Every religion and society has great respect for its Holy Scriptures no matter how old or new they may look. The Sikhs, Jews and Christians all have a certain respect for their Holy Scriptures but the respect and love the Muslims hold for their Holy Script is greatly different. The Last Revelation: The Holy Qur’an is not just an ordinary scripture, but rather it’s the Holy book that moulds an individuals life into an obedient servant of Allah.
Every single word and verse within it is sanctified and cannot be touched without ritual cleanliness. Our respect of the Holy Qur’an and the realisation of its sanctity decreases as society deteriorates, due to non-islamic influences and propaganda. Qur’ans and Islamic literature are left lying on the top shelves of our homes, unread for months or even years and gradually they start to become very dusty. They are classed as OLD though we rarely touched them until the time comes when they are removed. Without any realisation of their sanctity, like other unwanted items, we tend to discard them away which is totally incorrect. We must always remember, in Islam, when something is sanctified, then its sanctity will always remain.
Regarding disposing of unwanted religious and Islamic literature the great classical Hanafi Jurist Allamah Haskafi states:
“Those books that are no longer wanted: One should wipe away the names of Allah, his Angels and His Messengers and burn the rest. There is nothing wrong with casting them into a flowing river as they are (i.e without wiping the names away) or burying them and burning them (excluding the Qur’an, see below), is advised.
Thus, if one decides to get rid of religious literature, the right thing would be to bury them by wrapping them in something pure first, in a place where people would not walk very rarely. Similarly, it would be permitted to tie the books and papers with something heavy and cast them into a flowing river. You may also burn them, but in this case, only after erasing the names of Allah, his Angels and his Messengers (peace and blessings be upon them all).
As far the old and unusable Qur’ans are concerned, it is not permitted to burn them unless there is no other way to dispose them.
Allamah ibn Abidin, a great Hanafi Scholar states,
“If a copy of the Qur’an becomes old and it is difficult to read it, it should NOT be burnt in fire.”
This is also the view of Imam Mohammed (Student of Imam Abu Hanifah). It is best to bury them after wrapping them into something pure and clean.
The conclusion is, there are 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.
If the above-mentioned two methods are not possible to implement, only then will it be permitted to burn the Holy Scriptures and then bury the resulting ash or drop the ash in a flowing river.