The endless debates on love jihad on national television have prompted me to pen this. They cite several types of man and woman unions as examples to thwart the concerns being expressed over the rising cases of influenced or forced conversions. What escapes the bird’s eye view of these commentators is the inherent difference in the types of unions that they present. Hitting the headlines of late are marital unions executed with the purpose of faith conversion, and not faith conversions for the purpose of marrying someone you want to. There is a world of difference between the two.
To many friends on the ‘secular’ bandwagon, raising of this issue looks like a “bogey” meant to “polarise vote banks”, as Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote in an article. To me and to many of my ilk, an influence-induced or force-induced faith conversion or a demand for conversion post wedding deserves differential treatment and graver inspection. Forced conversion cannot possibly be placed on the same footing as various other inter-caste or inter-faith marriages.
To talk of the two in the same breath in a bid to attack societal concerns is like comparing apples and oranges. And contrary to the belief made popular by incessant ramblings of ‘experts’ on national television and social media, this has more to do with what we, as a society, consider ‘normal’ in the course of a marital union. Do marital compromises include giving up of one’s ideals, beliefs, identity, and even religion under undue force and influence? While the ‘secular’ coterie is pushing to pass off all of the above as ‘normal’ in the name of love, would they also defend the torture meted out to women like Tara Shahdeo solely for the purpose of converting her to her husband’s religion?
The question that begs an answer is: among all that constitutes a marriage, where and how does the question of religious conversion figure in? That religion itself becomes a moot point, the sole purpose and the basis of a marriage is highly contestable, to begin with. The ‘secular’ champions also may first explain the reported deception involved in hiding one’s real name and the fact of religion conversion, and later resorting to torture and violence to convert the spouse, as in the Tara Shahdeo case.
Of course, expecting reasonable or basic comprehension of societal concerns by the Congress is akin to expecting the Congress to run a corruption-free government. My friend from the Congress, by way of explanation of the “bogey”, wrote that “claims that Hindu girls are being lured into marriages by young Muslim boys and are then forced to convert to Islam” are “nothing but an inter-religious marriage”. Much like most of her ‘secular’ cohorts, she, too, seems to have a horribly flawed understanding of either the issue or inter-religious marriages or both.
What missed her ‘research’ is also the observations of judicial institutions like the Kerala and Karnataka High Courts a few years ago, which talked of banning and investigating “compulsive and deceptive conversions” “under the pretext of love”. Even otherwise, any layman’s curiosity should be awakened when reports come up about huge ‘financial assistance’ being extended to poor couples who elope and then one of the two is forced to convert. And while the ‘secular experts’ delve deeper and wonder who coined the “bogey” term ‘love jihad’, I would advise them to do a simple search on the internet. They would be surprised to learn about similar reports coming from and concerns expressed across the world. Then, they may judge what is the difference between true love for marriage and bogey love for marriage, and what is of paramount value―faith between spouses or spouses for faith.