The Calcutta Quran Petition

book by Sita Ram Goel

The Calcutta Quran Petition (Bengali: কলকাতা কোরান মামলা) is a book by Sita Ram Goel and Chandmal Chopra published by Goel under his Voice of India imprint. The first edition was published in 1986, the second in 1987 and the third in 1999. The subject matter of this book is censorship, the banning of books and the Quran. The title refers to Chandmal Chopra's Writ Petition at the Calcutta High Court on 29 March 1985.

Quotes about the petition and the controversyEdit

  • In March 1985, two Hindus, Chandmal Chopra and Sital Singh, entered a Writ Petition at the Calcutta High Court alleging that the Koran violated Indian law because it “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.”... Quickly dismissing the petition, Judge Bimal Chandra Basak played the ever-popular “out of context” card, explaining that “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 judgement on such a book by merely looking at certain passages out of context.”
    • Spencer, R., (2015). The complete infidel's guide to the koran. Chapter 12
  • While the Koran abounds with sayings 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 offending expressions contained in the Koran . . . 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.
    • Chandmal Chopra, cited in Spencer, (2015). The complete infidel's guide to the koran. Chapter 12
  • 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 judgement on such a book by merely looking at certain passages out of context.”... “In my opinion it cannot be said that [the] Koran offers any insult to any other religion. It does not reflect any deliberate or malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of non-Muslims. Isolated passages picked out from here and there and read out of context cannot change the position.
    • Judge Bimal Chandra Basak, cited in Spencer, R. (2015). The complete infidel's guide to the koran. Chapter 12
  • Jurisprudence will never be able to find a parallel to the Calcutta High Court's amazing response to such a difficult and dangerous proposition What English judges even today would not dream of entertaining became an arguable case for an Indian judge. Fortunately Justice Binal Chandra Basak who dismissed the matter after the hue and cry forced Government of India to rush the Attorney General to Calcutta ... was quick to see the immense scope for mischief in the petition.
    • Khurshid, Salman (2015). At home in India: The Muslim saga. Chapter 18.
  • The way certain chosen passages arbitrarily picked up from the Holy Quran are being used to demonise the Muslim religion is bound to create feelings of ill-will in the society against the second largest section of citizens and thereby disturb social tranquility in the country. What is being overlooked is the fact that the message and spirit of some religious texts can be appreciated only by those who have a certain degree of respect, if not reverence, for them -- those reading such texts with irreverence or hostility can never be at ease with their teachings. And it is indeed true of all religions. Well known is the fact that some of the ancient religious texts of the great Hindu religion are replete with apparently very cruel words and harsh injunctions for the “lower castes”.
  • Religious polemics are bitter relics of the past. We cannot afford to revive them in the 21st century India rightly proud of its scientific advancement and technological excellence. If we go on searching each other’s religious texts to find isolated passages which may not appear prima facie palatable to us, it is not going to lead us anywhere. Such passages are things of the past. No one is acting on these now; no one indeed needs to. There is a lot more in all religious texts which can bring us together. We have to concentrate on those refreshingly humane texts and try to come closer – bring all our people closer.
  • The Holy Quran – the same Quran in which ignorant critics find a verse which according to their understanding asks Muslims to kill kafirs – after declaring that "Mankind is one single community" [II:213, X:19] pronounces in no uncertain terms: "If anyone kills one person it is like he has slain the whole mankind; and if anyone saves one life it is like he has saved the whole mankind" [V: 32]. And, as regards the much-talked about and misunderstood term "kafir", it is the same Quran proclaiming unequivocally that "For every community God has appointed religious rituals, they must not quarrel in respect of these rituals. [XII: 67].
  • What is indeed more reassuring and thought-provoking in respect of inter-religious harmony is the fact that numerous injunctions in the Holy Quran and the Sacred Vedas are more or less identical in their meaning and message – all teaching their respective followers the same lessons in devotion to the Creator of Universe and mutual love and respect among mankind. "All mankind belongs to God, He rewards all those who are virtuous and punishes all evil-doers" proclaim both the Rigveda [I: 80.11] and the Quran [LIII:31]. Rigveda’s injunction "Pray to God as you wish but with humility and quietness; He does not like those who cross limits" [VI: 16.46 ] finds its exact parallel in the Quran [VII 54-55]. The ancient Indian philosophy of "vasudhev kutumbukam" compares with Islam’s injunction al-khalqu ‘ayalillah [mankind is God’s family]. It is these common teachings of the Hindu and Islamic scriptures, as also the other countless pearls of wisdom found in each of these, that need the attention of members of both the communities – not those which may even be remotely interpreted to be annoying for one community or the other.

Quotes from the book by S.R. Goel and Chandmal ChopraEdit

The Calcutta Quran Petition (1986) by S.R. Goel and Chandmal Chopra
 
The logic which declares Tengiri to be a satan and denounces Chengiz Khan as an archcriminal but which, in the same breath, proclaims Allah as divine and hails the Ghaznavis, Ghuris, Timurs and Baburs as heroes, is, to the say the least, worse than casuistry.
  • We do not stand for a ban on the publication of the Quran. We take this opportunity to state unambiguously that we regard banning of books, religious or otherwise, as counterproductive. In the case of the Quran, we believe and advocate that more and more non-Muslims should read it so that they know first hand the quality of its teachings.
  • Let it be realized by everybody concerned that India has always been and remains, the citadel of the most bigoted and bloodthirsty zealotry of Islam. The historical reasons for why it is so, are many. I do not have the time to detail them here. The main reason may be told. Islam in India has been what it has been because India has continued to stare at Islam as its greatest failure. Islam in India has never been able to relax, as it could do in countries which it converted completely. And it will not relax till Hindus learn to knock out its ideological fangs which are rooted in the Quran.
  • The only voice which was heard against this nation-wide exercise in suppressio veri suggestio falsi in the field of medieval Indian history, was that of the veteran historian, R.C. Majumdar. For him, this “national integration” based on a wilful blindness to recorded history of the havoc wrought by Islam in India, could lead only to national suicide. He tried his best to arrest the trend by presenting Islamic imperialism in medieval India as it was, and not as the politicians in league with Stalinist and Muslim historians were tailoring it to become.
  • Alas for poor Jadunath Sarkar, who must have turned in his grave if he were buried. For, after reading his History of Aurangzib, one would be tempted to ask, if the temple-breaking policy of Aurangzeb is a disputed point, is there a single fact in the whole recorded history of mankind which may be taken as undisputed? A noted historian has sought to prove that the Hindu population was better off under the Muslims than under the Hindu tributaries or independent rulers.”
  • This caravan loaded with synthetic merchandise has, however, continued to move forward. Eight years later (1982), it was reported that “History and Language textbooks for schools all over India will soon be revised radically. In collaboration with various state governments the Ministry of Education has begun a phased programme to weed out undesirable textbooks and remove matter which is prejudicial to national integration and unity and which does not promote social cohesion. The Ministry of Education’s decision to re-evaluate textbooks was taken in the light of the recommendations of the National Integration Council of which the Prime Minister [Indira Gandhi] is Chairman. The Ministry’s view was that history had often been used to serve narrow, sectarian and chauvinistic ends.”
  • There is plenty of primary literature available in Arabic and Persian regarding the rise, development, and doings of numerous sufi silsilas in India. Some of this literature has been translated into Urdu and English as well. A study of this literature leaves little doubt that sufis were the most fanatic and fundamentalist elements in the Islamic establishment in medieval times. Hindus should go to this literature rather than fall for latter-day Islamic propaganda. The ruin of Hindus and Hinduism in Kashmir in particular, can be safely credited to sufis who functioned there from the early thirteenth century onwards.
  • The logic which declares Tengiri to be a satan and denounces Chengiz Khan as an archcriminal but which, in the same breath, proclaims Allah as divine and hails the Ghaznavis, Ghuris, Timurs and Baburs as heroes, is, to the say the least, worse than casuistry.
  • Muslims in India have often sought shelter under Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.) for preventing every public discussion of their creed in general and of their prophet in particular.1 Quite a few publications which examine critically the sayings and doings of the Prophet or other idolized personalities of Islam, have been proscribed under Section 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) as a result of pressure exerted by vociferous, very often violent Muslim protests. Little did they suspect that the same provisions of the law could be invoked for seeking a ban on their holy book, the Quran. The credit for this turning of tables goes to Chandmal Chopra of Calcutta.
  • The case had caused considerable excitement among the “believers” (Mu'mins) and interest among the “infidels” (KAfirs) in April-May, 1985. The press in India and abroad gave many headlines to what was rightly regarded as an unprecedented event in the history of religion. It was the first time that a Pagan had questioned the character of a document hailed as the very Word of God by a People of the Book. The roles now stood reversed. So far it had been the privilege of the Peoples of the Book to ban and burn the sacred literature of the Pagans.
  • The Telegraph dated May 14 carried a PTI report datelined Islamabad, May 13: “Pakistan’s minister of state for religious and minority affairs, Mr. Maqbool Ahmed Khan, said today that the petition against the Quran moved in the Calcutta high court was the ‘worst example of religious intolerance.’ The Pakistan President. Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, was quoted by an Urdu daily as saying that the facts of the case were being ascertained. Mr. Khan alleged that religion and life and property of minorities were unsafe in India and urged the Indian government to ‘follow the example of Pakistan’ in ensuring freedom of religion....Thus the theocratic state of Pakistan made it an occasion for delivering lectures to Indians on the subject of religious freedom and the rights of minorities. Nobody who was anybody in India at that time is known to have reacted to this assault from an Islamic state which had driven out most of its Hindu minority, and was treating the rest as non-citizens.
  • The panic on the part of the State and Union governments could not but produce some more unsavoury results. Muslim mobs in India and elsewhere had been incited by all those who mattered in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They started taking to the streets and turning violent. The Statesman dated May 13 published the following news date-lined Dhaka, May 12: “At least 12 people were killed and 100 wounded when Bangladesh police fired on a demonstration yesterday in the border town of Chepal Nawabgunj, 320 km. from here. Some 1000 demonstrators, belonging to the fundamentalist Jamaat-i-Islami, were protesting against a case filed by two Indian civilians in Calcutta High Court calling for a ban on the Quran in India. The town chief administrator said today that the police opened fire in self-defence when the demonstrators went on a rampage throwing missiles and setting ablaze government property. Yesterday’s incident followed a demonstration by at least 20,000 Jamaat-i-Islami supporters in the capital on Friday {May 10}.” The demonstrators in Dhaka, according to other reports, were trying to storm the office of India’s High Commission when they were stopped by the police.
  • The metropolitan magistrate,... pronounced on 31 July 1986, “With due regard, to the Holy Book of ‘Quran Majeed’, a close perusal of the Ayets shows that the same are harmful and teach hatred and are likely to create differences between Mohammedans on one hand and the remaining communities on the other.”
  • Much water has gone down the Ganges after Lammens wrote in 1929. Islamic Apologetics in India since then has progressed by leaps and bounds. The Quran has been roped in to prove that Islam stands for equality of all religions and religious tolerance.
  • The same logic leads to another and a very ominous conclusion. JihAd cannot be regarded as something which happened only in the past. On the contrary, it is an ever-present possibility in India. The Quran will create a jihAd whenever and wherever the “infidels” provide an opportunity. Pious Muslims in every place and at all times, are taught to see, or seek, or provoke situations in which solutions prescribed by the Quran can be practised.
  • Starting with the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, this flattering of Muslims by praising Islam culminated in Mahatma Gandhi’s sarva-dharma-samabhava - the opiate which lulled the Hindus into a deep slumber such as they had never known vis-à-vis Muslim aggression....Anyone who questioned the pious proposition that the Quran was as good as the Vedas and the Puranas, ran the risk of being nailed down as an “enemy of communal harmony”.....That part of the “Muslim minority” which had voted for Pakistan but had chosen to stay in India, restarted the old game when India was proclaimed a secular state pledged to freedom of propagation for all religions. It revived its tried and tested trick of masquerading as a “poor and persecuted minority”. It cooked up any number of Pirpur Reports. The wail went up that the “lives, liberties and honour of the Muslims were not safe” in India, in spite of India’s “secular pretensions”. At the same time, street riots were staged on every possible pretext. The “communal situation” started becoming critical once again. .... And once again, the political leadership came out with a make-belief. The big-wigs from all political parties were collected in a “National Integration Council”. It was pointed out by the leftist professors that the major cause of “communal trouble” was the “bad habit” of living in the past on the part of “our people”. Most of the politicians knew no history and no religion for that matter. They all agreed with one voice that Indian history, particularly that of the “medieval Muslim period”, should be re-written. That, they pleaded, was the royal road to “national integration”.
  • Though, by the logic of this tribe, the best promoters of India’s unity were the British. They did far more and succeeded to a much greater extent in imposing a unity on India. By that logic, General Dyer of the Jallianwala Bagh fame comes out with flying colours as the foremost builder of an Indian nation. He was also very ruthless in gunning down unarmed people who were not impressed by the “benefits of the British Raj”.
  • It was not so long ago that the Bible enjoyed a stranglehold similar to that of the Quran over vast populations in the West. The theocracies propped up by the Bible in Europe and America had enacted similar sagas of slaughter and pillage for several centuries. But a sustained Western scholarship showed up the Bible for what it was. “It would be more consistent,” proclaimed Thomas Paine, “that we call it [the Bible] the work of a demon than the word of God.” The spell of Jehovah was broken. ... The rest is history. Christianity is now seeking a refuge in countries like India where its rout in the West remains unknown.
  • It is only in one respect that the Quran revealed by Tengiri might have differed from the Quran revealed by Allah. It seems that, quite unlike Allah, Tengiri was not intolerant towards revelations other than his own.
  • The one name which Muslims hate and fear most is that of Chengiz Khan. He is a spectre which has haunted Muslim historians for centuries. He swept like a tornado over the then most powerful and extensive Islamic empire of Khwarazm. In a short span of five years (1219-1224 CE), he slaughtered millions of Muslims, forced many others including women and children into slavery, and razed to the ground quite a few of the most populous and prosperous cities of the Muslim world at that time.
  • The scholars of European Enlightenment who were influenced by Hindu, Chinese, Greek and Roman traditions of spirituality and culture, have judged Jehovah quite correctly and identified him as the main source of darkness which prevailed in Europe during the Middle Ages. But they have so far neglected Allah of the Quran and not weighed him in the same balance of rationalism, humanism and universalism on which Jehovah was weighed and found wanting.


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