June 18, 2006

Qur’an & non-Muslims

Posted in Religion, Theology at 10:19 pm by egalitaria

I read with interest an article in today's Star that reported various views on Matthias Chang's recent case. The former political advisor to Dr. M apparently brought out a chunk of religious holy texts and swore on each of them that he was not party to any dirty business money making. I'll leave the reasons for swearing aside and look at the more interesting comment. 

Apparently, it was an insult to Islam because non-Muslims are not allowed to even touch the Qur'an. Let's take a look at this.

A verse in the Qur'an 56: 77-79 says that:

YUSUFALI: That this is indeed a qur'an Most Honourable,
PICKTHAL: That (this) is indeed a noble Qur'an
SHAKIR: Most surely it is an honored Quran,

YUSUFALI: In Book well-guarded,
PICKTHAL: In a Book kept hidden
SHAKIR: In a book that is protected

YUSUFALI: Which none shall touch but those who are clean:
PICKTHAL: Which none toucheth save the purified,
SHAKIR: None shall touch it save the purified ones.

Clearly saying that non-Muslims are impure and are therefore not allowed to touch the Holy Qur'an. I have to admit this is something I have not known. This poses a problem to the many non-Muslims who are sincere in wanting to seek more of the religion. What if I am a non-Muslim who is genuinely interested in the religion, and yes, perhaps even considering embracing it but am not yet entirely sure until I read the original text for myself? What then? I have to place it on my table and inspect it with sterile gloves? Ensuring that my impure breath does not mar its very pages? 

And how about the paperback Qur'ans that are sold in public bookstores? Anyone can buy them off the shelf. How about the salespersons handling it as they shift them around on trolleys and onto the shelves?

Lastly, scholars and religious academics who want to make cross comparisons with other religious texts. It would make it fairly difficult for them to do that.

Also, how about the Qur'an texts online? If you go about it symbolically, reading it online would be the same as touching and reading its physical book. If one is not allowed to read the physical book (because reading it is to hold and touch it), then one should logically not be allowed to read it online as well. 

But I just quoted three verses of the online Qur'an. Does that mean I have committed a crime?

I don't know. I'm rather confused. Can someone shed light on this?  



  1. Leon said,

    Excellent question!

  2. Leon said,

    But I think the controversy really is about the meaning of Matthias’s action in invoking the holy books. If he said he was respecting the Quran as God’s revelation, then, he would be adhering to its claim of exclusivity and thus nullifying the need to involve the other books. The fact that he used as many books as he could find, tells us one of two things (depending on interpretation) ;
    1. he does not take seriously the claims of the books like the Bible and Quran that are mutually exclusive
    2. he wasn’t trying to use the religions that the books teach as his authority, but trying to communicate that he is telling the truth before God, no matter what who you say God is and what religious persuasions you have.

  3. egalitaria said,

    Hi Leon,good points. I think it was the latter of the two points though, that he was trying to make. of course that was a silly move because each religion that preaches exclusivity would be up in arms that their holy book is placed on the same level as the others’.

    swearing on a holy book means absolutely nothing if you don’t subscribe to the values and teachings of the book, i would say. it’s like me swearing upon a stack of archie comics, or worse, on Nostradamus’ prophecies. it doesn’t validate anything at all. so all in all, his move was quite a silly one in my opinion.

  4. Zainab said,

    I think..and may be believe ..that we have to let them hold it and read it for many reasons ..one of them that it wil make a kind of wierdnace to say ..that they’re not a looweded to touch it..and this happened with me..and I think that having them holing and reading the holy Qora’an will leave an Islamic touch in their hearts..and this happedned with me too..so I decided to let them touch and read it..so may Allah forgive me if it was wrong ..and if letting them hold it for a erealreasom=n would be so great that Allah would forgive us for it”and he is the most knoledgeble”
    so please tell me if any one knows if what I’m doing is right or wrong
    thanks all

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