Background

Hindus  and Muslims are the  two major communities in the sub-continent and both have existed together for close to 1100 years. Hinduism first came in contact with Islam around the 10th century and a substantial portion of the Hindu community converted to the new religion. Despite both religions having lived side by side with each other, yet the unalienable fact remains that they never gelled with each other. In fact, a degree of animosity remained  between the two religions and their followers. 

The reason for this is that both the faiths are diametrically opposed in ethos and concepts. The enemy of one is the god of the other. While one is an idol worshipper the other believes in the concept of one god. The biggest difference is the concept of tolerance.While the Hindu by nature is tolerant, by contrast, the Muslim is intolerant and  believes in conversion even if the sword is to be used. Thus, at most times both religions have been in a degree of conflict. Matters were not helped by the fact that the Muslims were the rulers and the Hindus the subjects. 

This led to an unequal equation between the two. Now, it is a well-known fact that women for centuries have been the bone of contention between races and many wars have been fought over them.The most famous being the Trojan-Greek war over Helen, the Queen of Macedonia and wife of King Menelaus.

In India,  the Muslims constantly desired Hindu women, both as wives or consorts and wanted them to be part of their harems. In Islam for a non-Muslim woman to marry a Muslim, it is essential that she converts to Islam. The Muslims most often as they were the rulers, many times carried out these marriages by force, by abduction and conquest and the Hindus could do pretty little about it.This continued for almost 900 years. The Hindus where they had the chance also desired  Muslim women and an example is Maharajah Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler who had 4 Muslim wives. The difference was that he never converted them to Sikhism and when Ranjit died, these Muslim wives were not consigned to the funeral pyre.

The Situation During British Rule

The defeat of the Muslims By the English led to some respite for the Hindus from the abductions and kidnapping of Hindu women. The British enforced a uniform law and Hindu and Muslim criminal law was banned. The British did not touch personal law, with the result the compartmentalized division between Hindus and Muslims continued. Both communities desired each other's women but were deeply divided to accept a union between a man or woman from Islam to a Hindu man or woman. In real terms, any union between a Hindu and a Muslim was fraught with great risk and often led to communal clashes, despite the British being the paramount power overhead.

This state of affairs continued till 1947, the year India became free. However despite the British rule, the desire for a Muslim or Hindu woman to sleep with continued with both communities. There are cases that when Hindu men visited a brothel,more often than not they desired a Muslim girl. 

One would have thought that with the passage of time running into centuries, the Hindus and Muslims would have been tolerant of marriage between them. But it never happened. Here Islam scored as it accepted Hindu girls into its fold, albeit after conversion to Islam. In contrast, Hindus were more rigid and thus reciprocal traffic was limited.

India after 1947

Jawaharlal Nehru led India to independence. The British accepted the two nation theory of Hindus and Muslims being separate people and partitioned the country. Pakistan became a theocratic state with Islam as the state religion while India opted for a secular constitution. This had it's repercussions as in Pakistan the Hindus who were left behind were at the mercy of the Muslims. There are hundreds of reports of Hindu girls being abducted, particularly in Sind and being converted to Islam and married to Muslim men. I will say that in Pakistan official policy does not favor this and the government is trying to stop this practice.

In India the Muslims became a minority and felt they were under siege. Intermarriage between Hindus and Muslims, however, continued to create tensions. The Muslims stole a march over the Hindus because of open encouragement from the Ulema. At many places, it was openly preached in the mosques that Muslim men must marry Hindu girls. I recollect when I was in Kashmir, loud speakers openly broadcast that Kashmiri Pandits should either be exiled or killed, but Pandit women must be abducted and converted to Islam and made wives.

The Indian state has not been able to cope with this insidious propaganda. In the state of Kerala a new term "love Jihad" has been coined. This word was used by the Kerala High Court to describe devious plans of Muslim youths to befriend Hindu and Christian girls and marry them.The girls were converted to Islam and many taken to Saudi Arabia and then divorced. Passions still rise when any girl from any community marries either a Hindu or a Hindu girl marries a Muslim. In UP and Bihar at many places, riots have broken out when such incidents have taken place.

In this scenario of intolerance in marriage, the Muslims appear to be ahead. They readily accept  a Hindu girl in their fold. But, they are fanatic on their women marrying a Hindu man.They will insist that the Hindu convert to Islam and in case he does not do so, there have been cases of the Hindu being killed. 

Last Word 

Recently I attended a marriage of my senior friend's son, a doctor to a Muslim girl.She was his colleague, but I was taken aback to observe the marriage was as per Islamic rights and the boy had converted to Islam.An educated  doctor doing this was a surprise to me. It also reminded me of my affair with a Muslim dentist girl when I was a subaltern posted in Bombay. We broke, as I refused to convert to Islam. More on that later.

The fact is that both communities are like watertight compartment. I wonder whether Jinnah was right when he said the Hindus and Muslims cannot mix as they are separate communities with entirely different concepts and thoughts.

Frankly I am saddened that this happens in India where both communities have lived for hundreds of years. 


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Comments (2)

  1. Gulshan Kumar Ajmani

Marriages between different religious communities cannot be common. The religious communities are in fact different entities and governed by distinct personal law. Incidentally, even among Hindus, there are restrictions of Ghotra, caste etc. It...

Marriages between different religious communities cannot be common. The religious communities are in fact different entities and governed by distinct personal law. Incidentally, even among Hindus, there are restrictions of Ghotra, caste etc. It is futile to unite the religious communities. There is diversity and we must respect this. Unity in diversity is the only way we may live.

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  1. MG Singh    Gulshan Kumar Ajmani

Gulshanji, that's a good comment. But unity in diversity means equality of treatment. This did not happen thank you for commenting.

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