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Inchoate images of Changing India –Tales from Here and There
Saturday August 23, 2014 8:09 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba,

In South Asia Contact Group that I moderate a debate has set been set into motion on issues like religious conversion, Muslim- Hindus marriages, opposition to them, branding them as love jihad and the issue of Bangladeshi infiltration in northeast India particularly West Bengal where there is a fear of change in the demographic profile. Reading the views of the learned members, a plethora of thoughts are flowing into my funnel and I like to randomly pen them down for the consideration of my readers.

The first point that’s debated is the historical antecedents of Muslim conversion in India. The Sword theory is being belted out keeping the Boat theory under the wraps. Well Muslims were found in India roughly two decades after the birth of Islam in Arabia. Historical records say that the first mosque came up in Kerala barely 30 years after the death of prophet of Islam. A few decades later a sprinkling of Muslim population was found in the Hindus holy city Beneras. Did they emerge through the sword of Islam? The conversion to Islamic faith in India began with the arrival of boats from Arabia to the Malabar Coast. All this was some five centuries before the Muslim’s conquest of Hindustan.

If at all the Sword theory comes into play its only in the 12th century AD, precisely after 1162 AD when Slauddin Gohri opened the flood gates of India to usher in the Muslim rule in India. There is no recorded history that the marching Muslim armies played any role in conversion of the local people to Islamic faith using the strong arm tactics of sword of Islam.

Historical recorded of the chroniclers of that time say that along with the Muslim armies a stream of Muslim Sufi saints came to India on a mission to provide solace to the teeming millions. Their graves dot the entire length and breadth of the country and testify their geographical spread. It’s a matter of fact that the number of graves of Muslim Sufi saints far outnumber of the graves of the Muslim rulers in India.

The Muslim Sufi saints by the conduct of their daily life and various practices won the hearts of the Indian population. The people of the country held them in much higher reverence then the rulers of the day. Their worldly abode was frequented by the rulers of the day who made a beeline to get their wishes fulfilled. The stories of conversion to Islamic faith in India are attributed to such noble souls who lived into the people’s hearts and they came to them voluntarily to be taken under their wings. The change of faith came from the call of the consciousness and not from the sword of Islam at least that’s what the chroniclers have recorded history.

The testimony to this fact is while the graves of the Muslim ruler’s are just monumental symbols in India, the grave of Sufi saints are living temples in the country. The resting place of the Muslim Sufi saints is visited more by the Hindus then Muslims is an undeniable fact is the country.

In the conversation debate hidden is the human bondage theory. The number of people who been librated from bondage of human tyranny by the Islamic faith reflects upon the Muslim population in India, the second largest in the world. This facet of the human story is hidden from the multitude because it paints Hindu faith in grey color.

In order to counter the bondage theory a canard of sword theory is spread by some misguided elements to generate hatred against the Muslims and to unite the Hindu folks in the country. This diabolic propaganda has seeped into the minds of the countrymen many Hindu brethren remain ignorant about this historical truth.

Another debate in the South Asia Contact Group is the concern towards inter-religious marriage taking place in contemporary India. There are two facets to this phenomenon. One is religious, other is temporal. While religion is clear in its definition, the temporal part is case specific. Many Muslims have apathy towards marrying Hindus because their religion forbids them to do so. This fact that religion cannot be tempered with, and in such cases it is the individuals who have to adjust to the temporal reality. The opposition of Hindu- Muslim families are valid in religious sense but they have to willingly or unwilling accept the facts as facts. There are instances where such unions are forcibly separated and in some cases results in honor killings are something that has to be looked upon by the society and peaceful coexistence has to be practiced.

In this context two cases needs mention, one a Hindu girl marrying a Muslim boy and other the reverse case. The Hindu girl who is happily married to a Muslim boy, it’s easy for her to adjust in the Muslim household, while its extremely difficult for the Muslim girl to adjust in Hindu household due to elaborate rituals being practiced. The Muslim girl has to leave husband’s house because she was not able to adjust with the religious practices in that household. She had to ask her husband to choose between her and his family, and she walked out when her husband preferred his family.

The case of Rizwanur Rehman is a classic example on such developments in the country. In the TV programme Styamev Jeatye, Rizwan’s mother gave a graphic account of his son’s death. Many hearts moved hearing her tale where a Hindu family opposed the marriage of their daughter to a Muslim boy and even went to the extent to take his life. Well this one account of inter-religious marriages, there are many successful marriages happing with their lives moving at their own pace.

Added to it is the love Jihad theory, another canard that is being spread in the country to perpetrate Hindu-Muslim divide. Those who are unable to come to terms with the social reality are spreading such story of love jihad. This diabolic propaganda has again seeped into the minds of many Hindu brethren. They are unable to adjust with the social change and cannot accept modernization of the tradition taking place in the country.

Adding on to the communal overtones is the issue of Bangladeshi infiltration in northeastern part of India. Bangladeshis entering into Assam, west Bengal Tripura is a national concern. The problem has historical, geographical, social, political and economical in nature but there is no religious angle to it. However, the propaganda that Bangladeshis Muslim infiltrators are going to change the demographic profile of India is being done to polarize the Indian society on religious lines. This is the funniest of all anti Muslim propaganda spread in the country. What Indian Muslims has to do If Bangladeshi Muslims coming to India? Why Indian Muslims are put under pressure for the acts of foreign nationals? The BJP-RSS government that is currently saddled in power has to address this national concern and put the controversy to rest once and for all.

It’s an irony of sorts that in 1905 when the Partition of Bengal took place, the Hindu Bengalis tooth and nail opposed that Partition evoking nationalist feelings. This was because they wanted to lord over the Muslim peasantries who served as their surfs. With the twist of history, when Bengal again got partitioned on communal lines, the same folks do not want their linguistic halves entering their side of the border. Now they are dubbed as Muslim infiltrators who are coming to change their demography.

Even though there is no official statistics on changing demography, this diabolic propaganda has seeped into the minds of many Hindu brethren. They view it in communal terms.

One wonders if East and West Bengal again gets united by any chance, how this theory of Bangladeshi infiltrators changing the demographic profile of United Bengal will unfold itself. The footnote to this could be suggestive reading on the Hindu peasantry’s conversion to Islamic faith in East Bengal. This will negate the sword theory and establish the supremacy of the liberation of human bondage up the ladder.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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