Is the Koran (or, parts of it) older than Muhammad?
Islamic tradition rests on a foundation of the (claimed) writings of Muhammad, that we know as the Koran (or, Quran). So in that view believers see him restoring the original monotheistic faith of all the prophets ( of the west Asian tradition).
Its important to know that Muhammad was born in Mecca (in Arabia) somewhere around 570 CE. His parents died when he was young, and he was given into the care of his uncle Abu Talib. As an adult he mostly worked as a trader. For whatever reason he seems to have felt the need to be alone at times and would got to a mountain cave for meditation and prayer, and it was at this place that he tells of being visited by the angle Gabriel and given a revelation, specifically for him, from God. It is said that he was aged 40 at that time, Hence the earliest he could have started writing down these prophetic messages is around 610 CE.
We now come to a recent discovery. Filed away in a library in Birmingham UK was an old manuscript - contained part of the Koran. Like most ancient manuscripts these days, it was subjected to a battery of tests in an attempt to establish its age.
So now jump to the news story to see how old the experts think it may be and what the implications are for the dating:
If the manuscript were a century earlier at the very latest, sure, that would start the search for some answers. But the date ranges mesh well with traditional Islamic dating, so there's not really a conflict here. I suspect some poor academic has been asked a question, answered it honestly, and the story has taken off. If the early end of the date range is correct, yes, interesting questions. But the tests weren't saying that one has to take the earlier dates as being more likely than the later.
Not really proof of anything, although the ideas on the origins of Islam and its writings are interesting in themselves.
The topic intrigues me because there is some contention regarding the traditions associated with the beginnings of Islam.
A german academic, himself a convert to Islam, has contested the authenticity of Muhammad. I find it difficult to go that far, but can wonder if it all happened as Muhammad claims.
This is all interesting, but the dating has a pretty generous window, plus it's not an exact science really, though more so than I thought. I don't think it predates Muhammad. . .while I find hadith uninspired and contradictory in some ways, Muhammad is a pretty consistent part of the story.
Certainly a fascinating find in Birmingham. One imagines they will not bomb the library if it were found to be at the earliest date?
The Quran is considered perfect from the aspect of its perfect arabic prose. I wonder how this critique is evident in the Birmingham copy?
Dating the Manuscript means little, it is the ink that needs to be dated. The dates fall within the lifetime of Muhammad anyway, though the earliest date would have been when he was about 6 years old.
This sort of unscientific, sensationalist journalism is irresponsible.
A touchy subject to be sure, fulltimestudent. XD
I hope no British embassies get fire-bombed.
Like you, I wouldn't go too far on this subject - I like my head safely attached to my body.
My lawyers have just told me to say:
"La ilaha illa-llah, Muhammadun rasulu-llah"