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Updates for the years 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.


2nd January 2015

Recent epigraphic surveys in Saudi Arabia conducted by both professionals and amateurs alike, have uncovered hundreds of Arabic inscriptions. Amongst those discoveries that have been published are inscriptions of exceptional historical significance. There is an inscription that was likely made by ʿUmar bin al-Khaṭṭāb himself, an inscription that comments on the murder of ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān, an inscription mentioning Muʿāwiya ibn Abī Sufyān, a signature inscription of ʿAbd al-Malik bin Marwān, and an inscription mentioning Al-Walīd bin ʿAbd al-Malik.

Invocation Of ʿUmar B. Al-Khaṭṭāb, Before 23 AH / 644 CE. This is the second inscription which mentions ʿUmar bin al-Khaṭṭāb. Notice the absence of the title amīr al-muʾminīn, other officiate religious terminology, and any mention of his caliph-related functions. ʿUmar bin al-Khaṭṭāb may have inscribed it before he was caliph or even before he was a Muslim.

An Inscription Mentioning The Murder Of ʿUthmān B. ʿAffān, c. 36 AH / 656 CE. This is earliest inscription discovered so far with a political dimension. The author of the text was shocked by the murder of ʿUthmān and invokes God's wrath on the assassins. It is worthwhile noting that the title amīr al-muʾminīn is absent and no eulogy follows after the mention of caliph ʿUthmān's name. ʿUthmān was killed at the end of the year 35 AH / 655 CE. According to Imbert, this inscription most probably dates from the year 36 AH / 656 CE, when the Battle of the Camel occurred.

An Inscription Mentioning Muʿāwiya Ibn Abī Sufyān, Late 1st / Early 2nd Century AH. This is a unique inscription attesting the name of Muʿāwiya ibn Abī Sufyān. There is no mention of his customary title amīr al-muʾminīn as seen in all the earliest inscriptions that contain his name. Palaegraphic considerations among others suggest a late 1st / early 2nd century AH date.

A Signature Believed To Be Of ʿAbd Al-Malik B. Marwān, Before 65 AH / 685 CE. Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik bin Marwān reigned from 65 AH / 685 CE to 86 AH / 705 CE. His graffito is curiously succint. It does not refer to his caliph functions or his family status. Also absent are any religious elements seen in other Umayyad inscriptions. It is likely that he has inscribed it before his accession to the caliphate in 65 AH / 685 CE.

Supplication For Al-Walīd bin ʿAbd al-Malik, Before 85 AH / 705 CE. Notice the absence of the title amīr al-muʾminīn, other officiate religious terminology, and any mention of his caliph-related functions. This suggests that this inscription was written before Al-Walīd bin ʿAbd al-Malik became the caliph of the Umayyad empire in the year 85 AH / 705 CE.

What are the significance of these discoveries? To help convey their importance, it would be similar to discovering inscriptional evidence made by Jesus earliest disciples or followers. “With neither artifact nor archive, the student of Islamic origins could quite easily become victim of a literary and linguistic conspiracy,” declared John Wansbrough, the father of modern Islamic revisionism. So impressed has this statement become in the minds of some scholars, they fail to recognise, or, even worse, are simply uninterested in the earliest extant documentary evidence relating to Islamic origins. The discoveries listed above should pose a timely reminder on the importance of the earliest documentary evidence and the invaluable contributions it can make.

We have thus taken the opportunity to update our article Dated Muslim Texts From 1-72 AH / 622-691 CE: Documentary Evidence For Early Islam including some of the new finds mentioned above.


26th December 2014

The Ḥajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Its mention in two dated documents, an inscription and a papyrus, from 1st century of hijra throws interesting light.

An Inscription Containing Supplication For Acceptance Of The Ḥajj, 91 AH / 710 CE. Found on the Ḥajj route from Syria, this is the earliest mention of the Ḥajj in a dated inscription from the 1st century AH. From the date on the inscription, one can calculate the 10th Dhul Ḥijjah 91 AH to be 8th October 710 CE. The Ḥajj is likely to have had additional significance this year as it was personally led by the amīr al-muʾminīn, al-Walid (r. 86-96 AH / 705-715 CE).

Oriental Institute 17653 - A Papyrus Mentioning Invitation For The Ḥajj, Dated 86-99 AH / 705-717 CE. Sahl bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz wrote a letter to ʿUqba b. Muslim, conveying a message from the amīr al-muʾminīn, the caliph. The caliph had announced that the time had come to make the Ḥajj, and had exhorted all Muslims to do so.


14th November 2014

Palimpsest manuscripts containing the Qur'an are exceedingly rare. One such manuscript is The ‘Mingana Palimpsest’ – A Manuscript Containing The Qur'ān From 1st Century Hijra. Apart from Ṣanʿāʾ, Yemen, the only other location presently known to contain a palimpsest manuscript of the Qur'an is Cambridge University Library. In 1914 Alphonse Mingana and Agnes Smith Lewis examined the Qur'anic text contained in this manuscript, though the publication never received much attention from scholars, primarily attributable to Mingana's involvement in manuscript forgeries. Almost 100 years on, Alba Fedeli has kickstarted efforts to have the text properly digitised and preserved for future generations of scholars and a scientific edition of the text is forthcoming. What makes this manuscript remarkable is the scriptio superior text contains Christian material, whilst portions of the scriptio inferior text contain verses coming from at least two Qur'ans. According to Alain George one of these Qur'ans may be amongst the earliest in existence.

This article is in the section The Qur'anic Manuscripts.


7th November 2014

The “Qur'ān Of ʿUthmān” At Tashkent (Samarqand), Uzbekistan, is one of the most well-known manuscripts of the Qur'an, both to scholars and the general public alike. This magnificent manuscript originally comprised around 950 massive folios. One of its folios which was sold at auction has been subject to radiocarbon tests at Oxford, United Kingdom. Recently, many new folios of this manuscript have been discovered and these are added to the updated article. In conjunction with palaeographic studies and historical information, this manuscript cannot be considered as hailing from ʿUthmān's era. Instead, its date of production is likely the 2nd century of hijra, making it a very early witness to the text of the Qur'an.

This article is in the section The Qur'anic Manuscripts.


30th October 2014

Perhaps one of the most widely known alleged historical contradictions in the Qur'an recorded in Christian literature, the honorary epithet of Mary, mother of Jesus, as “sister of Aaron” has proven controversial from the earliest period of Muslim-Christian dialogue, beginning with the Christians of Najran during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. In the article Mary, Sister Of Aaron? we show that when the Qur'anic verses are understood in their proper context in conjunction with what the Prophet himself has explained concerning the issue, one may come to a better, more accurate understanding of the presentation of Mary in the Qur'an and her connection with the House of ‘Imran.

This article is in the section Refutation Of The So-Called External Contradictions In The Qur'an.


2nd August 2014

“With neither artifact nor archive, the student of Islamic origins could quite easily become victim of a literary and linguistic conspiracy,” declared John Wansbrough, the father of modern Islamic revisionism. So impressed has this statement become in the minds of some scholars, they fail to recognise, or, even worse, are simply uninterested in the earliest extant documentary evidence relating to Islamic origins.

Building on the outstanding contributions of Robert Hoyland as well as others, the publication of Youssef Ragheb’s comprehensive listing of securely dated Muslim texts from the 1st / 7th century, provides scholars with an excellent opportunity to supplement their investigations into early Islamic history. Surely now is the time for this evidence to be taken seriously as it rightly demands, and consequently incorporated into any hypothesis that seeks to relate an account of Islamic origins.

We have thus taken the opportunity to update our article Dated Muslim Texts From 1-72 AH / 622-691 CE: Documentary Evidence For Early Islam including the new finds mentioned by Ragheb, namely, his intimate knowledge of early papyri / parchment texts kept in the Louvre.


3rd May 2014

With increasing epigraphic surveys and studies of Islamic papyri, the documentary evidence for the first hundred years of Islam has slowly been accumulating. In this massive update, we present the recently discovered inscriptions and some of the early Islamic papyri.

PERF No. 555 - An Early Islamic Papyrus In Greek From 22 AH / 642 CE. A demand note for fodder and meals for horses and soldiers, respectively.

PERF No. 556 - An Early Islamic Papyrus In Greek Bearing The Seal Of ʿAmr Ibn Al-ʿĀṣ, 22 AH / 643 CE. The above papyrus represents a letter sent by ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ, the commander of Muslim army in Upper Egypt, to the pagarch of Herakliopolis. This letter retains the original clay seal.

PERF No. 557 - An Early Islamic Papyrus In Greek From 22 AH / 643 CE. A demand note for provisions to be supplied to troops and armourers.

A Signature Believed To Be Of ʿUmar B. Al-Khaṭṭāb, Before 23 AH / 644 CE. In November 2012, during the Franco-Saudi epigraphic surveys around Najran, Saudi Arabia, a truly remarkable discovery was made. Amongst the fifty or so graffiti that were found, two of them contained the name ʿUmar bin al-Khaṭṭāb, close companion of Prophet Muḥammad and second successor of the early Muslim state, ruling around 10 years from 634-644 CE. Only this tantalizing inscription has been published.

An Inscription Of Ḥakīm b. ʿAmr From Negev, 85 AH / 704 CE. This inscription was found in the Negev desert. Interestingly, there are nine other inscriptions that contain the name Ḥakīm b. ʿAmr which Nevo says can be dated to the same time frame.

A Lead Seal In The Name Of Caliph ʿAbd Al-Malik Ibn Marwān, 65-86 AH / 685-705 CE. This is remarkable and unique lead piece in the name of the Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik from Palestine bears several interesting decorative elements, including addorsed lions and confronting birds.

An Inscription Containing Invocation Of Wellness For A Descendent of ʿUmar B. Al-Khaṭṭāb, 96 AH / 714-715 CE. An interesting inscription mentioning Rabāḥ, a descendant of ʿUmar bin al-Khaṭṭāb. Perhaps this inscription was written by a relative of Rabāḥ when he was young and feeling sickly.

Ghayl Al-Mandaj (Al-Mabrah) Islamic Inscription, 98 AH / 717 CE. A rock inscription found in the vicinity of Ghayl al-Mandaj (al-Mabrah) pilgrim station is located on the Yemeni highland pilgrim route (so called al-Najdi) which connects Ṣanʿāʾ and Makkah. It is the first dated rock-inscription to be discovered so far alongside that road.

An Inscription From Cnide Asking For Forgiveness, 98 AH / 716-717 CE. This inscription from Cnide in Turkey has two graffiti. Graffito 1 consists only of one line and has an incomplete invocation. The most interesting element is the mention of the word gazwa (expedition, raid) found in a very similar context in a graffito in Kos (Greece).

An Inscription From Kos About Profession Of Faith, 98 AH / 716 CE. This profession of faith, based on the Arabic root w-th-q is very common in the Middle East. It is interesting to note that this is dated. In addition, the signature at the end of text appears to have been added; its etching is much thicker than the preceding lines.

An Inscription From Kos About An Expedition Against Infidels, 99 AH / 718-719 CE. This interesting inscription from Kos in Greece refers to the expedition against the mushrikīn (probably Byzantine Christians). However, due to the fragmentary nature of inscription it is hard to decipher the context and content fully.

Inscription From Madinah Containing A Statement Of Belief, 100 AH / 718-719 CE. This individual who wrote this inscription may be a descendant of ʿAbd Allāh bin ʿUmar bin al-Khaṭṭāb.

Consequently, we have updated Dated Muslim Texts From 1-72 AH / 622-691 CE: Documentary Evidence For Early Islam with some of the material presented above.


25th February 2014

It was claimed by Theodor Nöldeke that Prophet Muhammad was "ignorant" of everything outside of Arabia. The example given to support this assertion was that he (i.e., the Prophet) made the fertility of Egypt - where rain is almost never seen and never missed - depend on rain instead of the inundation of the Nile. The key work used to describe deliverance of Egyptians in the story of Joseph is yughāth. In the article Theodor Nöldeke And The Fertility In Ancient Egypt, the meaning of yughāth is further elaborated using the lexicons and commentaries to show its wider semantic range.

This article is in the section Refutation Of The So-Called External Contradictions In The Qur'an.


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