THERE IS A TENDENCY in most societies to ban ‘others’ scriptures or put restrictions on them in some ways. It is more prevalent in under-developed societies and states. For example, in the Pakistani Punjab there is a law that places restrictions on the printing and publishing of the Holy Quran. This law targets Ahmadis in particular and prohibits them to publish translations of their holy book, the Quran, or even to print its Arabic original. Beyond that, this province has issued orders to ban the entire set of books written by the Ahmadiyya Founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani.

            In May 2021, Honourable Mr. Justice Farooq Haider of Lahore High Court endorsed a judgment of Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Abu Bakr Siddique and a decision of Judicial Magistrate Adil Riaz whereby these judicial officials proceeded to interpret this absurd law and these provincial orders in their own way, and even added to their initial mischief. The Lahore High Court Order Sheet, Tahir Naqqash & another VS The State etc., puts across that the reading/recitation of the Holy Quran by an Ahmadi falls within the ambit of the blasphemy clauses that prescribe Death and Life Imprisonment as penalties. According to these three judicial officials books written by the Ahmadiyya Founder also defile other religions, so Ahmadis who possess them also invite application of the merciless sections PPCs 295-C and 295-B.

            It seems that the Punjab legislators and its administrative and judicial officials are heavily influenced by the mulla and find it convenient to ignore a view of this issue from different perspectives. We explain. For majority Muslims among the Punjab authorities and these three judicial officials, the Holy Quran is the final Word of God, the Final Truth, the Greatest Book ever, etc. (Ahmadis believe the same). However, do they know how some ‘others’ find it, and would like to treat it? Lets’ see.

  • Soviet Russia banned the Quran from 1925-1957.
  • In 2005, the Quran was banned from schools in Gate City N.C. of USA.
  • As late as 2009, there were several attempts to criminalize the practice of Islam in the US and the possession of the Quran considered an instrument of sedition, punishable as treason.
  • Geert Wilders told Euronews his opinion that the Quran should be banned in Netherlands.
  • Most recently, one Waseem Rizvi, a former chairman of a Waqf Board has filed a Public Interest Litigation before the Supreme Court of India that some (26) verses of the Holy Book promote terrorism (Nauzu Billah), and has requested PM Modi to authorize the use of the amended ‘new Quran’ in all madrasas and Muslim institutes in the country.

Surely, these unworthy opinions, decisions and practices were irrational, malicious and idiotic. All such in this genre are.

In addition, the men of law would be aware that a banned book is not illegal to read.

It is available on record in electronic media that in 1984/85, Messrs. Chandomal Chopra and Kishore Chakraborty felt strongly about Islam and Muslims, and decided to take concrete steps against them.  The former filed a writ petition in Calcutta High Court on 29 March 1985 claiming that the Quran “on grounds of religion promotes disharmony, feeling of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities and incites people to commit violence and disturb public tranquility…..,” as such it should be banned. It would be noted that these accusations are somewhat of the same nature as endorsed against Ahmadis by the Honorable Mr. Justice Haider of Lahore High Court.

      It goes to the credit of India that the Union government and the West Bengal government decided to make themselves a party to the case and oppose the petition. It is on record that Pakistan Minister of State for Religious and Minority Affairs claimed that the petition was the ‘worst example of religious intolerance’.

      The petition was however dismissed by Mr. Justice Basak in May 1985. On June 18, 1985, Chopra filed a review petition, which was speedily dismissed on June 21.

      After the case was closed, the Chief Minister in Sri Nagar demanded action in a mass rally against Justice Padma Khastgir for permitting the petition to be filed.

      On August 31, 1987, the police arrested Mr. Chopra for writing the book ‘The Calcutta Quran Petition’.

      The Times of India published three articles that praised the Quran during the Petition controversy.

Mr. Gupta, Deputy Secretary Home Department Government of West Bengal, filed an affidavit before the court saying,“the court has no jurisdiction to pronounce a judgment on the Quran, the Holy Scripture of Muslims all over the world…”. He further stated, “As the Holy Quran is a Divine Book, no earthly power can sit upon judgment on it, and no court of law has jurisdiction to adjudicate it. The Holy Books like the Quran, the Bible, the Geeta, the Granth Sahib etc. or their translations cannot be subject matters of adjudication in a court of law. All Holy Scriptures are immune from judicial inquiry.”

      The Attorney General of India argued,“Certain passages taken out of context cannot be referred to for invoking the writ jurisdiction of this court.” He submitted that the petition is in violation of the Constitution that guarantees all Indian citizens “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.” (In principle, somewhat the same is the constitutional position in Pakistan.)

Mr. Justice BC Basak observed, inter alia:

  • It is dangerous for any court to pass its judgments on such a Book by merely looking at certain passages out of context.
  • Banning the Quran would amount to infringement of Art. 25 which provides that all persons shall be equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and to propagate religion. Banning or forfeiture of Koran would infringe that right.
  • Banning or forfeiting the copies of the Quran is unthinkable.
  • The court should be circumspect in such kinds of matters and be very cautious about the same. Otherwise, though it might attract cheap publicity but may cause untold misery and disruption of religious harmony. The High Court should have been spared of the embarrassment caused.

Mr. Justice Chandra Basak rejected the petition and observed, “The petition should have been rejected forthwith and in limine as unworthy of its consideration as soon as it was moved.”

BRAVO JUSTICE BASAK. He knew the true and full meaning of justice, democracy and freedom. A read of his entire judgment would be useful and fruitful to administrative and judicial high authorities of Pakistan. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have told Muslims:

            Wisdom (Hikmat) is the mislaid belonging of the Muslim (Momin); he should take it wherever he finds it, as he is more entitled than others to take it.                                        Jame Tirmizi Abwab ul Ilm

Sources: Google, Wikipedia and Ahadith-un-Nabi (PBUH)

June 2021