UP government has approved the Law against so called ‘Love Jihad’ in November 2020. Hindutva hardliners describe Love Jihad as a “conspiracy” to convert gullible Hindu women to Islam by misleading them with promises of love.
Targeting Muslims has become an everlasting schema of communal forces since pre-independence period. The trumpet of interreligious marriages and objection to it was blown during the religious tensions of 1920s and 1930s. Hindu nationalist groups in parts of northern India launched an orchestrated propaganda campaign against so called “abductions” and conversions of Hindu women by Muslim men ranging from allegations of rape, luring, love and forced marriages, although the term “love jihad” was not used at that time. This trumpet was blown again under the title of Love Jihad in 2014 elections in Uttar Pradesh. Not only individual Muslim men were targeted but there were also rumours about a “global Islamist conspiracy” to lure Hindu women. Social media and messaging services were used to spread the message that Muslim men are forcibly converting Hindu women for marriage and increasing the number of minorities to majority portraying ‘Hindus are in danger’. Hoax photos and videos showing harassment and violence towards Hindu women married to Muslim men were also spread in large numbers to brainwash people’s mind. Same drama is continued even today giving rise to laws against interfaith marriages particularly among Hindu women and Muslim men naming it exclusively in Islamic title ‘Jihad’.
So it is important first and foremost to clear the meaning of Jihad. The term Jihad can be explained as exerting one’s utmost endeavor in promoting a noble cause. It’s an auspicious struggle – a struggle for the cause of Almighty Allah to change the views and minds of people to bring down tyrannical social system and establish a new order based on justice and fairplay. Jihad can be through spoken words, writing or by physical exertion. People are misled into believing that ‘Jihad in the way of Allah’ means forcible conversion of people to the faith of Islam. The phrase ‘in the way of Allah’ is misinterpreted to give it a negative connotation. The phrase ‘In the way of Allah or For the cause of Allah’ has a wider interpretation which means ‘An act done for collective wellbeing of mankind without any material consideration and solely to win the favour of Allah. For example charity given for helping a poor only to win favour of Allah is an act deemed fit to be called as ‘Charity in the way of Allah’ or for the cause of Allah’.
It is reported in Hadith that a man asked the Prophet (PBUH)
“What does ‘War in the cause of Allah imply ? One man may fight for material gain; another may fight in order to gain a reputation for valour; a third may fight for vengeance or for national honour. Which of these men is a fighter in the way of Allah?
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “None of them. Only he fights in the way of Allah who seeks no other purpose than the glorification of Allah.
It is obvious to any sound mind that if the purpose is to please and glorify Allah the act cannot be free from perfect sincerity, honesty, justice. So those who struggle or wage Jihad in fact have to abide by divine law without crossing limits and maintaining God fearing attitude.
Allah likes morality and discipline even in noble causes and orders to promote and follow it. Allah has separated the right course from wrong course and left the decision on individuals to make their own selection with the freedom of choice gifted to them for their test of life. It is therefore mentioned clearly “There is no compulsion and coercion in regard to religion” (Quran chapter 2:256) Hence relating a cunning act like organizing a love drama for the sake of forceful conversion cannot be called “Love Jihad” and also the term is nowhere used in Quran and nor in the teachings of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). That is because a forceful conversion cannot fulfill the essential conditions of being a ‘Muslim’ which means ‘One who totally submits, surrenders and serves as an obedient servant of One God by his words as well as actions with its belief deeply rooted in his/her heart.
One of the plots of the communal forces for targeting Muslims in India is fictionalizing and manipulating history. Stories of Mughals are like fairy tales for the people to keep them in fantasy world of ‘Muslims are bad and harmful to India’.
Movie Padmavat appearing to be drama of Love Jihad was in fact a fictional story. Historians like Ramya Sreenivasan from University of Pennsylvania and the author of book on Padmavati state that character called Padmavati and Allauddin khilji appear in different times of history and nowhere connected to each other. Padmavati in fact was a heroin of Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s poem Padmavati written in Awadhi in 1540, 224 years after the Death of Allauddin Khilji.
Akbar married Jodha not for the sake of religion or conversion but as a political alliance. Permission was granted to Jodha to worship in Hindu way and also gave her increased clout over political matters. She was only queen among all other Muslim queens of Akbar who was given the sole authority to issue farman which was normally the privilege of Emperor.
As we find in history Muslim emperors marrying Hindu women, so is the case with Hindu kings marrying Muslim women. Man Singh I of Amber – trusted general of Akbar married Bibi Mubarak- daughter of Azam Khan and niece of Akbar. 13th Wife of Gaj Singh I of Marwar was Anara Bai Begum. Bappa Rawal – the great Rajput ruler of Mewar had 100 wives out of which 35 were Muslims Ruler daughters.
Even today there are many couples with interreligious marriage, some preferring to maintain their own faith even after marriage with a secular approach towards the life while others accept the faith of the partner willingly. Both cases have seen a successful married life. Cases of harassment and violence in women are completely different which may occur in marriages within same communities too. It is the communal forces who politicize the marriage and sometimes even convince the families to radicalize the issue as was the case of Hadiya from Kerala. This is the reason that though India’s Special Marriage Act allows interfaith marriages, the couples prefer to avoid it due to its wearisome procedures and fear of intervention of family and others to prevent the wedding.
Approval of a Law against interreligious marriages has now made it more difficult for couples to marry anyone of their choice since it will be very difficult to prove legally their willingness for the marriage. Thus this Law can be misused to put Muslim men behind bars or eliminate them from the surface of the country which is the ulterior motive of right wing forces. The Law also closes doors for future lawful and willing conversions even if the reason is not for marriage purpose since the converter will be put under most rigorous scanner due to this law and every effort will be made to punish him for hurting the sentiments of Far- Right organizations. Thus the right to worship and adore God in a form of one’s own choosing will be seized. The Law also communalizes the citizenship by restricting it against only Muslim men and exempting Hinduism from the scope of the ordinance. But it is not guaranteed whether the Dalits and Adivasis are eligible for marrying outside their castes. Surely this will also prick in the eyes of the enemies of Love and extend the Law artfully for them too.