On the discovery of Old Pieces of a Written Quran

Which one is more trustworthy?
Which one is more trustworthy?

We all shared excitedly the recent discovery of a few old pages of the Quran as University of Birmingham researchers, using carbon dating method, claim it is written at a time close to the death of the Prophet (pbuh). I thought I’d share a few important points as a reminder of how the Quran reached us and a warning against excessive excitement of such findings. I hope as we all get excited to see such an old written piece, we remember the effort of those who preserved the Book of Allah and do not be subject to doubt in case another ‘discovery’ emerges¬†with text that is different ūüôā

Here are my points in brief

  • Muslims have paid an extraordinary attention to preserve the Quran.¬†Please see below for a list of examples of this effort
  • Muslim scholars do not consider a word to be part of the Quran unless it satisfies a few conditions. The two most important ones are:
    • To be written in a verified authenticated copy of the Quran that matches one of the copies distributing by the 3rd Calif, Othman (r) (see below)
    • It has to be recited (transmitted verbally) through a chain of many narrators in all generations until the time of the Prophet.
  • Anyone who comes up with a copy/piece (old or new) claiming it is part of the Quran, it must go through the same process. As a matter of fact, we all, unconsciously, started verifying the old copy against¬†the one at our hands, and, interestingly, not the other way around. This is a sign that those of us who understand this process trust the Quran at our hands more than any unknown piece that is discovered.
  • Dr. Ayman Sewaid, one of the well known scholars of the Quran said¬†(Arabic here) that Muslims’ way of verifying any text is not how old. Rather, it is: 1) who wrote it and 2) where did he copied it from. This guarantees that no one can introduce things to the scripture of Islam except that we discover it. Therefore, this found piece, even though it may very well be an old written one and a nice scientific discovery, represents no evidence to the authenticity of the Quran.

Rigorous Effort

These are examples of how Muslims preserved the Quran through generations since the time of the Prophet (pbuh)

  • The Prophet (pbuh) ordered a well-known group of his companions to write it down as he recites it to them even though writing wasn’t a popular skill or a known method of keeping text.
  • Many of his companions memorized the Quran and reviewed their memorization and writings with the Prophet on yearly basis
  • < 1 year after the death of the prophet, Abu Bakr (r) ordered the compilation of a master copy through a very rigorous process to guarantee its authenticity (not a single word is put into this master copy unless it is verified by those who write and those who memorize)
  • < 30 years after the death of the prophet, Othman (r) ordered¬†copies of this mater copy and sent them to different locations where Muslims lived. He also ordered that all unauthenticated writings to be burned and that the Quran should only be recited/taught/copied from these master copies
  • Muslims continued to make copies of the Quran after these copies (and hence calling the text of the Quran “Othmanic Writing”. No copy of the Quran is official until it is reviewed and proved to exactly copy one of those copies Othman originally distributed.
  • Writing the Quran in different font or using modern standard Arabic is not permitted.
  • Millions of Muslims memorize the Quran in its totality and trace their memorization back to the Prophet through a chain of so many teachers/recitors.
  • Many committees,¬†organizations, print facilities are established to print, verify, review any text claimed to part of the Quran in any form or medium including electronic media.


Envy is one of the most dangerous diseases. It can lead to actions people never imagine they would do. Here is a quick list of stories that came to mind when I was reading the Quran and reflecting on story number 2 below:

1- What made Iblis disobey the order of his Lord and refuse to prostrate to Adam is envy: “… see this one whom You have honored above me; if You give me respite to the Day of Judgement, I will seize and mislead his offspring, all but a few”

2- What made the son of Adam to kill his brother is envy: “… when each offer a sacrifice, it was accepted from one but not from the other; he said, I shall kill you …”

3- What led the Brothers of Yusuf (pbuh) to get rid of him was envy: “They said: Yusuf and his brother are¬†dearer to our father than we, while we are a strong group … Kill Yusuf or cast him out to another land …”

4- What drove the Israelites to object to the assignment of Talut as a king, despite his knowledge and strength was envy: “They said, how¬†can he be a king over us when we are fitter than him¬†for the kingdom and he is not given enough wealth …”

5- What made the Israelites reject the message of Muhammad (pbuh) was envy: “Do they envy men for what Allah has given them of His blessings?”

6- After the people of the book were sure that the message the Prophet (pbuh) is the truth from Allah, the¬†wishes of many of them were not to believe in it but to deviate those who had already believed, “Many of the people of the Scripture wished that they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves, even after the truth become manifest unto them …”

Search deeply in your heart, you will probably find that the source of most of your problems is envy. It is not that people envy you. That you have no way to search for. It is about YOU HAVING ENVY IN YOUR HEART TOWARDS OTHERS. 

One solution?, Well, keep in mind the following paragraph:

Others really do not have to lose what they have or what they achieved for you to get it. As a matter of fact, it is better for you to think of how to be as good or better than others by climbing up to their level as opposed to working deliberately to bring them down to yours.

A Special Book


Walking down the streets of my neighborhood in the early morning and making my way towards the¬†‘taxi stop’ (Muslim-majority country :)), I¬†expected to¬†routinely make it to my class. I soon found out that there was an enlightening twist awaiting me today.

I entered the taxi, which would usually be filled with passengers later on in the day, and it was just me and the driver. Taking a look at the driver, he¬†just seemed like a ‘regular’ old man, cigarette in hand, and the effects of poverty were quite apparent in his attire and his facial expressions.¬†I¬†tried to block those digressive thoughts out of my mind and tried to focus on the Qur’an I was preparing for my class. To my surprise, the man somberly told me: “Read Qur’an for me ya Shaikh”.¬†To me, this was a bit awkward. I was never accustomed to having conversations with taxi drivers, let alone recite Qur’an for them. But Allah blessed me to accept his request, and I only asked him if he could¬†please¬†put out the cigarette.¬† Continue reading