Is Wudu Needed For Touching the Qur'an?

By Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Q.) Is it mandatory to make wudu before touching the Qur'an?

A.) It is not permissible to touch the Qur'an without wudu. Apart from the ruling being indicative from Surah Waaqi'ah Ayat 79, this is expressly proven in a written order of Rasulullah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to Amr bin Hazm, Radi-Allahu anhu, who was the governor of Yemen at that time, "None should touch the Qur'an but a Taahir (pure)." Imam Malik (RA) has quoted this Hadith in his Muatta. It is also quoted by Ibn Kathir. Allama Aloosi in Roohul Ma'ani has attributed the similar narration to ibn Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu. (Ma'riful Qur'an vol. 8)

This was also understood by many other Sahaaba, Radi-Allahu anhum. When Hadhrat Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, wanted to touch the pages of the Qur'an at the house of his sister, she told him "Only the pure can touch the Qur'an". Hadhrat Umar was forced to first purify himself before touching the pages of the Qur'an. (Ibid)

The above should suffice to consolidate the ruling. Regarding Ayat 79 of Surah Waaqiah, there are two interpretations:

First, Ayat 79 is the second description of 'Kitaab' after the first description 'Maknoon' which appears in the preceding Ayat. As such the pronoun 'it' refers to The-Book-beyond-our-reach.

Second, the Ayat 79 is the description of 'Al-Qur'an' in Ayat 77 and as such the pronoun refers to the earthly Qur'an. The touching according to this will be Haqiqi and (literal) and not Majazi (figurative) as in the first case.

The second interpretation, apart from it being preferred by the above quoted Ahadith, is also consolidated by Surah Abasa Ayahs 11 to 16. The fundamental principle of understanding the Qur'an is 'one Ayat explains the other'. (Fawzul Kabir). Therefore, Imam Maliki (RA) confirms that Surah Waaqiah Ayat 79 is best explained by Surah Abasa Ayahs 11 to 16.

Furthermore, the Sahaaba and Taabi'een, Radi-Allahu anhum, differed on the inference of Mutahhiroon in Surah Waaqiah.  Some say it refers to angels and others say it refers to being pure from impurities (in the state of wudu). Since there are differences of opinion among the Sahabah themselves, as a matter of precaution, most of the scholars have attributed the ruling to the above quoted Ahadith.

Although ibn Abbas, Radi-Allahu anhu has a difference of opinion on the matter, ibn Mas'ood (whom Rasulullah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said, "I'm happy with whatever ibn Mas'ood decides.") Hadhrat Ali, Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas, Sa'eed ibn Zaid, Radi-Allahu anhum, are of the opinion that wudu is a prerequisite of touching the Qur'an. The above are all great Sahabah, Radi-Allahu anhum) from the Ashara Mubashara (those who were given glad tidings of Jannah in this world).

In conclusion, the Qur'an deserves utmost respect and reverence. And Allah Knows Best.