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First Islamic Inscription May Solve Qur´an Question
1.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 02 Dec 2008 Tue 04:08 pm

An Arabic traveler who engraved his name on a block of red sandstone over 1,300 years ago may help solve a question about the Qur´an that has vexed historians for hundreds of years: Why was the text seemingly written without diacritical marks?

Diacritical marks, which include accent marks, tildes, umlauts and other notations, help to distinguish one letter from another and aid in pronunciation. When added or removed, they can completely change the meaning of a word or sentence.

Analysis of the recently found sandstone inscription, which predates the earliest known copies of the Qur´an, determined that it reads: "In the name of Allah/ I, Zuhayr, wrote (this) at the time ´Umar died/year four/And twenty."

According to researcher Ali ibn Ibrahim Ghabban, who, with his wife, discovered the 644 A.D. inscription northwest of Saudi Arabia, "It is an immensely important find, since it is our earliest dated Arabic inscription."

Ghabban, a member of the Supreme Commission for Tourism, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, added that it also "shows evidence of a fully-fledged system of diacritical marks."

A paper describing the find appears in the latest issue of the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/11/18/islamic-inscription.html

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