Date : 28-05-2009

Question :

What is the ruling on degrading the Quran? And in case of repentance, should the prescribed punishment remain due on the person who had repented?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all of his family and companions.
The Holy Quran is the revelation of Almighty Allah and one of His Holy characteristics since He said(What means):" If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of God; and then escort him to where he can be secure." [At-Tawbah/6].
Therefore, a Muslim is obliged to honor the Holy Quran because Allah, The most Exalted, said (What means):" Such (is his state): and whoever holds in honour the symbols of God, (in the sacrifice of animals), such (honour) should come truly from piety of heart." [Al-Hajj/32].
Defiling and ripping apart the Quran in order to degrade it is an act of disbelief that makes such a person an apostate for Allah, The Almighty, said (What means):" If thou dost question them, they declare (with emphasis): "We were only talking idly and in play." Say: "Was it at God, and His Signs, and His Apostle, that ye were mocking?" Make ye no excuses: ye have rejected Faith after ye had accepted it. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others amongst you, for that they are in sin." [At-Tawbah/65-66].
In this regard, Al-Imam An-Nawai (May Allah have mercy on his soul) said (What means):" According to Muslim scholars' consensus, the Holy Quran must be honored and protected and whosoever degrades any part of it, in any form, or refutes it on purpose, then he has become a disbeliever." [Al-Majmooa' 2/170].
In addition, Al-Imam Ashrbini (May Allah have mercy on his soul) said (What means)," Mocking or refuting the Quran, dropping it in garbage or prostrating to an Idol, are acts of disbelief." [Mughni Al-Muhtaj 4/174].
Further, scholars are of the view that whosoever degrades the Quran becomes an apostate.
However, the repentance in the aforementioned case is an obligation that is required before implementing the prescribed punishment on that person, as said by Maliki', Hanafi' and Shafie' schools of thought.
Furthermore, Al-Imam Ashrbini (May Allah have mercy on his soul) said (What means)," The apostate must repent before the prescribed punishment is implemented on him because he was admitted to Islam and he might have had suspicions about a certain issue that needed to be clarified for him. In addition, repentance was proven according to the opinion of Omar Ibn Al-Khatab (May Allah be pleased with him).
Further, there are two opinions as regards the duration of repentance: The first one is that a person who degraded the Quran must repent within three days from committing that horrible act. The second one is that he must repent immediately. Yet, the second one is adopted by our Madhab (Shafie' school of thought). However, there is no contradiction in the two opinions. According to the first opinion, he should repent immediately and if he did then the issue is over i.e. he is relieved from the prescribed punishment. But, if he didn't then he will be asked, over three days, to repent and if he refused, then the prescribed punishment must be implemented on him as mentioned in many Prophetic narrations which stated so, such as: The Prophet(Peace be upon him) said (What means):" “He who changes his religion (i.e. apostates) kill him.” [Al-Bukhari].
The evidence on repentance was stated in Imam Malik`s book [Al-Moyata'] reads as follows: Omar Ibn Al-Khatab(May Allah be pleased with him) said regarding the man who was killed for committing apostasy without being asked to repent :" Couldn`t you detain him for three days, feed him a loaf of bread each day and ask him to repent. Had you done so he might have repented and become a Muslim once again. Then he(Omar Ibn Al-Khatab) added about the aforementioned incident:" I pray to Allah, The most Gracious, I wasn't there, didn`t command killing him nor was satisfied when told about it."
Therefore, whosoever repented and embraced Islam once again, his repentance will be accepted and the prescribed punishment won't be implemented on him. Yet, the prescribed punishment can be implemented only by the ruler or his deputy and in accordance with the judge's sentence. In addition, individuals don`t have the authority to implement the aforementioned punishment. And Allah knows best.