Saif Ali Khan: Intermarriage is not jihad, it is India

India is a mix and to deny this is to cheat ourselves of our inheritance, writes Saif Ali Khan.

Written by Saif Ali Khan | Updated: October 16, 2014 10:24 am
When Kareena and I married, there were similar death threats, with people on the Net saying ridiculous things about “love jihad”. We follow whatever religion or spiritual practice we believe in. When Kareena and I married, there were similar death threats, with people on the Net saying ridiculous things about “love jihad”. We follow whatever religion or spiritual practice we believe in.

I am the son of a sportsman, I grew up in England, Bhopal, Pataudi, Delhi and Mumbai, and I am more Indian than any Hindu or Muslim I know because I am both. I wrote this piece not to comment on the masses or the problems of communalism in India and its villages, but because this is an issue that concerns my friends and their families.

It wasn’t peacefully accepted by anyone, initially, when my parents wanted to marry. The royals had their issues; the Brahmins theirs. And, of course, extremists on both religious sides issued death threats. But the marriage still happened — the fact that my grandmother also had to fight to marry the not-as-wealthy and therefore not-so-suitable nawab of Pataudi might have helped things along. We grew up on real-life romantic stories about our elders marrying for love and not worrying too much about tradition. And we were brought up to believe that god is one, with many names.

Source: C Y Sasikumar Source: C Y Sasikumar

When Kareena and I married, there were similar death threats, with people on the Net saying ridiculous things about “love jihad”. We follow whatever religion or spiritual practice we believe in. We talk about them and respect each other’s views. I hope our children will do the same.

I have prayed in church and attended mass with Kareena, while she has bowed her head at dargahs and prayed in mosques. When we purified our new home, we had a havan and a Quran reading and a priest sprinkling holy water — no chances taken!

What is religion? What is faith? Does a perfect definition exist? I don’t know. But I know doubt. I’m intrigued by the politics of doubt. Doubt gives us faith. Doubt keeps us questioning what keeps us alive. If we become sure of something, then there is a danger of becoming fanatical.

Religion needs to be separated from a lot of things. Our religions are based on fear. The Old Testament spoke of a Promised Land for a people, but there were people already living there. The problem is still burning today. There have been too many atrocities committed in the name of god.

I know good people are scared of marrying their daughters to Muslims. They fear conversion, quick divorces, multiple marriages — basically, it suits the boys a bit more than the girls. All this is undoubtedly outdated. A lot of Islam needs to modernise and renew itself in order to be relevant. We also need a loud moderate voice to separate the good from the evil. Islam today is more unpopular than it has ever been. This is a great shame to me, as I have always thought of Islam as the moon, the desert, calligraphy and flying carpets, the thousand and one nights. I have always thought about it as a religion of peace and submission. As I grew older, I saw religion twisted and used so badly by men that I distanced myself from all man-made religion. I choose to be as spiritual as I can be.

Anyway, I digress. The good news is that no one needs to convert from their religion to get married. The Special Marriage Act, when applicable, is the paramount law of the land. If you marry under this, it is upheld over any religious law. It is truly secular.

The fabric of India is woven from many threads — English, Muslim, Hindu and many others. A major concern in today’s India is that we keep deleting our past. To say Muslims don’t have a role in India is denying their importance and contribution. It is like saying women don’t have a part to play in India. Why do we need to deny Islam? It’s what we are. We come with our mix. To deny this is to cheat us of our inheritance. I don’t know what “love jihad” is. It is a complication created in India. I know intermarriages because I am a child of one and my children are born out of it. Intermarriage is not jihad. Intermarriage is India. India is a mix. Ambedkar said the only way to annihilate caste is intermarriage. It is only through intermarriage that the real Indians of tomorrow can be truly equipped to take our nation forward with the right perspective. I am the product of such a mixed marriage and my life has been full of Eid and Holi and Diwali. We were taught to do adaab and namaste with equal reverence.

It is sad that too much importance is given to religion, and not enough to humanity and love. My children were born Muslim but they live like Hindus (with a pooja ghar at home), and if they wanted to be Buddhist, they would have my blessing. That’s how we were brought up.

We are a blend, this great country of ours. It is our differences that make us who we are. We need to get beyond mere tolerance. We need to accept and respect and love each other.

We are most certainly not a secular country. The intention was to become one and our Constitution has provided every framework to make that possible. But, more than six decades on, we have still not separated religion from the law. To make matters worse, different laws apply to different people, making it impossible for us to think as one. There are different laws for Hindus and different laws for Muslims. This is bound to create trouble.

I think we should have one law for all Indians, a uniform civil code, and we should all think of ourselves as one nation. All our religions must come later and be by the way. Teach our children about god and his thousand names, but first we must teach them respect and love of their fellow man. That is more important.

I stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy first, then Santa Claus, and finally, I really don’t know what I feel about a personal god. But I believe in love and in trying to be good and helping the world. I don’t always succeed and then I feel bad. My conscience is my god, I think, and it tells me that that one tree in Pataudi near which my father is buried is closer to god than any temple, church or mosque.

Saif Ali Khan is an actor and producer

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  1. F
    Dec 22, 2016 at 7:26 pm
    Sad to know that one does not understand what he is born into and has to take refuge into (inter) everything. Very poorly written . When you are a star of a certain caliber then you must research before you write !
    1. T
      Tasneem Fakir
      Dec 23, 2016 at 8:18 am the simplicity and clarity of your thoughts. I echo them FEARFULLY. We live in a trap of having to be part of the majority, to conform to a society that has stopped questioning. I have taught my children to be good and kind and respect all living things. They are godly and they are spiritual but they are not ritualistic and our dogs and cats and birds and their well being is part of the wider scheme of how we wish to live our lives...
      1. M
        Dec 24, 2016 at 9:13 am
        My admiration for Saif Ali Khan Pataudi has increased manyfold after reading this article. Kareena u have made a exceptionally good choice.
        1. R
          Dec 22, 2016 at 9:30 pm
          Saif, Congratulations on the new born. You and Kareena have full right to name your baby whatever you want and live your life the way you want. Nothing else matters. There are haters everywhere. If not your baby they will find something else or someone else to hate. Enjoy the parenthood. Peace.
          1. J
            Dec 24, 2016 at 4:06 am
            Very well said , Saif! Thank you for this article.
            1. J
              Jibin Jose
              Dec 24, 2016 at 2:24 am
              You have rightfully abstained from commenting on the child's name. Truth to be told, it is not all the concern of anyone, but a very very private matter. Thanks for the article.
              1. S
                Sohail Hashmi
                Dec 23, 2016 at 9:58 am
                I don't think Saif has any problem understanding what he was born into, both his parents grew in fairly enlightened families, Sharmila's more than the Pataudis, but what is more important is that he and Kareena have not bothered by ic dogma and it is this that is more important. what you are born as is not so important, what you do with your life and what you grow up into is what makes all the difference. The less role religion plays in the affairs of this world and sticks to the hereafter, the better it will be for religion and for this world.
                1. M
                  Mr. Murari
                  Dec 25, 2016 at 11:50 am
                  Just curious... what religion is his lovely sister's husband?
                  1. S
                    Samir Nandy
                    Dec 23, 2016 at 5:40 pm
                    Saif... regardless of the fact that you consider yourself to be secular.... and much of what you wrote appear to be reasonable and of the tolerant type, but we all know that the Indian society is much more conservative and religions matter to both the Muslims and the Hindus. All religions have their share of ignorance and bigotry embedded within, so few Indians are truly free of prejudice. Public figures like you have to keep your personal faith and belief private... but sometimes it is difficult to hide. I hate to say this... but I certainly did not appreciate your naming of your son Taimur. You know that he was not a tolerant individual... and he was a tormentor and destroyer... and he certainly was not a Secular individual. Do you wish your son to emulate his ways? This is where you exposed your inner self... despite all your boisterous preachings... you showed your bias to the faith that you subscribe to....and you know what that is. Somithing to think about, no?
                    1. S
                      Samir Das
                      Dec 25, 2016 at 1:47 am
                      Well said Saifu ; God bless!
                      1. S
                        Samskar Ebyaha
                        Dec 20, 2016 at 4:55 pm
                        All this is fine if you give your children Hindu names or atleast a mix of both Hindu and Muslim names. But you seem to insist on Muslim names alone, just like your Dad.
                        1. A
                          Dec 23, 2016 at 6:56 pm
                          what's wrong in a name, when Ram Singh raped Nirbhaya on that fateful night of 16th December, where were your ideas and preaching's about the name Ram, history is bloody and no one can change it, so hating and disrespecting Taimur has nothing to do with him, he is dead and you cannot change history my friend, what you can do is change your present and change your thinking and show more love and respect towards your fellow companion, that's how you can change history not just by arguing its a bad name and how we shouldn't do it. it's a name and not his characteristics and failure to understand such simple social equations will be termed as nothing less than IGNORANT.
                          1. X
                            Dec 24, 2016 at 11:18 am
                            Guys...see the post date for god sake.4 and now u are including the recent event of his son,s birth n talking..this country surely need curtailment of useless freedom.of speech and holding.their horse before they give their futilements readily for everything and anything under the sun..Guess the unemployment ratio is truly increasing...
                            1. A
                              May 14, 2015 at 3:38 am
                              I am very frank to say that I don't trust the Muslims of any denominations; Barbarous Muslim rulers, like the Berbers, brutalized the Hindus, their women and children, demolished their places of worship and many other unrecorded atrocities; the entire landscape of India is dotted with the symbols that reveal the brutality reliantly unleashed against the Hindus by Muslim rulers and the Muslim Clerics. Muslims talks with double- tongue when they talk about humanity to pacify, neutralise as one of means to wipe out the Hindus; the other means is the instrument of terror funded by extremely wealthy and conservative Islamic States and ISIS is their pride product to dominate the world. Within the next ten years Hindus will marginalized in am with much of North- East, Bihar, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh... Hindus need to use superior brute force to repel the threats emerge from potential enemies from within and without to live as free people of independent India; Lord Siva, Lord Krishna ,Buddha and many saints and sages on our land and imparted the divine revelations.
                              1. D
                                Dipak Bose
                                Apr 14, 2015 at 8:47 am
                                One less Hindu and one more Muslim, is not Secularism
                                1. D
                                  Dipak Bose
                                  Apr 14, 2015 at 8:40 am
                                  Would any Muslim accepts a Hindu who wants to marry a Muslim girl, without changing religion? The answer is no because The Koran prohibits it. Love Jihad is real because this is the way to increase the number of Muslims. When a Muslim marries a Hindu girl, the number of Muslims increases and the number of Hindus goes down, as a non-Muslim got to be converted before he/she can marry a Muslim. Sharmila Tagore became Ayesha Sultana. Kareema Kapoor is now a Muslim. This is Jehad.
                                  1. V
                                    Vijay Mishra
                                    May 10, 2015 at 12:23 am
                                    You call this inter -religion marriage but result is same. Kashmir valley was hindu maj state some years ago. Then Muslim conversion started inter marriage, jihad, all contributed. Now Pak flags, terrorist are common. Can this happen to Delhi. Yes possible through conversion, inter marriage,jihad etc. Delhi was under jihadists long long time. Potion of muslims growing around world India will face major terrorist attack again mostly Muslim . He became muslim due to inter marriage.or jihad does not matter.
                                    1. A
                                      Ashutosh Dimri
                                      May 3, 2015 at 5:53 pm
                                      Saif must visit hinterland of India and read a lot on sociological problems of India, Bharat or Hindustan. Well, his views as an urbane -well brought up individual hardly matches with ground realities.
                                      1. C
                                        May 5, 2015 at 4:03 pm
                                        Saif is nice in making a good statement. I agree with you well. MAK Pataudi is my great favorite cricketer and I have seen him in action while taking a wonderful one handed catch in Chepauck in chennai. Your advocacy for a uniform civil code and reforms in Islam are commendable. I wish, many Muslims in India join their hands to support you to improve the life of an ordinary Muslim, instead of leaving you to fight single-handedly. With Modi at the helm of affairs, this is time for all Indians to reform their own religious practices, which are distancing themselves from the precepts. You couple is por enough to work for this cause. All the best.
                                        1. D
                                          Dinesh Singh
                                          Mar 22, 2015 at 4:14 pm
                                          Intermarriages are not a problem actually problem lies in desertions and ulterior motives and that is abused terminology of Jihad by misguided and anti social/national elements.
                                          1. H
                                            Oct 29, 2015 at 4:21 pm
                                            Saif... if you following... then read this... someone just send me this to read and I think you must read this as well. I am agree with the writer. I also want to tell you that your mother was converted to islam and same this kareena to marry you read it here....
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