“Wasim Rizwi, former chairperson of Uttar Pradesh Waqf Board changed his religion.” It was a big news due to present hindu-muslim temperament in India but it was indeed a front page news in Uttar Pradesh, form where he belongs and also where he changed his religion and converted to Hindu religion from Muslim.
Everybody has right to change his/her religion as had he. But while reporting his conversion, almost every newspaper mentioned that he is that person who also approached the court for the removal of certain aayats (verses) of Quran. However, Supreme court was dismissed his petition with 50,000 costs and the comment that “this is an absolutely frivolous writ petition”.
Wasim Rizvi was not the first person who taught that there are certain aayats in Quran which need to be removed as it excites hate among Muslims towards non-Muslims. Indian court also had occasion to entertain such petition earlier that time also, court dismissed the petition with costs.
In 1985, Calcutta High Court disposed such petition, when a petitioner Chandanmal Chopra approached the court under Article 226 of Constitution praying for a Writ of Mandamus directing the State of West Bengal to declare each copy of the Koran, whether in the original Arabic or in its translation in any of the languages, as forfeited to the Government.
The petitioners quoted some passages from the English translation of Koran and thereafter made the following averments: —
“The offending expressions contained in the Koran and quoted in paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 above are not so offensive in their translation in which they are so quoted as they are in the original verses in the Arabic or in the Urdu, the very sound of whose inimitable symphony not only send the Muslims to tears and ecstasy but arouse in them the worst communal passions and religious fanaticism, which have manifested themselves in murder, slaughter, loot, arson, rape and destruction or desecration of holy places in historical times as also in contemporary period not only in India but almost all over the world.”
“In this way, the publication of the Koran in the original Arabic as well as in its translations in various languages including Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, English etc., amounts to commission of offences punishable Under Sections 153A and 295A of the Penal Code and accordingly each copy of the book must be declared as forfeited by the respondent Under Section 95 of the Criminal P.C., 1973.”
However, Advocate General appearing for the state submitted that the Koran is a sacred book of the Muslim community and making an order of the nature as prayed by petitioner would amount to abolition of this religion. Such a prayer offends the provisions of Section 295 of the I.P.C. and, therefore, the question of invoking jurisdiction of this Court in respect of Section 295A of the I.P.C. cannot and does not arise.
He further submitted that the Koran has been in existence for a long time. No grievance has been made at any point of time by anyone to the effect as the petitioner is seeking to do before this Court. Court is not entitled to go into this matter as this relates to a question of religion itself. And this is a motivated application with the intention of destroying communal harmony.
He referred to a passage from the Encyclopaedia Britannica at pages 444 and 445 and submitted that the Koran is a basic text. It is the basis and foundation of the Muslim religion. This cannot be made justiciable in a court of law. The challenge of the petitioner amounts to not only an insult to the Muslim religion as such but against all other religions also. Certain passages taken out of context cannot be referred to for invoking the writ jurisdiction of this Court.
As observed by the Supreme Court in the case of S. Veerabadran Chettiar v. V. Ramaswami Naicker, as followed in the Madras decision of Public Prosecutor v. Ramaswami, the Koran, like the Bible and the Granth Saheb is a sacred book. It is an object held sacred by a class of persons. It is a book held sacred by Muslims. Allah is considered as the God.
As pointed out in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Koran is the sacred scripture of the religion of Islam. It is a book in the Arabic language containing about 80,000 words. It is composed of 114 suras, or chapters, of varying size. The first sura, entitled “The Opening”, is in the form of a short devotional prayer; it is constantly so used, ceremonially and otherwise, and by comparativists has been called “The Lord’s Prayer of the Muslims”. It is addressed to God. The remainder of the Koran is in the form of an address from God, he either speaking himself, sometimes in the first person, or else, through the imperative Qul, “Say” which introduces many verses and passages and some suras, ordering that the words that follow be proclaimed.
The subject-matter is varied; passages of one or several verses, or of an entire sura, deal in diverse ways with many topics. It speaks about oneness and omniscience and supreme majesty of God. The style at times fiery, is powerful, the general tone deeply moralist and theocentric; the whole reverberates with a passionate demand for obedience to the will of a transcendent but near and mighty active God.
In the faith of Muslims, and according to the theory propounded in the book itself, the Koran is the revealed word of God. This postulates God, and indeed the kind of God who has something to say to us and who takes the initiative in saying it. Religion in this view is not a human searching after God; it is God who acts, and is known because and insofar as, and only as, he chooses to disclose himself.
For Muslims the Koran is the “ipsissima verba” of God himself. It is God speaking to man not merely in 7th century Arabia to Mohammed but from all eternity to every man throughout the world including the individual Muslim as he reads it or devoutly holds it. It is the eternal breaking through into time, the unknowable disclosed, the transcendent entering history and remaining here, available to mortals to handle and to appropriate, the divine become apparent. There is another aspect of this matter. So far as verse of the Koran under IX. 1.5, is concerned according to a scholar, it does not refer to general massacre of all polytheists and idolators, that is all non-Muslims, but it speaks only of those non-Muslims who were waging war at the time with the Muslims treacherously by breaking previous agreement.
The word ‘Islam’ means peace and submission. In its religious sense it denotes submission to the will of God and in its secular sense the establishment of peace. The word ‘Muslim’ in Arabic is the active participle of ‘Aslame’ which is acceptance of the faith and of which the noun of action is ‘Islam’. In English the word ‘Muslim’ is used both as a noun and as an ‘Adjective’ and denotes both the persons professing faith and something peculiar to Muslims, such as, law, culture etc.
The Muslims believe in the divine origin of their holy book which according to their belief was revealed to the prophet by Gabriel. The ‘Koran’ is A1 –furcan, i.e. one showing truth from falsehood and right from wrong. The ‘Koran’ contains about 600 verses but not more than 200 verses deal with legal principles. The question which was revealed to the prophet at Mecca is, singularly free of legal matters and contains the philosophy of life and religion and particularly ‘Islam’.
As the ‘Koran’ is of divine origin, so are the religion and its tenets and the philosophy and the legal principles which the ‘Koran’ inculcates. The ‘Koran’ has no earthly source. It was compiled from memory after the prophet’s death from the version of Osman the third Caliph.
In the light of the above, one should approach to examine the said book. Some passages containing interpretation of some chapters of the Koran quoted out of context cannot be allowed to dominate or influence the main aim and object of this book. It is dangerous for any Court to pass its judgment on such a book by merely looking at certain passages out of context.
Koran being a sacred Book and “an object held sacred by a class of persons” within the meaning of Section 295 of Penal Code, against such book no action can be taken under Section 295A. Section 295A is not attracted in such a case.
Such Book gets protection in view of Section 295. At the same time if it is open to take any such action under Section 295A against such Book, then the protection given under Section 295 will become nugatory and meaningless.
The Preamble proclaims India to be a secular State. It means that each and every religion is to be treated equally. No preference is to be given to any particular religion. No religion is to be belittled. Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship are assured. Koran, which is the basic text book of Mohammedans, occupies a unique position to the believers of that faith as Bible is to the Christians and Gita, Ramayana and Mahabbarata to the Hindus, in my opinion, if such an order is passed, it would take away the secularly of India and it would deprive a section of people of their right of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. This would also amount to infringement of Article 25 which provides that all persons shall be equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and to propagate religion.
Banning or forfeiture of Koran would infringe that right. Such action would amount to abolition of the Muslim religion itself. Muslim religion cannot exist without Koran. The proposed action would take away the freedom of conscience of the people of that faith and their right to profess, practise and propagate the said religion. Such action is unthinkable.
The Court cannot sit in judgment on a holy book like Koran, Bible, Gita and Granth Sahib.