Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds SUSAN WORRALL: On the 22nd of July, 2015, the University of Birmingham made an announcement that captured the world’s imagination. A Quranic manuscript held at the University’s Cadbury Research Library had been radiocarbon dated to the early seventh century making it one of the earliest examples of the Islamic holy book in existence. The news quickly spread around the globe generating unprecedented media coverage and sparking huge interest amongst the public, both Muslims and non-Muslims. The message was clear, by holding a fragment of the Qur’an for which parchment had been radiocarbon dated to a period correlating closely with the lifetime of the prophet Muhammad, the University of Birmingham held within its collections a manuscript of global significance.
Skip to 0 minutes and 57 seconds At a time when so much of the world’s cultural heritage is being deliberately destroyed or threatened, this announcement captured hearts and imaginations worldwide. This journey will tell the full story of the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript from its possible origins in the Islamic heartlands more than 1,400 years ago to its current place as part of Mingana Collection in Middle Eastern manuscripts in the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham. It’s a remarkable journey. What can a 1,400 year old Quranic fragment teach us today? What stories can it share with us? How do we care for such a sacred manuscript. How can we use scientific techniques to reveal its secrets.
Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds And how can we assure that it and the rest of our collections are cared for and are still relevant and appropriate to people and communities today? We’ll explore developments in calligraphy and the arts of the Qur’an. We’ll look at these questions and many more together as we investigate the Birmingham Qur’an.