It’s love alright, however jihad?



Julio Ribeiro

My brother lived all his working life and some years of his retired life in Delhi. He has two sons, both married to Hindu girls, one a Bengali and the other an Assamese. Fortunately, the BJP calls inter-faith marriages ‘Love Jihad’ only when a Muslim boy marries a Hindu girl! That is not to be tolerated or permitted in Hindu Rashtra. Strict laws are on the anvil to discourage such unacceptable manifestations of love in BJP-ruled states!

Despite HC rulings against attempts to annul inter-faith marriages, the BJP-ruled states of UP, MP and Assam have introduced legislation to criminalise such love. 

Islamist customs require the non-Muslim partner to convert before the nikah is performed. And the marriage in Mohammedan law is a contract as differentiated from a sacrament under the Christian dispensation or Hindu unions, under both the Mitakshara and the Dayabhaga versions of Hindu law. Except Islam, no other religion I know of requires the beloved to change Gods!

In a multicultural, multi-religious and multilingual society as exists in our land at present, it is impossible to restrict children from falling in love with a boy or a girl from another religion. It is the age-old attraction of a boy for a girl “like the attraction of the moth for the star and the might for the morrow” that informs such infatuations. It certainly is not the compulsion of converting the love-lorn to the lover boy’s religion, as Hindutva forces suggest! Truly, religion is the last thing on the boy’s mind at the time of the infatuation.

Long ago, my wife and I resolved not to interfere with the life choices of our two daughters. As Lebanese-American poet-philosopher Kahlil Gibran had opined, “Your children are not your children! They are given to you in the capacity of a trustee! You cherish, love and adore them till they find their own life partners.” The old concept of two families uniting when their respective children tie the knot has in modern times, mutated in an attempt to cross cultural and religious divides.

In more sophisticated, free thinking families, inter-faith marriages are more easily accepted and absorbed. My two nephews had no hurdles to cross. My younger daughter married a Parsi and so did my elder daughter’s daughter. Incidentally, this last named grand-daughter has gifted her new Parsi family and her parental Goan family with a little bundle of joy christened Jeh or ‘J’ for short. The child’s great grandfather is known as Papa J in the immediate family. The new arrival will be known to me as Baby ‘J’! Since his father is a Zoroastrian, the child will, in all probability be inducted into that ancient religion when the time comes.

Reverting to the topic of discussion, my own family has been blessed with a surfeit of love, sans jihad. All the young people are happy with themselves and with each other. Everyone is free to worship his or her own God and adhere to his or her own beliefs or even lack of any. And this is what is presently practised without any iota of rancour.

I suppose this is possible in more broad-minded and free-thinking families. It may not be as smooth in families that believe that their own religion is the only true religion and their own God is the only one worthy of worship! It will not be possible also in societies impregnated with fears of being numerically swamped even though that fear can be mathematically and scientifically dispelled.

When I visited Ahmedabad soon after the communal implosion of 2002, I broke bread with fifty or more respectable Gujarati Hindu householders of means. The dinner had been arranged by a doctor friend of mine. My attempts to dispossess their minds of the ingrained belief that every Muslim had four wives and half a dozen or more children from each of the four were peremptorily brushed aside! This belief is now so firmly ingrained in the minds of the BJP’s core supporters that logic cannot be brought to bear to disabuse their minds of such pre-conceived notions.

The number of marriages that have taken place between Muslim boys and Hindu girls is a mere drop in the ocean as compared to marriages within the traditional caste configurations of Hindu society. But Hindutva forces are not prepared to accept exceptions to the rule! Unfortunately for them, love and attraction admit no barriers. They will continue to guide human relations despite the dread that lurks in the minds of the conservative. The Chief of Ulva’s Isle who eloped with Lord Ullin’s daughter had no hesitation to cross Lochgyle in dark and stormy weather. And that is what young lovers are determined to do, whatever be the consequences.

Yogi Adityanath’s Hindutva government in Uttar Pradesh is in the vanguard of the onslaught on inter-faith marriages between Muslim boys and Hindu girls. Despite the High Courts of Allahabad, Bhopal and Delhi ruling against attempts to annul such marriages and upholding the constitutional right of every individual adult to choose his or her own life partner, the BJP- ruled states of UP, MP and Assam have introduced legislation to criminalise such love, condemning them as “forced” conversions in the course of a ‘Jihad’!

Though the courts have rejected such attempts to criminalise constitutionally-devolved rights, Adityanath and the other BJP elders bash on regardless. If they reject the mandates of the courts as they are brazenly doing today, the rule of law in this country will forever be abandoned and buried so that the rule of the majority is firmly established. India will be renamed as Hindu Rashtra, a country that will compete in bigotry with its neighbour in the west.



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