Hindu boy meets Muslim girl, or vice-versa? It’s love all

We have had both ‘prem-dharmayuddh’ and ‘love-jehad’ in our families, so we are acquainted with both versions of love.

Written by Shahid A. Abbasi | Updated: December 4, 2017 6:20 pm
Marriages need endless adjustments, we said, even when they are between persons of the same religion and culture.

Written by Shahid A. Abbasi

What name does one give to the process by which a Hindu boy steals the heart of a Muslim girl, thereby ‘forcing’ her to marry him? If the ‘sanatan’ equivalent of ‘jehad’ is ‘dharmayuddh’, then a Hindu boy inducing a Muslim girl to marry him can be called ‘prem-dharmayuddh’. A bit of a tongue−twister.

When, seven years ago, my second daughter Tarannum Abbasi (TA) told her mom and me that she wants to marry Balaji Sekar (BS), we were deeply concerned. Not because BS was from a religion different from the one we practiced, but because he was from a different culture.

We have had both ‘prem-dharmayuddh’ and ‘love-jehad’ in our families, so we are acquainted with both versions of love. My niece married Deepak Mehta, her cousins have tied the knot with Ramesh Chandra and Sanjay Mahajan, respectively. Another cousin, Mustafa Ali, has betrothed Usha Lalvani.

There were cultural differences in those pairings, too, but not as drastic as the one the BS−TA union entailed. The earlier pairings had fallen under the nebulous but widely used umbrella term “North Indian”, with its defining features being chapatti, samosa, and Hindi. But BS was a true−blooded “South Indian” who never ate anything but rice, didn’t care for samosas, and had Hindi going over his head like the bouncers Lakshmipati Balaji used to hurl on behalf of India.

We tried hard to dissuade both TA and BS. Marriages need endless adjustments, we said, even when they are between persons of the same religion and culture. But when one has to contend with differences in food habits, attire, language, and other attendant mismatches of an inter-cultural marriage, the odds of it surviving lengthen considerably.

But neither of them budged. Both TA and BS said “Our parents had the same-culture- same-religion marriage but do they quarrel any less than others do?” We had no answer to that googly.

Then came peer-pressure. Close friend Sheikh Saheb insisted that it was our religious duty to prevent this marriage unless BS converted to Islam.

But I happen to know my Islam. It tells me clearly “there can be no compulsion in religion” and “to each his/her own faith”. So how could I have pressurized BS to convert ? Sheikh Saheb also warned us, in the name of Islam, that if we let our child commit this ‘sin’, the curse will visit us as well.

But that too didn’t wash. Islam is clear that every individual is totally and solely responsible for his/her actions. The religious duty of my wife and me is to educate our children on right and wrong. The rest is their karma.

We did suggest to BS that he ‘consider’ the option of adopting a new faith, but he refused. That was it. Sheikh Shaeb accused us of soft-peddling and said he wouldn’t attend the marriage.

Two years after the marriage, a son was born to the TA-BS couple. TA left the honour of naming the child to BS, who chose the name Roshan Darwin. The name sounded odd but after it had been whispered in the ears of the just born bundle of delight by his auntie (as per the culture from mother’s side), it seemed to have transformed into something very sweet and musical.

Roshan Drawin is now a hyper-active 4-year old. His parents moved to Canada in 2013 and when he comes on his annual visit to India, he prefers his maternal grandparent’s house at Puducherry to his paternal grandparent’s flat in Chennai. It is hard on his Tamil ‘Tata’ and ‘Paati’, his grandparents, but they give in to his wishes with only a mock complaint.

BS is an honest, caring, and truthful person which are the qualities a true Muslim is expected to have, just as the wives of Mehta, Chandra, Mahajan, and Mustafa are ‘sanskari’, as ‘sanatan’ wives are expected to be.

Whether they were propelled by ‘love-jehad’ or ‘prem-dharmayuddh’, all these marriages have been smooth, rocky, successful or unsuccessful, just like same-faith marriages are. Religion has never been a cause of tension, nor have they spurred or ‘misguided’ others to follow suit. Most people still want to marry other people from the same faith. So no tension on that front too.

Or maybe I’m still safe because the champions of religious bigotry have not yet turned in my direction.

Shahid A Abbasi is a columnist, and Emeritus Professor at Pondicherry University and can be reached atabbasi.cpee@gmail.com. Names of the protagonists have been changed in this piece

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  1. Adarsh K. Hoizal
    Dec 26, 2017 at 1:43 am
    Mr. Abbassi lost his credibility the moment he asked his would-be son-in-law to consider changing his faith. Being an educated person, he should not have done that. It is a different thing that BS refused, but such a disgusting thought shouldn't have even crossed the professor's mind. But the real problem is not Abbassi, it is his friend Sheikh, the religious fanatic who tried to scare him in the name of religion. Thankfully, Abbassi didn't pay any heed to Sheikh. The government of India must ban religious conversions irrespective of whether it is voluntary or forced. Name change on Aadhaar card must be disallowed. Validity of all interfaith marriages must be subjected to registration under Special Marriage Act, 1954 only. Cons ution of India must be revised to exclude choice of religion as a personal freedom. Only then we can embrace Mr. Abbassi's theory of "Love All".
    1. K Brahmananda Chari
      Dec 5, 2017 at 7:00 pm
      I understand, life can happen with religion or without religion. Religion can be a support structure to facilitate life to progress. When religion starts working against life - its better let it take back seat. Statistics are reported cases we hear - or rather what 'we want' to hear. They do not suffice as evidence to arrive at any conclusion. Rather they fuel bigotry. Is one example not sufficient to say that something works? I appreciate Professor Abbasi for choosing to share his personal life to illustrate " Love all" in the times of "Love-Jihad". Can we have more people sharing their experience with interfaith marriages?
      1. S
        Shahid A. Abbasi
        Dec 5, 2017 at 11:52 am
        Shahid A. Abbasi The reactions to my piece show that most of us have become so used to see everything from a certain angle and colour, that we are unable to comprehend the rest of the reality. And the ignorance about Islam often extends to ignorance about the Sanatan Dharma (which we loosely refer with the term ‘Hinduism’). Incidentally, while the words ‘Sanatan Dharma’ have their origin in Sanskrit, ‘Hinduism’ is a derivative of the Arabic word Al-Hind. Sanatan Dharma is like no other religion. Whereas codified rituals exist for one to enter other religions, Sanatan Dharma is open to all. The Vedas and the Upanishads, of which the essence has been distilled in the Bhagvat Geeta, have clearly inspired other religions, certainly Islam. But those who pit Islam against Hinduism have little knowledge of the theology and history of either religion. They are so focused on demonizing Islam that they fail to see the sharing that has existed between the two communities since 1600 years.
        1. H
          Dec 9, 2017 at 3:43 pm
          abassi sir ,,, religion was made by humans ,,, lets not be a slave to anyone else ,, my recognized religion is hinduism and i follow it because what my hinduism tells me to see and treat others as equal its exactly like your islam ,,, there will always be some so called proponents of religion who destroy their own faith by attacking other religions ,,,
        2. R
          Dec 5, 2017 at 4:07 am
          Boss, the difference is when a Hindu boy marries someone of another religion, we don't require them to convert. Because that is love. Mullas sole goal of marrying a non-Muslim is to convert them. Then all the jihadis claim that it is love. If you love someone, then why do you have to change their personal beliefs?
          1. H
            Dec 9, 2017 at 3:45 pm
            not all of them do it ,,, there are some hindus who marry muslims girls and change their name ,,, the problem is that you dont look at those cases ,,, and i totally agree that If you love someone, then you dont have to change their personal beliefs ,,,
          2. Sudheer Thaakur
            Dec 5, 2017 at 1:20 am
            jehad will come into picture only when one of the spouses has to foresake his /her religion and convert to religion of other spouse. simple.
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