AKEED, Husam Assal
Media outlets circulated news over the weekend to the effect that the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs had withdrawn forged copies of the Holy Quran in Jordan because the surah (chapter) of Al-Isra was renamed as "Bani Isra"il" (Children of Israel). Afterwards, media outlets confirmed that the copies were correct and that the Ministry of Awqaf did not withdraw them.
The media started reporting news that the Quran had been forged because the chapter of Al-Isra was renamed as "Bani Isra"il." The media used eye-catching and sensational headlines.
Despite publishing the shocking news, the content of the news under the above headlines explained that the name in the copies of the Quran was correct and that the copies were not forged. One of the reports even included in the body a hadith [tradition] by the Prophet about the correctness of the name.
Electronic sites quoted statements by Abdul Kareem Younes, director of the Quran Management Department at the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, claiming that he had said that the copies "are not authorized by the ministry. All the copies in Pakistani writing were withdrawn from mosques. The Ministry of Awqaf is not standing guard at the border; controlling the border is not part of its powers." Younes did not mention why the copies were not allowed and did not specify the date when the copies were withdrawn.
Other websites and a daily newspaper reported that the Ministry of Awqaf had withdrawn the controversial copies. The daily newspaper made the same mistake, which is not mentioning the reason and date of the withdrawal by saying: "Younes affirmed that mentioning Bani Isra"il is not part of normalization. Israel is the name of a prophet. These copies were not authorized by the ministry. All copies of the Quran in Pakistani writing were withdrawn from mosques."
Some media outlets later denied the withdrawal of the controversial copies of the Holy Quran: "Awqaf Denies Withdrawing Quran Copies Containing Chapter of Bani Isra"il, Offers Clarification." The news said that the reason for not authorizing the copies--similar copies were withdrawn in 1995--was that "the writing used in these Quran copies is not consistent with the one that Jordanians are familiar with and that the ministry authorized."
Other media outlets tried to interpret the ongoing controversy over the name and to clarify it from a sharia perspective in articles that carried the following headlines:
The AKEED Monitor contacted Abdul Kareem Younes, director of the Quran Management Department at the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, who said that some journalists had interpreted the statements attributed to him and that the statements were not reported accurately. He added that "the copies of the Quran did not reach the Ministry of Awqaf and they were not checked. So how can the media say that the copies were withdrawn by the ministry?"
Younes noted that "similar copies of the Quran were withdrawn in the 1990s due to the writing style, which was not familiar in Bilad al-Sham (Greater Syria). Therefore, they are not authorized in Jordan for this reason only." Regarding the name, he said that "the name is correct and was reported in an authentic hadith by the Prophet, God"s peace and blessings be upon him."
The AKEED Monitor thinks that the news was reported too quickly without verifying its truth and without seeking the opinion of specialists. Media outlets contributed to stirring a debate over the issue by using sensational words, such as "forged copies."
The debate continued by not reporting official statements accurately, as issued by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. This caused confusion to readers about the truth of the Ministry of Awqaf"s withdrawal of these copies, whether they were authorized or not, and the reason for not authorizing them if this indeed was the case.
The previous practices violated the standard of accuracy, which stresses the need for not reporting incorrect content. They also violated the Press Code of Honor, which stresses the need for seeking accuracy in reporting news.