How do you dispose of Holy texts?

Many religious traditions accord their holy books the same respect as they give human remains.

world Updated: Feb 23, 2012 01:50 IST

Islam: Muslim scholar Allamah Haskafi, author of the 18th-century jurisprudence text Durr-Mukhtar, wrote of the disposal of the no-longer wanted Qurans: “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 [texts other than the Quran], but in this case, only after erasing the names of Allah, his Angels and his Messengers…”

Judaism: Jewish sacred texts, including not only Torah scrolls but also their covers and dust jackets, “must be set aside... and are subsequently buried,” according to guidelines prepared and distributed by the Association of Chabad Rabbis of Illinois, and published on

Christianity: Guidelines are less stringent, as Protestant theology does not place sacredness in texts. “Dispose of it as you would any other book. Recycle the paper if you can,” writes former Lutheran bishop Wayne Weissenbuehler on gives similar guidelines: There is no specifically mandated means of disposing of old Bibles. Some Catholics follow a custom of disposing of religious articles that have been blessed by either burying or burning... If not, dispose of it as you would any other book.

Hinduism: Sacred Hindu texts are disposed of reverentially, usually by immersion in clean water, burial or burning, according to the Hari Bhakti Vilasa, a Hindu book of rituals and conduct. If still usable, the items can be sent to the next of kin or cremated with a deceased owner.

Buddhism: There is no set way, but normally a Buddhist should recite a Buddhist scripture in front of the items to be disposed of, if such a person is present. The material can then be burned and its ashes buried. It is permitted to place the text in a bag and leave it for recycling.

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First Published: Feb 23, 2012 01:44 IST