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The Waseem Rizvi controversy and the Manusmriti

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Prasenjeet Kumar
Prasenjeet Kumar
An author who has written thirty books, six of which centre around Kashmir — You Can’t Kill My Love: A Kashmir Holocaust Love Story, Still Missing…, Kashmir is Free and Kashmir Thinks It’s Free and Kashmir is Free Finally (co-authored with his father Dr. Arun Kumar (IAS) Retd.), the Outsider’s Tales and a non-fiction memoir Unmasking Kashmir/The Outsider’s Curse (co-authored with his mother Sonali Kumar (IAS) Retd.) You can contact him at: [email protected]

By now, everyone and their grandmother would know that a person called Waseem Rizvi, ex-Chairman of the Shia Central Wakf Board, Uttar Pradesh, has filed a petition in the Indian Supreme Court to remove some 26 verses of the Holy Quran, which in his opinion “promote terrorism, violence, jihad.”

Mr. Rizvi has also claimed that these verses were NEVER in the original Quran, as revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW), but were inserted by the first three Caliphs who compiled the Quran “to aid the expansion of Islam by war.”

Surprisingly, and despite all the furore, these views are not original. Scholars like Imam Tawhidi and Tareq Fateh have been protesting for quite some time about Allah’s Islam being supplanted by Mullah’s Islam.

Whether the petition would be admitted by the Supreme Court of India is yet another matter. But the controversy has admittedly put the focus on what these 26 verses actually say and sparked off another age-old debate. The debate between the Quran and other holy books like the Manusmriti.

The debate goes something like this. Whenever one refers to the so-called intolerant verses in the Quran like Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them (9:5), Jews, Christians, and Polytheists are the worst of creatures (Sura 98:6), or Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day until they pay the Jizya (Sura 9:29), the most common argument put forward (even by liberal Hindus) is that the Manusmriti too contains derogatory verses for shudras and women.

Of course, no Muslim would tolerate bringing the Holy Quran at par with the Manusmriti. And they would be perfectly entitled to their beliefs. But then why even try to compare Holy Books and attempt establishing false equivalences?

Let’s look into five more reasons that make any such exercise a logical nightmare:

Reason 1: The word of God

The Quran is believed to be a direct revelation from God. Anything mentioned in this book is Allah commanding his followers to obey Him.

The Manusmriti, is NOT a direct revelation from God Almighty. They were both written/compiled by human beings for other human beings of their time/age. This takes us to the second point.

Reason 2: The Quran is frozen in time.

Whatever Allah said in the 7th century remains true and relevant FOREVER. Be it the 21st century or the 41st   — not even one word can be changed or interpreted differently. In fact, the Quran even admonishes its followers to not to interpret the verses differently.

The Manusmriti, on the other hand, is context dependent. For example, verse 4.176 of the Manusmriti states that one can even give up dharma if it be conducive to unhappiness or if it is disapproved by the people.

This means that even if some verses ask you to treat women and Shudras harshly, you are free NOT to act on them if the public considers it wrong.

That means the laws framed in the Manusmriti are context and time-dependent. This means, if those laws were framed in the 3rd century B.C. or whenever, they were meant only for that age and time. And not for the 21st century or the 41st century.

This brings us to another very important point.

Reason 3: The Quran cannot be edited by any human being

Because it is the word of Allah, every Muslim has to obey the Quran and believe in every word of it.

The Manusmriti on the other hand can be edited, and has been edited/revised by the Arya Samaj, to bring it in line with modern sensibilities.

Reason 4: Guiding principle of governance

When you’re looking at the Quran, you’re not just looking at any holy book. But the guiding principles for some 55 nations that call themselves Islamic.

When you’re looking at the Manusmriti, you’re just looking at a document of archival value. Nothing else.

Reason 5: The Muslims consider Quran to be the pure, unadulterated word of Allah, eternal and perfect.

In most Muslim countries and even in India, young boys memorise the Quran even before they learn how to read and write.

Hindus on the other hand do not even know what is there in the Manusmriti.

If you’re a Hindu, ask yourself this:

How familiar are you with the Manusmriti? Have you ever seen one in your home?

Did your parents ever force you to read the Manusmriti?

Did your teachers or friends ever tell you to be a good boy or a good girl, as per the Manusmriti?

Ultimately a book howsoever violent is harmless if it has no takers. No Hindu follows the Manusmriti or is even required to do so.

Can the Muslims dare do the same with their Holy Book—for the sake of peace in the world?

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Prasenjeet Kumar
Prasenjeet Kumar
An author who has written thirty books, six of which centre around Kashmir — You Can’t Kill My Love: A Kashmir Holocaust Love Story, Still Missing…, Kashmir is Free and Kashmir Thinks It’s Free and Kashmir is Free Finally (co-authored with his father Dr. Arun Kumar (IAS) Retd.), the Outsider’s Tales and a non-fiction memoir Unmasking Kashmir/The Outsider’s Curse (co-authored with his mother Sonali Kumar (IAS) Retd.) You can contact him at: [email protected]
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