Nothing infuriates cultures, societies and communities more than drug use within their circle or when an outsider from another racial, social, lower-economic group, religious or dharmic background wades in and charms the attractive, desirable, marriageable girl to marry him and convert to his faith group and bring up ‘her’ children in his faith.
It amuses those of my background that a family whose structure is steeped in rite and ritual (religion) or conducted according to the edicts of one’s faith should foam at the mouth when a girl hailing from their community elopes with, or with the support of her parent/s marries, her amour from another faith and follows his tradition.
If all faiths are identical (a red herring ever there was one), then why the knee-jerk sense of loss of ‘respect’? Should you not be pleased that your daughter has left one faith and is now following another faith with greater fervour than she did her own?
There is an art to, and an equal amount of violence in, the practice of religion and dharma. At a religious level, violence constitutes hands-on murder of those who fail to mimic your own religion; at a dharmic level, it is less overt, more sly.
Commonsense takes a vacation and the fervently devout are consumed by a need for vengeance at any cost. But Why?
Philosophically and historically, societies at the apex of materialistic grandeur have a reasonably relaxed attitude towards interracial, intercultural, and interreligious unions. Aryadesh exercised it. So did sub-Saharan Africa, China and the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Now the western world is experimenting with such tolerance. And it is not by some elitist reverse-engineering of mentally retarded notions that such tolerance is allowed.
The basic cause of tolerance and respect of inter-group alliances centres on accumulation of personal wealth. When the masses enjoy a very high standard of material life, their obeisance to the dictates of rite and ritual becomes a lesser priority. But take away the veneer of wealth and the feel-good factor it connotes, and notions of social and communal ‘respect’ become the arbiter of self-esteem and prestige.
If from the apex society a suitor wooed a woman from the financially challenged community, then, somehow, the proposal is accepted in relative terms by both sides. However if the suitor happens from an equal financial community, but of course from an outside faith, then the pain of this union by the girls parents and family is registered in suicidal and vengeance terms, where eye, tooth and life are bartered as if one was at a market buying ones daily ration.
So far, I have focused on the reaction of the ‘victim’ of this cultural insult. Now let me turn the tables on the suitor.
It is seen and enough evidence exists about how ‘high’ an African-American feels landing a European woman as his wife. Regardless of his commercial status, the happy, buzzing, high-heel kicks seldom leave his face, or his peacock walk. The sense of having pulled a master stroke and beguiled the European race and community by winning the affection and love of a European woman seldom leaves his or his communitys’ sense of attaining the unattainable.
However, we read in newspapers the sorry mess that the African-American pop singer Diana Ross had to endure at the hands of the Norwegian shipping magnet’s family whose son chose to marry her instead of a blonde blue-eyed Scandinavian woman.
It seems that if the rich marry ‘beneath’ their racial station then the knives are out for the couple. Yet, the same marriage seen from the racially ‘inferior’ party is viewed as payback for the horrors of centuries of subjugation.
Now, into this mix let us bring the motives of established Indian movie ‘studs’, of whom the vast majority are Muslim, while their partners are invariably from non-Muslim traditions. So, why, when more Muslims live in India than in Pakistan, do these Muslim movie ‘studs’ chase, woo and seduce non-Muslim women?
Is it that by doing so they will enter heaven and be overwhelmed by virgins for the rest of their stay?!
In any case, what is the duration of this heavenly vacation? And what happens to the virgin once deflowered? Is she rejected while he moves on to the next virgin in the queue and so on and so forth? And if heaven truly is heaven, presumably there’s no place for unclean things like blood – so do the virgins soil the sheets and are these hung out to attest to her former virginal state? Is the deed done in the heavenly home, and if so, surely its overcrowded with ancestral males involved in an endless conveyor belt of deflowering virgins. And Muslim women who enter heaven – what is their celestial reward: virgin males with bulging biceps and six-packs?
As I have maintained all my life, I have yet to meet ‘God’. So I seek education in this matter from those who lack my abilities, yet who are somehow more accurately able to state what goes on in Muslim heaven.
So, back to Muslim Bollywood movie stars and ‘studs’ – God’s gift to women and seemingly too good for Muslim women.
Why do these men invariably choose a non-Muslim woman?
Because esteem and wellness accrue from finally being allowed to sit at the high table. Self-respect and self-worth are measured in the ability to chase, woo and marry a non-Muslim Indian citizen. In ordinary life, in the realm of inter-religious marriages that I observe, the most sought-after liaison is with a Sikh partner. Male or female. Among the Sikh men who marry Muslim women, they always consider themselves to be married to a Sikh woman and there is none of the fanfare and shouting from rooftops at having converted a girl to your religion as is the case so often among Muslim men marrying actual Sikh girls.
Sikhs treat their inter-religious marriages as normal Sikh marriages. They never try to radicalise the girl or convert her or her offspring. They marry the people they love and go quietly about their business, believing the union is established by a higher order – nothing more, nothing less. The very opposite is true of Muslims – they mire their wives in emotional turmoil, impelling them to convert, to use a Muslim name and to denounce their origins and heritage.
One day, and I know this day will come: Islamic people will wake up and behave like the tolerant faith they really are.