Hindu-Muslim marriages are a fact of life

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‘Love  Jihad’ makes newspaper headlines and is subject of prime time TV  debates. What’s new? According to a report in the India  Today (12  September 2012), “Love  Jihad in Kerala is part of global Islamisation project”, according  to the Global Council of Indian Christians. In 2009, the Kerala  Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) claimed that more than 2600 young  Christian women were converted to Islam since 2006. Further, the Economic  Times (10 December 2009) reported that the Kerala High Court had asked the  State Government to frame laws to stop ‘love jihad’. Years  ago and since the eruption of the current controversy, the World Sikh  Alliance prepared a power point presentation titled ‘Sikh  girls targeted by predatory forces and Women in Sikhism and Islam’.

Having  said that, Hindu-Muslim marriages are a fact of life! There are many  cases of high profile Muslim men married to Hindu girls and  conversely, of some Hindu men married to Muslim girls.  (http://chalatmusafir.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/aaj-ke-jodha-akbar/)

The  public furore, however, centres round cases such as that of a famous  singer who eloped at the age of 18 to marry a small time  choreographer-director, and converted to his faith. Her family never  acknowledged the marriage. The marriage fell apart in a year and she  is currently married to a childhood friend of her natal faith.

Currently,  there is a raging controversy over the marriage of national shooter  Tara Shadeo, who was wooed by one Ranjit Kumar Kohli and married him,  only to be told that his real name is Raqibul Hasan Khan; she was  forced into a nikaah.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Girl-married-Kohli-who-turned-out-to-be-Hasan-faced-torture-for-nikaah/articleshow/40862202.cms

At  this point, it would be interesting to know what Dr BR Ambedkar  though about social segregation in his writing on burkha / burqa.  (Thoughts  on Pakistan,  1941 pg 226-228)

“Indeed  the Muslims have all the social evils of the Hindus and something  more. That something more is the compulsory system of Purdah for  Muslim women. As a consequence of the Purdah system a segregation of  the Muslim women is brought about.€

“These  burkha (veil) women walking in the streets is one of the most hideous  sights one can witness in India. Such seclusion cannot but have its  deteriorating effects, upon the physical constitution of Muslim  women.

“The  origin of purdah lies of course in the deep-rooted suspicion of  sexual appetites in both sexes and the purpose is to check them by  segregating the sexes. But far from achieving that purpose, it has  adversely affected the morals of Muslim men. Owing to purdah a Muslim  has no contact with any woman outside those who belong to his  household.€

“The  isolation of males from females is sure to produce bad effects on the  morals of men. It requires no psychoanalyst to say that a social  system that cuts off all contact between the two sexes produces an  unhealthy tendency towards sexual excesses and unnatural and other  morbid ways and habits.€

“The  evil consequences of purdah are not confined to the Muslim community  only. It is responsible for the social segregation of Hindus from  Muslims which is the bane of public life in India. This argument may  appear farfetched and one is inclined to attribute this segregation  to the unsociability of the Hindus rather than to purdah among the  Muslims. But the Hindus are right when they say that it is not  possible to establish social contact between Hindus and Muslims  because such contact can only mean contact women from one side and  men from the other.€

“Note  that purdah and evils consequent thereon are not to be found among  certain sections of the Hindus in certain parts of the country. But  the point of distinction is that among the Muslims, purdah has a  religious sanctity which is not the case with the Hindus”. [End  Quote]

Dr  Ambedkar’s analysis of social segregation is relevant even today.  In fact the number of burkha wearing women has only increased in post  independent India – it is now a symbol of religious identity in  what is perceived to be Hindu India.

Burkha  means Muslim boys have less contact with Muslim girls. Thus a Muslim  boy going to college would mostly interact with Hindu girls. When he  compares Hindu girls with Muslim ones he finds Hindu girls to be  outgoing, less religious, open-minded, westernized and thus more  attractive.

This  is fine, but the matter gets complicated when the result is marriage.  The Muslim invariably insists that the girl must convert to Islam for  nikaah and this is where the problem starts.

There  are fewer problems when a Muslim lets his wife retain her religion or  the family has a history of two-way marriages. For instance, the  ex-wife and current wife of a popular cine star continue to be  Hindus. The same actor’s two sisters married Hindu men. There are  other mixed marriages in the family.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/television/separation-was-tough-on-both-of-us-reveals-aamir-khan/article1-963747.aspx

Overall,  however, due to burkha and associated conservatism, Hindu boys have a  lower chance to interact with Muslim girls, though there will always  be exceptions. If the interaction ends in marriage, one hears fewer  cases of Hindu boys insisting a girl convert before marriage. In  fact, here too, the conversion is most likely of the Hindu boy,  because Islamic law is implacable on the point that girls cannot  marry outside the faith.

For  Hindus it is a double whammy, hence they perceive inter-religious  marriage as a one-way street - Muslim boys marry Hindu girls and  convert them; Muslims girls marry Hindu boys and convert them.

Coming  to a more fundamental question, why is there a spurt in Hindu girls  marrying Muslim boys? One, it is encouraged by the dominance of  Bollywood on the public mind. Two, the dominance of male actors who  married Hindu girls in real life; at the same time, the movies showed  Muslim boys marrying Hindu girls or Muslim actors walking away with  the actress. Given the huge influence of Bollywood on young and  innocent minds, many young girls may have begun to believe that  marriage with a Muslim boy is the new normal.

Many  girls are unable to comprehend the impact of conversion on their  lives. A lawyer friend observes that one of the reasons for divorce  between Hindu girls and Muslim boys is that Hindu girls are brought  up very differently. Their relationships at home are more open, more  equal, with girls encouraged to study and become financially  independent.

When  these girls feel suppressed or restricted after inter-religious  marriage, it adversely impacts the atmospherics of inter-community  relations. The grim reality of Islamic fundamentalism the world over,  in which India is painfully enmeshed, has as a corollary an  aggressive section of the community which is financed by Gulf  countries and radicalized by Wahhabi preachers. There is widespread  belief among non-Muslims that the targetting and marrying of  non-Muslims girls and converting them is a facet of Islamic  aggression.

Third,  due to a general decay in social values and norms, parents of Hindu  girls are getting more protective, which results in lesser  interaction with boys. Thus, a girl who meets a boy who is  exceedingly attentive, gets overawed by the attention, and cannot  cope. Such couples are highly likely to elope. If the relationship is  inter-religious, the situation gets complicated.

Then,  there are films like Kurbaan (2009). The hero, an already married Afghan national, became an  Indian Muslim Professor in Delhi, married a Hindu girl, and used her  to migrate to the United States. Subsequently, the hero blackmailed  his wife to solicit support for Jihad in the US. It is a brilliantly  made movie, but the common man fears that this could happen to his  daughter.

Indian  Muslims would do well to listen to progressive voices within their  own ranks. The Canadian writer Tarek Fatah, an  advocate of a liberal Muslim identity, says, ‘As  a Muslim, I found it fascinating that this is the only place in the  world where Muslims exert influence without fear. I put harsher  responsibility on Indian Muslims because they are free, living in a  democratic society. If they want to know what it's like to live under  Islamic rule, they can see what`s happening in Pakistan.’ (The  Times of India,  19 April 2013).

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/interviews/Tarek-Fatah-India-is-the-only-country-where-Muslims-exert-influence-without-fear/articleshow/19619612.cms?

Indian  Muslims need to reflect on the concerns of non-Muslims (Christians  and Hindus, or others) and not try to brush away these concerns; this  can only magnify the problem!

First  Published http://www.vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=3348