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As one who has read your article, may I humbly ask you some questions?
1.Your article is titled ‘“Thank You, AAP” – From a Hindu Woman Married to a Muslim Man’. Clearly, you see nothing wrong in placing “AAP” along with “Hindu” and “Muslim” in the same title. However, as “AAP” is a political party whereas “Hindu” and “Muslim” are religious communities, hasn’t the title mixed politics with communalism? When the article’s title has politicized communalism, does the article’s writer have the moral right to accuse others of communalizing politics?
2.You have written, “When we first discussed marriage, my partner said,“Are you sure? ‘Love Jihad‘ is no longer a joke and Modi will become the Prime Minister of the country in less than an (sic) year!”
(a)When your partner said that “Love Jihad is no longer a joke”, wasn’t he implying that it used to be merely “a joke” earlier on? However, was Love Jihad ever merely “a joke”? In fact, far from ridiculing the concept, foreign sociologists are taking serious note of it. Fengyang Yang and Andrew Abel have noted that “affective bonds are of particular salience to conversion . . . either in the form of existing friendships or even short-term acquaintances. Religious leaders from a wide variety of traditions are clearly aware of this phenomenon which helps create social ties through such techniques as ‘love bombing,’ ‘flirty fishing,’ and ‘favour fishing’.” Now that professional sociologists like Yang and Abel are noticing conversion techniques like ‘love bombing’, was your partner right in insinuating that Love Jihad was merely “a joke” in the past?
(b) Your partner made yet another insinuation – that ‘Love Jihad’ was becoming an issue because Modi was about to “become the Prime Minister of the country in less than an (sic) year!” However, were Modi’s Prime Ministerial prospects really the reason for Love Jihad to become an issue? Wasn’t this matter raised by a couple of Christian organisations, that too as early as in 2009? When Christian forums too have expressed concerns about Love Jihad, why did your partner drag in Modi alone? Was it to hide the fact that not only Hindu groups but those of other non-Muslim communities are also uneasy about Muslim demographics?
(c)The Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, on 12th December 2014, publicly said, “Islam ki tabligh hamara deeni fareeza hai, . . . ghar ghar Islam pahunchayiye, inhe inmusharrafba Islam karwayiyeaurshaadiyankijiye”. Isn’t this highly influential Imam’s advice to “convert them and marry them,” that too during a Friday sermon, an open call for Love Jihad?
3. You have written, “What does Modi, or the Indian government, have to do with anyone getting married in our “socialist secular country” which has the Special Marriage Act provision, I wondered!” You were absolutely right in wondering why your partner dragged in Modi. He made it sound as if Modi would personally object to your getting married. In case Modi did any such thing, what legal action did your partner take against him since then? If your partner has not taken any action, is it not because Modi did no such thing? If Modi did not cause him any trouble in reality, don’t you think that your partner’s fear was imaginary? If you admit that it was an imaginary fear, do you think that it is very different from unreasonable hatred? An imaginary fear (or unreasonable hatred) about Hindus, Ms. Aswathy, is known as Hinduphobia.
- As you have used the word “socialist”, are you sure that it is connected to the rest of your article? Do you think that being “socialist” is a necessary pre-condition for a country to be secular? On the other hand, if you accept that non-socialist countries can also be secular, don’t you think that the word “socialist” is irrelevant in your context?
While you do not have to support ABVP even if you are Hindu, should you oppose its pro-feminist steps although you are a woman?
- Your language implies that India has the Special Marriage Act because India is a “secular country”. However, wasn’t the Special Marriage Act passed in 1954 whereas our country was given the “secular” label only in 1977? As the Special Marriage Act was already available when the “secular” label was stuck, doesn’t it indicate the country was essentially secular even before the labelling?
4.You write next, “On the 16th of May last year, six months into our marriage, the Modi-Shah duo became the most powerful couple in the country; I held his hand and said, ‘it’s (sic) ok, we’ll manage’.” Here, you make it sound as if “the Modi-Shah duo” was personally threatening your marriage. If you agree that the duo or any representative of theirs has not threatened your marriage till date, may your readers know who is instilling in you such a victimhood complex when there has been no victimisation at all?
5. Next, “there was the Ghar Wapasi program launched by the VHP and the RSS to end terrorism, as all Muslims are terrorists and if they all become Hindus, terrorism will end and the world will be a better place.”
- Now, isn’t Ghar Wapasi a type of religious conversion? When you are against Ghar Wapasi, why are you silent about the other types of conversion like Dawah? In fact, as Ghar Wapasi (homecoming) is just reactive by definition. In which case, shouldn’t you have written against the other types of conversion before you wrote against this one? Isn’t it strange that you have written against the reaction but not against the action? Or have you started believing that Hindus, being dhimmis, do not have any rights to convert others to their faith unlike the Muslims, who are mumins?
- While you write against “the Ghar Wapasi program launched by the VHP and the RSS”, why don’t you write against the Ghar Wapasi twist by the AIMIM? In case you argue that all fundamentalists are equally bad, then would you kindly explain why you are vociferous against the Hindus but not against the Muslims? Should secularism mean equal treatment of all faiths or harsh treatment of one and soft treatment of another? If you believe that citizens should have a soft corner for minority communities, don’t you think that the same treatment is required only in theocratic countries like Pakistan since the majority community enjoys many constitutional privileges there? Should there be any minority bias in a secular democracy like India where the majority community has no constitutional privilege? Wouldn’t any bias, whether majority or minority, call into question secularism itself? Moreover, is it correct to consider Muslims a minority when they are more numerous than Hindus globally? Even within India, isn’t there a Muslim-majority state and a number of Muslim-majority districts? Muslims, a closely-knit community, are also wealthier than Hindus who are a loosely-knit community.
- Before questioning “the Ghar Wapasi program launched by the VHP and the RSS”, did you read the Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission’s inquiry report on this matter which was submitted to the ‘secular’ state government earlier this month? Moreover, isn’t the number of conversions to Hinduism comparatively insignificant since Hinduism is essentially a non-proselytizing faith and does not possess a supremacist attitude towards other faiths?
- When you accuse the VHP and RSS of suggesting that “all Muslims are terrorists”, aren’t you forgetting that Muslim organisations want to convert all non-Muslims to Islam? If you agree that Muslim bodies do want this, will you tell us why is it that they want to do it?
6. And then there’s this lovely bit you say: “there was the Hanuman Sena that attacked men and women protesting against moral policing by kissing”. Here, you fall into the guilt trap which you fell into earlier by being vociferous against the VHP’s Ghar Wapasi but being silent about AIMIM’s Ghar Wapasi – the trap of being embarrassed by Hindu groups by overlooking the Muslim ones. Just for the record, here’s just one instanceof Muslim groups also doing moral policing. If the Muslim moral police has not attacked anyone yet, is it because they are benevolent or is it because their threat is too real for anyone to ignore? Moreover, isn’t it strange that you know what little-known outfits like Hanuman Sena do but not what better-known parties like Social Democratic Party of India do?
7. You have written, “there was Sakshi Maharaj who demanded Hindu women produce four children each because every Muslim has four wives and 40 children, and that is the only way we, the (sic) 80 per cent of the Indian population, can outnumber the 14 per cent of them.”
- Here, you fall into the guilt trap which you have fallen into,twice earlier – the trap of being ashamed of Hindu groups by overlooking the Muslim ones. When you ridicule Sakshi Maharaj’s statement, why do you remain silent about similar ones emanating from Muslims? Isn’t Maharaj’s statement an unusual one among Hindus while similar ones are commonplace among Muslims? As you are repeatedly falling into the same guilt trap? If yes, why?
- When you ridicule Hindus for thinking that “every Muslim has four wives”, should not you ridicule Muslims even more for wanting to retain such blatant misogyny in their ‘Personal Law’? While I accept that every Muslim does not have four wives, will you accept that every Muslim man has the legal right to have four wives at the same time? Do you think that such community-specific laws should have any place in a secular republic? If you agree that such laws should be replaced with a Uniform Civil Code for all citizens, isn’t SakshiMaharaj’s party the only one to demand the same?
- When you ridicule Hindu leaders for alleging that “every Muslim has four wives”, aren’t you forgetting that many of these leaders are celibate? Compared to them, how many Muslim leaders are celibate? By leading celibate lives, aren’t people like Sakshi Maharaj and Modi helping control population leading by example? Moreover, many of the Hindu leaders are women and some of them, too, are celibate.
- When you ridicule Hindu leaders for saying that every Muslim has “40 children”, why don’t youequally ridicule Muslims who continue to have the largest number of children? While I agree that no single Muslim has 40 children, will you agree that most Muslims have more children than non-Muslims do?
- When you claim that Hindus comprise “80 per cent of the Indian population” while Muslims are merely 14%, are you sure you did your homework on the accuracy of the figures? Moreover, what was the population percentage of Muslims in India when Jinnah’s Muslim League got India partitioned? Also, is it wrong to ask why the Muslim population in India is increasing while the Hindu population in our South-Asian neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh is dwindling?
8.You have written, “there were ABVP units in various universities offering women empowerment classes to female students, advising them to not fall in the ‘trap’ of love because that will protect them from all atrocities against women”. However, if some group is offering “women empowerment classes” or advising women “to not fall in the ‘trap’ of love because that will protect them from all atrocities against women”, don’t you think that they are merely following in the footsteps of hard-core feminists? While you do not have to support ABVP even if you are Hindu, should you oppose its pro-feminist steps although you are a woman?
9.And then you say, “There was an open challenge to the Khans of Bollywood to convert to Hinduism, because that is the only way the Hindu Mahasabha proposes for them to prove their love towards their Hindu wives.”
- While sympathising about “the Khans of Bollywood”, have you ever wondered why the rise of Muslim actors coincided with the fall of Muslim actresses in Hindi films? While Hindu women have married (mostly after conversion) many of Bollywood’s Muslim men, how is it that Muslim women have rarely married (even without conversion) any of Bollywood’s Hindu men? Shouldn’t this religious pattern in interfaith marriages be examined to see if scriptural indoctrination is holding Muslim women back from marrying non-Muslim men?
- While you mention a so-called “open challenge to the Khans of Bollywood to convert to Hinduism”, aren’t you forgetting the fact that there have been many actual conversions to Islam in the same industry? Was there no pressure at all in the conversions of Sharmila Tagore, Reena Roy, Amrita Singh, PoojaBedi, SangeetaBijlani, Aditi Govitrikar, TanviAzmi, Roopa Jain (wife of Farooq Sheikh), Sushila Charak (wife of Salim Khan), etc? Are you aware that Amir Khan has said that though his wife is free to remain Hindus, “his children will be Muslims”? If you agree that Amir’s statement was patriarchal, doesn’t the “open challenge to the Khans of Bollywood to convert to Hinduism” serve to expose his patriarchy?
10. You have written, “the fifth Church was attacked (in less than a year) in Delhi this January and the police arrested the Christians and activists protesting, as peaceful protesters are a menace!”
- Are you sure that the churches were really “attacked”? Did terrorists go on a rampage the way in which they killed 33 people and wounded 80 others in the Akshardham Temple attack (Gandhinagar)? Or was it in the way they killed 25 people in the Raghunath Temple attacks (Jammu)? Or was it in the way they bombed the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple (Varanasi)? Or were the churches defiled in the way rioters desecrated the Deganga temples? Or were the churches burnt to the ground the way the Islamic State set Yazidi temples afire? Or have Christ’s statues been demolished the way the Taliban destroyed the Buddha statues in Afghanistan?
- If you are referring to those five churches that were vandalised or robbed in Delhi, why do you forget the 206 temples which were also vandalised or robbed in the same state?
- When you write that “the police arrested the Christians and activists protesting, as peaceful protesters are a menace”, don’t you remember the midnight police brutality against Baba Ramdev and his followers who were sleeping? Were those sleeping protestors “a menace”, Aswathy? Or are their lives less important because they were Hindus?
11.You have written about “the Hindu Mahasabha’s open threat to couples found hugging in public places this 14th.” However, why have you not written about what Muslim organisations had to say about “hugging in public places”?
12.You have also written about the “46 year old” who stood up in the Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections. Are you sure that the AIMIM’s not-so-secret support to AAP had no communal role to play in its electoral success? Are you also sure that Okhla’s Sri Amanatullah Khan is a truly secular legislator?
13.You have written, “I know I will never understand how my husband feels when there is a bomb blast in some part of the world and the first suspect of the media is a Muslim organisation.”
- May we know why your husband identifies himself with the suspect for the blast instead of the victims of the blast?
- As far as understanding others is concerned, will we ever understand how a Hindu girl feels in Pakistan when she is forcibly converted to Islam and married to a Muslim man? Will we ever understand how distraught the parents of Hindu girls become in Pakistan when their daughters are abducted and converted? Notable caseshappen to be when Rinkle became Faryal, Lata became Hafsa, Asha became Haleema, Manisha became Mehwish, Anjali became Salma. The list is endless but this grave issue is rarely if ever mentioned in the mainstream discourse.
13. Next you write, “I will never understand why he says “Salaam” softly in a public place when one of his relatives call.”
- Why does your husband need to greet his relatives in a manner which is different from the one he greets non-relatives in? Isn’t a community-specific greeting such as “salamalaikum” a marker of communalism? Is there any English-educated Hindu today who greets other Hindus with Ram Ram (assuming that Ram is the most communal of all words in the world)? If most Hindus have secularised their greetings and all other forms of living, why can’t Muslims do the same?
- If your husband suggests that Indian Muslims are forced to hide their religious behaviour, will you ask him why Indian mosques are not forced to mute their azaans or Muslims are not forced to discard their skull-caps, ankle-length pyjamas, moustache-less beards, burqas etc?
14.You have written, “I will never understand why somewhere he is glad that his Christian-sounding name creates an ambiguity about his religious identity.” If he is glad to have a “Christian-sounding name”, does it not indicate that Christians are living freely in India? If you agree that Christians are indeed living freely in India, don’t you think that the so-called attacks on churches are mere robberies (the way hundreds of temples are robbed regularly)? On the other hand, if Muslims are really not living freely in India, shouldn’t they do some introspection too? What steps have they taken to instil confidence in other communities which are concerned over jihadi terrorism, Muslim over-population, aggressive conversions, and so on? Is it fair to blame the Hindu majority which did not mind India being secular despite the country being partitioned on religious grounds as per the demands of the Muslim League? Is it fair to blame the Hindus who were ruled by Muslims for around 800 years, a rule infamous for the genocide of Hindus and discriminatory policies like jizya and large scale temple demolitions?
15.Awasthy then you write this: “I will never understand how he feels in this country today, because I was born a (sic) Hindu.”
There’s no other way to say this but it appears that someone has planted a sense of deep guilt in you just for being Hindu.You are almost embarrassed by Hinduism despite it being the most liberal and inclusive of all faiths. However, if you consider the possibility that Hinduism is more sinned against than sinning, you would be able to uproot this sense of guilt. If you can be a little fair and open-minded, and a less unkind to this gentle faith, you might discover that Sanatana Dharma is the best gift we can give our next generation.
With warm regards,
A proud Hindu
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