Touching and reciting the Quran with Wudhu.

Q. Is it compulsory or best practice for a person to have wudhu in order to touch and recite Quran? Can you please give me quotation from the Quran and Hadeeth which proves it compulsory or optional. I read the fatwa on the Darul Uloom site already but it doesn’t state whether compulsory or sunnah etc. I need to get the correct answer for the brothers in the masjid where I live in Toronto.

A. The Ahadith which have been narrated on this topic show that it is essential for one to be in the state of wuzu to touch the Quran. If one is reciting from memory then it is permissible to recite it without having wuzu, but not being in a state of major ritual impurity (having the need for a compulsory bath).

Many scholars have also used verses 77-80 of Sura Al Waqiah to establish this law. The verses state: – ‘This is indeed an honorable Quran, in a book well guarded, which none can touch but the pure ones’. With respect to this verse, although some scholars from among the Sahabahs and Tabieen have stated that ‘pure ones’ in the verse mean ‘angels’, many others have stated that it is a law that is connected to the human beings. It therefore means that none can touch the Quran except that he/she is in a state of purity (that is, being in a state of wazu or a bath if he needs one). (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.4 pg.298)

Qatada and other famous commentators have stated that the verse means that one must be free from visible and ritual impurities before one can touch the Quran. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.17 pg.194).

The great Mufassir, Imam Qurtubi has also mentioned the opinion that the verse means that one must be in a state of purity (Taharah) before touching the Quran, and has stated. ‘This is clearer’ (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.17 pg.194).

The great commentator and jurist Imam Abu Bakr Al Jasas has written (while commenting on the verse of Sura Al Waqiah), ‘it is evident in the hadith of the conversion of Umar (RA) that when he entered his sister’s house and she was holding pages of the Quran, he said, ‘Give me this which you are reading’. She said, ‘You are impure, and no one but the pure must touch it (the Quran). Go and take a bath or perform wazu’. He then performed wazu, then took the pages of the Quran and read the verses (which led to his conversion to Islam’ (Dar Qutni from Anas bin Malik (RA). It is narrated from Saad (RA) that he used to order his son to perform wazu before touching the Quran. The same has been narrated from Abdullah bin Umar (RA). Hasan Basri and An Nakhi have strongly detested that one should touch the Quran without wazu’. (Ahkamul Quran vol.3 pg.316).

It is also evident in the letter which the Prophet (SA) wrote to Amr bin Hazm that he said, ‘No one should touch the Quran except one who is pure’. (with wazu or bath if necessary). (Recorded by Malik in his Muwatta). There are other traditions that support this, and the scholars of hadith have considered them to be Saheeh (sound). Imam Ahmad and Ishaq bin Rahweh have also considered this Saheeh (sound). Recorded also by Nasai, Abu Dawood, Dar Qutni, Baihaqi).

Abdullah bin Umar (RA) said that the Prophet (SA) said, ‘Do not touch the Quran except that you are pure’. (Baihaqi, Dar Qutni, Tabrani, Al Haithani says that the narrators of Tabrani are all sound and reliable). (Nasbur Rayah vol.1 pg. 259 ).

Hakeem bin Hizam (RA) says that “When the Prophet (SA) sent me to Yemen, he said, ‘Do not touch the Quran except that you are in the state of Taharah (purity). (Recorded by Hakim who said the Hadith has a sound Isnad, Tibrani, Dar Quntni, Baihaqi) -( Nasbur Rayah by Allama Jamaludeen Az Zaila’i: vol.1 pg.260).

Mughira bin Shu’bah (RA) narrates from Uthman bin Abil ‘Aas (RA) that the Prophet (SA) said, ‘None should touch the Quran except one who is pure’. (Tabrani in his Mujam).

Abdur Rahman bin Yazeed says, ‘We were with Salman Farsi (RA), and he then went to ease himself, when he came, I said, ‘O Abu Abdullah, it would be good if you made wuzu so that we can ask you questions regarding verses of the Quran’. Salman (RA) said, ‘I am not going to touch the Quran, for certainly no one touches the Quran except those who are clean and pure’. He then recited verses to us’ from memory. (Recorded by Dar Qutni who said it was Saheeh (sound). Baihaqi also narrated it in his As Sunan Al Kubra).

While commenting on verses 77-80 of Sura Al Waqiah which state, ‘This is indeed an honorable and respected Quran, in a book well guarded, which none can touch but the pure ones’, the great Mufassir of the Quran and Mufti of Baghded, Allama Sayyid Mahmood Al Alusi (died 1280 A.H) explaims, ‘These verses make it abundantly clear that the Holy Quran is a book of great respect (which deserves and is entitled to a great honor and rank. It is on account of this lofty position, Allah Has kept it well guarded). From this, it must be understood that the Quran (which we have) deserves the greatest respect, love and honor. Hence, whatever is known to be respect, honor, and admiration, should be given to the Quran, and what is known to be disrespectful, low, base, despicable, and detestable are all discouraged and prohibited owing to the great rank of the Quran. Therefore, the great status and elevated position of the glorious Quran, being the eternal and greatest words of Allah, which is filled with light, guidance and blessings, require one to ensure that he is not in a state of uncleanliness, impurity or dirtiness when he goes towards the Quran to touch it or read it.

Holding it or touching it in this impure state shows nothing but a grave disrespect and disregard to the lofty position the Quran holds in the heart of every true believer’.

Allama Alusi continues to explain that, ‘the great respect required to be shown to Allah’s sacred words- the glorious Quran, is not confined only to the issue of being in a state of purity to touch it. Instead, there are other matters that are required to be done. For example, reciting the Quran regularly is a way of showing love and respect to the Quran. Making wuzu only for the sake of reciting the Quran and to touch and hold it is also a manner of showing reverence to the noble Quran. Out of respect, one should not recite the Quran when he has impurity in his mouth-this is highly detestable. Similarly, one should not hold the Quran when his hands have visible impurities on them, this is totally Haram (unlawful). From the manner of showing respect, love, reverence to Allah’s Holy words are the following:-
• Doing Miswak to recite the Quran.
• Reciting it slowly, not in a fast/hasty manner.
• Pondering over the message of the Quran.
• Weeping or resembling oneself to a weeping person while reciting the Quran.
• Reciting with a beautiful voice.
• Not taking it as burden or tiring.
• Not having sexual relation in an area where the Quran is. If this must happen then one should cover the Quran. (Remember, this is a book which is a miracle, filled with light and spirituality) and Allah’s sacred and greatest words which were sent by the pure angels to the blessed Prophet (SA).
• Out of great love and respect, one should not put other books upon it.
• One should not turn the pages of the Quran with saliva on his fingers.
(Tafseer Ruhal Ma’ani vol.14 pg.155).

All these statements and explainations have been given on account of the greatness which the Holy Quran has in the heavens and on the earth.

If the angels who are naturally pure beings are required to touch it in a state of purity, then to a greater extent, we the Muslims to whom the divine scripture was revealed, must do the same.

From these explainations, it is evident that it is essential (and not only Sunnah or a good practice) that one must be in the state of wazu or Ghusl (if one needs it) before touching the Quran.

This is the position adopted by the overwhelming majority of the scholars of the Ummah including the great Sahabahs, Tabieen, Imams of Fiqh and those after them.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan