It turns out that carbon dating methods used on fragments of an old copy of the Koran puts its date as possibly before the time of prophet Mohammed.
Carbon dating of a fragment from a Koran stored at a Birmingham library suggests that the book was produced between 568 and 645 A.D., said scientists at the University of Oxford, but Islamic scholars generally believe Muhammad lived between 570 and 632 A.D.
If the carbon dating is accurate, the Koran was made before the first formal text was assembled on orders from the caliph Uthman in 653 — and it could date from Muhammad’s childhood or even before his birth, reported The Times of London.
That’s comparable to the discovery of gospel sayings dating from Jesus Christ’s infancy, academics say.
The devout believe that Mohammed received the Koran directly from his god by divine revelation between the years 610 and 632 AD, and thus that the book is a direct transcription of god’s words.
Keith Small, of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, cautioned that carbon dating was done only on the Koran’s parchment and not its ink, but he said the dates were probably accurate.
“If the 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 Mohammed, and moves back the years that an Arabic literary culture is in place well into the 500s,” he said.
Small said that would lend credibility to the historical view that Muhammad and his followers collected text that was already in circulation to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than receiving revelations from heaven.
This result has a good news/bad news quality for believers. If the actual date is close to the earlier boundary of 568 AD and thus before Mohammed’s birth, then it means that the Koran, like all these ancient holy books, have murky histories and are based on bits and pieces of folklore originating at various times that were later collected into a text, and could not have been a direct revelation by god to Mohammed.
If it is close to the later date of 645AD, then believers can imagine that the writer may have got it from Mohammed himself. Islamic religious scholars are naturally dismissing the former since it contradicts their foundational beliefs.