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Historian Tom Holland, told the Times: The ancient pages were found bound alongside those of a younger copy of the Koran from the seventh century AD. It is thought they had been put together because the Hijazi script on the parchment was similar. They had been collected during the s by a Chaldean priest called Alphonse Mingana who put together a huge collection of documents from the Middle East.

His expeditions to the Middle East were sponsored by Edward Cadbury, from the chocolate dynasty. A special library was built at Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham, a group of colleges set up by a group of Quakers led by George Cadbury.

When the colleges were merged with the University of Birmingham in the s, the collection was brought under the care of the Cadbury Research Library at the university. The fragments of the Koran then lay undiscovered until they were sent for radio carbon dating at the University of Oxford.

However, these claims are strongly disputed by Muslim scholars, with Mustafa Shah from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London also telling the paper: The final authoritative written form was not completed until AD under the third leader Caliph Uthman.

When it was found last month he said: Although Muslims believe that Islam is a faith that has always existed and was gradually revealed to humanity by a number of prophets, Muhammad is the one said to have made the complete revelation in the seventh century. The traditional story of the Koran tells how one night in Muhammad, a deeply spiritual and religious man, was meditating in a cave on Mount Hira when he was visited by the angel Jibreel who ordered him to recite.

Once Jibreel mentioned the name of Allah, Muhammad began to recite words which he came to believe were the words of God. These revelations continued for 23 years and are collectively known as the Koran. When he began to recite the Koran, Muhammad and his small group of followers suffered persecution from unbelievers.

In God gave them the command to migrate from Mecca to the city of Medina, some miles to the north, which marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. After several years, Muhammad and his followers returned to Mecca and forgave their enemies. Shortly before Muhammad died, at the age of 63, the majority of the Arabian Peninsula had become Muslim.

Within a century of his death Islam had also spread to Spain in the west and as far east as China. Islam is now the second largest religion in the world with over one billion followers. The census recorded 2.

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