Hindu-Muslim marriages are a fact of life!
by Sanjeev Nayyar on 03 Oct 2014 7 Comments

‘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.



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.



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).



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!    

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top