#391: Disposing Damaged Quran

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. How should one dispose of any damaged Quran? For example, al-Quran mushaf that was damaged in a flood. Hope for an explanation.

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Definition of al-Quran and Its Honour

According to al-Qamus al-Muhit, lexically, al-Quran means al-Tanzil (التَّنْزيل) which was revealed (See al-Qamus al-Muhit, 1/49). According to al-Mu’jam al-Wasit, al-Quran is a derivative verb of al-Qiraah () which means recitation as stated by Allah SWT:

إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ وَقُرْآنَهُ ﴿١٧)‏ فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَهُ

“Indeed, upon Us is its collection [in your heart] and [to make possible] its recitation. So, when We have recited it [through Gabriel], then follow its recitation.” [1]

The word qur’anah (its recitation) in the above verse means qira’atuh (its recitation/the way it is recited). [2]

Allah SWT states:

وَقُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ إِنَّ قُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا

“…the Qur’an of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed.” [3]

It is also said that al-Quran is majaz (figurative word) for prayer, that’s why the above statement of Allah SWT interpreted it as the Subuh prayer and it is named al-Quran for it is the requisite the same as ruku’(bow) and sujud (prostration). It is also said that the word al-Quran is used with its literal meaning (true).

The terminology al-Quran is the word of the God of all worlds and it is revealed by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH as guidance to all mankind. [5]

While Syeikh Muhammad Ali al-Sobuni’s definition is: Al-Quran is the word of Allah which is a miracle revealed to the final Messenger and Prophet through the angel Gabriel AS who wrote it on mashaf that were conveyed to us through mutawatir through the recitation in worship starting with the surah al-Fatihah and ends with surah al-Nas. [6]

Usul scholars and linguists agreed that al-Quran means – al-Quran is the word of God and a miracle that is revealed to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH on a mazhaf which is then conveyed through mutawatir and recitation in worship. [7]

The famous definition of the terminology al-Quran is: It is a book revealed by Allah through mutawatir to the Prophet PBUH which is also a miracle where reciting it will be rewarded and this includes anything recited from the beginning of al-Fatihah until the end of surah al-Nas.

The Specialness of al-Quran

Actually, al-Quran is truly unique compared to any other book. Since it is a vast topic, the author will only cite brief evidences that detail each of them. Cited from the writing of Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi titled Kaifa Nata’amal Ma’a al-Quran al-‘Azim, among others it is stated:

  • Al-Quran is a Divine book. This is explained in numerous verses among them is:

الر ۚ كِتَابٌ أُحْكِمَتْ آيَاتُهُ ثُمَّ فُصِّلَتْ مِن لَّدُنْ حَكِيمٍ خَبِيرٍ

“Alif, Lam, Ra. [This is] a Book whose verses are perfected and then presented in detail from [one who is] Wise and Acquainted.” [8]

  • Al-Quran is a mahfuz (protected) book. Allah SWT states:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” [9]

  • Al-Quran is a book of miracle. Allah SWT states:


قُل لَّئِنِ اجْتَمَعَتِ الْإِنسُ وَالْجِنُّ عَلَىٰ أَن يَأْتُوا بِمِثْلِ هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ لَا يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ ظَهِيرًا

“Say, “If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.” [10]

Al-Quran is said to be a book of miracle for no creation is capable to create a book similar to al-Quran even if all mankind and jinn work together. Surely, the words of creation will never be the same as the words of the Creator, incomparable. [11]

  • Al-Quran is a clear and easy book. Allah SWT states:

فَإِنَّمَا يَسَّرْنَاهُ بِلِسَانِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ

“And indeed, We have eased the Qur’an in your tongue that they might be reminded.” [12]

Syeikh Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi said the verses of the Quran are memorized by thousands of people regardless of men, women and children. This is the specialness that no other books possess. 

  • Al-Quran is a book for all time. It means it is an eternal book that isn’t only suitable for certain times and generations. However, it is relevant throughout time and regardless of place. Thus, it is not weird that al-Quran is guidance and lesson in facing life.
  • Al-Quran is a comprehensive book. It means that it is the basis of religion and the soul of Islam and from it the soul of faith, worship and character as well as usul tasyriq and rulings.
  • Al-Quran is the book of mankind. This can be understood from the characteristic of al-Quran itself that emphasizes the lives of mankind and the world. So true are the words of Allah SWT:

إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

“It is not except a reminder to the worlds.” [13]

Disposing of Damaged al-Quran

Before I further discuss the answer to this, let us all reflect on the great flood that occurred in several states of our country previously. Although it was a huge trial, patience and help as well as assistance in terms of cash, property and help were poured and channelled from various other states and people. It is a praiseworthy effort and such efforts should continue to be cultivated.

In answering this issue, we begin with the statement of Allah SWT:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” [14]

Scholars differed (difference of opinions) regarding how a damaged Quran should be disposed of into two opinions.

First opinion: Madhhab Hanafi and Hanbali opinions stated that the damaged Quran should be buried.

  • This is as stated by Hanafi scholars, among them is al-Haskafi who said: “Mushaf when it is in a condition where we can no longer read it should be buried just like a deceased Muslim.” [15] Sahib al-Hasyiah commented saying: “A torn clean cloth is placed in it (the damaged Quran) then it is buried in a place where it wouldn’t be stepped on or defiled.
  • Al-Buhuti a scholar of madhhab Hanbali said: “If a mushaf is wet or damaged, it should be buried according to the evidences. Imam Ahmad said that the mushaf of Abu al-Jawza’ was wet, hence, a hole is dug at the mosque and it was buried.” [16]
  • Syeikh Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al al-Syeikh (former Saudi Arabia Grand Mufti) is of the opinion the most sahih way to when some of the papers in the mushaf are destroyed is to bury them at the mosque. If it isn’t possible to bury it in a pure and clean place then it is also permissible to burn it. [17]

Second opinion: Madhhab Maliki and Syafi’I hold the opinion that it should be burned.

  • The argument for this second opinion is according to the action of Saidina Uthman who commanded to burn the other mushaf that is different from the written mushaf and the action is witnessed by numerous Companions. This incident is narrated by Imam al-Bukhari in his Sahih, no. 4988. Mus’ab bin Sa’d said: “I find that there are many people watching the incident when Saidina Uthman commanded for the mushafs to be burned. The action bewildered a lot of them but none of them contradicts it.” Narrated by Bakr bin Abi Daud in his book al-Masahif pg. 41.
  • Ibn Battal said: “The order from Saidina Uthman to burn all the mushaf that were gathered at the time shows the permissibility of burning any books that contain Asma’ullah (Allah’s names). Hence, as an honour to it and protecting it from getting stepped on by people’s feet or thrown at any place.” [18]
  • Imam al-Suyuti said: “When there is a necessity to dispose of a part of the mushaf paper because it is wet or damaged, then it is impermissible to just place it anywhere even when it is in a high place, for there is a possibility it may fall and stepped on. Likewise, it is impermissible to tear it separating the letters and words. Thus. If it is burned with fire, then this is permissible. The reason is the action of Saidina Uthman who burn all the mushaf and none of the people contradicts it.” [19]

Tarjih

After considering both the above opinions whether it is to bury or burn it, my view on the matter is that both approaches are permissible to honour the mushaf of the Quran.

However, I’m inclined toward the argument of madhhab Syafi’I and Maliki that chose the burning approach. The action of a companion such as Saidina Uthman is ijtihad from him and since it isn’t contradicted by any other companions, it is a strong argument for the permissibility of the burning of the mushaf. The reason is that it is already severely damaged by the flood, but it is best if the remaining dust from the burning is buried, taking the first opinion from madhhab Hanafi and Hanbali.

Alhamdulillah, recently a modern machine has been invented to shred paper so fine that no words or letters remain. Subsequently, it is burned and buried, certainly, it is safer to honour al-Quran from being defiled or stepped on.

Likewise, this is applicable in the issue of the names of Allah, hadith books or religious books that contain Allah’s names that we should honour, where their disposal should be the same as the way we dispose of the mushaf as stated above.

Hopefully, this answer will provide a solution regarding the issue of the disposal of damaged no longer legible mushaf due to various reasons such as after being submerged in a flood for long periods of time and others.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Surah al-Qiyamah: 17-18

[2] See al-Mu’jam al-Wasit, 2/722

[3] Surah al-Isra’: 78

[4] See Mu’jam Alfaz al-Quran al-Karim, 2/197-198

[5] See al-Quran wa I’jazuhu al-‘Ilm, pg. 2

[6] See al-Tibyan fi ‘Ulum al-Quran, pg. 8

[7] See Mabahith fi Ulum al-Quran, pg 21

[8] Surah Hud : 1

[9] Surah al-Hijr : 9

[10] Surah al-Isra’: 88

[11] See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 8/4024

[12] Surah al-Dukhan : 58

[13] Surah al-Takwir : 27

[14] Surah al-Hijr: 9

[15] See al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 1/191

[16] See Kasyaf al-Qina’, 1/137

[17] See al-Fatawa, 13/84

[18] See Syarah Sahih al-Bukhari, 10/226

[19] See al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an, 2/1187

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