Answered by Shaykh Arsalan Haque

Question: As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum

What is the ruling on reading the Qur’an on a computer/device that was previously used to watch pornographic material?

Is the device considered impure and cannot be used for Qur’an any longer? What about listening to Qur’an through that device?

I was thinking it would be similar to a hand that was previously used in the disobedience of Allah (then was purified from any impurities) which can be used for reading Qur’an, but I wasn’t sure.

I would prefer if you can also give me the Shafi’i opinion on this.

People would like to take a hard copy of Qur’an with them while traveling but often they need to enter a public washroom while traveling and must keep the bag inside with them in the washroom for safety, so they get discouraged from taking a hard copy of the Qur’an with them quite often because of this reason, and prefer to just read it from a smartphone.

However, this smartphone has been previously used for watching pornographic material which the person has declared tabwah from. The person then feels ashamed to read the Qur’an from it or listen to Qur’an recording from it, but then feel that this might be the shaytan trying to stop him from reading / listening to Qur’an so he just goes ahead and read from it. Is that alright?

What about if a person is doing this sin with the device and also at different times using it to read qur’an but without doing tawbah beforehand?

Jazaakum Allahu Khairan

Answer:

Touching the Qur’an in a state of ritual impurity is unlawful. It is also unlawful to bring any physical impurity (such as urine, blood, etc.) into contact with the Qur’an. While it is true that sinful behavior stains the heart, invites the devils, and repels the angels, it has no bearing on the ritual purity of the sinner, or the physical purity of the object that is used to commit the sin. Hence, the device in question remains physically pure, even after one has used it in an unlawful way, and there is no harm, inshaAllah, in using it to read the Qur’an, especially after one has repented sincerely, as stated in the first part of the question.

If one has not repented, however, and uses the same device to watch pornography and read the Qur’an, albeit at different times, then one is playing with fire. The Qur’an is the Word of Allah, Most High, and deserves our utmost respect. The fact that one feels no remorse for watching pornography on the same device that one uses to read the Qur’an is a sign that one does not revere the Qur’an as one should. Allah says, “Whoever honors the Symbols of Allah, it is from the taqwa [piety] of the heart (22:32).” Whoever desecrates the Symbols of Allah – such as the Qur’an – is certainly lacking in taqwa.

Imam al-Ghazzali explains the best way to repent from these kinds of actions. He says, “Those sins that are between one and one’s Lord, and do not constitute oppression of others, such as looking at marriageable members of the opposite sex, […], repentance from them is sought by being remorseful and regretful, followed by making an estimate of their enormity and the amount of time that one has spent engaged in them, then by looking for a good deed to offset each sin, and performing the same amount of it as the bad deed.

The basis for this is the teaching of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, who said, ‘Fear Allah wherever you are. Follow up a bad deed with a good deed, it will wipe it away.’ (Tirmidhi) In fact, Allah Himself says in the Qur’an, ‘Indeed, good deeds wash away bad deeds.’ (11:114) So one atones for listening to musical instruments by listening to the Qur’an, and attending circles of Allah’s remembrance [dhikr]; one atones for touching the Qur’an in a state of ritual impurity by honoring the Qur’an, reciting it profusely, kissing it frequently, writing it and making it an endowment […]

The goal is to apply the method of counter-balancing, because illnesses are treated by their opposites. The darkness of a sin that covers the heart is only removed by the light of a good deed which is its antithesis. Direct opposites are most effective. This is why it is best to wipe away every bad deed with a good deed that belongs to the same type, but is antithetical to it. White is removed by black, not heat or cold.”

Based on this counsel of Imam al-Ghazzali, it would be recommended, as a way of completing one’s repentance, to use the device that one had previously used to watch pornography in ways that amount to Allah’s worship and obedience. It is hoped that transforming the device into a sacred instrument that is used for acts of devotion and Allah’s remembrance would obliterate any remaining desire to use it in unlawful ways, in addition to washing away the evil that was done with it in the past, and making it a proof for oneself, not against one, on the Day of Judgment.

And Allah most certainly knows best.

(Mughni al-Muhtaj, Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din)

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"Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a similar reward"-- The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)