The Birmingham Qur'an: Its Journey from the Islamic Heartlands

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The Birmingham Qur’an: Its Journey from the Islamic Heartlands

The Birmingham Qur’an is one of the oldest surviving Islamic manuscripts. This course will explore the origins and the journey of the Birmingham Qur’an from the Islamic heartlands, the significance of the Birmingham Qur’an, the methods used to determine its age and how it is cared for at Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham. Learn how to identify features of Qur’an manuscripts and how they influenced the arts of the book in Islamic manuscript culture. You will also learn more about the Mingana collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts and their relevance to the 21st century.

What is a MOOC?

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course - these are free, open, online courses designed to offer a taste of Higher Education to learners from across the UK and the world. The University of Birmingham is delivering new MOOCs in partnership with FutureLearn, the UK’s first MOOCs provider established by the Open University.

Delivered by world-class academics from the University of Birmingham, the courses enable learners worldwide to sample high-quality academic content via an interactive web-based platform from a leading global University, increasing access to higher education for a whole new cohort of learners.

The courses have been developed by senior academic staff and their content is quality-assured in line with our other programmes. The courses do not offer credits towards admission to the University of Birmingham.

Course knowledge requirements

This course is designed for anyone who has an interest in the history of religious texts, the study of Islam, manuscript culture, Islamic arts, how historic collections are cared for, and their value for research.

Course duration and content

This course is four weeks long, and the following topics will be covered each week:

Week 1: The Journey of the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript

  • How the radiocarbon dating of the manuscript became a world-wide news sensation
  • The significance of the dating
  • The origins of the manuscript: where was it produced?The journey of the manuscript from the Islamic heartlands to the University of Birmingham

Week 2: The Qur’an and the Arts of the Book 

  • How the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript relates to the development of the Arabic written tradition
  • Qur’an manuscripts and Arabic calligraphy 
  • The Arts of Qur’an manuscripts and Islamic manuscript culture

Week 3: Research & preservation of manuscripts

  • Using radiocarbon dating to date manuscripts
  • Modern technology in the research and analysis of historic manuscripts 
  • Techniques and preservation methods in the conservation and care of historic manuscripts
  • The value of primary historic sources as a valuable resource for research

Week 4: The Birmingham Qur’an and other historic manuscripts of the Mingana collection

  • The Islamic Arabic & Persian manuscripts in the Mingana collection held in the Cadbury Research Library
  • The Mingana collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts as a collection of international importance
  • The relevance of the Birmingham Qur’an and other manuscripts to the contemporary world: local communities, researchers and academics
  • The ethics of collecting from different cultures

Who you will learn with

The course is delivered by a range of experts at the University of Birmingham:

  • Susan Worrall, Director of Special Collections, responsible for the Cadbury Research Library
  • Robin Johnson, Education Consultant and Honorary Lecturer in Special Collections at the Cadbury Research Library  Neelam Hussain, Curator of Islamic manuscripts and a researcher at the University
  • Sarah Kilroy, Head of Conservation, overseeing the technical analysis and conservation treatment of the Birmingham Qur'an manuscript.

How to apply

This free online course is currently running. You can join now at the FutureLearn website.