Assalaamu alaykum. I have read some time back in your fatwas that the Quran or any other paper which contains Islamic content has to be kept free from dust, dirt, and so on. The day I have read this, life has become very stressful for me. I keep on thinking and searching in my home for any Islamic books, even school textbooks of the kids, and clean them. It has becoming burdensome for me. I have cleaned innumerous books till today and I still keep on remembering more and more things kept here and there or any Islamic saying hanging on the wall. When I do not do it, then I remember that you said in your fatwas that those who disrespect or neglect them are guilty of Shirk (polytheism). My questions for you are the following:
1. The most important question that I have is: can I delay cleaning these books? I am very busy, and I cannot keep on cleaning them whenever I remember them.
2. Do I have to clean even those books which are not mine personally. For example, whenever I go to a masjid and see books there, do I have to clean them all? Also do I have to clean the book shelf on which they are kept?
3. There is always dust in the air and on everything. How much dust should be present before it is required to clean them? Or should I just keep cleaning them every few days? I cannot keep doing this!
4. Do I need to clean them with water?
5. Will it constitute Shirk if I ignore these thoughts, which I feel are Waswasah (devilish/compulsive whisperings), and leave those books dusty?
Please answer my questions as soon as possible. I am just afraid of committing Shirk.
All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
It is obvious from your question, dear Sister, that you suffer from excessive Waswasah (whispering). You should treat it by disregarding such whispers completely, not thinking or asking about them, and imploring Allah to grant you safety from them. As for trying to treat Waswasah by pursuing Fiqhi solutions, it is not a remedy for Waswasah and does not help in overcoming it.
We do not know which fatwa you are referring to and whether you understood its meaning correctly or not. However, what we have underlined previously – in our Arabic fatwas – is that removing dust from the Mus-haf (physical copy of the Quran), let alone religious books, is not an obligation, and the person bears no sin for not removing it. It goes without saying that such an act is absolutely not Kufr (disbelief) with greater reason.
The fatwa reads:
“An aspect of glorifying the Book of Allah, the Exalted, is to wipe the dust off the Mus-haf. The research papers of the Council of Senior Scholars cited the following quote of Ibn An-Nahhaas: ‘Chapter on the religious innovations seen in the mosques: they include writing Quranic verses on the walls of the mosque. According to our school of Fiqh, this is disliked because it exposes the Quranic verses to dust. Al-Haleemi explicitly said in his book Al-Minhaaj that part of glorifying Allah and glorifying His Messenger is to remove the dust from the Mus-haf and Sunnah books.’” [Tanbeeh Al-Ghaafileen]
Therefore, the questioner and all Muslims should show respect for the Mus-haf and wipe the dust off it to the best of their ability. If one refrains from doing so, the most likely correct view is that he bears no sin for it because he is not obliged to do so. Moreover, it is hard to avoid dust, it is not considered filthy in and of itself, and it usually covers books. Were the Muslim obliged to wipe the dust off them whenever he sees dust or bear a sin if he does not, this would have incurred enormous hardship on him.
Thus, you come to know the religious ruling on all the sub-issues which you mentioned in the question and realize that you should not pay any attention to them in the first place.
Allah knows best.
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