London: Researchers at the University of Birmingham have discovered what could be the oldest fragments of the Holy Quran, among manuscripts that had previously remained unidentified among the university's collection of Middle Eastern books and documents, British media reported today.

First reported by the BBC, the manuscripts have been hailed by the British Library’s expert Dr. Muhammad Isa Waley as an “exciting discovery”. The fragments which have been part of the university’s collection for nearly a century are at least 1370 years old, according to radiocarbon dating.

The universities director of special collections, Susan Worral told BBC, that researched did not expect in their wildest dreams that the fragments would be over 1350 years old.

Radiocarbon dating was conducted on the documents after a PhD researched Alba Fedell assessed the fragments.

Worral told BBC, "Finding out we had one of the oldest fragments of the Koran in the whole world has been fantastically exciting."

Tests were carried out on the fragments by the Oxford University’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit. The results show that the fragments, written on animal skin are among the oldest surviving texts of the Holy Quran.

According to Professor David Thomas, the university's professor of Christianity and Islam, says it is quite possible that the person who had written the text could have been alive in the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

"The person who actually wrote it could well have known the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He would have seen him probably, he would maybe have heard him preach. He may have known him personally - and that really is quite a thought to conjure with," Thomas said.

The manuscript is said to be written in an early form of written Arabic and is now being hailed as one of the oldest known fragments of the Holy Quran in existence today.

The manuscript is part of the Mingana Collection of more than 3,000 Middle Eastern documents gathered in the 1920s by Alphonse Mingana, a Chaldean priest born near Mosul in modern-day Iraq, the BBC reported.

The local Muslim community in Birmingham has expressed delight at the discovery. The chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque, Muhammad Afzal was quoted to have said, "When I saw these pages I was very moved. There were tears of joy and emotion in my eyes. And I'm sure people from all over the UK will come to Birmingham to have a glimpse of these pages,"

The University of Birmingham will put the fragments of the Holy Quran on display in October at the university’s Barber Institute.