بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم
اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔
Rules for Touching or Reciting the Mus'haf
The physical copy of the Quran is known as mus'haf. Quran is a gospel revealed by God Almighty directly. As such it is regarded as one of the attributes of God, not His creatures. The holy Quran as well as its physical record [mus'haf], therefore, carry great sanctity.
In view of its sacredness and sanctity certain rules have to be followed strictly while touching and handling the mus'haf or reciting it.
In the light of the provisions of Quran and Sunnah the Muslim community regards it a binding rule that the mus'haf cannot be touched unless the handler has performed ablution [wadhu]. Wadhu can be performed when a devout is suffering from a minor pollution [hadith asghar] caused by urination, defecation or breaking of wind. However, if a man or women has suffered major pollution [hadith akbar] caused by sexual intercourse, ejaculation of semen or nightly discharge or touching of a dead body and similar condition one has to perform full ritual bath [ghusl] to purify him/herself. The rule of wadhu is binding only if one has to touch or recite the physical mus'haf. This condition does not apply if one wishes to recite Quran from memory. The companions of the prophet, their succeeding generation and the leaders of the four major juristic schools, and the salafi school in the Indian subcontinent and Arabia have unanimously upheld the obligation of performing wadhu prior to touching the mus'haf.
This position is sanctioned by Ayat 79 of Surah Al-Waqiah: "It cannot be touched except by those who are purified." The interpreters have drawn two conceptions from this ayat: (1) nobody except the pure angels can touch the Quran located in the reserved slate; (2) the Quran as it is revealed and which we have in the form of the mus'haf cannot be touched except in a state of physical purity. It follows that Quran cannot be touched or recited in a state of pollution. This is illustrated by the episode of Umar Farooq (RA) as mentioned in history books. When he was a pagan he saw his sister reciting Quran from parchments. He became curious and wanted to examine the parchments. His sister recited the ayat to him but did not allow him to touch the parchments on the plea that he was impure. Out of chagrin he bathed himself, then touched and read the Quran and this was the occasion when he embraced Islam spontaneously.
A number of traditions are available confirming this point. Suffice it to cite only one here. According to the narration of 'Amr Bin Hazm (RA) the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) had sent a communication to the residents of Yemen forbidding them from touching the mus'haf without purity [Muatta Imam Malik]. This is an authentic narration corroborated by many sources.
In different collections of ahadeeth different companion have expressed the opinion that it is permissible to recite Quran from memory without having wadhu but it it is proper to touch it or read from mus'haf without wadhu. Companions such as Salman Farsi, Sa'd Bin Abi Waqqas (RA), and Abdullah Bin Umar (RA) have held that Quran can be read from memory without wadhu but wadhu is compulsory to touch the mus'haf. The same view was held by 'Ata, Taaos, Sha'bi and Qasim Bin Muhammad [al-Mughni of Ibn Qudamah].
The Stand of the Four Juristic Schools
Jurists belonging to the Hanafi, Malikii, Shafei and Hanbaly schools of jurisprudence in their books have held the same view that Quran can be read from memory without wudhu but wadhu is an essential condition for touching it. However, in case of need it can be handled with a piece of paper or a wooden stick. This is also the view of Allamah Ibn Taimiyyah of the Salafi School.
Opinions of Saudi Theologians
A prominent Saudi theologian Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bib Baz has upheld the above view.
A similar opinion issued by another prominent Saudi theologian Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Bin.
The opinion of yet another prominent Saudi theologian Dr Muhammad Bin Abdur Rahman Al-Areefi.
The views of another famous Saudi theologian Khalid Bin Abdullah Musleh.
To sum up, it is the standard position of the scholars of hadeeth, interpreters of Quran, jurists and theologians from the early times till our present day that it is not proper to touch the mus'haf except with wadhu.
Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)