Mandya: Ashitha-Shakeel wedding sparks debate on crony religion-patriarchy nexus

Mysuru/Bengaluru, Apr 19: Conceptualisation of so called 'Love Jihad' is no doubt an ugly affair of patriarchal right wing minds. It is a well known fact that the sane minds across the world stand unite to say love has no 'religious boundaries'.

But the question that arises amidst frantic maligning Love Jihad campaign by the right wing fundamentals backed by some section of conservative Hindus is, does 'conversion' necessary to get 'religious sanction' for the 'wedding' in the 21th century modern era.


A recent wedding of Hindu female Ashitha and Muslim male Shakeel Ahmed has sparked a debate on many dimensions on inter-faith weddings after their private affair became public. It has to be recalled that when a few members of a well known saffron brigade from Mandya district learnt that a Hindu girl was set to marry a Muslim boy, the activists of an outfit wasted no time to protest against the act, which they term as Love Jihad.

Activists were seen arguing that Shakeel in a bid to convert Ashitha, has opted for the marriage route and he enticed the girl to allegedly fall into the trap. But the left and the liberals came to the rescue of the couple in their own way and finally the wedding took place under tight police security in Mysuru.

But the harsh reality that remained unanswered was, in an apparent act of conversion, a Hindu girl embraced Islam and during the wedding 'Ashitha' changed her name to 'Shaistha'. Father of Ashitha aka Shaistha, Narendra Babu speaking to OneIndia said "I am happy to give my daughter to Shakeel and be a part of triumph of love."

Babu said he was shocked and happy at the same time when he got to know about the love affair through his daughter as Shakeel's father is good friend of him since 50 years. "Initially I tried a lot to stop my daughter from getting into wedlock with Shakeel considering his religion. We treated her in counseling centers and sent her to UK to try and erase Shakeel from her mind, but nothing worked."

The friendship between Ashitha-Shakeel is 12 years old and Babu says he realised that its true love thus resolving to get Ashitha married to Shakeel. On asking about Ashitha changing her name, Babu said its in the custom of Islam since male belongs to the Muslim community. He admitted that she will follow Islam customs and he has no problems with it.

Rigidity in Islam

Islam stresses on conversion to gain religious and community sanction of the marriage between believer and non-believer. It works the same for a man as well as a woman. "Even a male has to convert into Islam in order to marry," said a person working in one of the largest Islam conversion centers in Kerala, Maunathul Islam Association on the condition of anonymity.

Basically it is not conversion, it is re-conversion. Those who have gone astray from Islam are coming back to the fold to once again become a believer. Responding to whether if a boy or a girl does not convert into Islam what would happen to the wedding, he said wedding cannot be termed Islamic and it has no space in the religion.

Maulavi from Kondotty of Malappuram district in Kerala, Abid Musliyar opined that according to Quran one need not convert into Islam to get married to a Muslim boy or a Muslim girl. However the condition put on non believer is, he has to be a sympathiser of Islam and he should not oppose any practices of Islam religion. "One has to fit the definition of Ahul Kitab (nonbelievers named by Allah or sympathisers) to be eligible to marry a Muslim," he informed.

Liberals' take

Karnataka, Democratic Youth Federation of India, President Muneer Katipalla though say cheers to inter-faith wedding of Ashitha-Shakeel, is however averse to the idea of conversion for the sake of marriage. "But we can't help. It is not the fault of Ashitha and Shakeel, it is the fault of whole system," Muneer rued.

He argued ordinary people cannot think keeping away the prism of religion when it comes to marriage. On the other hand society demands religious identity. The religion and patriarchy goes hand in hand. Due to the patriarchal mindset, most of the time women embrace religion or the caste of their husbands in inter-faith marriages. Albeit there are instances of men coming into the fold of religion of women, the numbers are very less.

Author of a book, Njan Qutubuddin Ansari ( I am Qutubuddin Ansari ) Saheed Roomy said Islam is highly patriarchal religion and very rigid. In the marriages also 'P' (patriarchy) rears its ugly head. "In my opinion religion should be of zero significance in an inter-faith marriage. But it is not happening like that as people fail to see marriage beyond religion," Roomy observed.

OneIndia News


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