Qur'an: Presenting copies to non-Muslims

Q545 :Is it permissible to present a copy of the Qur'an to a non-Muslim? In this connection, what do the Verses 77-79 of Surah - 56 mean? Why did Umar's sister insist that he performed ablution before she gave him the scroll of the surah entitled Taha, when he was still a non-Muslim?

A545 : Some scholars argue that it is not permissible to give the Qur'an to non-Muslims. They fear that non-Muslims may not respect the Qur'an or may ill use it. If we suspect that a particular person may ill-use the Qur'an, it is certainly not permissible to give that person a copy of it. On the other hand, if we feel that the person concerned will treat the Qur'an with due respect and wants to read it in order to understand it, then we can give it to him. The Prophet sent messages to rulers of neighboring states and included in his letters verses from the Qur'an, knowing that those rules were not Muslims. We should not forget in this connection that Qur'an is applicable to all mankind and we have to make it known to them. It is our duty to convey the message to them and to call on them to adopt Islam. Therefore, if we find that some of them want to learn more about Islam, the best source from which to acquire that knowledge is the Qur'an. The verses to which you refer may be rendered in translation as follows : "This is indeed a noble Qur'an, contained in a well-guarded Book, which none but the purified may touch." Many scholars say that 'the purified' refers to the angels whom Allah has made pure. They alone can touch the well-guarded Book in which the Qur'an is written in heaven. Some people take these verses to mean that only after one performs ablution, one may hold the Qur'an in his hand. But the Qur'anic verse does not seem to support this view since having an ablution is an act of purification which a man chooses to perform. He does not become "purified" as a result of it. The purification to which the Qur'anic verse refers is something done by Allah. Hence, it is a reference to angels. The incident to which you have referred occurred when Umar, receiving the news that his sister and brother-in-law have become Muslims, went to see his sister, threatening to kill her. At that time, Umar was still a non-believer. His brother-in-law went into hiding in his own home, while Umar's sister, Fatimah, opened the door. She admitted that she was a Muslim and Umar struck her on her face. The blow was hard and there was blood on Fatimah's face. Despite his strong norms, Umar was kind-hearted. He felt sorry for his sister as he saw her bleeding. He demanded that she give him the scroll from which she was reading. She told him that because he was a non-believer, he could not touch it until he had ablution. He went and washed. She gave him the scroll to read. He was surprised by its powerful logic and accepted Islam. We cannot take this incident as a basis to formulate any rules about the conditions in which non-believers can handle the Qur'an. Fatimah acted in the spur of the moment. Most probably, she wanted her brother to cool down before he read the Qur'an. She felt that if he washed his face and hands that would have wonderful effect on him. She was right. She did not mean that he will be purified by the ablution, because nonbelievers cannot be purified that way. Ablution does not mean a thing if a non-believer performs it. The fact that the Qur'an describes non-believers as impure means only mental impurity which is not removed by ablution. It is removed by acceptance of Islam. On the other hand, ablution is a mental purification for Muslims which puts them in the right frame of mind to address Allah in their prayers.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )