″I oppose the false Muslims″
Last year an ancient Koran manuscript was discovered by the University of Birmingham. What is the significance of this finding for Koranic research?
Seyed Mostafa Azmayesh: It is known that the Koran was not written in a homogeneous language but composed in three different styles. As a result there has always been much debate about the sources of the Koran. Some even believed that the Koran was only composed two centuries after Muhammad′s lifetime by a group of scholars in Iran. But the Koran in Birmingham and other manuscripts show that this book already existed in the lifetime of the Prophet himself. An analysis of the paper and ink using the latest technology shows that the Koran of Birmingham is the oldest existing copy and that it was written at a time when the Prophet was still alive. This discovery has put an end to much speculation about the origin of the Koran. So now we have to find another explanation for the non-homogeneity of the language of the Koran.
You write in your recently published book on the Koran that the Prophet Muhammad stood in the tradition of previous monotheist religions and that he was familiar with their scriptures.
Azmayesh: In the Prophet′s lifetime the majority of people in the Arabian peninsula were uneducated and illiterate Bedouin. But in Mecca and Medina there was an educated community to which Muhammad′s family belonged. This community was acquainted with the monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Manichaeism, which were common in Syria and Yemen. The main part of the Koran displays continuity with the pre-existing texts and teachings of the monotheistic masters such as Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael. It refers to these sources – not necessarily to the official Bible but to another source – which according to my research are the scriptures found in the Qumran scrolls discovered near the Dead Sea.