In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- A Muslim in the West should ask for a Quran to be brought to him in case it is necessary to place the hand on something.
2- If the court refuses that, then he is permitted—under this case of necessity—to place his hand on the Bible.
Answering this question, the Islamic Fiqh Council states:
It is not permissible for a Muslim to swear by anything except Almighty Allah, alone, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever makes an oath, let him swear by Allah, or else keep silent.” (Al-Bukhari)
It is not essential for a person swearing an oath to put his hand on the Quran for the oath to be valid, but some people do this to make the oath more binding so that the person swearing the oath will be afraid to tell lies.
It is not permissible for a Muslim to put his hand on the Bible (Torah or Gospel) when making an oath, because the copies in circulation are distorted and are not the original books that were revealed to Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them) and because the Message with which Allah sent His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) abrogates the messages that came before.
If the system in a country that is not ruled by Islamic law requires the person swearing an oath to put his hand on the Bible (or Torah or Gospel), then the Muslim should ask the court to let him swear by Allah, may He be exalted. There is nothing wrong with him putting his hand on the Quran, which is the Word of Allah and is therefore one of His attributes.
If they do not allow him this request, and he is forced to swear by the Bible, then this is considered to be compulsion, and there is no sin on him if he puts his hand on one or both of them, so long as he does not intend to show respect to them by doing so.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.