Could a copy of the Koran, held by the Birmingham Library in England, pre-date the prophet Mohamed? According to The Times of London, scientists at the University of Oxford claimed that carbon dating the text shows it may have been produced between between 568 AD and 645 AD. The Times notes the dates often given for Muhammad’s lifetime as 570 AD to 632 AD.
Keith Small, Koranic manuscript consultant at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, says the dates are likely correct and bring about more questions about the origin of Islam.
He explained, “If the [radio carbon] dates apply to the parchment and the ink, and the dates across the entire range apply, then the Koran — or at least portions of it — predates Muhammad, and moves back the years that an Arabic literary culture is in place well into the 500s,” he told The Times.”
“This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Koran’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,” he added.
Newsweek reports that “hardwired skeptics” will say that Islam is a collection of ideas and concepts created after the conquest era and “projected back on to the seventh century,” referencing a recently deceased historian Patricia Crone on the religious debate.
“We can be reasonably sure that the Koran is a collection of utterances that [Muhammad] made in the belief that they had been revealed to him by God… [He] is not responsible for the arrangement in which we have them. They were collected after his death—how long after is controversial,” she said.