Is it wrong and haram to take oath on the Holy Quran?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf Mangera

Is it wrong and haram to take oath on the Holy Quran?

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

 

Before learning the answer to the question, there are certain fundamental points that need to be properly understood:

 

Firstly, it is a well-established fact that, to take an oath by other than Allah Almighty, such as taking an oath by the Prophet, Ka’ba, Prayer, fasting, black stone (hajr al-Aswad), grave of the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), Safa, Marwa, etc is unlawful (haram). If one took an oath by other than Allah Most High, he will be committing a sin, and also the oath will not be considered to be valid, thus it will not be necessary to fulfil it.

 

Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) found Umar ibn al-Khattab amongst a group of riders and he was taking an oath by his father. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) called them (saying): “Verily, Allah, Most Exalted and Majestic, forbids you from taking oaths by your father. He, who wishes to take an oath, must take it by Allah or remain quiet.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 1646)

 

Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “He who takes an Oath, must not take an oath but by Allah.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 1646)

 

Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “He who takes an oath, must take it by Allah or remain quiet.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 2533)

 

S’ad ibn Ubaidah (Allah be pleased with him) reports that once Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) heard a man take an oath by the Ka’ba, thus he said: “An oath should not be taken by other than Allah, for I have heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) say: “Whosever takes an oath by other than Allah has indeed committed Shirk.” (Sunan Tirmizi, no. 1535 & Musnad Ahmad, 2/67)

 

In light of the above narrations, scholars mention that it is sinful for one to take an oath by other than Allah (ghayr Allah), and if one did, it will not be considered to be valid.

 

The great Hanafi jurist (faqih), Imam al-Mawsili (Allah have mercy on him) states:

 

“The principle is that, taking an oath by other than Allah is unlawful according to us….because by taking an oath one expresses his reverence (ta’dhim) for the one by whom the oath is taken, and none besides Allah is worthy of such reverence. And when it is established that taking an oath by other than Allah is unlawful, violation of the oath will not necessitate expiation (kaffara), because it is not considered to be an oath.” (al-Ikhtiyar li ta’lil al-Mukhtar, 2/280)

 

Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“An oath taken by other than Allah will not be valid…..rather, it will be unlawful, as mentioned in al-Quhustani, in fact there is a fear of disbelief (kufr).” (Radd al-Muhtar, 3/712)

 

The second point to remember here is that, one is permitted to take an oath by Allah Most High, His names (al-asma’) and His attributes (al-Sifaat). If one takes an oath by Allah or by any of His names, then the oath will stand, regardless of whether people are accustomed to taking an oath by that name or otherwise. However, with regards to his attributes, an oath will only stand if there is a custom (urf) of people using that attribute as an oath.

 

Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states in his Durr:

 

“An oath (which is considered to be valid) is by Allah Most High, by one of His names, even if the name is common (m, between Allah Almighty and his creation such as al-Rahim, al-Halim), and whether people are accustomed to taking an oath by the name or otherwise, according to the preferred opinion in the School, like al-Rahman, al-Rahim, al-Halim, al-Alim…or by an attribute from His (Allah Most High’s) attributes which is customarily used by people in taking an oath…such as the Might of Allah, His Majesty or His Grandeur… ” (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 3/711-712)

 

The upshot of the above is that, if one takes an oath by Allah, by one of His names or by one of His attributes that is customarily used in taking an oath, then this will be regarded as a valid oath. However, if one does not take an oath by Allah, neither by any of His names, nor by an attribute that is customarily used for taking an oath, then the oath will not be valid. If one took an oath by an attribute of Allah but it is not customarily used by the people whilst taking an oath, then in such a case also, the oath will not be valid.

 

Thirdly, one must also keep in mind that, according to the scholars of Islamic Creed (aqidah), speech (kalam) is also one of the attributes of Allah Most High (See: Sa’d al-Din al-Taftazani on the Creed of Najm al-Din al-Nasafi, p. 108). And as you may be aware that, all of Allah’s attributes are eternal (qadim), thus even the attribute of Speech is eternal. Therefore, the Qur’an, which composes of the speech of Allah, is also eternal and not created (ghayr makhluq).

 

However, one must remember that there are two aspects to the Qur’an. One being the actual Speech of Allah Most High, and the other being the Qur’an we have before us, consisting of the various Surahs, verses, written on paper with ink.

 

As far as the first aspect is concerned, that is, the actual Speech of Allah Almighty, it is eternal without doubt and not created. It is an eternal attribute of Allah Most High. However, the Qur’an we have in front of us, made from paper, ink, etc can not be considered to be eternal; rather it is created.

 

Imam al-Taftazani (Allah have mercy on him) explains this in his commentary on the Creed of Imam al-Nasafi:

“And when Imam al-Nasafi (Allah have mercy on him) spoke explicitly of speech as being from eternity, he wanted to call your attention to the fact that the term “Qur’an” is sometimes applied to the eternal Speech of the mind (kalam al-Nafsi) just as it is applied to the originated context (al-Nazm) which is read, so he said: “The Qur’an, the Speech of Allah, is uncreated (ghayr makhluq).” He followed the term “Qur’an” with the words “the Speech of Allah” because of what the early scholars had stated that, it should be said: “The Qur’an the Speech of Allah is uncreated” and it should not be said: “The Qur’an is uncreated”. This distinction is made lest the mind jump to the conclusion that the thing composed of sounds and letters is eternal.” (Sharh al-Aqa’id al-Nasafiyya, p. 112)

 

It is stated in the renowned al-Fiqh al-Akbar attributed to Sayyiduna Imam Abu Hanifa (may Allah be pleased with him):

 

“Our uttering of the Qur’an is created, our writing of the Qur’an is created and our recitation of the Qur’an is created, but the Qur’an itself is uncreated.” (See: al-Fiqh al-Akbar with the commentary of Mulla Ali al-Qari, p. 93-94)

 

The outcome of all of the above is that, the Qur’an we have before us made of paper, ink, letters, sound, etc…and that which is written and recited, is created, but the original Speech of Allah is not created, rather eternal.

 

Moreover, Imam al-Bajuri (Allah have mercy on him) states that, despite we having the belief that the recited words and letters of the Qur’an are created and originated (haadith), one should not describe the Qur’an in general as being created and originated. The reason behind this being that, one may not be able to distinguish between the created letters and words, and the eternal Speech of Allah Most High. This was also the position of the great Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Allah have mercy on him). Yes, if there is a need such as teaching students, then it will be allowed. (Tuhfat al-Murid ala Jawharat al-Tawhid, p. 72)

 

Having understood the above three points, we come to the question of taking an oath by the Qur’an.

 

As mentioned in point number one, that it is unlawful and invalid to take an oath by other than Allah Most High. Thus, the jurists (fuqaha) have stated that it is unlawful to take an oath by anything other than Allah Most High, which also includes the Qur’an. If one did so, the oath will not be valid.

 

Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:

 

“One must not take an oath by other than Allah Most High such as by the Prophet, by the Qur’an and by the Ka’ba.” (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 3/712)

 

Imam al-Mawsili (Allah have mercy on him) states:

 

“And taking an oath by other than Allah Most High will not be considered to be an (valid) oath, such as taking an oath by the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), Qur’an and the Ka’ba.” (al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil al-Mukhtar, 2/280)

 

Having said this, other scholars, looking at the fact that the Qur’an is also an attribute of Allah (in the manner explained in point number two), considered an oath taken by the Qur’an to be valid.

 

Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him), after the statement quoted above said in his Durr:

 

“Kamal (ibn al-Humam, the great Hanafi Mujtahid) said: “Let it be known that the taking of an oath by the Qur’an is something that has become customary, thus it would be considered a valid oath.”

 

Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) explained the above by stating:

 

“This is based on the fact that the Qur’an is the Speech of Allah, thus it will be considered to be one of His attributes.” (Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 3/712)

 

This is further supported by al-Marghinani in al-Hidaya, which Allama Ibn Abidin also quoted in his discussion. Imam al-Marghinani (Allah have mercy on him) states:

 

“Whosoever took an oath by other than Allah Most High will not be considered to have taken a (valid) oath, for the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Whosoever takes an oath, must take it by Allah or remain quite.” Similarly, if one took an oath by the Qur’an (m, in that it will be invalid), for it is not customary.” (al-Hidaya, 2/479)

 

What the author of al-Hidaya is implying that, the Qur’an will be considered to be an attribute of Allah Most High in that it is His Speech. However, due to the fact that, it is uncommon (in his time) to take an oath by it, it will not be valid. One must keep in mind point number two mentioned above that, an oath taken by an attribute of Allah will only be valid if it is customary to take an oath by it.

 

Other Hanafi Scholars explicitly mentioned that, if one was to take an oath by the Speech of Allah (kalam Allah), then this, without doubt, will be considered a valid oath.

 

Thus, the implication is that, if one took an oath by the Qur’an intending the actual Speech of Allah Most High, it would be considered and valid. However, if one took an oath intending the created Qur’an in the form of letters, sound, and paper, then it would be not be valid, for it is other than Allah, His names and His Attributes.

 

But the question here is that, scholars have mentioned that one should not describe the Qur’an as created in a general manner (as we have seen in the statement of Imam al-Bajuri above), as one may not be able to distinguish between the eternal (qadim) Speech of Allah and the created Qur’an. Thus, if one took an oath by the Qur’an, it would be valid without going into the details of whether one intended the eternal Speech or otherwise.

 

Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) explains:

 

“The crux of the matter is that, the uncreated Qur’an means the Speech of Allah, an attribute that is subsistence in the essence (dhat) of Allah Most High, not the letters of the Qur’an that were revealed. However, one should not say that the Qur’an is created, in case someone takes the first meaning (in that the Speech of Allah is created). I (Ibn Abidin) say: Thus, just as it is impermissible to term the Qur’an as created, it should also not be termed as other than Allah, in the sense that it is not His attribute.” (Radd al-Muhtar, 3/712)

 

Therefore, as Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) is saying, when the word Qur’an is mentioned, the attribute of the Speech of Allah will be taken into consideration. And also, the normal layman does not know the difference between the eternal Speech of Allah and the originated Qur’an consisting of letters, and sound.

 

When it is established that the term Qur’an is referring to the Speech of Allah Most High, then taking an oath by His Speech (kalam) is taking an oath by one of Allah’s attributes. And, as mentioned in point number two, with regards to Allah’s attributes, an oath will only be considered if there is a custom (urf) of people using that attribute as an oath.

 

Taking an oath by the Qur’an is very common, thus, due to taking an oath by it being customary, it will be valid.

 

Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) states:

 

“It has been related in al-Hindiyya from al-Mudhmarat that…in our times, taking an oath by the Qur’an will be valid. This is what we take and believe to be true. Muhammad ibn Muqatil al-Razi said: “It will be a valid oath.” This is the position taken by the majority of our (hanafi) scholars and is supported by the fact that the Qur’an is regarded to be an attribute of Allah by which an oath is customarily taken.” (Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 3/713)

 

In view of the above, I would like to sum up the aspect of taking an oath by the Qur’an in the following points:

 

a) Taking an oath by the Qur’an is detested; rather taking oaths in general (even by Allah) is disliked (See: al-Ikhtiyar, 2/274), thus one should avoid making a habit of taking oaths. It should only be resorted to at the time of actual need; and also, taking an oath by the Qur’an should be avoided.

 

b) If one was to raise the Qur’an in ones hand without actually taking an oath, then this would not be considered to be a valid oath, thus if one did not adhere to it, there will be no expiation (kaffara), although one should keep one’s promises.

c) If one took an oath by the Speech of Allah Most High (kalam Allah), then, without doubt, this will be a valid oath, thus if breached, an expiation (kaffara) will be necessary.

 

d) If one took an oath by the Qur’an, or by the Mushaf, then this also will be valid oath.

 

e) If one lifted the Qur’an in ones hand or placed the hands on the Qur’an and then took an oath by it, then in such a case, some scholars are of the view that, it will not be a valid oath. The reason being is that, this is referring to the created Qur’an which is not the attribute of Allah. However, many scholars even considered this to be an oath, especially when the lay people (awam) are unaware of the difference. Thus, an oath will be valid in this case also. Ahsan al-Fatawa, 5/488 & Imdad al-Ahkam, 3/38)

 

 

f) If one clearly took an oath by the printed Qur’an by lifting the Qur’an and saying: “I take an oath by this Qur’an which is before me” then it may well not be regarded as an oath, thus in case of violation, a Kaffara will not be necessary.

 

And Allah knows best

 

Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK

 

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