Writing an Ayah and wearing it around the upper arm

Q 5: What is the ruling on writing an Ayah (Qur'anic verse) and hanging it around any human part; the upper arm for example, or rinsing this writing with water or the like and then using this water in washing the body? Is this an act of Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) or not and is it permissible or not?

A: The scholars of Salaf (righteous predecessors) hold different views regarding the ruling on writing an Ayah of the Qur'an and hanging it or hanging the whole Qur'an around the upper arm for protection against evil or to ward it off. Some of them are of the opinion that this is a forbidden act, as it is similar to wearing amulets which is generally prohibited by the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Charms, amulets and love-potions count as Shirk. Related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud. Those who hold this view say there is no specific text that confines the ruling to wearing anything other than the Qur'an. They adopt this view out of the principle of Sadd-ul-Dhara'i` (blocking the means leading to sins). Scholars of this view also say that these hung items are usually subject to abuse as a person most likely carries them while relieving oneself, performing Istinja' (cleansing the private parts with water after urination or defecation), having intercourse, and so on. Among those who held (Part No. 1; Page No. 301) this view were `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, his students and Ahmad ibn Hanbal according to one narration related by him which was preferred by many of his students and verified by latter scholars. On the other hand, some scholars permitted wearing amulets containing Ayahs of the Qur'an or Allah's Names and Attributes. Among those who held this view were `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`As. Abu Ja`far Al-Baqir, and Ahmad said the same according to another narration on his authority. They restricted the prohibition of amulets to that which lead to Shirk. The first view is preponderant, since it has a stronger proof and better protects `Aqidah (creed) and it involves a precautionary act for securing Tawhid (monotheism). As to what is reported from Ibn `Amr, it shows that he aimed at encouraging his sons to memorize and write down the Qur'an on the tablets to be hung around their necks. He did not intend to use these tablets as an amulet warding off the evil and bringing good. It is not authentically established that the Prophet (peace be upon him) rinsed the Qur’anic writing with water or the like and then washed his body with this water. It was reported that Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) used to write some words of the Qur'an and Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) and advise the sick to drink the water in which these words were put. However, this is not an authentic narration. Imam Malik in his book entitled Al-Muwatta' narrated that `Amir ibn Rabi`ah saw Sahl ibn Hunayf taking a bath and said, "I have not seen the like of what I see today, not even the skin of a maiden who has never been out of doors." Sahl fell to the ground. The people went to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and it was said, "O Messenger of Allah, can you do anything to help Sahl ibn Hunayf? By Allah, he cannot raise his head." He said, "Do you suspect anyone?" They said, "We suspect `Amir ibn Rabi`ah." The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) became very angry and summoned `Amir and said, "Why does anyone of you kill his brother? Why did you not say: 'May Allah bless you!' Take ghusl." `Amir washed his face, hands, elbows, knees, the end of his feet, and inside his lower garment in a vessel. Then he poured the water over him (Sahl) who got up with the people, as if there was nothing wrong with him. (Part No. 1; Page No. 302) He (peace be upon him) said in another narration, "The evil eye is true, so make Wudu' (ablution) for him (to wash himself with)." `Amir performed Wudu' and Sahl got up with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), as if there was nothing wrong with him. This narration was also related by Imam Ahmad and Al-Tabarany. As a result, some scholars broaden this matter and permit writing Qur'anic Ayahs and Dhikr, rinsing them with water and using this water in washing or sprinkling over the sick. Their ruling was based on either the analogy they found in the narration of Sahl ibn Hunayf or their desire to act upon what was narrated from Ibn `Abbas even if this report is not authentic. Moreover, Ibn Taymiyyah states in part no. 12 of his book entitled Majmu` Al-Fatawa that this act is permissible as he said, "Ahmad and many others stated that this act is permissible." Ibn Al-Qayyim mentioned in the prophetic medicine section of his book Zad Al-Mi`ad that, "A group of the Salaf permitted this act such as Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Abu Qilabah." In all cases, this act is not regarded as an act of Shirk.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.