Posted on September 12, 2014

Vote Jihad

It was common practice to offer a princess’s hand in marriage to a King for political affiliation. Akbar knew that establishing a foothold in India would not be possible without the support of the Rajput Chiefs. One way to win them over was through matrimonial alliance.

The Rajput princesses who entered Akbar’s harem through political alliances were free to practise the religion of their choice. Hindu festivals were celebrated in the Mughal court with no less vigour than the Islamic ones. Relatives of the princesses were pleased with high posts in the Mughal administration in return. With the help of the Mughal, the Rajput and Hindu Chiefs could stabilise their political positions and conquer new territories.

Thus such alliances were purely political, mutually beneficial where one could possibly trace love in some form but definitely no deceit or jihad. The first Rajput Akbar married was Jodha Bai in 1562 A.D. Jodha remained a Hindu and transformed into being the love of the Emperor from a sulking political pawn. Smitten by love the Emperor extended his affection to all Hindus. In 1563 he abolished a tax levied on pilgrims to Hindu shrines; in 1564 he put an end to the jizya, or annual tax on non-Muslims levied in return for Muslim protection; propagated a new religion Din-e-ilahi in which he vaguely tried to combine practices of Islam and Hinduism.

Jodha gave birth to Salim (Jehangir), the future emperor. Salim’s first Hindu wife was Man Bai, the daughter of the then Governor of Punjab. Way back on 13th of February 1585 this wedding was solemnised as per Hindu and Muslim rituals! Jehangir also built a temple in his palace for his Rajput mother, Rajput wife and their friends. Muslim rulers taking Hindu wives was common during the Muslim rule though vice versa isn’t much heard of.

Such wed locks continued even in the modern era. No point in mentioning the laymen who dared inter-faith marriages. The newspapers keep us update about many such aborted attempts. There have always been so called protectors of the society who sought checks on love alliances; be it the legendry Romeo and Juliet, Shirin and Farhad or Sohni and Mahiwal. Khap Panchayat and its likes have always existed and restricted lovers across lines of caste, class, faith, race or border. But that has not deterred girls and boys from falling in love and taking forward this relationship in the form of marriage. Music Director Anu (Anwar) Malik is married to Anju; VJ and anchor Mini Mathur is married to film director Kabir Khan; actor Farooq Sheikh’s wife Rupa is a Gujarati Hindu; Mira Nair, director, is married to Professor Mahmood Mamdani of Columbia University, a Ugandan Muslim; Imtiaz Ali, director, is married to Priti; Latika, daughter of Sheila Dixit, ex- Chief Minister of Delhi, is married to Mr Syed, a Muslim; Bharatiya Janata Party’s Muslim faces, Late Sikander Bakht , Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Syed Shahnawaz Husain all married Hindu women; Sarod player Amjad Ali Khan married Subhalaxmi, an Assamese Hindu; of late the more popular inter-faith celebrity marriages are of Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri, Amir Khan and Kiran and Saif Ali and Kareena Kapoor.

These are some of the known people who crossed barriers of faith in love. The list can be endless but the question still remains- where is jihad in these alliances? How many of these ladies were forced to convert or give up their faith in any which way? Or are the propagators of “love jihad” trying to say that only the common unknown Muslim is aiming at conversion and addition of Muslim population through off-springs from such alliances? I don’t have to dig deep into history for examples. I am a Hindu Brahmin, married to a Muslim since 17 years and my children are named Nishka and Anwesh Shivam! Ours wasn’t a runaway wedding; we were blessed under both Hindu and Muslim rituals in the presence of the elders of both sides. In fact my husband’s grandmother was a Rajput! Hence this concept of “love jihad” the alleged phenomenon, where Muslim boys lure Hindu girls into relationships and later marriage and conversions, is quite an innovative agenda, I must say. Ironically, the man accused of defending the drive is Akhilesh Yadav, a Hindu! This assault on Akhilesh Yadav launched by the state BJP Chief Lakshmikant Bajpai clearly indicates, say the analysts, BJP’s intention to reclaim the largest state on the strength of its Hindutva appeal. The politicians have tried to create a divide on all possible lines, high time they dropped the do-gooder mask and coined a real term, “Vote Jihad”!

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