Question # 335: How to dispose of papers with any reference to Allah Almighty?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The scholars have mentioned three ways of disposing the papers containing the verses of the Qur’an:

  1. Burning, in a careful way ensuring that all the words are consumed by the fire (When the Qur’an was consolidated at the time of ‘Uthman (رضي الله عنه), the Sahaabah burned all other remnant copies);
  2. Burying in a place that is clean and safe from tampering, that is, not where people usually walk; and
  3. Shredding into tiny pieces using a shredder, in a way that words/letters are no longer legible.

The same is true for papers containing names of Allah, ahadith of Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and names of the Prophets.

Long Answer: The scholars have mentioned three ways of [disposing the papers containing the verses of the Qur’an:]

  1. Burning, i.e., burning old copies of the Mushhaf in a careful and respectable manner, in a clean and safe place, whilst ensuring that the words are consumed by the fire and the pages are changed.

The scholars based this view on what ‘Uthman (رضي الله عنه) did with the Mushhafs that differed from what the Sahaabah were unanimously agreed upon. Al-Bukhari narrated from Anas ibn Maalik that ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (رضي الله عنه) ordered Zayd ibn Thaabit, ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr, Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas and ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Haarith ibn Hishaam to make copies of the Mushhafs. ‘Uthman said to the three Qurashi men: If you differ with Zayd ibn Thaabit concerning anything of the Qur’an, then write it in the dialect of Quraysh, for it was revealed in their tongue. They did that, then when they had copied the pages in Mushhafs, ‘Uthman returned the pages to Hafsah, and he sent to each country one of the Mushhafs that they had copied, and he ordered that all other copies of the Qur’an on pages or in books be burned.

Ibn Battaal (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “This hadith shows that it is permissible to burn books which contain the name of Allah, and that this is a kind of respect to them and protects them from being trampled underfoot. ‘Abd al-Razzaaq narrated via Tawoos that he used to burn letters that contained the Basmalah when he had collected a good number of them, and ‘Urwah [Ibn al-Zubair and Tawoos] did the same, but Ibrahim regarded that as makrooh.” (Fath al-Baari)

Al-Khateeb al-Sharbeeni al-Shaafa’i (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It is makrooh to burn wood into which words of Qur’an have been carved, unless the aim is to protect the Qur’an, in which case it is not makrooh, as may be understood from the words of Ibn ‘Abd al-Salaam. It is in this way that we may interpret ‘Uthman’s burning of the Mushhafs.” (Mughni al-Muhtaaj)

  1. Burying, for which a place that is clean and safe from tampering should be chosen. A deep hole should be dug in which it is thought most likely that the buried copies will disappear for a long time.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “With regard to old Mushhafs, which have worn out and are now in such a condition that they cannot be used for reading from, they should be buried in a place where they will be safe, just as the body of a believer is honored by being buried in a place where it will be safe.” (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa)

Al-Bahooti (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “If a Mushhaf becomes worn out, it should be buried. Ahmad narrated that Abu’l-Jawza’ had a Mushhaf that wore out, so he dug a hole for it in his mosque and buried it. In al-Bukhari it is narrated that the Sahaabah burned [Mushhafs] after making copies of them. Ibn al-Jawzi said: That is out of respect for it and in order to protect it. al-Qaadi said that Abu Bakr ibn Abi Dawood narrated with his isnad from Talhah ibn Musarrif that he said: ‘Uthman buried the Mushhafs between the [Prophet’s] grave and the minbar, and he narrated with his isnad from Tawoos that he did not see anything wrong with burning books. He said: Water and fire are creations of Allah.” (Kashshaaf al-Qinaa’)

It says in  Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah: “If the pages of the Mushhaf wear out and become tattered from being read from a great deal, or they become unfit to be used, or they found mistakes in it because of careless mistakes in writing or printing, and it is not possible to correct it, it is permissible to bury it without burning it, and it is permissible to burn it and then bury it in a place far away from dirt or where people walk, so as to protect it against mishandling, and so as to protect the Qur’an against any tampering or distortion or confusion due to propagating of Mushhafs in which there are mistakes in writing or printing.”

  1. This may be the easiest way nowadays. There are machines into which one inserts papers and they shred them into tiny pieces, so that they are no longer regarded as words of the Qur’an or even legible letters. This is clean and safe and does not involve a lot of effort, as is the case with burning or burying.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “No one among the Muslims doubts that the Muslim must respect and venerate the Holy Qur’an and prevent it from being exposed to mishandling. These worn out pages of the Mushhaf which cannot be used for reading may then be dealt with in one of two ways:

  • They may be buried in a clean, pure place where they will not be subject to mishandling in the future, to the best of one’s knowledge.
  • They may be burned. Burning them is permissible and there is nothing wrong with it. When the Qur’an was consolidated in the dialect of Quraysh at the time of ‘Uthman (رضي الله عنه), the Sahaabah (رضي الله عنهم) burned all other copies. This indicates that it is permissible to burn the Mushhaf that can no longer be made use of.

But I think that if it is burned then it must be done thoroughly until there is nothing left but ashes, because when printed material is burned, some letters may still be visible after burning, so it is necessary to do it thoroughly until it has turned to ashes.

If it is shredded, this is a third way, but it is difficult, because shredding must be done to all the words and letters, and this is difficult unless one has a machine that can shred it very finely so that no shape of a letter is left. This is a third way, and it is permissible.” (Fataawa Noor ‘ala al-Darb)

(The above reply is based on various answers provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)

Ibn Hajar said in his Fataawa: “It is obligatory to honor, revere and glorify the Quran and every glorified name, like the name of Allah, or the name of a Prophet of Allah. What is meant by the names of the Prophets are the names that are understood to be the name of a Prophet, so that phrases are used with it to indicate that it is the name of a Prophet, such as “Muhammad the Messenger of Allah” or “‘Eesa (Jesus) “, or “Moosa (Moses), whom Allah had spoken to”, and so on. But this ruling does not apply to the name Muhammad, or ‘Eesa, or Moosa alone.” (The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs)

[Hence, the same is applicable for papers containing names of Allah, ahadith of Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and names of the Prophets.]

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam