Touching or Reading the Translation of the Quran in Ritual Impurity

The Hanafi Fuqaha have stated that a person in the state of major ritual impurity is prohibited from touching or reciting the translation of the Quran, in the same manner as he or she is prohibited from touching or reciting the actual Arabic Quran.

Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan as-Shaibani mentioned the following in his ‘al-Asl’:

“Abu Hanifah said: ‘If a person commences salah in Persian and recites in Persian then this is sufficient even if he knows Arabic.’

Abu Yusuf and Muhammad state, that this is not valid unless the person does not know Arabic.”

Based on the above, one of the most reliable authorities in hanafi fiqh, the author of ‘Hidayah,’ Allamah Burhanuddeen Ali ibn Abu Bakr al-Marghinani states in his ‘At-Tajnees wal Mazeed’:

“If it (the Quran) was written in Persian, then all agree that it will be prohibited (haram) for a woman in menses and a person in the state of major ritual impurity to touch it. This ruling is clear according to Imam Abu Hanifah. It is also the same according to Sahebain due to it being a Quran, to the extent that the permissibility of salah will be connected to it for that person who does not know Arabic.”

In his book that he wrote specifically on this topic, Allamah Shurunbulali adds:

“The consensus on the prohibition of touching it (the translation of the Quran) for a person in major ritual impurity will necessitate the prohibition of him/her reciting it as well, since touching is of a lesser degree than reciting.”

In the issue under discussion, even though the result is the same, however Imam Abu Hanifah and Sahebain differ in the illah (reasoning) behind their rulings.

Imam Abu Hanifah argues that the Quran is an attribute of Allah, while the Arabic words simply indicate towards this attribute that is established with Allah. This is why we say that the Quran is not a creation from the aspect of it being an attribute of Allah. As for the Arabic text (spoken or written by us), then that is a creation. The meanings can also be found in Persian (or any other language). Allah states in the Quran: “And it (the Quran) is in the Scriptures [Towrah, Injil].” {26:196} He also states: “Verily, this is in the former Scriptures, the Scriptures of Ibrahim and Musa.” {87:18-19}. Obviously, the exact Arabic words were not in the previous Scriptures rather their meanings were since they were revealed in another language namely Hebrew or Syriac etc.

Therefore it will also be permissible to name a translation of the Quran, Quran. Allah states: “If we had made it a Non-Arabic Quran.” {41:44} In other words if the Quran was expressed by Allah in a Non-Arabic language it would still be called the Quran.

Based on the above the following laws were derived:

  1. A person is allowed to recite the translation of the Quran in salah even if he/she is able to recite Arabic.
  2. If a person recites or hears an ayah of sajdah in Arabic then sajdah-tilawah becomes wajib on him, regardless of if he understood its meaning or not.
  3. A person in the state of ritual impurity is not allowed to touch a translation of the Quran.

Sahebain (Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad) are of the opinion that the Quran is the name of both the “Arabic words and their meanings.” Therefore the translation of the Quran is Quran from one angle (meaning) and is not from another (Arabic wording).

Based on the above the following laws were derived:

  1. A person will only be allowed to recite its translation in salah if he/she is unable to recite the Arabic.

(If a person is unable to recite the Arabic then he is allowed to recite the translation, like if a person is unable to perform ruku’ or sajdah he is allowed to indicate to them.)

  1. They also agree that if a person was to recite the translation of an ayah of sajdah, the sajdah-tilawah becomes wajib. However, if a person hears the translation of an ayah of sajdah it will only be wajib to perform the sajdah-tilawah if he/she knew its meaning.
  2. A person in the state of ritual impurity is not allowed to touch a translation of the Quran.

(From the angle of the translation being Quran it should not be allowed to touch it in the state of ritual impurity. However from the angle that it is not Quran it should be permissible to touch it in the state of impurity. The principle is that when an evidence of permissibility and one of prohibition comes together, the latter is given preference.)

It is said that Imam sahib retracted his opinion and adopted that of Sahebain.

In summary, regardless of if we take Imam Abu Hanifa’s first illah (reasoning) or Sahebain’s illah, the outcome is the same, that the translation of the Quran should not be touched or recited in the state of major ritual impurity.

Many Hanafi Fuqaha have explicitly mentioned this, including giants like:

  1. Shaikhul Islam Khawhar Zaadah,
  2. Sahibul Khulasah
  3. Malikul Ulama Kasaani,
  4. Qazi Khan,
  5. Marghinani,
  6. Hafizud Deen Nasafi,
  7. Ibn Nujaim,
  8. Ibn Nujaim Jr.,
  9. Shurunbulali,
  10. Halabi,
  11. Haskafi,
  12. Tahtawi,
  13. The author of ‘Fatawa Hindiyyah’
  14. The last of the muhaqqeqeen Allamah Shami,
  15. Abdul Hai Lakhnawi and many others.

The following is a list of our Akabir-e-Deoband who have written on the issue and agreed with the scholars above:

    1. The muhaddith and Faqeehun Nafs, Raeesut Taifah, Hazrat Maulana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi (See his Irshadaat Pg.202 published by Idarah Taleefat Ashrafiyah)
    2. The late grand Mufti of India, Hazrat Mufti Kifayatullah in ‘Kifaytul Mufti’ (1/133)
    3. Hakeemul Ummah Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi
    4. The late grand Mufti of Pakistan Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Shafee’ Usmani
    5. Hazrat Mufti Farooq Ahmed
    6. Hazrat Mufti Masud Ahmed
    7. Hazrat Maulana Idrees Khandalvi
    8. Mufti Saeed Ahmed, author of Mu’allimul Hujjaaj

    (See Jawahirul Fiqh (2/126 & 130) by Usmani for references of #2 – #7)

    1. Hazrat Maulana Abdus Shakoor Lakhnawi in ‘Ilmul Fiqh’ (110-111)
    2. Hazrat Maulana Saiyyid Zawwar Husain in ‘Umdatul Fiqh’ (1/260) [N.B. he used the word ‘makrooh’.]
    3. The late grand Mufti of Pakistan, Hazrat Mufti Rasheed Ahmed Ludhyanwi in ‘Ahsanul Fatawa’ (2/36)
    4. Hazrat Mufti Abdur Raheem Lajpuri in ‘Fatawa Raheemiyah’ (1/104)
    5. Hazrat Mufti Abdus Sattar in Khairul Fatawa (1/218)
    6. Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Ishaq in Khairul Fatawa (1/218)
    7. Hazrat Mufti Mahmood in his ‘Fatwa Mahmood’ (10/381)
    8. Hazrat Maulana Zafar Ahmed Thanvi mentioned in his ‘Imdadul Fatawa’ (1/243-244) that even though the translation is not the Quran in all aspects, it is still not permissible to disrespect it. He also mentioned that it is necessary to bury the translation of the Quran with the same respect that an Arabic one is buried. (Also see Jawahirul Fiqh of Usmani 2/129)

This is also the opinion of the following contemporary Hanafi scholars:

  1. Hazrat Mufti Ibrahim Desai

http://www.askimam.org/public/question_detail/17306

  1. Hazrat Mufti Salman Mansupuri in ‘Kitabul Masail’ (1/182)
  2. Mufti Abdur Rahman Mangera

 http://www.zamzamacademy.com/2010/09/how-to-handle-the-quran-and-its-translation-touching-the-quran-without-wudu/

  1. Mufti Faisal Riza

http://www.fatwa.org.au/touching-without-wudu-quran-translation-tafseer-fiqh-book.html

  1. Shaikh Ashraf Muneeb in ‘Birgivi’s Manual Interpreted’ (p. 24, #1.37)
  2. Shaikhah Hedaya Hartford in ‘Birgivi’s Manual Interpreted’ (p. 24, #1.37)

N.B.

Teacher:

It is not permissible for the junub and haaidha to recite the translation of the Quran.

If a woman is in haidh and she is teaching a class on tafsir or delivering a lecture and she needs to quote the translation of a Quranic verse, then she may do so in one of the following ways:

  1. Paraphrase the verse.
  2. Say one word at a time as according to Kharaki’s opinion.
  3. Mention half of the translation in one breath and the other in a next as is the opinion of Imam Tahawi. (See Fatawa DU Zakariyah 1/542)

Student:

If a woman in haidh wishes to follow up on her Quranic recitation/hifz lesson then she may do one of the following:

  1. She may use a cloth to hold the Quran and look inside while reciting in her mind. She may turn the pages with a pen or a pair of tweezers. She should not move her lips.
  2. She can sit next to someone who is reciting and listen to that person, or look in and follow without moving her lips.

Clarification:

Some may think that since they have not heard of this masalah before it is strange and maybe even incorrect. The following will shed some light on the issue:

Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi in discussing the issue of printing ‘translation-only Qurans’ stated:

“Another repercussion to this is that according to the explicit statements of the fuqaha it will not be permissible to touch the translation without wudhu.”

After quoting two ebaraat from Fatawa Hindiyyah, one which speaks about touching the translation of the Quran and the other speaking about performing a sajdah of tilawah when reciting its translation, Hazrat Thanvi states:

“This second masalah supports the first since sajdah-tilawah is wajib by reciting the Quran in Persian. We learn from this that a translation in Persian does not remove the Quran from being a Quran in law. Therefore it is not permissible to touch it in the state of minor ritual impurity.

It is a fact that majority of the people will consider the translation a simple book void of the Quran and will never even try to perform wudhu to touch it. So to publish such a translation will lead to an illegal act. And anything that leads to an illegal act is also illegal. They will also not give the translation its due respect. Also when it becomes old and unusable they will dispose of it in in the same manner they dispose of other normal books.” (Jawahirul Fiqh 2/126-127)

From the above it is clear that majority of people being unaware of a mas-alah (law) does not render it incorrect.

N.B. Persian means any Non-Arabic language.

On the other hand some hanafi scholars were of the opinion that it is permissible to touch and recite the translation of the Quran in the state of major ritual impurity. They are:

  1. Jamalud Deen Mahbubi
  2. Sadrush Shareeah
  3. Ibn Malak

They say that Imam Abu Hanifah did not exclude the wording from being part of the Quran, however he did not consider it a necessary element specifically with regards to salah, since salah is a time to converse with Allah and recitation there in, is based on ease. Allah says: “Recite whatever is easy from the Quran”. However, for other actions when the words are not Arabic, it will no longer be considered Quran (rather it becomes kalamun naas/human speech) so one will not need to be in the state of ritual purity to recite or touch the translation.

N.B.- Some of the usooleyeen who mention this illah still consider touching and reciting prohibited for the one who is in major ritual impurity. They say it is out of caution or that even though we will not call the translation Quran we still understand it to be the speech of Allah, like the Injeel and Tawrah.

The first group may answer this reasoning by stating that, on the contrary since you have agreed that the wording is not an essential element of the Quran (ruknun laazim) for salah then it should be more so for other actions, since caution is imperative in salah. The Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم has said: “It is not befitting that this salah consist of any human speech.” [Muslim: 537] So when you have agreed that out of salah the translation is human speech then it should be more so in salah.

From amongst contemporary scholars Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani sahib and Maulana Khalid Saifullah sahib take the opinion that being in the state of ritual purity is not a condition for reciting or touching the translation of the Quran.

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani sahib has stated the following in his ‘Contemporary Fatawa:’

Question:

There are a number of books which contain the full translation of the Holy Quran without giving the Quranic text in Arabic. Please explain whether reading of such translations has the same reward as the recitation of the Arabic text of the Holy Quran is supposed to have. Moreover, can one touch such translations in a state of impurity and if somebody reads the translation at the verse of sajdah, is it incumbent upon him to perform the sajdah of tilawah?

Answer:

“Ulama have clarified that it is not allowed in Shariah to print or publish the translation of the Holy Quran without its Arabic text. It may be observed that the people of other religions have published the translations of their Holy Books without their original text and consequently the translations have spread so widely that the original text was totally ignored and it is not available today. In order to avoid such consequences it was held by the Muslim jurist that the translation of the Holy Quran should always be accompanied by the Arabic text of the Holy Book.

However, it is generally observed that many people in our times do not observe this important ruling of the Muslim jurist and a number of translations have been published without the original text. Such translations cannot be held as the Holy Quran nor can the injunctions relating to the Holy Quran be attributed to these translations. If somebody goes through such translations he may have the reward of studying the Holy Quran yet the rewards specified for its recitation cannot be achieved except by reciting the original text of it. Similarly such translations published without the original text can be touched without wudhu and if someone reads the translation of the verse of sajdah it is not incumbent upon him to perform the sajdah of tilawah because the translations of the Holy Quran do not carry the status of the Holy Quran itself and the rules regarding the Holy Quran cannot be attached to such translations.” (p. 278-279)

From the above we see that Mufti sahib does not consider the translation to be of the status of the Quran rather it is simply an interpretation of the meaning of the Quran or in other words a tafsir. This view is closer to that of Imam Shafee’ and others.

Based on this illah (reasoning) he then derived the following branched out masail (furoo’):

  1. Touching and reciting the translation-only Quran will be permissible in the state of ritual impurity.
  2. On reciting or hearing a translation of an ayah of sajdah it will not be wajib to perform the sajdah of tilawah.

Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani briefly mentions a similar argument in his ‘Kitabul Fatwa’ (1/478). However he advised that if it is not difficult, then it is best to perform wudhu to touch the translation as well.

After discussing the issue at length, both Allamah Shurunbulali and Imam Lakhnawi preferred the first view of prohibition. Lakhanwi concludes by stating that the most one can say against this view is that touching or reciting a translation would be of a lesser degree in prohibition.

In conclusion, the Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم encouraged us to refrain from the grey areas and doubtful actions and in the issue under discussion the opinion of the Hanafi Mazhab is the most cautious. و بالله التوفيق.

And Allah Ta’ala knows best.

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One thought on “Touching or Reading the Translation of the Quran in Ritual Impurity

  1. Ibn Suleman Post author

    Raeesut Taaifah, Hazrat Maulana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi رحمة الله عليه is also of the opinion that it is prohibited to touch a translated Quran Shareef without wudhu.
    See: ‘Irshaadat-e-Gangohi’ Pg.202

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