Dr Alba Fedeli

Dr Alba Fedeli

Department of Theology and Religion
Research Fellow

Contact details

G37, 3 Elms Road
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My work primarily focuses on early Qur’anic manuscripts dating from the 7th century CE. My interest in Qur’anic manuscripts began while I was cooperating in publishing manuscript facsimiles with my late mentor, Sergio Noja Noseda, in Italy. Since then, I have had the chance to gain first-hand knowledge of collections of these fragments scattered all over the world, from Yemen to Ireland, from Russia to Qatar and Egypt. As director of the Ferni Noja Noseda Foundation, I have taken part in activities as diverse as displaying printed books at the International Exhibition of the Qur’an in Tehran, organizing events as part of the Italian-Egyptian cooperation for Comparative Studies in Cairo, and the digitization project of the Sana’a palimpsest.

During my time at the University of Birmingham, I have developed my digital humanities knowledge in terms of the post-processing of digital images for the virtual reconstruction of palimpsest manuscripts, the digital editing of texts using the TEI system and encoding for phylogenetic analysis in grouping manuscripts

Feedback and office hours

By appointment


  • MA (Milan)
  • PhD (Birmingham)


I read Classics at the University of Milan, in Italy, specialising in Classical Philology and Arabic language. I was appointed as librarian and director of the Noja Noseda Foundation for Arabic and Islamic Studies from 2000 to 2008. I taught Arabic Language at the University of Milan from 2004 to 2012. During my doctoral research at the University of Birmingham supervised by Professor David Parker from 2011 to 2015, I highlighted the value of the so-called Birmingham Qur’an and the unexplored story of the Mingana collection, being involved in the media activity after the BBC announcement that the “Birmingham Qur’an” manuscript dates to Muhammad’s lifetime. I was a research fellow at the Centre for Religious Studies, CEU, in Budapest and at the John Rylands Research Institute in Manchester from 2015 to 2017. I am now a postdoctoral fellow dividing my time between ITSEE and Bologna (FSCIRE), where I am continuing my work on the relationship and texts of early Qur'anic manuscripts.


I am currently completing a book, after my PhD research project, on ‘Early Qur’ānic manuscripts, their text, and the Alphonse Mingana papers held in the Department of Special Collections of the University of Birmingham’. At ITSEE, I am cooperating as a consultant for the special imaging of the palimpsested Codex Zacynthius and the processing of the images in order to enhance and highlight the ink of the under-writing that was cancelled. Other on-going projects include studies focusing on single manuscripts held at the John Rylands Library, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, the new findings of Sana’a, and the National Library of Russia, as well as the continuation of the phylogenetic analysis of several manuscripts compared for proposing networks of fragmented manuscripts about which we have so few details. My research interests include the methodology of digital philology, the dynamics of the writing system in the early manuscripts and the problematics of the transcription system available for Arabic script.

Other activities

  • Co-chair of the research unit “Textual Criticism and Qur’anic manuscripts” for the International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA)
  • Co-chair of the research unit “Textual Criticism of the New Testament, the Old Testament and the Qur’an” for the European Association of Biblical Studies (EABS)
  • Assistente Accademico of the Arabic Studies Section at the Ambrosiana Academy in Milan
  • Consultant for the Arabic manuscripts of the Museum of the Bible
  • Affiliations: member of The Islamic Manuscript Association and the European Academy of Religion


  • ‘Datation des témoins matériels anciens : les manuscrits coraniques non datés’ in M. A. Amir-Moezzi and G. Dye eds., Le  Coran  des  historiens, éditions du Cerf, 2018
  • ‘Manuscript acquisitions and their later movements: a further note about the case of the Lewis Qur’ānic manuscript’ in Liebrenz, B. and Rauch, C. eds., Between Berlin and Damascus: Johann Gottfried Wetzstein and Oriental Manuscript Studies in Germany and Beyond, Islamic Manuscripts and Books Series, Leiden, Brill, forthcoming
  • ‘Isolated Qur’ānic fragments: the case of the three papyri from the Mingana Collection’, in Hilali, A & Burge, S. eds., The Fragment and The Whole. The Making of Religious Texts in Islam, forthcoming in Oxford University Press in collaboration with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, UK, 2018
  • ‘Editing and analysing the evidence of the early Qur’ānic copies: digital philology and phylogenetic networks’, in Hilali, A. & Burge S. eds., Contemporary Qur’anic Studies, forthcoming in EQUINOX, UK, 2018
  • ‘Dating early Qur’ānic manuscripts: reading the objects, their texts and the results of their material analysis’ in Dye, G. ed., Early Islam: The Sectarian Milieu of Late Antiquity? Chicago, Chicago Oriental Institute, coll. LAMINE, forthcoming 2018
  • ‘Avrupa’da Kuran el yazmaları çalışmaları: Erken dönem eser ve metinlerine erişim üzerine tarihsel bir inceleme’, [i.e. Qur’ānic manuscript studies in Europe: a historical survey of accessing early artefacts and texts], forthcoming in the Journal of Kuramer Konferanslar Kitabı, Kuramer Institute, Istanbul
  • ‘Collective Enthusiasm and Scholarly Cautiousness: The Case of the Discovery of the “Birmingham Qur’an”’ in Origin Stories: A Forum on the “Discovery and Interpretation of First Millennium Manuscripts”, forthcoming in the online platform MARGINALIA, Los Angeles Review of Books
  • (2015): ‘Early Qur’ānic manuscripts, caption of MS John Rylands Arabic 11’. Object entry commissioned for the catalogue Riches of the Rylands: The Special Collections of the University of Manchester Library, Hodgson, J.R. ed., Manchester: Manchester University Press, p. 171
  • (2014): ‘The Kufic collection of the Prussian consul Wetzstein: The 1100 leaves of the Universitätsbibliothek in Tübingen and their importance for palaeography and Koranic criticism’, in Kerr, R.M. and Milo, T. eds., Writings and Writing. Investigations in Islamic Text and Script in honour of Januarius Justus Witkam. Cambridge: Archetype Press, pp. 117 – 142
  • (2012): ‘Variants and substantiated qirā’āt: a few notes exploring their fluidity in the oldest Qur’ānic manuscripts’, in Groß, M. & Ohlig, K.H. eds., Die Entstehung einer Weltreligion II. Berlin: Verlag Hans Schiler, pp. 403 – 440
  • (2011): ‘The provenance of the manuscript Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572: dispersed folios from a few Qur’ānic quires’, Manuscripta Orientalia, 17,1, pp. 45 - 56
  • (2011): ‘The digitization project of the Qur’ānic palimpsest, MS Cambridge University Library Or. 1287, and the verification of the Mingana-Lewis edition: where is salām?’, Journal of Islamic Manuscripts, 2,1, pp. 100-117
  • (2010): Review of ‘François Déroche, La transmission écrite du Coran dans les débuts de l’Islam. Le codex Parisino-petropolitanus. Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2009’, Bulletin d’Études Orientales, 59, pp. 149-157
  • (2009): ‘Relevance of the oldest qur’ānic manuscripts for the readings mentioned by commentaries. A note on sura Ṭā-Hā’, Manuscripta Orientalia, 15,1, pp. 3-10
  • (2008): ‘I manoscritti di Sanaa: fogli sparsi che diventano Corani’ [i.e. Sana’a manuscripts: scattered leaves that become Qur’āns], in Aspesi, F., Brugnatelli, V., Callow, A.L. & Rosenzweig C., eds., Il mio cuore è a Oriente. Studi di linguistica storica, filologica e cultura ebraica dedicati a Maria Luisa Mayer Modena. Milano: Cisalpino, Quaderni di Acme, 101, pp. 25-48
  • (2007): ‘Lingua e scrittura del Corano: gli inizi’ [i.e. Language and script of the Qur’ān: the beginnings], Guardi, J. ed., Vedi alla voce: lingua araba. Elementi di linguistica per lo studio e la conoscenza dell’arabo (Introduction by Versteegh, K.). Milano: A Oriente!, pp. 17-53
  • (2005): ‘Mingana and the manuscript of Mrs. Agnes Smith Lewis, one century later’, Manuscripta Orientalia, 11,3, pp. 3 - 7
  • (2005): ‘A.Perg.2: a non palimpsest and its corrections’, Manuscripta Orientalia, 11,1, pp. 20-27
  • (2005): ‘Early evidences of variant readings in Qur’ānic manuscripts’, in Ohlig, K.H. & Puin, G.R. eds., Die dunklen Anfänge. Neue Forschungen zur Entstehung und frühen Geschichte des Islam. Berlin: Verlag Hans Schiler, pp.293-316. Republished in Ohlig, K.H. & Puin, G.R. eds., The Hidden Origins of Islam. New Research into its early History. New York: Prometheus Books, 2010, pp. 311-334
  • (2003): ‘Il frammento superstite dell’opera di Barqānī (m.425e. – 1034 a.D.) al-taḫrīg li-ṣaḥīḥ al-ḥadīṯ’ [i.e. The extant fragment of the work of al-Barqānī (d.425/1034) al-taḫrīg li-ṣaḥīḥ al-ḥadīṯ],Rendiconti dell’Istituto Lombardo, Classe di Scienze e Lettere, 137, pp. 3-41

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