What is the ruling on giving a non-believer a copy of the Qur’an? Can you give him an Arabic one with English translation, if he promises to respect it and do Ghusl before touching it, or only an English translation?

Quran

Hadith

Islamic Text

The first thing to establish is that in the Hanafi Madhab it is prohibited for a person who is not in a state of purity to touch the Arabic wording of the Holy Quran, as clearly mentioned in the Quran: 

لا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُون

None touch it except the purified – Quran (Sura al-Waqi‘a 56:79)

It is also prohibited to touch the translation. Other Madhahib may well differ. So, in the Hanafi Madhab, it will not make a difference whether you give the Arabic, Arabic and translation or just the translation, in terms of the legal ruling.

There is a huge difference between the Arabic and the English in reality, because the Arabic is revealed by Allah (Most High), whereas the English is a translation of the original revelation. However, the legal ruling of not being permitted to touch it without Wudu is the same. 

So giving the English copy only is not going to help with the legal ruling. Many of the traditional Hanafi scholars mentioned that someone who is in a state of impurity cannot touch the Quran and this applies to non-Muslims too. The scholars are specific with regards to the issue of the non-Muslim. For example, in his Hashiyah ibn Abideen رحمه الله تعالى states. 

الْمُصْحَفُ إذَا صَارَ بِحَالٍ لَا يُقْرَأُ فِيهِ يُدْفَنُ كَالْمُسْلِمِ، وَيُمْنَعُ النَّصْرَانِيُّ مِنْ مَسِّهِ، وَجَوَّزَهُ مُحَمَّدٌ إذَا اغْتَسَلَ وَلَا بَأْسَ بِتَعْلِيمِهِ الْقُرْآنَ وَالْفِقْهَ عَسَى يَهْتَدِي

‘’If the Mushaf (copy of the Quran) is torn and not read , it is buried just as a Muslim (is buried). It is prohibited for a Christian to touch it. Muhammed (Shaybani) permitted the touching of it, if he (the Christian) washes. And there is no problem in teaching him the Quran and Fiqh, perhaps he will be guided.’’ – (Ibn ‘Abideen; Radd al Muhtar)

However, as seen above, Imam Muhammad Shaybani allows a non-Muslim to touch the Mushaf if he ‘washes’ first. What is meant by the word ‘washes’ in this context? Some scholars understand it to mean a complete Wudhu, whilst others interpret it as washing of the hands alone. So there is a difference of opinion amongst contemporary scholars regarding the meaning. Since the text is open to interpretation, both opinions can be considered valid in the Hanafi madhab. 

Thus many contemporary scholars say that if a non-Muslim washes his hands and is going to respect the Quran, then it’s permitted to give it to them without requiring him to make Wudu or Ghusl every time he wants to touch it. This view is further supported by the wording found in Imam al-Kaasani’s Badai al-Sanai:

وَرُوِيَ عَنْ أَبِي يُوسُفَ أَنَّهُ لَا يَتْرُكُ الْكَافِرَ أَنْ يَمَسَّ الْمُصْحَفَ لِأَنَّ الْكَافِرَ نَجَسٌ فَيَجِبُ تَنْزِيهُ الْمُصْحَفِ عَنْ مَسِّهِ. وَقَالَ مُحَمَّدٌ لَا بَأْسَ بِهِ إذَا اغْتَسَلَ؛ لِأَنَّ الْمَانِعَ هُوَ الْحَدَثُ وَقَدْ زَالَ بِالْغُسْلِ، وَإِنَّمَا بَقِيَ نَجَاسَةُ اعْتِقَادِهِ، وَذَلِكَ فِي قَلْبِهِ لَا فِي يَدِهِ

‘’It has been narrated from Abu Yusuf that the disbeliever is not allowed to touch the Mushaf because he is impure, and it is required to elevate the Mushaf above his touching it. Muhammad (Shaybani) said there is no problem in it if has washed, because the preventative is ritual impurity and it is removed with washing. Then the only thing remaining is the filth of his creed, and that is in his heart not his hand.’’ (Badai al-Sanai).

In the above text, Imam al-Kaasani specifically refers to filth being removed from the hand. This opinion is also support by the general and agreed upon rule that non-Muslims are not obliged to follow the laws of the shariah.

وَالْكَافِرُ غَيْرُ مُخَاطَبٍ بِالْفُرُوعِ لِمَا عُرِفَ فِي الْأُصُولِ

The disbeliever is not held required to follow the laws of the shariah, which is well known in principles of jurisprudence. (al-Ikhtiyaar).  

Answered by Shaykh Noor ud-deen (04.01.2021)