The Quran Translation Cited By Devadatt Kamat In Support Of Hijab Contains Hate Verses Against Idol-Worshippers, Polytheists, Non-Muslims
Kamat cited the website Quran.com and translator Abdul Haleem as his source in Karnataka High Court.
On 8 February, the Karnataka High Court commenced hearing on a petition filed by two Muslim women students challenging a December 2021 directive by Udipi Women’s Pre-University College prohibiting the wearing of Islamic veil inside the premises.
The petitioners, Aishat Shifa and Thairin Begum, were represented by lawyer Devadatt Kamat.
The lawyer argued in the court that wearing of hijab is an “essential religious practice” prescribed in the Quran and hence, the state government has no regulatory power as wearing the hijab is protected under the right to freedom of religion in Article 25 of the Constitution.
To elaborate, Kamat read interpretations of two versus from Quran, namely 24.31 and 24.33. He contended that the verses talk about headscarf or veil over head as an essential religious practice.
Kamat said his source for the interpretation of the two verses is a website named ‘Quran.com’ and cited a translator named ‘Abdul Haleem’ (note that @LawBeatInd’s tweet, in a typo, wrote Haleem as Kaleem).
Verse number 24.31 as mentioned on Quran.com by Abdul Haleem states,
“And tell believing women that they should lower their glances, guard their private parts, and not display their charms beyond what [it is acceptable] to reveal; they should let their headscarves fall to cover their necklines and not reveal their charms except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their womenfolk, their slaves, such men as attend them who have no sexual desire, or children who are not yet aware of women’s nakedness; they should not stamp their feet so as to draw attention to any hidden charms. Believers, all of you, turn to God so that you may prosper.”
Verse number 24.33 as mentioned on Quran.com by the same translator states,
“Those who are unable to marry should keep chaste until God gives them enough out of His bounty. If any of your slaves wish to pay for their freedom, make a contract with them accordingly, if you know they have good in them, and give them some of the wealth God has given you. Do not force your slave-girls into prostitution, when they themselves wish to remain honourable, in your quest for the short-term gains of this world, although, if they are forced, God will be forgiving and merciful to them.”
Yesterday (10 February), a three-member bench of the high court said it would resume the hearing on Monday.
Kamat’s Source Is Problematic
To justify a different dress code for a few Muslim girls (only eight out of 70 Muslim students at the Udipi school demanded they be allowed to wear the veil when protests began in December), the lawyer has chosen to show it as an essential religious practice and quote interpretations of Quran published on an anonymous website.
This is disturbing on several counts:
In a secular state, if 75 years after Independence, school dresses are modified as per demands by a small group, it opens a Pandora’s box and begets these questions:
Why was no such demand ever made seriously in the last 75 years in government or private schools across India?
Are there not madrassas and alternate schooling facilities that adhere to conservative Islamic interpretations available to students?
Why is that the ongoing demands have begun in sync with recent markers such as World Hijab Day, and other proactive hijab-promoting activities being pushed across the world over the last few years?
If hijab is now allowed in government schools to adhere to fancies of a very small group, how far will the state have to go in accommodating the diverse religious and cultural practices of other groups – be in five-time namaz, three-time sandhya, two-time hawan or, for that matter, bhagwa shawls being sported by Hindu students of the same Udipi school?
If a court rules that hijab is indeed an essential practice in Islam, would this not imply that crores of Muslim women who don’t wear it (including crores who have never worn it) are being declared violators of Islamic practices by a court of law?
Does this not make them vulnerable to Taliban-like forces? Rayana R Khasi, a 23-year-old Muslim woman from Kerala, was forced to seek police protection because fundamentalists in her community wanted her to wear hijab. Is this what Kamat wishes for vulnerable Muslim women by his demand that high court declares hijab an essential practice of Islam?
2. The same website and the same translator quoted by Kamat have made some very direct and disturbing attacks on non-Muslims including members of religious minorities of India.
The content declares “idolators” (such as Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Christians) worst of creatures. The content says that disbelievers (those who do not believe in authority of Islam’s founder Muhammad as the only true messenger of god, or simply, non-Muslims) must be dealt with violence. The content says that through the mere act of worshipping idols, people deserve being burnt in fire forever and have their skin peeled.
Here is a look at interpretation of verses from Quran as mentioned on Quran.com, attributed to Abdul Haleem as the translator:
Verse number 9.5:
“When the [four] forbidden months are over, wherever you encounter the idolaters, kill them, seize them, besiege them, wait for them at every lookout post; but if they turn [to God], maintain the prayer, and pay the prescribed alms, let them go on their way, for God is most forgiving and merciful.”
Verse number 98.6:
“Those who disbelieve among the People of the Book and the idolaters will have the Fire of Hell, there to remain. They are the worst of creation.”
Verse number 9.28:
“Believers, those who ascribe partners to God are truly unclean: do not let them come near the Sacred Mosque after this year. If you are afraid you may become poor, [bear in mind that] God will enrich you out of His bounty if He pleases: God is all knowing and wise.”
To be sure that ‘believer’ in the above verse refers to a person who believes in Muhammad’s authority as god’s messenger and ‘disbeliever’ refers to a person who does not believe in Muhammad’s authority as god’s messenger, following are interpretations of verses number 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6 as mentioned on Quran.com, translated by Abdul Haleem.
Verses number 2.4 to 2.6:
“Those who believe in the revelation sent down to you [Muhammad], and in what was sent before you, those who have firm faith in the Hereafter. Such people are following their Lord’s guidance and it is they who will prosper. As for those who disbelieve, it makes no difference whether you warn them or not: they will not believe.”
Verse number 9.29:
“Fight those of the People of the Book who do not [truly] believe in God and the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden, who do not obey the rule of justice, until they pay the tax and agree to submit.”
Verse number 8.55
“The worst creatures in the sight of God are those who reject Him and will not believe.”
Verse number 48.29
“Muhammad is the Messenger of God. Those who follow him are harsh towards the disbelievers and compassionate towards each other. You see them kneeling and prostrating, seeking God’s bounty and His good pleasure: on their faces they bear the marks of their prostrations. This is how they are pictured in the Torah and the Gospel: like a seed that puts forth its shoot, becomes strong, grows thick, and rises on its stem to the delight of its sowers. So God infuriates the disbelievers through them; God promises forgiveness and a great reward to those who believe and do righteous deeds.”
Verse number 9.123
“You who believe, fight the disbelievers near you and let them find you standing firm: be aware that God is with those who are mindful of Him.
Verse number 66.9
“Prophet, strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Deal with them sternly. Hell will be their home, an evil destination!”
Verse number 47.4
“When you meet the disbelievers in battle, strike them in the neck, and once they are defeated, bind any captives firmly––later you can release them by grace or by ransom––until the toils of war have ended. That [is the way]. God could have defeated them Himself if He had willed, but His purpose is to test some of you by means of others. He will not let the deeds of those who are killed for His cause come to nothing.”
Verse number 8.12
“Your Lord revealed to the angels: ‘I am with you: give the believers firmness; I shall put terror into the hearts of the disbelievers - strike above their necks and strike all their fingertips.”
Verses number 69.30 to 69.33
“Take him, put a collar on him,
lead him to burn in the blazing Fire,
and [bind him] in a chain seventy metres long:
he would not believe in Almighty God.”
Verse number 9.111
“God has purchased the persons and possessions of the believers in return for the Garden - they fight in God’s way: they kill and are killed- this is a true promise given by Him in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Quran. Who could be more faithful to his promise than God? So be happy with the bargain you have made: that is the supreme triumph.”
Verse number 9.30
“The Jews said, ‘Ezra is the son of God,’ and the Christians said, ‘The Messiah is the son of God’: they said this with their own mouths, repeating what earlier disbelievers had said. May God confound them! How far astray they have been led!”
Verse number 21.98
“You [disbelievers] and what you worship instead of God will be fuel for Hell: that is where you will go.”
Verses number 21.99 and 21.100
“If these [idols] had been real gods they would not have gone there - you will all stay there. There the disbelievers will be groaning piteously, but the [idols] will hear nothing.”
Verses number 6.22 and 6.23:
“When We gather them all together and say to the polytheists, ‘Where are those you claimed were partners with God?’ in their utter dismay they will only say, ‘By God, our Lord, we have not set up partners beside Him!’”
Verses number 22.19 and 22.20:
“These two kinds of people disagree about their Lord. Garments of fire will be tailored for those who disbelieve; scalding water will be poured over their heads, melting their insides as well as their skins.”
A reading of these interpretations begets the following questions:
In a pluralistic secular country where people co-exist with diverse religious beliefs, cultures and languages, is this not hate-speech? In fact, what the lawyer has quoted from, seems to be a manual for indoctrinating jihadis.
Should the interpretation of verses about violence against idolators, polytheists and disbelievers of Islam be also considered “essential practices” of Islam because they come from the same source as quoted by the lawyer for hijab?
If however it is argued that these verses are subject to wider interpretation and are not to be taken literally, why is the lawyer insisting on taking the first two verses literally? This, when the Indian Muslim community is overwhelmingly filled with women who don’t wear hijab and some of them even get photographed in bikinis?
3. The same website and the same translator that the lawyer has cited to plead that hijab be declared an essential practice of Islam, contain regressive diktats for women.
The content says that husbands have right to beat their wives if they don’t obey them. The content justifies slavery. The content says that testimony of one man equals that of two women. The content says that if a woman commits a lewd act, she should be confined to home. The content also says that witnesses are not needed to punish a woman suspected of adultery by her husband.
Following are interpretations of some such verses from Quran as mentioned on Quran.com, where the translator is Abdul Haleem:
Verse number 4.34
“Husbands should take good care of their wives, with [the bounties] God has given to some more than others and with what they spend out of their own money. Righteous wives are devout and guard what God would have them guard in their husbands’ absence. If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them [of the teachings of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them: God is most high and great.”
Verse number 4.3
“If you fear that you will not deal fairly with orphan girls, you may marry whichever [other] women seem good to you, two, three, or four. If you fear that you cannot be equitable [to them], then marry only one, or your slave(s): that is more likely to make you avoid bias.”
Verse number 2.282
“You who believe, when you contract a debt for a stated term, put it down in writing: have a scribe write it down justly between you. No scribe should refuse to write: let him write as God has taught him, let the debtor dictate, and let him fear God, his Lord, and not diminish [the debt] at all. If the debtor is feeble-minded, weak, or unable to dictate, then let his guardian dictate justly. Call in two men as witnesses. If two men are not there, then call one man and two women out of those you approve as witnesses, so that if one of the two women should forget the other can remind her. Let the witnesses not refuse when they are summoned. Do not disdain to write the debt down, be it small or large, along with the time it falls due: this way is more equitable in God’s eyes, more reliable as testimony, and more likely to prevent doubts arising between you. But if the merchandise is there and you hand it over, there is no blame on you if you do not write it down. Have witnesses present whenever you trade with one another, and let no harm be done to either scribe or witness, for if you did cause them harm, it would be a crime on your part. Be mindful of God, and He will teach you: He has full knowledge of everything.”
Verse number 4.15
“If any of your women commit a lewd act, call four witnesses from among you, then, if they testify to their guilt, keep the women at home until death comes to them or until God shows them another way.”
Verse number 24.6
“As for those who accuse their own wives of adultery, but have no other witnesses, let each one four times call God to witness that he is telling the truth.”
A reading of the above text begets the question: Will the court accept the same source to declare these as essential practices in Islam as well?
The hijab petition being heard in Karnataka High Court has opened a Pandora’a box. The source cited by the lawyer has disturbing views on idol-worshippers, polytheists, non-Muslims and women, and taking it as authentic source of Islamic religion can lead to Talibanisation of a pluralistic country.
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