How the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript became of world-wide interest
After the press release on 22nd July 2015, the news was broken by the BBC and followed by other news channels.
The volume of the news coverage was greater than had been anticipated by the University of Birmingham. It far exceeded news coverage relating to radiocarbon dating of other Qur’anic manuscripts, including the Tübingen Qur’an from the University of Tübingen whose press release was issued in November 2014.
Much of the press coverage incorrectly referenced a ‘discovery’ of the manuscript rather than focussing on the true story of the radiocarbon dating and academic analysis leading to a re-dating of the manuscript to mid-seventh century. In reality, the manuscript had been in Birmingham since the 1930s when it was acquired by Alphonse Mingana as part of the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts. Since that date, it has been examined by academics with an interest in Qur’anic manuscripts, as have the other manuscripts within the Mingana Collection.
Although radiocarbon dating of historic manuscripts is increasing, its use for Qur’anic manuscripts is still rare and not without controversy. Increasingly however, academics are beginning to realise its value in order to place manuscripts within their historical context with greater accuracy.