On July 23, 2015, we had carried a story on how a PhD researcher came across one of the oldest fragments of the Holy Quran in the Birmingham university library.
Initial tests showed that, with a probability of more than 95%, the parchment was from between 568 CE and 645 CE.
Recent reports about the carbon dating of these fragments reveal some interesting facts.
A report in the Times of Israel reads:
Scientists at the University of Oxford carbon dated the artifact and found it to have been created between 568 CE and 645 CE. Muhammad is believed to have lived between 570 CE and 632 CE. So while the dating process does not necessarily contradict Islamic tradition, it does raise the possibility that the book, or parts of it, was written before the prophet was even born, or during his infancy.
To explain the implications of this finding, the report quotes historian Tom Holland:
It destabilizes, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Quran emerged And that in turn has implications for the historicity of Muhammad and [his followers]
Keith Small who is a Manuscript Consultant to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University said:
This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Quran'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.
Islamic scholars have sharply reacted to such claims. Many have said that carbon dating is at any rate not always reliable and so should not be treated as undisputed fact.