Giving The Qur’an with Translation to Non-Muslims?

Al-Qur’an is the book of guidance for all Muslims regardless of time. According to the majority of the Islamic scholars, it is obligatory for a Muslim to be in a pure state and not in hadath (minor or major impure) before he can hold or carry the mushaf. Allah states (which means):

“None touch it except the purified.” [Al-Qur’an, Surah al-Waqi’ah, verse 79]

This prohibition also applies to the non-Muslims through qiyas (analogy). To protect the honor of the Qur’an, the earlier fuqaha agreed to forbid the selling of the Qur’an mushaf to the non-Muslims. The restriction is in the form of prohibition, while scholars in mazhab Hanafi consider the restriction to be makruh (undesirable) [Refer al-Mausu`ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 9/230]. Furthermore, in mazhab al-Syafie, the strongest opinion is it is undesirable (makruh) to buy or sell the mushaf, even if the transaction is for the cost of rent and printing to non-Muslims [Refer al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/252].

The same applies to the issue of ownership. The scholars forbid a Muslim from buying the Qur’an mushaf for a non-Muslim. According to most of the scholars, the trade is invalid, while in mazhab Syafie, there are two opinions. The strongest opinion said that it is invalid, while the second opinion states that the trade is valid, but the ownership of the Qur’an is automatically absolved from the non-Muslim [Refer al-Tibyan fi Adab Hamalah al-Qur’an, 113]. Moreover, it is prohibited to gift non-Muslim with the Qur’an or leave the Qur’an to non-Muslim (through a will) [Refer al-Mughni, 104/6].

This shows how honored the Qur’an is, and the scholars put such effort in maintaining and protecting the Qur’an’s honor, as has been agreed among them, fulfilling the obligation of dignifying al-Qur’an, sanctifying and protecting it [Refer al-Tibyan fi Adab Hamalah al-Qur’an, 164].

The Ruling for Gifting al-Qur’an with Translation to Non-Muslims

In this issue, there are two opinions from Islamic scholars:

  1. The opinion that prohibits it;
  2. The opinion that ruled it permissible with conditions

The Opinion that Prohibits It

They use qiyas to the prohibition of giving ownership of the mushaf to non-Muslims. They referred to a hadith in al-Sahihain (which means):

“From Abdullah bin Umar RA, The Messenger of Allah forbade that one should travel to the land of the enemy taking the Qur’an with him.” [Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari (2990) and Sahih Muslim (1896)]

Imam al-Nawawi said, there is a prohibition of traveling with the Qur’an to a country of disbelievers (non-Muslims), for the reason stated in the narration, which is in fear that the enemy would insult al-Qur’an, thus tarnishing the sanctity of the Qur’an. If such fear is absent, for example, the entry of Muslims soldiers inside a non-Muslim territory, where the Muslims are dominating the non-Muslims, then the makruh and prohibition ruling are no longer applicable. This is supported by Abu Hanifah, al-Bukhari and others. However, Imam Malik and some of our ashab (al-Syafi’iyyah scholars) hold the opinion that it is a total prohibition (even without reason) [Refer al-Minhaj Syarh Sahih Muslim, 13/13].

Syeikh Wahbah al-Zuhaili said in his book (which means):

“It is prohibited to sell the Qur’an to Muslims for non-Muslim or to non-Muslim, for honouring the Qur’an is obligatory. By selling the Qur’an, it would remove its honour or remove the dignity of the Qur’an. Due to this, the disbelievers (non-Muslims) should be prevented from having an ownership of the Qur’an, and it should be prevented early on.” [Refer Fiqh al-Islami Wa Adillatuh, 3363/5]

This statement is supported by a remark in Mausu’ah al-Fiqh al-Islami (which means):

“It is prohibited to sell or gift the Qur’an to non-Muslim, in fear that the Qur’an would be degraded or insulted, or it would dishonour the Qur’an itself.” [Refer Mausu’ah al-Fiqh al-Islami, 433/3]

The same is stated in fiqh books. Imam al-Nawawi said (which means):

“Our ashab said, the beginning of the ruling from fiqh books, where there is athar salaf (narration and composition from early scholars) taking the ruling (of trade) for mushaf, according to a strong opinion and Imam Mawardi from ashab that issued a syaz (isolated) opinion that said, the buying and selling of hadith and fiqh books to non-Muslims is permissible.” [Refer al-Majmu` Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/355]

Thus, Qur’anic tafsir (the Qur’an with translation or commentaries) is also one of the books with the same standing as Syari’ah books that are honored and protected from the dangers of degradation if they fall into the non-Muslim hands.

The Opinion that Ruled It Permissible with Conditions

Islamic scholars are inclined towards this opinion, with the reason that the ‘illah (ratio legis) for the prohibition may be out of fear that a degradation towards the Qur’an may happen at the hand of the non-Muslims. Hence, when the ‘illah is absent, then the ruling becomes permissible. This is the opinion of the minority of the scholars especially contemporary scholars, such as Syeikh Muhammad al-Arifi, a member of Rabitah al-‘Alam al-Islami. [Refers and]

Meanwhile, some scholars do not consider a copy of a book containing the verses of the Qur’an as a Qur’anic mushaf, with several conditions, thus the prohibition is not applicable for tafsir books and translations. Their arguments are:

1. Al-Qur’an with translation is not a mushaf for it contains the meanings of the verses.
This is as what has been said by al-Imam al-Nawawi in his book al-Majmu’ [See Al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 2/69) (which means):

“If the tafsir content exceeds the Qur’anic verses- and this is usually the case- then there are several opinions and the strongest opinion is that it is not prohibited (to touch or carry it) for it is not considered as a mushaf.”

The same is mentioned by al-Imam al-Nawawi in Raudhah al-Tolibin wa ‘Umdah al-Muftiin (1/80) and Syeikh al-Islam Zakaria al-Ansari in his book Asna al-Matolib fi Syarh Raudh al-Tolib (1/61).

From the words of Imam al-Nawawi above, we understand that Qur’anic tafsir (Qur’anic commentary) or Qur’anic translation is not considered as mushaf and mushaf rulings are not applicable to them.

2. People in hadath (minor or major impure) is permitted to touch al-Qur’an with translation or Qur’anic tafsir
The majority of scholars said that it is permissible to touch, carry or review Qur’anic tafsir, even when it contains the verses of the Qur’an, while one is in the junub state. This is due to the fact that tafsir is meant as to understand the meanings of al-Qur’an and not to recite the verses of the Qur’an. Thus, the ruling of the Qur’an does not apply to it.

This is the opinion of mazhab Maliki and Hanbali. It is mentioned in Syarh Mukhtasar Khalil by al-Imam al-Kharasyi al-Maliki (which means):

“It is permissible for them (in hadath) to touch tafsir.”

The same is stated by al-Imam Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi in al-Mughni (1/109) (which means):

“And it is permissible to touch books of tafsir or fiqh, brochures or others, if they contain the verses of Allah, referring to a prophetic evidence, where the Prophet wrote a letter to the king of Rome where the letter contains the verses of the Qur’an, for it is not considered as mushaf and the prohibition is not applicable.”

However, in mazhab Syafie, it is prohibited to touch tafsir if the verses of the Qur’an are more than the tafsir. If the tafsir is more than the verses of the Qur’an, then it is permissible.

Which means: “As for the translation of the Qur’an to other languages (other than Arabic), it is considered as a type of tafsir, as stated by scholars of mazhab Maliki. Thus, it is permissible for a person in hadath to touch it, according to those that hold the opinion that does not prohibit the touching of tafsir books.” [Refer al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 10/38]

This indicates that if someone in hadath is permitted to touch and carry Qur’anic tafsir on the condition that the tafsir contents exceed the verses of the Qur’an, then non-Muslims are also permitted to touch and carry Qur’anic tafsir or its translation if the conditions are fulfilled.

3. The sanctioning of broadcasting the Qur’an to non-Muslims to get them interested in Islam
This is in accordance with a statement of Allah (which means):

“And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.” [Al-Quran, Surah al-Taubah, verse 6]

Imam al-Syafie when commenting on this verse said, when a non-Muslim came and want to know about Islam, then it is the obligation of the leader to give him protection and let him hear the verses of Allah and inviting him to Islam in the hopes that Allah would guide him to embrace Islam [Refer Tafsir Imam al-Syafie, 903-904/2]


Based on the above discussion, we are inclined towards the second opinion that it is permissible for a Muslim to give the copy of Qur’an translation or tafsir, to non-Muslims, provided that he believes that the non-Muslim will not degrade or dishonor the Qur’an. This is due to the hadith that only prohibits the giving of mushaf to the enemy of Islam because they will insult and tarnish the purity and sanctity of the Qur’an. If it is believed they will not dishonor it, then according to some scholars it is permissible because the ‘illah of the law of the danger of insult or dishonor has disappeared.

Whereas according to most scholars, it is permissible to provide a copy containing Qur’anic verses and other words such as interpretations and others which is more than Qur’anic verses, so that they are no longer considered mushaf al-Qur’an. Nevertheless, since the copy still needs to be glorified because it contains the knowledge of Syari’ah, then it should not be given to disbelievers or non-Muslims that is feared could damage and insult it. As for non-Muslims who are believed to respect and maintain its honor, such as community leaders, schools, libraries, and the like, it is permissible to give the Qur’an and its translation.


Taken with slight changes from

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Author: Abu Tariq Abu Tariq Muhsin is a zakat officer for Zakat Centre of Federal Territory of Malaysia. A writer, researcher and publisher of various writing focusing on Zakat & Islamic studies.

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