Is There Truth To Such Allegations Or Is It Being Used To Police Muslim Girls?
We have all heard about “love jihad”, a sinister narrative designed by the Hindu Right which argues that Muslim men are on a mission to convert Hindu girls by various means. The allegation is that Muslim men pose as Hindus initially and once they get married to Hindu girls, they pressurize them to convert to Islam.
This story of using love as a tool of conversion was initially told by some churches in Kerala but it gained considerable traction in North India. Various state governments enacted stricter laws to “safeguard” Hindu women from falling into the trap of Muslim men. All such advertised cases though turned out to be completely false. Hindu women came on camera to state that they had married and converted out of their own will; that there was no luring or force involved in the process.
It does not help that the Muslim religion insists on conversion if one of the spouses is from any religion other than that of Ahl-e-Kitab, People of The Book. Normally, the Hindu religion too should be included in the list of Ahl-e-Kitab, but Muslim clerics’ sense of superiority over other religions keeps them from following the Holy Quran. They include only Christianity and Judaism in this list, although Quran said there are no people on earth who were not sent prophets and no prophets who were not given revelations. It’s these revelations that constitute Books when they are collected. There is no debate about the necessity of insisting on this practice of converting to Islam any spouse other than from Ahl-e-Kitab within the Muslim community even after so many centuries.
Through the social media, we have been made aware that now there is a “reverse love-jihad” going on in our country. Called the “Bhagwa/Saffron love-trap”, the basic parameters of its definition is a carbon copy of “love-jihad”. It refers to Hindu boys posing as Muslims in order to lure Muslim girls and ultimately convert them to Hinduism. Over some years, this fear of loosing girls to the “other side” is gaining traction. We have seen that love jihad was a bogey, designed to defame the Muslim community. But what is the veracity of “Bhagwa love trap?” It appears that even in this case, there is hardly any reliable data to ascertain the claims that the Muslim side is making.
It is true that certain Hindu organizations from time to time have been speaking in public about “claiming” Muslim girls as if these girls are not human but property. From the portals of various Dharam Sansads, we have heard things about Muslim girls which should put any democracy to shame. At the same time, they also instill a certain fear within the Muslim community regarding their future in this country. Added to this is the huge reluctance on the part of the ruling establishment to prosecute those who are indulging in such vicious propaganda with the express intention of de-humanizing the Muslim community. We have seen this depravity and loss of a moral compass when some Hindu youth decided to “auction” Muslim girls online. Despite claims of belonging to the lofty ideals of Sanatan tradition, it is clear that for some of these Hindu organizations, the model of emulation has remained the Islamic State, who were selling and buying female slaves in Syria.
Such Hindu right-wing rhetoric of converting Muslim girls might have some willing executioners but is it true that there is grand conspiracy behind this? The Muslim social media is rife with such allegations, blaming the other side (read Hindus) for planning to divest their Muslim sisters of their revealed religion. However, after watching many such posts, one does not get to know the source of this information. Neither is there any way to verify the claim that “thousands of Muslim girls have already been converted” by organized gangs of Hindus. All such videos refer to some of the speeches that have been made by “our religious leaders.” Therefore, in all probability, the source of such information are the speeches of various Ulama.
One such video is that of Sajjad Nomani, the spokesman of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board and an influential religious scholar. In this video, he makes certain startling claims, but doesn’t care to tell us what is his source of information. Some of the claims that he makes are:
– Eight lakh Muslim women have become apostates after marrying Hindu men
– RSS has created and trained a large team of Hindu men and women for this purpose
– To achieve this end, Hindu men are put into training where they learn to speak refined Urdu and even say Inshallah and Mashallah
– Each “successful” Hindu man is given 2.5 lakhs and is helped in getting a job, etc.
– This is a big conspiracy against Muslims and Islam and billions of dollars are being pumped from abroad and within the country for this purpose.
However, to repeat, Nomani does not cite a single source to back his claim. Perhaps he thinks that there is no need of doing so. After all, his followers have been lapping up the allegations made in the video and presenting it as sacred truth. It appears that the source of all such feeds flooding the Muslim social media is the video of Sajjad Nomani itself. One is certainly not saying that everything that Sajjad Nomani is saying is bogus. However, not citing any source for his claims amounts to fear mongering. At a time when Muslims are already in a beleaguered state, instilling more fear and insecurity in them is a recipe for social strife.
But let us suppose that all such claims are true. Then what should be the Muslim response to it? The best response which any enlightened community would take is to better educate their girls so that they have the capacity to make informed decisions about their partners. However, it is unfortunate that the Muslim community’s response if that of increased policing of girls, which borders on plain harassment. There are videos proclaiming schools and colleges as sites where Hindu men are meeting Muslim girls and Muslim parents are told to keep a watch on their daughters. They are being told not to give them mobile phones as it the major source of this fitna. And they are being told to send their daughters to Muslim only schools so that they do not meet boys and girls from another religion.
Groups of Muslims boys have already assumed the responsibility of rescuing their “sisters.” This has taken the form of naked vigilantism as being reported from some parts of the country. A video from Madhya Pradesh tells the harrowing tale of a Muslim girl and a Hindu boy who were out together. A group of young Muslim men surround them and question the girl’s ‘purpose’ of hanging out with a non-Muslim boy. The girl, tries to take issue with the mob but is quickly silenced by ferocious male voices. They tell her that she is besmirching the name of Islam. The boy, shaking and shivering, is slapped and abused. In the last couple of weeks such videos of Muslim vigilantism have worryingly surfaced from Aurangabad, Patna and Meerut.
In the name of stopping “Bhagwa love trap”, the action of such Muslim groups is nothing but the desire to police women’s movement with the ultimate objective of domesticating her. We already saw this third-rate masculinity at work during the so-called love jihad campaign where Hindu girls were similarly policed and harassed by Hindu men. Thankfully, there were a number of Hindu women who spoke openly against this intimidation. But when it comes to Muslims, the number of girls in arena of higher education is already miniscule and hence we might not see the kind of resistance which we saw within the Hindu society. The singular effect of this rabid vigilantism will only result in the further exclusion and marginalization of Muslim women.
Muslims need to realize that such vigilantism might even become counterproductive. Young men can brag about the fact that they stopped their ‘sisters’ from meeting men from other religions, but Muslim girls will certainly construe this as one more effort to block their progress. Finding a dead end, some of them would naturally start to detest this religion and start to look for an exit. These apostates will not be created because of a sinister design by the Hindus but simply because of the hooliganism perpetrated by their “brothers in Islam.”
A regular contributor to NewAgeIslam.com, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia.
First Published on newageislam.com