predates Kufic script. Therefore, it can not be linked to Imam Ali.

    Anyways, according to Shia literature, Imam Ali compiled a Quran with its divine commentary then hid it and it reached the 12th Imam of Twelver Shia and the 12th Imam will reveal that Quran when he appears. So even from Shia point of view it can not be linked to Imam Ali.

    • Abubakr bin Hassan

      Yes, the article from Medieval Histories made a mistake. The ḥiǧāzī and Kufic are distinct and different from each other.

      • Zaheerhusain Khan

        With the name as the name of the isis cheaf, he is bound to appose as he did though it is 100% kufic and the samples i have seen in literature , the moment I saw it I could recognise it as kufic and most likely in the handwriting of Maula e Kaenaat Hazrat Ali (A S )
        I dont know this man knows or not that the place for those who hate maula Ali (as ) is Jhannum and his lineage very likely to be illegitimate .

    • sadegh – Iran

      I’m sorry but what you’ve said about Shia’s belief is wrong. That’s a rejected idea. We read the same Qoran which is read by all muslims around the world.

  • Neptus 9

    What if it’s different from modern versions?

    • S.A.Pana

      be sure. partially or completely is the matter?

  • Nomdefaitour

    I hope the security is tight there. You know every Muslim zealot in the world is literally “gunning” to possess that manuscript.

  • Zed En

    Perhaps as funny as seeing an ancient Bible or Tora burned…Or any other ancient text you would feel some kind of attachment to… How funny would it be to you? Have some consideration, man.

    • Since Uthman burned something like 7 other variant Qurans to form the standardized version that Muslims read today, then you would understand probably why he made that comment. Being an earlier, and most probably variant version of the Quran, Uthman would have had it burned. What I would like to know, is how much “different” this quran is from Uthmans final version?

  • Guest2

    Antwerp is not in Germany…

  • RayBoy

    To all the Eds and Ed supporters Why do you want to burn a Quran?
    What’s wrong with it?
    Why not burn a Bible, Torah, or Vedas? Or why not burn the flag of your country?
    Even better burn some blank cheques or a pay cheque that’s deposited into your bank account. Try your passport or birth certificate.

    Aren’t they all the same (aka great meaning to some but worthless pieces of paper to others)?


    • German

      What has your comment got to do with the article?

  • S.A.Pana

    TQ Mr. Rahat for you explanation, plz let us know following points:
    1- why there is a lot of differences between the words and letteres in compare of present version.
    2- which surah or verse is mentioned in this copy?
    3- the words and sentences can not be read properly?
    4- where did this manuscript find?
    5- as i know the hijaz versions have not any phonetics or dots and so on?
    6- where can we read more about this research or your articles?
    Thanks again

  • hazsans

    Mr rahat you used this discovery for sectarian purposes and not for the general good of all Muslims
    Being the true copy of Quran you added your whims into the article
    Fact is that there aren’t another 10 chapters of Quran discovered anew that shias claim to have been lost
    Hence your article has refuted the lie shias have put against Allah and his book

    • fzk

      I’m a Shi’a and I don’t claim any chapters were “lost”. Neither does any other Shi’a I know. Just shows how ignorant you are about Shi’a beliefes.

  • Filipe

    Islam : why it not a religion but a cult.

    Islam states that the Koran is the perfect words of god.

    Now this is not possibly true as the Koran is very different from the version given to the character called mohammed this is due to the way the Koran was collected together and transmitted through history.

    This is in answer to many muslims argument that I do not know the Koran because I have not read it in Arabic.

    It is very unlikely that anybody reads the Koran in Kufic script , Syro-Aramaic or Ḥijāzī which is the most likely language that the Koran was written in and there is some controversy about John Gilchrist’s criticism of the Koran saying it is not possible that the Koran is correct as was not written down until at least 150 years after the death of the supposed mohammed , but that is not my point , my point is that just due to translation errors the Koran is different and therefore by definition not perfect ; so how can it be the words of a god who is all knowing and able to do all things ? Quite simply it can not and furthermore there is many forms of Arabic and some Arabic words have 2 meanings.

    In addition to this the Koran was revealed in at least seven different readings and apparently according to some Islamic scholars the differences in the readings can be dismissed because you can recite the koranic material anyway you find easiest , which leads to more evidence to the impossibility of the Koran being correct and perfect as given to the so called mohammed and as islam claims.

    There is a very interesting book about forms of Arabic around at the time the Koran was supposed to have been written in , this Arabic style is Syro-Aramaic and Ḥijāzī. It is supposed to be so hard to understand that it is characterised by dots and lines to make it more legible , the book is by Christoph Luxenberg and he claims not unreasonably that the Koran was first written languages so ambiguous and inexplicable that it is impossible to decode , Which is what I believe.

    I am fairly certain that the original Koran is written in code & that no Koran is written or read in the original text.

    The Koran also has initials written into it that no muslims understand which in fact makes the Koran unreadable and undecipherable even for Arabic muslims.

    There are many instances where the Koran can be seen as a copy of the Bible. There are many stories that are identical to the Bible and even coins depicting apparently mohammed on one side and Jesus on the obverse and if the depictions on the coins are not supposed to be Jesus & mohammed ; so why were there not coins minted depicting mohammed ? He was supposed to be a great warrior ; there is coins from even earlier depicting other famous persons such a Julius Cesar , Alexander the Great and from the time of the koran Yazdegerd The Third.

    Is it because mohammed never existed that islam does not like images of mohammed being portrayed ? I do not know but it begs the question “Did he actually exist ?

  • e

    Where was this found? I thought that would be of interest to anyone!

  • Robert

    This manuscript looks to be an palimpsest.

  • Jay Shawn

    i wonder how many Muslims will be killed by other muslims to secure this copy of the world’s most popular book of hatred and enmity of those who dont’ believe?

  • Jonathon von Tischner

    is is the same or are there slight differences?

  • Solo

    Most Muslims agree that no all of Sahih Bukkhari is authentic, this is common knowledge. Also, the Qur’an emphasizes that it would be preserved for all time – why would Muhammad allow for variation, 7 different at that, when he himself said through a revelation that the Qur’an will forever stay intact? It is inconsistent of him, especially when that verse was being uttered by him and to him for years – as well, the Qur’an also says the Jews/Christians had corrupted their books, mainly because it changed over a course of time – why would he also recite this, and allow 7 different variations, when they would cause the same problem as the books before him? Not consistent. These are considered weak Hadith’s.

    • That not all of Sahih Bukhari may or not be authentic is actually exposing an unwanted truth about Islam. You can’t just pick and choose which hadith are authentic or not. Most of Islams practises are defined within these hadith.

      That you are asking, “Why?” questions is good. But you have to clear your mind from this deception that Islam is this “true” religion when it has been exposed over and over again that the Quran has so many problems that it can NOT be from God, but by the hands of man.

      There is no doubt whatsoever, from Islamic sources that variant readings and Qurans existed before Uthmans final standardized version. The historical sources expose the Qurans human origins, usually through 3rd, 4th, or 5th hand testimonies. That even scribes who exposed Mohameds willingness to include their own additions to the text of the Quran also proves the illegitimate claim that the Quran was from God. Mohamed had this scribe that left him and Islam hunted down and murdered within the Kaaba. Very telling actions from a supposed, “prophet of God”..

      The Quran may have stated that it would be preserved for all time, but the Quran, especially in its final form never existed until some 150 years after the death of Mohamed. That there is inconsistency between what Mohamed revealed and the facts, this should be a measure of his legitimacy.