Where are the oldest manuscripts of the Quran?
Do any of the Holy Quran manuscripts written in Islam’s early days exist? If so, where are they? While there is no sign of the Quran during Uthman’s time, some of the Quran’s manuscripts are now in museums and libraries around the world written after the Prophet’s (SAW) death in the first or second century.
Let’s get acquainted with some of the oldest manuscripts of the Quran.
The codex Parisino-petropolitanus manuscript
It is believed that this Qur’an manuscript was written in the late 17th or early 18th century Syria. A total of five types of writing in the manuscript written in the Hijazi script were founded. Five writers were probably appointed to finish it quickly at the same time. It currently has 70 pages in Paris, 46 pages in Russia, one in the Vatican, and one in London. Overall, around 45% of verses in the Quran are contained in the manuscript.
The Samarkand Kufic Quran manuscript
The pages of the manuscript are huge, 68 cm long and 53 cm wide. Each page was entirely made of leather. The pages are incredibly thick and inflexible.
It is believed that the original manuscript had 950 pages. However, only 353 pages are currently available, most of them very vulnerable. So at present, it is kept out of the general public’s reach. This Quran, housed in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, has long been known as the Ottoman Quran.
This Quran manuscript is kept in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. The specialty of the Topkapi manuscript is that it is the only almost complete copy of the ancient Quran manuscripts. This manuscript, written in Kufic script, includes all the Quran together except for two pages (23 verses). Each manuscript page, made of cow’s calfskin, is 46 cm long and 41 cm wide, larger than the modern A3 size.
Sanaa manuscript kept in Yemen. Yemen’s Dar al-Makhtutat has released a high-resolution copy of the Quran to the Internet. The size of the Sana manuscript is about 41% of the entire Quran.
The wall of Sanaa Mosque collapsed in Yemen in 1982. During its reconstruction in a hidden room below the ground, a significant number of ancient manuscripts were discovered. After investigation, 81 of these manuscripts were identified as Quran manuscripts.
The Tübingen Fragment is preserved in the library of the University of Tübingen in Germany. Each page is made from animal skin with a length of 19.5 cm and a width of 15.3 cm. It has an average of 18 to 21 lines per page.
Birmingham Quran manuscript
In Birmingham, England, the two pages of the Quran preserved are considered to be the oldest of the Quran. Scientists claim that between 568 AD and 645 AD, the manuscript was written. Since the Quran was revealed between AD 609 and 632, it is thought to have been written while the Prophet SAW was alive or within a few years of his death.
Only two pages of the manuscript were found, which included parts of Surahs 18 to 20 with The Hijazi script. Its pages are 34.3 cm long and 25.8 cm wide, slightly larger than the current size of the A4.