It is highly recommended and very much emphasized that Muslims males and females always read and touch the Qur’an with wudu’. However, according to most of the scholars, a person who is not in a state of wudu’ may recite the Qur’an without touching it.
Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states: “For a Muslim the real criteria of being neat and clean is to be tahir (pure). Taharah (purification) is more than being neat and clean. A person is generally considered neat and clean in the society even if he has passed some urine or stool and then wiped himself and washed his hands. But according to the Shari`ah, he is not tahir. He has to make wudu’ to be fully clean and tahir.
As far as the reading of the Qur’an is concerned, it is very important that one should touch the Book of Allah with great respect and reverence and should be in a state of taharah (purity). It is forbidden to read the Qur’an when a person is junub (after sexual intercourse or wet dream) until he/she takes a full bath. Women in their menses or post-natal bleeding (hayd and nifas) can read the Qur’an from memory, but should not touch it, except for female teachers and students who are allowed to touch the Qur’an, as a special case (according to Imam Malik). It is highly recommended and very much emphasized that Muslims males and females always touch the Qur’an with wudu’. Allah says about the Qur’an, “None touches it except those who are pure.” (al-Waqi`ah: 79) Although this verse is about the angels, but our jurists say that if the most pure angels touch the Qur’an, then human beings should also do that in the state of full purity.
Sheikh Sayyed Sabiq states: “Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad narrated from his father, on the authority of his grandfather, that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in the letter he sent to the people of Yemen, said: “No one is to touch the Qur’an except one who is purified.” This hadith is related by An-Nasa’i, Ad-Daraqutni, Al-Bayhaqi, and Al-Athram. Of its chain of transmitters, ibn `Abdul-Barr said: ‘It is Mutawatir (having an uninterrupted chain of transmission).’ `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “No one is to touch the Qur’an unless he has purified himself.” (Reported by Al-Haythami in Majma` Az-Zawa’id and he said that its narrators are trustworthy)
Apparently, this hadith has a problem. The word “purify” must have one particular meaning here. Therefore, to say that one who is in state of hadath asghar (a minor impurity for which one needs only to make wudu’) may not touch the Qur’an makes no sense. Concerning Allah’s statement, “…none touches it except those who are pure.” (al-Waqi`ah: 79), actually, the pronoun refers to “the Book kept hidden” (from the preceding verse) and this also referred to as “the well-preserved tablet”, and the word “pure” refers to the angels, which is similar to the verses, “On honored scrolls, exalted, purified, (set down) by scribes, noble and righteous.” (`Abasa: 13-16). Ibn `Abbas, Ash-Sha`bi, Ad-Dahak, Zayd ibn `Ali, Al-Mu’aiyyad Billah, Dawood, Ibn Hazm, and Hammad ibn Abu Sulayman are of the opinion that one who is in state of hadath asghar may touch the Qur’an. Most of the scholars, however, agree that a person in that state may recite the Qur’an without touching it.”