How Was the Prohibition on Touching the Quran (Even Translation) without Wudu Derived?

Shafi'i Fiqh
Hanafi Fiqh
Maliki Fiqh
Hanbali Fiqh

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel

Question

Based on this answer it says (regarding the Hanafi school), “The stronger and more precautionary position is that it is obligatory to be in a state of ritual purity to touch even a translation of the Quran.”

How was this ruling derived? Especially since a translation, such as an English one, would merely be a human attempt at conveying one of the possible meanings of the verses. What is the ruling in the other three madhhabs?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Answer Summary

According to the Hanafi school, the meaning/translation of the Quran will be “considered Quran,” as the Quran consists of two aspects, text (nadhm) and meaning (ma‘na). Therefore, one cannot touch without wudu.

And according to the other three schools, Quran has a miraculous nature, and it cannot be found in its meaning/translation (ma‘na). Therefore one can touch it without wudu.

Evidence of the Hanafi School

According to the Hanafi school, there are two aspects of the Quran: the actual text (nadhm) and the meaning/translation (ma‘na). The meaning/translation of the Quran will be “considered to be Quran” regardless of what language it may be translated in because the meaning of the Quran remains the same when translated. Whereas the nadhm will only be called ‘Quran’ when it is in Arabic.

They cite the following verse in support of “meaning/ translation” (m‘ana) being Quran:

[الأعلى:١٨-١٩] إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَفِي الصُّحُفِ الْأُولَىٰ, صُحُفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَى

“Verily this is in the previous scriptures; the scriptures of Musā and Ibrahim.” [Quran, 87:18-19]

They also favor the “meaning/ translation” (ma‘na) being Quran. They say that Allah (Most High) states in the Quran: “Verily it is in the scriptures of those before.” [Quran, 26:196]

“It is recorded that the Persians wrote to Salman al Farsī (Allah be pleased with him) and requested him to write the translation of Surat al Fatiha for them. When he wrote it, they recited surat al-Fatiha in Persian (Farsi) in Salah until their tongues adapted to the Arabic language.

The fact that the Persians recited in Persian (Farsi) clearly demonstrates that meaning/translation is regarded as Quran.

The Hanafi scholars understood from this verse that the same contents of the Quran were mentioned in these scriptures, although in a different language. Even though they were in a different language, Allah (Most High) still states that “Verily THIS (Quran) was in the previous scriptures…”

From this, it is clear that a translation of the Quran is regarded as Quran in the sense of the meaning (Quran min wajh al-ma‘na). [Ibn Maza al-Bukhari, al-Muhit al-Burhani; Nawawi, al-Majmu‘ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab]

Evidence of the Other Schools

According to the three schools, Imam Shafi, Ahmad, and Malik (Allah be pleased with them), a translation of the Quran is not a Quran because the translation doesn’t have the qualities of the actual Quran; for example, miraculous nature to subjugate other texts. Therefore, one is allowed to touch it without wudu. [Nawawi, al-Majmu‘ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab; Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni fi Fiqh al-Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal]

I pray this helps with your question.

Wassalam,

[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied within UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete hifz of Quran in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in UK where he studied the secular and ‘Aalimiyya sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Quran, Tajwid, Fiqh and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences. He currently resides in UK with his wife. His personal interest is love of books and gardening.

Arabic References

وأبو حنيفة رحمه الله احتج بما روي أن الفرس كتبوا إلى سليمان أن يكتب لهم الفاتحة بالفارسية فكتبها إليهم، وكانوا يقرؤون في الصلاة حتى لانت ألسنتهم بالعربية، والدليل عليه قوله تعالى: {وَإِنَّهُ لَفِى زُبُرِ الاْوَّلِينَ} (الشعراء: 196) ، ولا شك أن في زبر الأوليين هو المعنى دون اللفظ.

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