Where they are inscribed on buildings or hung on walls, Quranic verses are generally elevated, in keeping with the superiority of God's Word over the words of humans. The idea that ontological superiority is implied by physical elevation, while dishonor can be signified by literally lowering a thing or placing it under one's feet, may be universal. This accords with an anthropocentric perspective, for as a human develops in strength and maturity, he or she rises from the floor to become tall and erect. It is also the experience of sages of many traditions that sacred insight can best be found on the mountaintops. The Quran was first revealed to Muhammad in a cave on a mountain, Moses spoke to God, on Mount Sinai, the transfiguration of Jesus took place on a mountain (peace be upon them).

Apart from its symbolic implications, it is obvious that physically elevating precious objects can protect them from being trampled upon, knocked over, and dirted. It is understandable, therefore, that Muslims are keen to ensure that physical copies of the Quranic mushaf - the record of God's exact words revealed to humanity - should be treated with respect. In most Muslim cultures, this means that the Quran is never placed on the floor, is usually stored on a high shelf, and even when stacked with other books, the Quran is usually repositioned on top of the pile.

Among Muslims, the elevation of the Quran should inspire a feeling of reverence, humility, and submission. Many Muslims express this deep feeling of love for the word of God by wrapping their Quran in fine fabric or kissing it after taking it off the shelf. Modernized Muslims might be uncomfortable with such gestures, considering such reverence for the text of the Quran "superstitious" and potentially distracting from the awareness of the absolute transcendence of God. Such exaggerated fear of a slippery slope towards idolatry has perhaps left some of these Muslims with rather dry approach to faith. Traditional Muslim societies seem to allow more room for emotional expressions of faith, and a close connection between the body and the spirit. Certainly there can be excesses in this direction as well: however, one cannot help but feel that the traditional approach yields a richer spiritual culture in which the sacred words of God infuse one's surroundings and have a deep visceral effect on the individual.

Compiled From:
"The Story of The Quran: Its History and Place in Muslim Life" - Ingrid Mattson, pp. 150-153