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PURIFICATION: Touching Or Carrying The Qur’an 

Nov 5, 2021, 3:18 PM

The companions were all agreed that it is forbidden to touch or carry the Qur’an while one is in a state of impurity. There are some jurists, such as Dawud ibn Hazm, who allow the physically unclean person, whether because of sex or menstruation, to touch or carry the Qur’an, and they see nothing wrong with this. He derives his support from a hadith in the two Sahihs in which it is stated that the Prophet sent a letter to Heraclius saying, “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful...O people of the book, come to a statement that is common between us and you, that we should worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords besides Allah. If they turn away, then say ‘Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him).” (al’Imran 64). Ibn Hazm concludes, “This is the letter the Messenger of Allah wrote, containing this verse, to the Christians, and of course they touched it.” The majority of scholars answer him by stating that one is allowed to touch parts of the Qur’an that are used in letters, books, tafsir, and so on, as such things are not copies of the Qur’an, nor is it confirmed that such an action is forbidden. 

Reciting The Qur’an 

According to most scholars, one who is physically unclean (because of sex or menstruation) may not recite any portion of the Qur’an. This is based on a hadith from ‘Ali, in which he stated that nothing kept the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, from the Qur’an save being sexually impure. This is related by “the four.” At-Tirmizhi graded it sahih. Says al-Hafez in al-Fath, “Some people declare some of its narrators weak. But, in fact, it is of the Hassan class and it is satisfactory as a proof.” He also related, “I saw the Messenger of Allah perform ablution and recite some of the Qur’an, after which he said, ‘This is for the one who is not in post-sex impurity. If one is in post-sex impurity, he may not do so, not even one verse.” Ahmad and Abu Ya’la related this hadith with that wording. With that wording, al-Haithami says, “Its narrators are trustworthy.” Says ash-Shaukani, “If that (report) is authentic, that is proof enough that it is forbidden.” The first hadith does not forbid it, for it just states that it was his practice not to recite the Qur’an while he was in post-sex impurity. Similar reports do not show that it is disliked. Therefore, how can it be used as a proof that it is forbidden?” Al-Bukhari, at-Tabarani, Dawud, and Ibn Hazm are of the opinion that it is permissible for one who is in post-sex impurity (or in menstruation) to recite the Qur’an. Says al-Bukhari, “Ibrahim said, ‘There is no problem if a menstruating woman recites a verse.’ Ibn ‘Abbas did not see anything wrong with a sexually impure person reciting the Qur’an. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, used to mention Allah under all circumstances.” In Ibn Hajr’s notes to that work, he says, “There is no authentic hadith reported by the author (al-Bukhari) concerning the prohibition of reciting by one who is sexually impure or menstruating.” The sum total of what has been related on this issue informs us on this point, though the interpretations differ. 

Staying In The Mosque 

It is forbidden for one who is physically unclean (because of sex or menstruation) to stay in the mosque. ‘Aishah said, “The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, saw that his companions’ houses were practically in the mosque. He said, ‘Direct those houses away from the mosque.’ He then entered the mosque, but the people did nothing, hoping that Allah would reveal to Muhammad that what they were doing was permissible. After he came out, he said, ‘Direct those houses away from the mosque, for it is not permitted for a menstruating woman or sexually impure person to be in the mosque.” (Related by Abu Dawud.) 

Umm Salamah related that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, came to the mosque’s courtyard and said at the top of his voice, “The mosque is off limits to menstruating women and the sexually impure persons.” (Related by Ibn Majah and at-Tabarani.) Such people can, however, pass through the mosque, for says Allah, “O you who believe, draw not near unto prayer when you are drunk until you know that which you utter, nor when you are impure save when journeying upon the road, until you have bathed” (an-Nisa’ 43). Said Jubair, “One of us used to pass through the mosque though he was impure.” (Related by Ibn Abu Shaibah and Sa’eed ibn Mansur in his Sunan.) Zaid ibn Aslam said, “The companions of the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, used to walk through the mosques while they were sexually impure.” (Related by Ibn al-Munzhir.) Yazib ibn Habib reported that the companions’ doors opened up into the mosque, and that when they were sexually impure, they could find no water or any path to water save through the mosque. Then Allah revealed, “...nor when you are impure, save journeying upon the road...” (Related by at-Tabari.) 

Commenting on the preceding reports, ash-Shaukani says, “The meaning is so clear that there is no room for doubt.” Said ‘Aishah, “The Prophet said to me, ‘Hand me my cloth from the mosque.’ I said, ‘I am menstruating.’ He said, ‘Your menstruation is not in your hand.” (Related by the group, except for al-Bukhari.) Said Maimunah, “The Messenger of Allah used to come to one of our rooms while we were menstruating and put his head on (his wife’s) lap and recite the Qur’an. Then one of us would take his clothes and put them in the mosque while she was menstruating.” (Related by Ahmad and an-Nasa’i. The report has supporting evidence.) 

Actions For Which Ghusl Is Preferred 

This category of actions involves a reward for performing ghusl, and no blame if he does not. Such actions are: 

Before The Friday Prayer 

Muslims are encouraged to perform ghusl before they gather for the Friday prayer. In fact, Islamic law even goes to the extent of ordering one to perform ghusl at this time as part of the overall cleanliness and hygiene of the Muslim society. Abu Sa’eed reported that the Prophet said,”Ghusl on Friday is obligatory (wajib) on every adult, as is using a toothbrush and applying some perfume.” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) 

The meaning of “obligatory” here is that it is greatly recommended. This understanding of the Prophet’s saying is derived from what al-Bukhari recorded about an incident from Ibn ‘Umar about his father. One day, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab was standing and delivering the khutbah when ‘Uthman, one of the people from among the emigrants and helpers, entered. ‘Umar said to him, “What time is it now?” He said, “I was busy and could not return home. When I heard the call to prayer, I did not make more than the regular ablution.” ‘Umar said, “And the ablution only, when you know that the Messenger of Allah ordered us to perform ghusl?” Commenting on the incident, says ash-Shaf’i, “ ‘Uthman did not leave the prayer to perform ghusl, nor did ‘Umar order him to do so. This illustrates that the companions knew that this order was one of choice. It also shows that it is preferred.” 

Muslim recorded that Abu Hurairah reported the Prophet saying, “Whoever makes the ablution and perfects it and then goes to the Friday prayer and listens attentively, will have forgiveness during (the period) between the Friday and the next (Friday), and an additional three days.” Says al-Qurtubi, “This hadith shows that ghusl is preferred. The mention of ablution, the reward and acceptability points to the fact that ablution alone is sufficient.’’ Ibn Hajr states in at-Talkhis, “It is one of the strongest proofs that ghusl for the Friday prayer is not obligatory. The statement that it is preferred is built upon the fact that if one does not perform ghusl, it will not harm (his prayer). But, if others are harmed by his perspiration or bad smell from his clothes and body, ghusl becomes obligatory, and not performing it detracts from the rewards of Salah. Some scholars say that the Friday ghusl is a duty even if its nonperformance causes no harm (to others). Their basis for this opinion is the hadith related by Abu Hurairah in which the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “It is a duty upon every Muslim to perform ghusl once every seven days, by washing his head and body.” Al-Bukhari and Muslim accept the hadith mentioned on the subject in their apparent meanings, and refute the ones contrary to the last hadith (of Abu Hurairah). 

The time for the Friday ghusl is between dawn and the time of the Friday prayer. It is preferable to do it at the time of departure (to the mosque). If one loses his ablution after that, it is sufficient for him just to make a new ablution (he does not have to repeat the ghusl). 

Says al-Athram, “I heard Ahmad being asked if a person performed ghusl, and then lost it, would the regular ablution be sufficient for him. He said, ‘Yes, and I have not heard anything about that preferable to the hadith of Ibn ‘Abzi,” Ahmad is referring to the hadith related by Ibn ‘Abzi Shaibah (with a sahih chain from ‘Abdurahman ibn ‘Abzi on the authority of his father, who was a companion.) He performed ghusl for the Friday prayer, and afterwards nullified his ablution. After that, he performed just the regular ablution, and did not repeat his ghusl. The time for the ghusl ends with the time of the prayer. If one performs ghusl after the prayer, it would not be the ghusl of the Friday prayer, and one who does so is not following the Prophet’s order. Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet said, “Before you come to the Friday prayer, you should perform ghusl. (Related by “the group.”) Muslim says, “When one of you wants to come to the Friday prayer, he should perform ghusl.” Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr related that there is a consensus on this point. 

To be continued

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