Saudi Crown Prince, Archbishop view fragments of one of oldest Qur’an manuscripts

Prince Mohammed and the Archbishop viewed fragments of a Qur’an manuscript found in a Birmingham University library. (Al-Ekhbariya)
Updated 09 March 2018
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Saudi Crown Prince, Archbishop view fragments of one of oldest Qur’an manuscripts

LONDON: Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Archbishop of Canterbury viewed fragments of a Qur’an manuscript found in a Birmingham University library in 2015 on Thursday, the second full day of his landmark visit to the UK.
The Qur’an manuscript, thought to be among the world’s oldest, dates back to the seventh century.
Consisting of two parchment leaves, the Qur’an manuscript is part of the University’s Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts which is held in the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham.
Funded by Quaker philanthropist Edward Cadbury, the collection was acquired to raise the status of Birmingham as an intellectual centre for religious studies and attract prominent theological scholars.
The manuscript contains parts of chapters 18 to 20 of the Qur’an known as Surah Al-Kahf, Surah Maryam and Surah Taha, written with ink in Hijazi, an early form of Arabic script.
The manuscript was found by an academic and had been misbound with leaves of a more recent Qur’an manuscript. It remained undiscovered in the library for almost a century.

According to BBC News, radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence.
The tests, carried out by the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, showed that the fragments, written on sheep or goat skin, were among the very oldest surviving texts of the Quran.
According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Qur’an between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death. At the time, the divine message was not compiled into the book form in which it appears today. Instead, early Muslims memorized the revelations and parts of it had also been written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and animal bones.
The final written form of the Qur’an was completed and fixed under the direction of the third Caliph Uthman, in about 650.
Professor David Thomas, Professor of Christianity and Islam and Nadir Dinshaw, Professor of Interreligious Relations at the University of Birmingham, said: “The tests carried out on the parchment of the Birmingham folios yield the strong probability that the animal from which it was taken was alive during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad or shortly afterwards. This means that the parts of the Qur’an that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Muhammad’s death”.


Sharqiah Season features interactive Van Gogh show at Ithra

A Vincent Van Gogh interactive exhibition opened at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) as part of the 17-day Sharqiah Season in the Eastern Province. (Supplied)
Updated 15 min 20 sec ago
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Sharqiah Season features interactive Van Gogh show at Ithra

  • The initiative is lin line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program

DAHRAN: The story of Vincent Van Gogh has been brought to life in an interactive exhibition at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), through mesmerizing images projected on the walls and the voice of Lebanese actor of Jihad Al-Atrash.
Al-Atrash, who is famous for his role in “Grendizer” in the Arabic cartoon channel Spacetoon, narrates the story in Arabic, while Van Gogh’s famous paintings, such as “The Starry Night” and “Sunflowers,” fill the walls.
“It’s not only entertainment, it’s also cultural and educational,” said Khalil Itani, project manager of the exhibition, which is part of Sharqiah Season, a 17-day festival that’s taking place in the Eastern Province.
“There will be an English voiceover soon. The 30 minutes and 40 seconds describes the important timelines of Van Gogh, his struggles and achievements, his thoughts. He was an awakened and spiritual person, but he was very sad; no one understood him. Also, the voiceover explains each phase of his life and the most important paintings of his, and explains these paintings and their story, and the techniques and colors.”
Itani told Arab News that many artists have visited the exhibition. “It’s very inspiring too for artists to know how he lived — this is the added value of the Van Gogh exhibition in Ithra.”
Raghad Al-Blowi, a 20-year-old Saudi visitor, said that Van Gogh was one of her most cherished artists, and her favorite painting is “The Starry Night.” Commenting on the Arabic narration, she said: “It makes visitors really get into it in Arabic more. Locals can understand and learn about Van Gogh.”
Colombian visitor Audrey Rincon said that she also enjoyed the exhibit. “It is different from the usual exhibitions, because the paintings are displayed in an interactive and creative way. And he is my favorite painter. I love the colors he used in his paintings, and ‘Sunflowers’ is my favorite painting.”
Sharqiah Season is organized by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage in collaboration with the General Entertainment Authority, General Sports Authority and General Culture Authority. The initiative is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program, which aims to improve the quality of life for Saudis by providing enriching cultural pursuits and shows.
The festival, which began on March 14 and runs until March 30, has seen more than 80 entertainment and sporting events take place across nine different cities.