Don’t brand every inter-religious marriage as part of ‘Love Jihad’.
The issue of Love Jihad has once again started hitting headlines. This time the bone of contention is the love affair of Tina Dabi, the 2015 IAS topper, who fell in love with the second ranker, Athar Aamir-ul Shafi Khan, who happens to be a Muslim. A Hindu right-wing organization called Hindu Mahasabha termed it as part of a larger conspiracy to trap Hindu women in the name of love, which is popularly known as ‘Love Jihad’. As per newspaper reports, they even shot a letter to the girl’s parents requesting them not to go ahead with the inter-religious wedding.
This is a very unfortunate situation. Marriage is a matter of personal choice and youngsters must be allowed to choose their life partners as long as there are no threats or coercion. Tina, being a well-educated woman, may not be that vulnerable to coercion. And ‘Hindu Mahasabha’ has absolutely no business to intervene in the personal affairs of Tina and Khan, who appear to have fallen in love with each other and want to marry by their own free will. The very notion that a Muslim man must not be allowed to marry a Hindu woman reflects the male superiority and patriarchal contentions of the Hindu Mahasabha. Their behavior also reflects their attitude to place the burden of safeguarding ‘Hindu honor’ solely on the heads of Hindu women. Hinduism and Hindu society will not be subjected to any dishonor, stigma or shame just because a Hindu woman marries a Muslim man.
There is no doubt that there were many instances of Muslim men marrying Hindu women solely for the purpose of bringing them into their religious fold. It is also a matter of concern that whenever a Muslim man marries a woman from another religious community it so happens that the female, in most of the instances, converts into Islam. It shows that there is certainly something fishy. There should be a thorough investigation to find out whether there are any nefarious motives or a larger conspiracy at play to poison the society. Sacrifice presupposes love and a man who is involved in a true love relationship does not seek any favors from his lady love. Therefore, if a Muslim man truly loves a woman from another religious community he must not ask her to convert to Islam. And if he does, it can’t be considered a true love and it must be construed that there is some evil intention behind it.
Even the courts found incriminating evidence to contend that many religious conversions are happening in the name of love and the governments must have a serious look at them. Here I quote a news report published in 2009 to bolster my view.
The Kerala High Court on Wednesday found indications of ‘forceful’ religious conversions under the garb of ‘love’ in the state and asked the government to consider enacting a law to prohibit such ‘deceptive’ acts. “Under the pretext of love, there cannot be any compulsive, deceptive conversion,” the court said. Quoting statistics, the court said during the last four years, 3,000-4,000 religious conversions had taken place after love affairs. (Published in The Economic Times on Dec 10, 2009).
However, there are many forces in the country who are bent on sabotaging any attempts to carry out investigation into the matter. It is a proven fact that the actions of these elements invariably strengthen the right-wing forces in the country.
Notwithstanding all these arguments Tina and Khan should be left alone and must be allowed to decide how they want to lead their lives, as long as there is no religious conversion of coercive nature. Hindu Mahasabha, instead of poking their noses into the personal lives of others, should do some serious work to bring about reformation in the Hindu society. Wide-spread caste discrimination and rampantly prevalent blind and irrational beliefs are eating into the vitals of the Hindu society and making many of its adherents to convert to other religions. Hindu Mahasabha, as many other Hindu right-wing organizations, might be full of caste Hindus and as such might not be interested in bringing about any reform in the Hindu society.