Millennium Post

Love in times of love jihad

Shoot me’ he said, with his hand on his chest. ‘There is no greater glory than to die for love.’ If today someone asks me what I feel is the epitome of love, I would tell them the above mentioned quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the time of Cholera. For love, much like cholera is a disease that endures both physical and emotional plague and yet revels in the pain (unrequited) love inflicts.

While Marquez’s idea of love is an all-encompassing one, love in Indian context makes the idea lose some relevance. Here love is not just love, it is a nightingale whose feathers have been clipped  by the scissors of religion, its feet are bound by the chains of caste and creed; its throat has been throttled by the clutch of a thousand rudimentary ideas that have been enmeshed in the social psyche since ages.

Our words try and create an imaginary world where we accept people of all religion in general, but when it comes to our own family, we cannot accept ‘an outsider’ as our son/daughter in law. This lack of acceptance is an offshoot of mistrust, something that has been foisted in our minds since many decades now. ‘Only a person with similar belief can respect our faith.’ While we enjoy watching inter-religious love tales in reel, it is something we distance from in real life.

Deceit and inconstancy have seeped into relations based on love. Whatever might be the reason, people fall out of love, mainly because we have forgotten how to stick to faithfulness. But isn’t being honest or dishonest a behavioral aspect, driven more by the natural instincts and conditioning even before that veneer of religion starts playing its part? Isn’t labeling an entire community just because of few people who have lost track of humanity, both restrictive and regressive?

There are crimes committed against women of all communities, some communities are targeted more than other, some real cases and some made-up just to fan the fire of disunity, making them breeding grounds for more mistrust. But amidst all this what is forgotten is, ‘How are we supposed to treat our women and how are we actually treating them?’ The real problem lies in the patriarchal notion of claiming right on a woman’s body. Right over a woman’s body from birth is the property of patriatchy.First the father, then the husband and at last the son. Father, who claims the right over the body, also exerts the right to decide, whom to ‘hand over’ the body to. Even when love marriages are prevalent nowadays, they are mostly accepted with the ‘boy should be of this community and not that’ sword hanging over the head of the girl.

If at all, a couple shows courage to break all bounds set by the community patriarchs and marry each other, just for love, their life is made miserable from either side. Exerting superiority by giving no place to a woman’s desires and choices, the community patriarchs do every single thing they can to prevent the ‘catastrophe’ from happening, for they choke to understand a simple thing that a person (woman) can accept an individual they love, along with their beliefs, on free will. The resort they find to fan the fire of their religious differences is through the violence they inflict upon the lives of such couples, who would have otherwise lived happily ever after. Inter-religious rapes, abduction, killings of kith and kin, and ‘Love Jihad’ are all ramifications of the communal disharmony and mistrust that have seeped into the soil of this nation.

There are two particular problem areas in the definition of Love Jihad, which is, targeting girls belonging to Non Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love. One is ‘targeting’, which makes it as a conscious act conducted for a specific purpose in mind. Second is ‘feigning’, which means love is never involved. It’s an artifice, purely for the sake of religious conversion.

These two words immediately objectify the woman who is tricked into a relationship with the man who actually does not love her at all. While the Love Jihadi wants to possess her for nurturing his own reading of the theological texts, the anti love jihadis wants to acquire her to safeguard their own beliefs.

While the jury is still out there, and I wish the matters come to close peacefully, my only concern is the women.Those who are sandwiched between two conflicting arguments, have their well being compromised and ignored completely. Women who fall a prey to the Love Jihad trap tend to suffer the most. Not only the illusion of love they have been creating around themselves turn out to be false, but because they are forced to become something they are not, and not just on religious grounds. They not only feel the pressure of the religious conversion, but also of the deep rooted angst of the loss of faith, and the guilt accompanying it. To make things worse they are physically and mentally traumatized.

Any atrocity committed on women that debases them from being respected individuals of the society should be condemned, no matter people of which community involve into it. A crime is a crime, and treating another human being as an object, degrading their life to a subhuman level, seizing their zest to breathe, is one of the worst crimes of all.

These are mad times, mad because people have lost the power to love, the spirit of acceptance and the solace in solidarity. There is no magical realism here, just a stark reality on the face, of bizarre times and plasticised people that are adamant to annihilate the all-embracing nature of love. How can we ever expect them to understand, ‘there is beggary in love that can be reckoned’? Love is dead.

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