If a Qur’an is accidentally dropped on the floor, the person who dropped it makes a contribution to charity in atonement. Copies are never placed at the bottom of a pile of books. And because the toilet is considered an impure place, the Qur’an is never taken into the bathroom.
This reverence for the Islamic holy text helps explain the explosive international reaction to a Newsweek report—since retracted because it was erroneous—that a copy of the Qur’an had been flushed down the toilet in the course of interrogations of detainees at a U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
“This is the ultimate spiritual torture,” said Muqtedar Khan, a nonresident fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution who studies Islam and world politics. “If this was done, it is the ultimate blow.”