The oldest Quran in the world

In an obscure corner of the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, lies one of Islam's most sacred relics - the world's oldest Koran. 

It is a reminder of the role which Central Asia once played in Muslim history - a fact often overlooked after seven decades of Soviet-imposed atheism. 

The library where the Koran is kept is in an area of old Tashkent known as Hast-Imam, well off the beaten track for most visitors to this city. 

It lies down a series of dusty lanes, near the grave of a 10th century scholar, Kaffel-Shashi. 

The Mufti of Uzbekistan, the country's highest religious leader, has his offices there, in the courtyard of an old madrassa. 

Just across the road stands a non-descript mosque and the equally unremarkable Mui-Mubarak, or "Sacred Hair", madrassa, which houses a rarely seen hair of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, as well as one of Central Asia's most important collections of historical works. 

"There are approximately 20,000 books and 3000 manuscripts in this library," said Ikram Akhmedov, a young assistant in the mufti's office. 

"They deal with mediaeval history, astronomy and medicine. There are also commentaries on the Koran and books of law. But the oldest book here is the Othman Koran from the seventh century." 

Sacred verses 

The Othman Koran was compiled in Medina by Othman, the third caliph or Muslim leader. 

Before him, the sacred verses which Muslims believe God gave to Muhammad were memorised, or written on pieces of wood or camel bone. 

To prevent disputes about which verses should be considered divinely inspired, Othman had this definitive version compiled. It was completed in the year 651, only 19 years after Muhammad's death. 

This priceless Koran is kept in a special glass-fronted vault built into the wall of a tiny inner room. 

About one-third of the original survives - about 250 pages - a huge volume written in a bold Arabic script. 

"The Koran was written on deerskin," said Mr Akhmedov. "It was written in Hejaz in Saudi Arabia, so the script is Hejazi, similar to Kufic script." 

It is said that Caliph Othman made five copies of the original Koran. A partial Koran now in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul is said to be another of these original copies. 

Historical text

Othman was murdered by a rebellious mob while he was reading his book. A dark stain on its pages is thought to be the caliph's blood. 

It was Othman's murder that precipitated the Shia-Sunni divide which has split the Muslim world ever since. 

Later disputes over the succession led to a division between the mainstream Sunnis, and supporters of Othman's immediate successor, Ali, who became Shias. 

The story of how the Othman Koran came to Tashkent is a remarkable one. 

After Othman's death it is believed it was taken by Caliph Ali to Kufa, in modern Iraq. Seven hundred years later, when the Central Asian conqueror, Tamerlane, laid waste to the region, he found the Koran and took it home to grace his splendid capital, Samarkand. 

It stayed there for more than four centuries, until the Russians conquered Samarkand in the 1868. The Russian governor then sent the Othman Koran to St Petersburg where it was kept in the Imperial Library. 

But after the Bolshevik revolution, Lenin was anxious to win over the Muslims of Russia and Central Asia. Initially he sent the Koran to Ufa in modern Bashkortostan. 

But finally, after repeated appeals from the Muslims of Tashkent, it was returned once more to Central Asia in 1924. It has remained in Tashkent ever since. 

Visiting dignitaries from the Muslim world often turn up to see the Othman Koran in the depths of old Tashkent, so it is odd that it is still kept in such an out of the way location. 

But the authoritarian Uzbek government has inherited a Soviet-era distrust of Islam, and still views much of its own Islamic history with suspicion. 

The mufti's official religious establishment is closely watched and takes care not to attract too much attention to itself. 

As a result, its greatest treasure, the world's oldest Koran, continues to sit quietly in the medieval quarter of old Tashkent. 


Source: BBC News

Other References:

IslamiCity Uzbekistan Video 1

IslamiCity Uzbekistan Video 2

Related posts from similar topics:

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  23 Comments   Comment

  1. Maryam Shabazz from Wilderness of North America

    Pardon the un-Islamic joy,

    but Alhamdulillah! Yeah for O'zbekiston

  2. Abdul-Jaleel from United Snakes

    The article is fine but history of the rift between shias and sunnis didn't start there. The word shia just means: follower. So wherever one of the companions went he had "followers." The divide didn't happen until Muawiyah did't want to follow the Caliph who was Ali(ra) at the time.(Why do most of us don't admit that Ali(ra) was the right way to go). Is wasn't a real issue until people who wanted to divide the ummah made it an issue. That was during the Iran/Iraq war in 1978. Before then it wasn't even an issue. To find out more.....Iqra, bismirabik aladhi khalaq.....

  3. zulfiqar Ahmed Ghouri from india/uae

    the treasure every muslim wish to glimps with his own eyes, allah has his ways of preserving it.

  4. Babandi A. Gumel from U.K.

    Masha Allah! Allah reward you.This has confirmed the statement of Allah (S.W.T) that It is We who revealed the Quran and it is(also) Our own responsibility to keep it (intact).1400 years Quran you compare it with todays there is no difference.Praise be to Allah who has kept His Promise which has made all of us proud of Islam and the teachings brought by the Prophet (S.A.W).

  5. alamgir Khan from bangladesh

    It Very Very Good News .

    Thankyou Thank you Very much .

    You have done A good Job .

    May Allah Keep Us Happy On Islam .

  6. Mohamed Rasheed from Maldives

    Assalaam A'laikum

    its great article, all muslims must know about how quran realy came to us and most important thing is to understand it and lead to the way of Quran

    Jazaakallh Khairan

  7. Basem Hamid from USA

    The Quran was first cmplied by the first successor of the prophet (Caliph), Abu Bakr, within the first two years following the prophet's death (i,e 633-634 AD). Othman's role was making several copies of that text so it could be distributed to the rapidly expanding islamic state then.

  8. Dr Edriss from US

    may Allah guides you and guides all the moslems to check about things before writing about it. Ameen.

    the oldest Quran is the Quran of Hafssah the wife of the Prophet. and Othman never ever compiled any Quran! may Allah guides those crazy suffi who always claim the Quran was compiled while all their knowledge is based on Plato and Socrates books.

    that was never ever any compilation of the Quran and the khalifah Othman ordered the writing of organized Quran the way we have it now! he based that on the Quran of Hafssah the mother of the True believers and the wife of the Last Messenger to mankind.

    the prophet described in hadith the signs of the last day. I recall he mentioned that the ignorance gonna rise above the Islamic Science. that's exactly what we see in our time.

    I say this and I wish Allah forgives all of us for the mistakes we do. we have to be very careful in our time about what we read and what we hear. we should also question the motives of those who write this articles, I don't think they can not do better... maybe they prefer spread ignorance...!!!

  9. Khadija Mansoor from India

    such articles help greatly in convincing those who doubt the authenticity and the PRESERVATION of the HOLY QURAN through the ages.

  10. Rabia Shafiq from United States

    Thanks for letting me have a glimpse of Oldest Quran. May Allah bless you all and help us to act upon teachings of Holy Quran.

    Thank You

  11. Chaka from USA

    Alhumdulilah! Very great article! I will save it and use for future references.

    Thank You.

    As salaam alaikum.

  12. christopher bergman from USA

    Very interesting. Has the authenticity of the Quran been verified?

  13. ZAKARI Yacoubou from TOGO

    Merci pour vos informations .Qu'Allah le Tout Misericordieux vous benisse.Veuillez m'envoyer les informations en francais .Merci beaucoup

  14. Rounak Rahman from USA

    Asalamualikum. I am glad that I read this piece on Islamic history. This makes me more interested in visiting this region of the world.

    Thank you.

  15. Muhammad Ikram from Pakistan

    Thanks for letting me have a glimpse of Oldest Quran. May Allah bless you all and help us to act upon teachings of Holy Quran.

  16. Bashir Usman from Nigeria


    May Allah (SWT) continue to preserve His book wherever they may be in this Universe. This nothing short of a miracle for such Quran (oldest) to be found in a former Soviet Union enclave. Masha-Allah, Alhamdulillah.

  17. mohammed kamilu ibn Alhussaini from nigeria

    Assalaamu-alaikum,warahmatullahi ta'ala wabarakatuhu.

    Very intresting thing i have seen today.May Allah help me to see the Oldiest Holy Qur'an by myself, ameen. May Allah help this organization. May Allah help us all ameen.

  18. abdelaziz jai from MOROCCO



  19. Kaleema from USA

    Thank for this article, but I don't think this statement "... the role which Central Asia ... a fact often overlooked ..." is absolutely true and it leans towards propaganda instead of enlightenment. The role Central Asia played in Muslim history has been overlooked because of Arab cultural supremacy in Muslim history and scholarship. There are two few scholars of Muslim history in Central Asia (Africa, Southeast Asia, etc.), including scholars/teachers from Central Asia, etc. that enjoy popular support, research support and teaching opportunities in the West or elsewhere. Poorly inspired interest of Muslims in knowing Islam beyond the time of the Prophet (PBUH), how the faith was propagated, lived and continues to thrive throughout and within cultures around the globe has more to do why the history in Central Asia has been overlooked than any other cause. There is little scholarship but lots of propaganda parading as Islamic scholarship and this is what the people are consuming intellectually. We see the results reflected in the people's practice of the religion, a practice that does not solve problems facing everyday Muslims the majority who live in poverty, face disease and have little economic, social or political control over the decisions that affect their lives and as a consequence have been lead to see the propagation of war/terrorism as a means to gain the power to relieve their suffering - al-Qaeda is only ONE example. If one tries to do research on women in Islam, they'll find much information on scarves, obeisance, child-bearing, stay-at-home, and build the home - the home is the woman, which is useful to a point. Little to nothing is found on the spiritual, economic, social, political, etc. role women have played in the history of a particular people, including Arab women beyond the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBHU). Without such knowledge one can not know how to prevent and solve problems that confront humanity (i.e. wife beating for this example).

  20. Cristy from USA

    I have been blessed to see this Qu'ran in person in Uzbekistan, and was very interested to see this article in my weekly email. I knew right away where it was, alhamdAllah, and enjoyed visiting Islamic sites during my trip to the Stans. Salaam to all!

  21. ali from usa

    is the quran in palestine at the museum close to masjidal aqsa one of the five?