My reference in a column today, "'Rushdie Rules' Reach Florida," included this sentence: "A 2003 decree ruled the Bible suitable for use by Muslims when cleaning after defecation." That allusion deserves further explanation.
The link above goes to Fatwa #40378 of The Encyclopedia of Fatwas (Arabic: Mawsu'at al-Fatawi) on www.islamweb.net. Issued on November 23, 2003, it contains the standard question-and-answer format of a fatwa and reads thus in English translation:
Judgment: Despising the Torah or the New Testament
Question: "Does someone who insults the Torah or the New Testament engage in apostasy, given that these include some words of God?"
Answer: "It would be impermissible to disdain the Torah and New Testament if they contained the truth and the name of the exalted, such as the name of God the Most High. Whoever does this [i.e., disrespect the books] knowingly and by choice would be considered an apostate and would be despised by God. But [in fact] the Torah and New Testament do not have anything exalted in them. They are known to have been corrupted, so there is no problem disdaining them.
Ash-Shams[ad-Din] Ar-Ramli [d.1004 A.D.] said in [his book of fiqh] Nihayat al-Muhtaj: "It is impermissible to use respected books like those of hadith and fiqh for anal cleansing after defecation (al-istinja',الأستنجاء ), but non-respected books like philosophy, Torah and the New Testament, which are known as corrupt and which do not contain exalted names, can be used for anal cleansing after defecation."
Dena Milany's Facebook entry attacked the Koran and led to a fatwa against her.
Fatwa #40378 appears to have been removed in late 2009, as a result of the Dena Milany controversy. Milany, a German woman, posted the fatwa in English translation and Arabic original, then posted a call on Facebook for a "koran toilet paper roll," complete with graphic of such an item. Muslims demanded the deletion of this page and the agitation reached to Egypt, where Sheikh Ali Abu'l-Hasan, a former president of Al-Azhar University's Fatwa Committee, published a fatwa (reported in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Yawm as-Sabi' on September 27, 2009) in which he ordered the "shedding of [her] blood." Milany responded by publicizing the above fatwa on her blog, http://denamilany.blogspot.com.
Despite its removal, the fatwa remains valid. Taking it down from the website does not cancel it; that would require that the institution that issued it formally declare it illegitimate. This has not happened because the Shari'a clearly permits istinja' with the Bible. Indeed, specialists on Shari'a have through the centuries discussed the legitimacy of istinja' using the Torah and New Testament. (September 21, 2010)