Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam
Question: I recently downloaded the Quran application onto my iPhone and have the entire Qur’an saved both in audio and digital forms. I have two questions: Firstly, do I need to have Wudu in order to touch my iPhone, or is wudu required only when the app is open? Secondly, would it be impermissible to take the phone to the lavatory given that the entire Qur’an is stored in digital form on its memory?
Answer: In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
1) The position of all four Sunni schools of Islamic law is that it is unlawful (haram) to touch any part of a textual copy of the Qur’an (mushaf) without being in a state of minor ritual purity (wudu), as a way of honouring the book of Allah. The majority of the Imams of Qur’anic exegesis (mufassirun) state that the verses: “It is surely the Noble Qur’an, (recorded already) in a protected book (i.e. the Preserved Tablet) that is not touched except by the purified ones (the angels). A revelation from the Lord of the worlds” (Qur’an: 56/77-80) refers also to physically touching the Qur’an. Moreover, Imam Malik (Allah have mercy on him) relates in his Al-Muwatta that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) wrote a letter to Amr ibn Hazm (Allah be pleased with him), in which he said, “None should touch the Qur’an except one who is in a state of purity.” (Al-Muwatta no: 534)
Apart from the Mushaf, if a complete verse of the Qur’an is written or inscribed on something else such as a wall, piece of paper, slate or coin [m: and by extension, if the Qur’an is stored electronically in a digital format on an iPhone, PC or some other device, since it can not be classed a Mushaf], there are two opinions of classical Hanafi jurists (fuqaha) regarding its ruling:
Some jurists are of the view that in addition to the Mushaf itself, it is not permitted to touch an item on which a complete verse of the Qur’an is inscribed. It is stated in Maraqi al-Falah:
“Likewise Wudu is mandatory in order to touch a Mushaf, and even [to touch] a verse inscribed on a coin or wall due to the statement of Allah Most High, “it is not touched except by the purified ones” whether [to touch] the inscribed part or the blank space. Some of our [Hanafi] scholars, however, stated that what is prohibitively disliked for the ritually impure is to touch the actual area where the text is written and not the blank space because one is not touching the Qur’an literally. The correct position is that touching the blank space is akin to touching the text itself [in that both are not permitted].” (See: (Maraqi al-Falah with the commentary of Tahtawi P: 82)
Acknowledging that some Hanafi jurists limit the prohibition of touching to the actual area where the Qur’anic text is inscribed, Imam Shurunbulali in the above passage explains that the correct position is that if a verse is written on anything besides the Mushaf, on a slate for example, then not only is it prohibited to touch that part of the slate where the verse is inscribed but the whole slate itself. Based on this, if the Qur’an application is activated and the verses appear on the screen of an iPhone, PC or other electronic devices, it is not permitted to touch the device without Wudu.
The second opinion within the Hanafi School is that if Qur’anic verses are inscribed on something other than a Mushaf, then it is only impermissible to touch that part of the item where the verses are inscribed and not the whole item. Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him), quoting Halabi and Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq, states:
“… It is not unlawful in other than a Mushaf [to touch] except the area where the verses are inscribed.” (Radd al-Muhtar ala ‘l-Durr al-Mukhtar 1/173)
This position, chosen by Imams Ibn Abidin, Ibn Nujaym and others, can be acted upon given the need and widespread usage of digital forms of the Qur’an. It is, however, superior and closer to propriety when possible to take precaution and act upon the first position. Based on this, once the verses of the Qur’an appear on the screen, it will not be permitted to touch the area where the actual text appears without Wudu. Touching other parts of the iPhone or device, however, will be permitted.
Note that if the Qur’an application is not activated and hence the verses do not appear on the screen, then it is totally permitted to touch the device including the screen without Wudu.
2) As for taking to the lavatory/toilet a phone which has Qur’anic verses, Hadiths, Prophetic supplications, etc stored on its memory, if the application is not running and the text is not visible on the screen, then it is permitted. However, taking the phone into the lavatory with the text visible on the screen is highly disrespectful and blameworthy. It is stated in Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:
“It is [prohibitively] disliked to enter a lavatory with a finger ring on which the name of Allah Most High or some part of the Qur’an is inscribed.” (Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya 1/50)
And Allah Knows Best
Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK