By Sajjad Shaukat
The blasphemy of the Holy Quran is regarded as a serious crime in Pakistan, and can easily
spark public violent towards the accused person.
While the text of the original Arabic Quran is identical and unchanged since its revelation, we
will find various translations and interpretations. Anytime, a translation is done into another
language, and the translator (who is only human) has to interpret the meaning, and render it
in the new language. It is an approximation of the meaning, since words and ideas cannot be
expressed identically in different languages.
But, Arabic is a very rich language, and words have many shades of meaning. Thus, in many
languages, it often requires more wordiness to get the meaning across, which detracts from the
beautiful simplicity of the Quranic message. Arabic idioms, and the weight of the words, are
difficult to understand and translate. While Arabic is a living language, the classical Arabic of
the Quran needs more study in order to fully appreciate and understand the depths of meaning.
Another concern is the translator’s familiarity with the target language. Some translations are
done by individuals who are very knowledgeable in Arabic, but they are not able to render the
intended meaning, because they are not familiar with the nuances of the other language.
It is mentionable that in Pakistan, printing verses of the Holy Quran or its Urdu translation,
especially in Urdu newspapers and regional scripts of print media appears to have become
the current media trend-a common practice. Perhaps, the idea behind printing of verses of the
Quran or translations thereof is to promote teachings of the Quran in order to spread message
of God, Almighty Allah. No doubt, the effort signifies the spirit of virtue and high-merit,
reflecting Islamic zeal to render valuable service to fellow Muslims so as to seek blessings of
God, and mould their lives according to the teachings of Quran.
Unfortunately, the same newspapers cover filthy affairs of society, luring temptations, nudity,
sensational stories of immorality, crime, corruption, political injustices and social inequality.
While going through the newspapers, the readers pay least attention towards Quranic verses
and look for top stories, news analysis, sensational items and write-ups, containing material
to satisfy their information-needs, and in certain cases to gratify hidden desires. The attention
which requires for understanding and internalizing the message of Quran is not paid. Hence,
outstanding message of Quran is regrettably ignored, as newspapers do not create the setting
conducive for learning of Quran.
The owners and the concerned editors of the print media do not think that newspapers are
also purchased and read by non-Muslims and people of other faiths, who do not consider
it necessary to go through the verses of Quran, printed in the newspapers, and tend to draw
incorrect lessons in wake of terrorism—stalking the entire land that Pakistani print media is
promoting religious extremism. However, this practice amounts to sacrilegious act.
Similarly, hawkers while distributing newspapers simply throw the copies inside the residential
and official precincts. More often, the daily newspapers are found lying on the ground which
is again an act of blasphemy. Whereas, the issue of neglecting message of Quran, carelessness
in handling of printed material, containing Quranic verses especially by hawkers, vendors,
general readers and retail shopkeepers who also use old newspapers for packing often do not
understand that they are unwittingly involved in sacrilege.
In these terms, the message of Quran is regrettably ignored, as newspapers do not create an
environment and setting conducive to learning of Quran and understanding its true spirit.
Therefore, educated people in Pakistan feel that Quranic verses; printed through newspapers,
cause desecration of the Holy Quran. So, there is a dire need to discuss the issue in TV Talk
shows, social and print media to enable the religious scholars to issue a decree on allowing or
otherwise, the printing of Quranic verses in the newspapers. A comprehensive policy needs to
be formulated to ensure that blasphemy of Quran does not take place under all circumstances.
Nevertheless, in this respect, proper handling of Quran also requires that one to be in a state of
purity and cleanliness, and it should be placed or stored in a clean, respectable way. Inevitably,
there are times, when Quran needs to be disposed of. Children’s schoolbooks or other materials
often contain sections or verses. The entire Quran itself may be old, faded, or have broken
binding. These need to be discarded, but it is not proper to just throw it into the trash with other
items. The words of Allah must be disposed of in a way which shows reverence to the holiness
In this context, hawkers must be forbidden to throw the copies of newspapers on the ground
of the houses and offices. All the vendors, general readers and retail shopkeepers related to the
newspapers including those, using old newspapers for packing require carful handling of the
printed material, containing Quranic verses.
Notably, while translating the Quranic verses in Urdu or English, the concerned editor or
translator must be familiar with these languages, and must be very knowledgeable in Arabic.
Resultantly, the translation will be linguistically and spiritually as accurate as possible,
avoiding unintentional act of sacrilege.
Although modern printing presses are used to distribute the Quran worldwide, the printed
Arabic text of the Quran is still regarded as holy. The Arabic text of the Holy Quran, when
printed in a book, is known as the mus-haf (literally, “the pages”). There are special rules
which Muslims follow when handling—touching, or reading from the mus-haf.
The Quran itself states that only those who are clean and pure should touch the sacred text:
“This is indeed a Holy Quran, in a book well-guarded, which none shall touch but those who
are clean…”(56:77-79). The Arabic word translated here as “clean” is mutahiroon, a word
which is also sometimes translated as “purified.”
Nonetheless, all the newspapers and the related persons of Pakistan must maintain the sanctity
of the Holy Quran by preventing the blasphemy of the Quranic verses.