Prince Charles in Birm­ing­ham Ko­ran dis­play in UAE visit

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Prince Charles is to present a dig­i­tal replica of the an­cient Ko­ran frag­ments dis­cov­ered by the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham, in a visit to the United Arab Emi­rates.

The copy of the man­u­script will be a cen­tre­piece of a year of cul­tural links be­tween the UK and the Gulf state.

The orig­i­nal Ko­ran frag­ment, pos­si­bly the old­est in the world, re­mains in the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham.

The man­u­script, at least 1,370 years old, was hailed as a ma­jor dis­cov­ery.

The Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham’s find came last year when a man­u­script which it had held since the 1920s was ra­dio-car­bon dated and found to be much older than any­one had ex­pected.

The range of dates, es­tab­lished by tests car­ried out by the Univer­sity of Ox­ford, showed that the man­u­script was among the ear­li­est sur­viv­ing frag­ments of the Ko­ran and could be the old­est in ex­is­tence.

The parch­ment, with verses of the Ko­ran writ­ten on ei­ther sheep or goatskin, was put on pub­lic dis­play in Birm­ing­ham.

But for the first time, a dig­i­tal replica of the man­u­script has been taken out of the UK and is be­ing put on show at events in the United Arab Emi­rates.

This will be part of a year of col­lab­o­ra­tions pro­mot­ing cul­tural and eco­nomic links be­tween the UK and the UAE, in ar­eas such as the arts, ed­u­ca­tion, sport and science.

It will also mark the sym­bolic re­turn, at least in replica form, of a man­u­script that was made in the Mid­dle East in the ear­li­est years of the Mus­lim faith.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the likely ori­gin of the Birm­ing­ham man­u­script showed that it was re­lated to a sim­i­lar doc­u­ment held in Paris, which had been brought to Eu­rope by a vice-con­sul of Napoleon.

The Birm­ing­ham man­u­script had been ac­quired in the 1920s by Alphonse Min­gana, an Assyr­ian, from what is now mod­ern­day Iraq, whose col­lect­ing trips to the Mid­dle East were funded by the Cad­bury fam­ily.

The univer­sity’s vice-chan­cel­lor, Sir David East­wood, said the Birm­ing­ham Ko­ran man­u­script was of “huge sig­nif­i­cance to Mus­lim her­itage and the aca­demic study of Is­lam”.

But he said that there might be other “hid­den trea­sures” in the Min­gana Col­lec­tion at the univer­sity, which rep­re­sented one of the big­gest col­lec­tions of such ma­te­rial in Eu­rope.

There have been claims that the frag­ment in Birm­ing­ham is of even greater sig­nif­i­cance in the his­tory of the Ko­ran.

Ja­mal bin Huwaireb, man­ag­ing direc­tor of the Mo­hammed Bin Rashid Al Mak­toum Foun­da­tion, an ed­u­ca­tional foun­da­tion set up by the ruler of Dubai, said that he be­lieves the pages dis­cov­ered in Birm­ing­ham are from the first Ko­ran com­mis­sioned by Abu Bakir Al Sid­diq, the first caliph af­ter the Prophet Muham­mad, who reigned be­tween 632 and 634.

“I per­son­ally ex­am­ined this an­cient parch­ment. In my opin­ion these frag­ments of the holy Ko­ran were neatly writ­ten on a spe­cial ma­te­rial and have been pro­duced for some­one im­por­tant such as the caliph.

“What is most par­tic­u­larly cru­cial is that the words in this an­cient doc­u­ment per­fectly match the words we Mus­lims read in the Ko­ran to­day,” said Mr bin Huwaireb.

Earth­quake shakes cen­tral Ok­la­homa

An earth­quake mea­sur­ing mag­ni­tude 5.0 shook cen­tral Ok­la­homa on Sun­day, caus­ing dam­age to a num­ber of build­ings.

The epi­cen­tre of the quake struck the city of Cushing, about 50 miles north­east of Ok­la­homa City, at 7:44pm lo­cal time. Tre­mors were felt as far away as Texas. Author­i­ties in Cushing re­ported “quite of bit of dam­age”, and schools in the city will be closed so that build­ings can be checked.

Pho­to­graphs posted on Twit­ter showed de­bris scat­tered along­side com­mer­cial build­ings in the city.

There have been 19 earth­quakes in Ok­la­homa in the past week, ac­cord­ing to data pro­vided by the US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey.

In Septem­ber, a mag­ni­tude 5.6 quake in the state fu­elled con­cerns that seis­mic ac­tiv­ity in the area was con­nected to en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

In 2013, sci­en­tists linked the un­der­ground in­jec­tion of oil drilling waste­water to a mag­ni­tude-5.7 earth­quake that struck Ok­la­homa in 2011.

Cushing, which has a pop­u­la­tion of about 7,900, is home to one of the largest oil stor­age fa­cil­i­ties in the US.

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