Sir, My attention has been drawn to the story and comment by Mr Zuher Hassan about what has become known as ‘The Birmingham Qur’an Manuscript’, dated October 30. There is a good deal that one could say about some of the comments, such as the theories of Christian scholars such as Gabriel Reynolds and Keth Small – and the rather insulting insinuation from Muslims that Mingana 1572a might be a palimpsest that the researchers involved failed to recognise as such.
For the time being, though, may I just point out that Mr Hassan has misrepresented me by means of selective quoting. This kind of deception, unfortunately, is to be expected of certain kinds of journalists. Strictly speaking it is a form of lying, which one does not expect to find in a respected source like The Muslim News. What I actually wrote was that the discovery “seems to leave open the possibility that the ‘Uthmanic redaction took place earlier than had been thought – or even, conceivably, that these folios predate that process. In any case, this – along with the sheer beauty of the content and the surprisingly clear Hijazi script – is news to rejoice Muslim hearts!” Mr Hassan has omitted the first eight words.
Now, this was expressly worded as being a surmise on my part, but it may have been ill-advised in the circumstances. Allah ta’ala knows best. All the same, I would appreciate it if you would kindly put the record straight as to what I said.
Muhammad Isa Waley
The views expressed in this message are my own, and do not any way represent those of the British Library.
Reply by Zuher Hassan:
Sir, I would like to thank Dr Waley for bringing to your attention my omission of the first eight words of his quote. Please accept my apologies for this over sight .I am not a journalist and this is my first article in any news paper.
In my view it does not al ter my argument apart from perhaps the words, “Even more startling”. I believe that Dr Isa by suggesting that it opens up the debate would certainly have favoured the proposition and clearly believes the manuscript to be close to the period of the death of Prophet (saw).
Al though I do not disagree with the arguments put forward by Reynolds concerning the issue, I have argued against
Small on the same grounds as I have argued against the early dating of the manuscript.
I do not believe that it is an insulting insinuation for a Muslim to suggest the
possibility of Mingana 1572a being a palimpsest – after all ‘Sana I’ is clearly palimpsest and no one feels insulted by it.
If Dr Isa means that it is an insulting insinuation to suggest that the re searchers have failed to recognise it as a palimpsest, they do not appear to have tested for this; if it is proved to be so then an early dating would definitely be ruled out.
Perhaps Dr Waley can write an article to put forward his views in de tail; there is one thing both he and I can agree which is Allah knows best.