Monday, 26 October 2015

Birmingham-7th Century Qur'an Manuscript

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته and good day!!

Last weekend, my bestie and I went for a short trip to Birmingham to see the oldest Qur'an manuscript that has been found and located at the University of Birmingham. I found out about the Quran from Facebook and decided immediately to go and see. Especially when we get to know that the exhibition is only available for three weeks starting early October!!

We decided to go on the 17th because it was supposed to be the deadline for my PhD's early stage assessment. However, as it normally happened to others, I had to postpone due to lack of data. So we still went to Birmingham, and we add a walking trip to get rid of all the stress. 

We both went to Birmingham before, last year to be exact for the All England Finals to see our beloved Dato' Lee Chong Wei to win against Cheng Long. What a match! huhu...

Anyway...we depart from London very early in the morning and arrive before noon. I bought the train tickets from London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill. We rode on the Chiltern Express. We never used this railway before and I find it very nice. Eventhough the trains is a bit smaller, but they have a lot of table seats, not a lot of passengers eventhough it's in the weekend and there's free wifi!!

As we arrived, we took a bus to the Woodgate Valley Country Park. We searched for places to walk around Birmingham, and if you read my post before, it is the second largest city after London. So you can imagine there's not really a lot of walking sites. There's actually two choices of bus that you can take to go to the country park. The best choice would be to take no. 23 which will take you right at the visitor centre.

However, we took the bus no. 24 which took us to the north side of the country park. Both of these busses can be taken in front of the cathedral beside the Snow Hill Station. When we arrive at the stop as located in google maps, we found that it was a housing area and couldn't see any country park in sight. We walked around, feeling hopeful. Then my bestie wanted to ask the locals to save some time from searching blindly. To our surprise, they didn't know. We even asked two people. The internet wasn't on our side either. The GPS kept showing that we are at a different place that we actually are. 

In the end, when the GPS finally worked, we followed the map (faithfully) and suddenly came across a small opening towards the country park (with a faded sign board). Fuhh~~~

As we entered the path towards the park, there's suddenly appeared a woman riding a horse (a huge one too!) that came from the back of the houses. haha...we were both awed by that because the place is not like a farm or a countryside. It's a suburb. 

So we begin our walking expedition (sort of)...We stopped to have a little picnic and continued on. The path that we were supposed to take would've started from the visitor centre, going around the park and back again. However, because we started from a different end, we just followed the path that we were supposed to in order to head towards the visitor centre. 

We walked along a stream (which is a small one, but enough to make you fell calm and one with nature) through farms and meadows. 

We finally found the visitor centre in the end, we took a picture of the map to see how far we went. 

Our path follows the green line and the green circle is the visitor centre. We were supposed to follow the yellow line path. But it was ok. 

From the visitor centre, we decided to walk a little bit more towards the yellow path to see what's there.

We found this cute little urban farm. You can enter for only £1. This is a charity based farm where you can take your kids to see all sorts of farm animals such as goats, rabbits, ducks, pigs and much more. 

After we were beat, we went to the place where we were supposed to stay for the night. It's actually very near where my friends used to stay.

Love the show on the electrical line. Very much like in the movies. haha...

The next day, we head very early in the morning to the university. From our accommodation, it only take one train stop to university station or just 15 minutes walk. We decided to walk for some fresh air and see parts of the area. 

We arrived at the university very early, around 9am. We thought to find a cafe nearby to sit and wait while having some hot cocoa. 

We didn't find any cafes open (maybe because it was Sunday and still early). So we decided to walk around campus a bit more.

This is the iconic clock tower of the university.

My friend used to say, if London have Big Ben, we have Big Al here. haha...

Opposite of the clock tower is the Bramall Music Hall, where the exhibition was held.

Close to 10am, we decided to go in the hall as it was getting colder.

We already had our tickets with us, so we just had to wait for the admission time which is at 10.30am. The exhibition is on the 3rd floor.

There weren't really a lot of people that came during that time, which is good. We didn't have to wait or queue to see the manuscript.

The manuscript shows the pages from Surah al-Kahfi, Surah Maryam and Surah Taha.

It was such a great opportunity to see this manuscript first hand.

This manuscript is thought to be during the 7th Century era, probably during the ruling of the fourth caliph, Saidina Uthman r.a. 

This manuscript was collected by the man on the left and funded by the man on the right (his name was Cadbury).

There are many other manuscripts in the collection including this one. This used to be the oldest Quran manuscript, thought to be during the 9th century.

This is the comparison between the manuscript and the text that we can find today. One of the exhibitor asked if we could read, we said no because there's no lines or dots on the letters. She said there were a few kids that were able to read the whole thing. Amazing!

The one on the left was taken a year ago. haha...Nothing much has changed. =P

After the exhibition, we decided to stroll around the city. We took the train from the University station.

We stopped at the New Street Station.

We decided to go to this place. Birmingham Back to backs. It's a National Trust place where they still preserve a part of the city dated back in the 1840's. However, you need to book a slot first and the tour lasted for an hour and a half. So we didn't have time then, but we will surely come back to see this. It's a must!

So we went back to the New Street Station to perform the prayer. It's a new prayer hall that had just been opened a few weeks before.

The New Street Station is just beside the bullring. 

Picture on the right was taken a year ago.

Our train back to London is from Moore Street. There's three big stations very close to each other here in Birmingham city. So don't get confused. The Moore Street station is the oldest looking one. 

Feels like you're in a time capsule when you're in this station. huhu...

Until next time...