The Othman Koran was
compiled in Medina by Othman, the third caliph ..
Quran in the world
1/12/2006 - Education - Article Ref: BB0601-2875
Number of comments: 6
By: Ian MacWilliam
BBC News* -
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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."
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.