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Disposing of Copies of the Koran (al-Muṣḥaf = الـمـصـحـف)

Handling and disposal of sacred texts or other religious items can be a problematic issue for the ‘layperson’ (and sometimes a matter of life and death if the text is ‘desecrated’!). In the Muslim tradition, the Koran (Quran) is considered the literal and sacred word of God, the direct link to the divine, the source of the faith, and it is the most important symbol of their religion. But Muslims don’t worship the text of the Koran itself. So, how do Muslims respectfully dispose of a text of the Koran that is no longer usable?


Here are a few opinions and interpretations:

  • The proper way to dispose of the Quran is to first soak it in some water for a few days, and then bury it. So the ink comes off.
  • Two methods of disposing an unusable Qur’an and Islamic literature:

(1) Wrapping them in a piece of cloth or something pure and burying them respectfully in a place where people normally do not walk upon.

(2) Fastening the items to something heavy such as a stone and placing it respectfully in flowing river.

  • Other scholars have mentioned three ways of doing that:

(1) Burning, i.e., burning old copies of the Mus-haf in a careful and respectful  manner, in a clean and safe place, whilst ensuring that the words are consumed by the fire and the pages are changed. (It must be done thoroughly until there is nothing left but ashes)

(2) 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. 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.

(3) Shredding. 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’aan 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.

BOTTOM LINE: Burning the Koran is permissible if done respectfully!




5 Responses to “ Disposing of Copies of the Koran (al-Muṣḥaf = الـمـصـحـف) ”
  • Catherine Hughes

    I am upset about the protest about the “burning of the Koran” and I wanted to know “what the correct way is of destroying the Koran” is. I found this information to be very helpful and answered my question. I am a Catholic and the way that I was taught to destroy blessed religious articles was to “BURN” them in a container. Primarily, the blessed Palm that the church distributes on Palm Sunday at Mass.
    I had thought that was probably the best method also of destroying the Koran, and it is one of them. So WHY are these Muslims protesting this burning. It was not done to be respectful but to destroy the written notes by Detainees to other Detainees, which I think, would be a desecration of the Koran. President Obama should not have apologized, but explained to the Muslim community that these American Soldiers were only following order to burn the Koran and it was done in a respectful manner by burning them. The killing of American soldiers over this is disgraceful and shameful and those that did this, should be imprisoned.
    Surely, Muslims know the correct way of destroying the Koran, so I don’t understand why they are protesting, unless it is strictly to attack the United States, whose only fault is to try to protect this country from the Taliban and to establish a Democracy.

    It is a sad world that we live in.

  • Michael

    Please see these two documents for handling the Quran at Guantanamo. In the longer doc refer to para 16-13f.


  • Michael

    With reference to standard procedure for handling the Quran see the following docs. In the second,longer,doc refer to para 16-13f.

  • kim

    Yes we all know that Quran or koran is the holy book of the muslims and we should be very careful in such acts like disposing the old and unreadable pages of Quran.

  • Disposing Sharps

    well said post here….

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