THE WRIT APPLICATION
MATTER NO. 227 OF 1985
In the Matter of
An application Under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and Writs, directions and orders thereunder.
In the Matter of
In the Matter of
In the Matter of
The Koran, an Islamic book, published and sold in India in the original Arabic and in its translations in Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, English, etc.
In the Matter of
The State of West Bengal, represented by the Secretary, Department of Home, Government of West Bengal, having his office at Writers’ Building, Calcutta - 1.
The Hon’ble Mr. Tarun Kumar Basu, the Acting Chief Justice and His Companion Justices of the said Hon’ble Court.
S H E W E T H :
1. The petitioners are the citizens of India and are engaged in various types of social work.
2. The respondent is a public authority having in terms of Section 95 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, read with Sections 153A and 295A Indian Penal Code, a public duty to forfeit to the Government every copy of a book which incites violence, disturbs public tranquility, promotes, on ground of religion, feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities and insults other religions or religious beliefs of other communities in India.
3. The Koran, also spelt as ‘Qur’an’, the so-called religious book of the Muslims the world over, written originally in the Arabic and available throughout India in the original Arabic or in its translation in Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, English, etc., is ex facie guilty of each one of the above offences.
4. For example, in Surah 9, ayat 5, the book says, “When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them and lie in ambush everywhere for them.”
In Surah 48, ayat 29, it says, “Muhammad is Allah’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another… Through them Allah seeks to enrage the unbelievers.”
In surah 49, ayat 15, it says, “The true believers are those who have faith in Allah and His apostle and never doubt; and who fight for His cause with their wealth and persons.”
In surah 8, ayat 39, it says, “Make war on them (idol-worshippers) until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme.”
In surah 2, ayat 193, it again says, “Fight against them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme.”
In surah 2, ayat 216, it has made fighting “obligatory” for every Muslim. In surah 9, ayat 41, it exhorts Muslims to “march on and fight for the cause of Allah”, whether unarmed or well-equipped.
In surah 9, ayat 123, exhorting Muslims to make war on infidels 16 who dwell around you”, it says, “Let them find harshness in you.”
In surah 66, ayat 9, an exhortation is given to the prophet to make war on the unbelievers and “deal sternly with them.”
In surah 9, ayat 73, it again exhorts the prophet to “make war” on the unbelievers and to be “harsh” with them.
In surah 8, ayat 65, it asks the prophet to exhort the Muslims to fight, saying, “If there are twenty steadfast men among you, they shall rout a thousand unbelievers.” More or less the same thing is repeated in ayat 66 of the same surah 8.
In surah 47, ayats 4 to 15, the Koran calls upon the Muslims to “strike off” the heads of the non-Muslims when the two meet in the battlefield, without minding risking their own lives, for if any of them are killed fighting in the name of Allah they are assured of admission in the paradise.
In surah 8, ayat 12, the Koran exhorts the Muslims to “strike off” the heads of the non-Muslims and to “maim them in every limb.”
In surah 69, ayats 30 to 37, the Muslims are asked to capture non-Muslims and bum them in hell-fire after fastening them with chains.
In surah 8, ayats 15 to 18, the Muslims are exhorted not to run away while fighting the non-Muslims and thus incur the wrath of Allah.
In surah 25, ayat 52, the Muslims are exhorted not to yield to the non-Muslims but to fight them strenuously, while according to surah 9, ayat 39, if anybody does not fight, he will be punished by Allah sternly.
In surah 9, ayat 111, the Koran exhorts the Muslims to kill and be killed because, it says that Allah in exchange of promise of heavenly garden has already purchased the lives and the worldly belongings of the Muslims.
In surah 3, ayats 157 and 158 a believer is told that if he is killed while fighting the unbelievers, he will get Allah’s mercy all the more.
In surah 8, ayats 59 and 60, the believers are told to muster all the men and the entire cavalry against the unbelievers so that it may strike terror into non-believers.
In surah 9, ayats 2 and 3, the believers are exhorted to proclaim a woeful punishment to the unbelievers.
In surah 9, ayat 29, the Muslims are exhorted to fight the Christians and the Jews until they embrace the true faith, that is, Islam.
In surah 4, ayat 66, it is stated that the prophet does not take people captives; he simply kills them.
In surah 4, ayat 84, the believers are roused to fight. In surah 29, ayat 6, it says, “He that fights for Allah’s cause fights for himself.”
In surah 9, ayat 14, it exhorts the believers to “fight them. Allah will chastise them at your hands, and He will lay them low and give you victory over them…”
In surah 9, ayats 20 and 21, the believers are assured that “those that have embraced the faith and fled their homes and fought for Allah’s cause with their wealth and their persons are held in higher regard by Allah. It is they who shall triumph. Their Lord has promised them joy and mercy, and gardens of eternal pleasure where they shall dwell for ever.”
In surah 3, ayat 142, a dangerous statement is made in the interrogative, “Did you suppose that you would enter paradise before Allah has proved the men who fought for him and endured with fortitude?”
5. The book promotes religious enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities in India.
For example, in surah 60, ayat 4, it says, “We renounce you (i.e. idol-worshippers); enmity and hate shall reign between us until you believe in Allah only.”
In surah 58, ayat 22, it says, “You shall find no believers in Allah and the Last Day on friendly terms with those who oppose Allah and His apostle, even though they may be their fathers, their sons, their brothers, or their nearest kindred.”
In surah 9, ayat 23, it says “Believers! do not befriend your fathers or your brothers, if they choose unbelief in preference to faith. Wrong-doers are those that befriend them.”
In surah 3, ayat 28, it says, “Let believers not make friends with infidels in preference to the faithful; he that does this has nothing to hope for from Allah.”
In surah 3, ayat 118, it says, “Believers! do not make friends with any men other than your own people.”
In surah 4, ayat 144, it says, “Believers! do not choose the infidels rather than the faithful for your friends. Would you give Allah a clear proof against yourself?”
In surah 9, ayat 7, it says, “Allah and His apostle repose no trust in idolaters.” In surah 8, ayat 55, It says, “The basest creatures in the sight of Allah are the faithless who will not believe.”
In surah 25, ayat 55, it says, “Yet the unbelievers worship idols which can neither help nor harm them. Surely the unbeliever is his Lord’s enemy.”
In surah 5, ayat 72, it says, “He that worships other Gods besides Allah shall be forbidden Paradise and shall be cast into the fire of Hell. None shall help the evil-doers.”
In surah 9, ayat 28, it says, “Believers! know that the idolaters are unclean.”
In surah 5, ayat 14, it says, “Therefore, we stirred among them (i.e. the Christians) enmity and hatred, which shall endure till the Day of Resurrection”
In surah 5, ayat 64, it says, “That which Allah has revealed to you will surely increase the wickedness and unbelief of many of them (i.e. the Jews). We have stirred among them, (i.e. the Christians) enmity and hatred, which shall endure till the Day of Resurrection…”
In surah 5, ayat 18, it says. “The Jews and the Christians say, ‘We are the children of Allah and His loved ones.’ Say, ‘Why then does He punish you for your sins’?”
In surah 5, ayat 51, it says, “Believers! take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their members. Allah does not guide the wrong-doers.”
6. The book insults other religions or religious beliefs of other communities in India.
For example, in surah 5 ayat 17, it says, “Unbelievers are those who declare, ‘Allah is the Messiah (i.e. the Christ), the son of Mary.’ Say, ‘Who could prevent Allah from destroying the Messiah, the son of Mary, together with his mother and all the people of the earth’?”
In surah 4, ayat 157, it says, “They denied the truth and uttered a monstrous falsehood against Mary. They declared, ‘We have put to death the Messiah Jesus, the son of Mary, the apostle of Allah.’ They did not kill him nor did they crucify him but they thought they did.”
In surah 98, ayat 6, it says, “Me unbelievers among the people of the Book (i.e. the Christians and the Jews) and the pagans shall bum for ever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures.”
In surah 68, ayats 10 to 13, it says, “Give no heed to the disbelievers; they desire you to overlook their doings that they may overlook yours. Nor yield to the wretch of many oaths, the mischief-making slanderer, the opponent of good, the wicked transgressor, the bully who is of doubtful birth to boot.”
In surah 22, ayats 19 to 22, it says. “Garments of fire have been prepared for unbelievers. Scalding water shall be poured upon their heads, melting their skins and that which is in their bellies. They shall be lashed with rods of iron.”
In surah 22, ayats 56 and 57, it says, “Those that have embraced the true faith and done good work shall enter the gardens of delight, but the unbelievers who have denied Our revelations shall receive an ignominious punishment.”
In surah 5, ayats 36 and 37, it says, “As for the unbelievers, if they offered all that the earth contains and as much besides to redeem themselves from the torment of the Day of Resurrection, it shall not be accepted from them. Theirs shall be a woeful punishment.”
In surah 15, ayat 2, it says, “The day will surely come when the unbelievers will wish that they were Muslims.”
In surah 72, ayats 14 and 15, it says, “Some of us are Muslims and some are wrong-doers. Those that embrace Islam pursue the right path, but those that do wrong shall become the fuel of fire.”
In surah 41, ayat 33, it says. “And who speaks better than he who calls others to the service of Allah, does what is right, and says, ‘I am a Muslim’?”
In surah 4, ayat 125, it says, “And who has a nobler religion than the one who surrenders himself to Allah?”
In surah 3, ayat 85, it says, “He that chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come, he will be one of the last.”
In surah 8, ayat 38, it says, “Tell the unbelievers that if they mend their ways (i.e. embrace Islam) their past will be forgiven but if they persist in sin (i.e. idol-worshipping) let them reflect upon the fate of their forefathers.”
In surah 31, ayat 13, it says, “Luqman admonished his son. ‘My son’, he said, ‘serve no other God instead of Allah, for idolatry is an abominable sin’.”
In surah 29, ayat 41, it says, “The false Gods which the idolaters serve besides Allah may be compared to the spider’s cobweb. Surely the spider’s is the frailest of all dwellings if they but know it.”
In surah 37, ayats 22 to 25, it says, “But We shall say, ‘Call the sinners, their wives and the idols which they worshipped besides Allah, and lead them to the path of Hell. Keep them there for questioning - But what has come over you that you cannot help one another’?”
In surah 7, ayat 173, it makes the Muslims say, “Our forefathers were indeed idol-worshippers, but will you destroy us, their descendants, on account of what the followers of falsehood did?”
In surah 21, ayats 66 and 67, it says, “He answered, ‘Would you then worship that, instead of Allah, which can neither help nor harm you? Shame on you and on your idols! Have you no sense?”‘
In surah 21, ayats 98 to 100, it says, “You and all your idols shall be the fuel of Hell; therein you shall all go down. Were they true Gods, your idols would not go there; but in it they shall abide for ever. They shall groan with pain and be bereft of hearing.”
In surah 6, ayats 22 and 23, it says. “On that day when We gather them all together, We shall say to the idolaters: ‘Where are your idols now, those whom you supposed to be your Gods?’ They will not argue, but will say, ‘By Allah, our Lord, we have never worshipped idols’.”
In surah 6, ayats 40 and 41, it makes the believers say, “Say, ‘When Allah’s scourge smites you and the Hour of Doom suddenly overtakes you, will you call on any but Allah to help you? Answer me, if you are men of truth. No, on Him alone you will call, and if He pleases, He will relieve your affliction. Then you will forget your idols’.”
In surah 6, ayat 149 it says, “The idolaters will say, ‘Had Allah pleased, neither we nor our fathers would have served other Gods besides Him’.”
In surah 2, ayat 221, it says, “You shall not wed pagan women, unless they embrace the faith. A believing slave-girl is better than an idolatress, although she may please you. Nor shall you wed idolaters, unless they embrace the faith. A believing slave is better than an idolater, although he may please you. These call you to Hell-fire, but Allah calls you, by His will, to Paradise and to forgiveness.”
In surah 24, ayat 3, it says, “The adulterer may marry only an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress may marry an adulterer or an idolater.”
In surah 5, ayats 116 to 118, there is given this imaginary dialogue between Allah and Jesus Christ, which is highly insulting to the Christians: “Then Allah will say, ‘Jesus, son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind, worship me and my mother as Gods besides Allah?’ ‘Glory to You,’ he will answer, ‘How could I say that to which I have no right? If I had ever said so, You would have surely known it. You know what is in my mind, but I cannot tell what is in Yours. You alone know what is hidden. I spoke to them of nothing except what You bade me. I say, Serve Allah, my Lord and your Lord. I watched over them whilst living in their midst, and ever since You took me to You, You Yourself have been watching over them. You are the witness of all things. They are Your own bondsmen. It is for You to punish or to forgive them. You are the Mighty, the Wise one’.”
In surah 25, ayats 17 to 19, there is given another imaginary conversation, this time between Allah, the idols and the idol-worshippers, which is highly insulting to Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. “On the day when He assembles them with all their idols, He will say: ‘Was it you who misled My servants, or did they wilfully go astray?’ They will answer: ‘Allah forbid that we should choose other guardians besides You. You gave them and their fathers the good things of life, so that they forgot Your warnings and thus incurred destruction.’ Then to the idolaters Allah will say: ‘Your idols have denied your charges. They cannot avert your doom, nor can they help you. Those of you who have done wrong shall be sternly punished’.”
7. While the Koran abounds with saying which incite violence, insult the religious beliefs of other communities and even exhort the Muslims to kill and murder non-Muslims, the problem is aggravated by yet another fact which has been true in the past and is universally true in our own times that unlike other communities Muslims are, and even fresh converts tend to become, highly orthodox people and follow the sayings of the book with a fanatical zeal with the result that whichever country has their sizable number amongst its population can never have peace on its soil. The examples of communal strifes and conflicts in most European states have not yet passed into history. What is happening in Lebanon is very much in our perception. An example of orthodoxy is Pakistan whose Hindu population has been obliterated through murder or through forcible conversion. Even Ahmediyas are being persecuted there because they regard Mirza Ghulam Ahmed (1839-1908 AD), the founder of their religion, as another prophet along with Muhammad which is contrary to Koran because according to the Koran Muhammad is the last prophet. Baha’i religion, even though a Muslim sect and founded by Baha-ul-lah in Iran in the nineteenth century and which has some one million followers in India along with some 400,000 in Iran, has been banned in Indonesia on the ground that it stresses men’s spiritual unity, which is unconformable with Koranic preachings. In Iran, Baha’is are being subjected to worst persecution; many have been executed, many more jailed without trial. Even Baha’i students have been expelled from schools and colleges in Iran. Another example of orthodoxy or religious intolerance is furnished by Iran and Iraq, both Muslim countries but both of which are out to fight tooth and nail with each other because one happens to be a Shia nation while the other a Sunni nation. In our country, violent conflict resulting in numerous deaths between Shias and Sunnis is almost an annual ritual. Another example of religious fanaticism is provided by the fact that the Muslim countries the world over have ganged up together to crush Israel, because it happens to be a Jewish state and as already stated in para 5 above, the Koran makes most uncharitable remarks about the Jews.
8. 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 Arabic or in Urdu, the very sound of whose inimitable symphony not only sends the Muslims to tears and ecstasy but arouses 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.
9. 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 u/s 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code and accordingly each copy of the book must be declared as forfeited by the respondent u/s 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
10. By letter dated 16th March, 1985, the petitioner No. 1, requested the respondent 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 within seven days of the receipt of the letter. By the same letter the respondent was also requested to treat the letter as notice demanding justice. A copy of this letter is annexed hereto marked ‘A’.
11. The respondent, however, has not complied with the said request.
12. Being aggrieved by the failure of the respondent to accede to the said request, your petitioners beg to move this petition before this Hon’ble Court on the following
13. There is no other adequate, efficacious and alternative remedy available to your petitioners and the reliefs prayed for herein, if granted, will afford complete and efficacious remedy to your petitioners.
14. The petition is being made bonafide and in the interest of the public.
In the circumstances aforesaid your petitioners humbly pray to your Lordships for
A. A rule nisi on the respondent to show cause as to why a writ of mandamus be not issued to it directing it 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.
B. The rule issued in terms of prayer ‘A’ above be made absolute.
C. Such further or other order and/or orders be made and/or directions be given as may be deemed fit and proper.
And your petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray.
Sd/- Chandmal Chopra.
29th March, 1985.