Hindu Muslim marriages – 1 : Rizwanur in Kolkata, Raimah Bibi in Kualalampur, and Shah Jahan in Kashmir
There is a lot of talk about Hindu Muslim marriages, and most of the reports I come across in the media appear to conclude that Hindus are fanatical religious bigots who object, oppose, and kill in order to prevent “love” matches between Hindus and Muslims. I will start this sequence of posts with two modern and one historical cases.
Rizwanur was found dead near railway tracks in Kolkata. Amidst trial by media which more or less indicted the Todis, an influential Hindu business family having roots in Rajasthan but now resident in Kolkata – whose daughter had married the practising Muslim, Rizwanur. There were storms of emotional protests by Kolkata-ns with the now fashionable candle-light vigils to book the “murderers”. CBI was requested to intervene, and after lengthy investigations they ruled in favour of “suicide” by Rizwanur, but thought that there were sufficient reasons to justify chargesheeting “abettors” to this suicide, which of course included the in-laws of Rizwanur. Here of course “love” triumphs, especially because the “love” was between a Muslim man and a Hindu girl.
Malaysia, where Islam is the dominant religion, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus are the minorities. (Malaysia was very much under Hindu and Buddhist influence before the advent of Islam. It is surprising that this increasingly fundamentalist country still allows names like Data Seri Muhathir Muhammad to be used – Data Seri points to DuttaSri – a Hindu past, Muhathir or Mohasthobir – a Buddhist past). Islamic authorities suddenly took away Raimah Bibi and six of her seven children on the grounds that her marriage with Marimuthu was illegal. It was not clear why the authorities acted now when the couple had been together for 21 years. At the hearing Raimah Bibi, 39, broke down and sobbed openly when the judge asked her if she will give up custody of their seven children, who are aged between four and 14. “Yes, I agree to surrender my children to Marimuthu,” she said, wiping her tears with the ends of her headscarf. Later, government lawyer Zauyah Be Loth Khan said the Islamic Affairs Department had no objection to the children being raised as Hindus by the father. “It is up to the parents,” she said. The decision was supposed to be a landmark step in minority rights because it allowed a Hindu man to take custody of his children who legally might be considered Muslims because their mother is one. “It would set a precedent for other cases,” said the 43-year-old Marimuthu”s lawyer, Karpal Singh. Singh indicated that Raimah Bibi gave up the children as a compromise to end the family”s predicament. “What is very sad is that a happy united family has been divided and has faced such a crisis,” said Lim Kit Siang, opposition leader. “For this to happen to a couple that has lived together for 21 years as a result of a religious conflict is not good for our international image,” he said. After Raimah Bibi and the six children were removed, Islamic authorities took them to a Muslim village for rehabilitation and religious counselling. Marimuthu has claimed that his wife was a practising Hindu despite having a Muslim name and that he feared she would be brainwashed at the rehabilitation village. However, in a statement to the court, Raimah Bibi said she was born a Muslim and wants to “continue professing the Islamic faith”. Singh said Raimah Bibi “will have absolute access” to her children.
Although modern Hindu secular historians and apologists for Islam propagate that Hindus are against marrying “foreigners” and nonHindus, there appears to be little actual support for this in history. Chandragupta Maurya apparently married either a daughter or a relation of Seleucus Nikator, the Greek general left in charge of eastern Alexandrian empire and who also ceded the ex-Persian provinces of Baktria or Afghanistan. Throughout the medieval period, Hindus married non-Hindus and foreigners in Southeast Asia. (Modern Hindus marry Europeans or foreigners in host countries). In medieval India, beautiful women captives of Muslim warfare were kept mainly as sex-slaves called kanchanis, kanizes and concubines. Muslim nobles exchanged them widely and frequently and Hindu nobles shared in this practice of “taking” Muslim women. In the Delhi Sultanate, according to Nizamuddin Ahmad, “Musalman” women were taken by the Rajputs and sometimes taught the art of dancing and singing and were made to join the “akharas”. Muslim women from the palace of Malwa Sultan entered, between 1512-1518, the household of his nayak or captain Medini Rai. Sultan Mahmud Sharqi (1436-58 ) was accused of handing over Muslim women to his “kafir” captains. Similarly, the Muslim ruler of Kalpi and Chanderi, shortly after 1443, had made over Muslim women to some of his Hindu captains. Malwa was not an exception. In Kashmir, according to Jonraj, Shah Mir had gone to the extent of marrying his daughters to his Brahman chiefs.
Muslim military power being more effective, Islamic rulers in general discouraged Hindus from taking Muslim women. Sher Shah, represented by modern Hindu historians to be a “liberal”, broke his treaty with Puran Mal of Raisen because of the latter’s “gravest of all offences against Islam” in keeping some Muslim women in his harem. The Mughals demanded and freely married Hindu princesses (The liberal Jahangir writes this openly in his autobiography), but there is not a single instance of a Mughal princess being married to a Rajput prince. Akbar discouraged all types of inter-communal marriages. When Jahangir learnt that the Hindus and Muslims intermarried freely in Kashmir, and both give and take girls, (he ordered that) “taking them is good but giving them, God forbid”. And any violation of this order was to be visited with capital punishment. Shahjahan ordered that the Hindus in Kashmir could keep their Muslim wives only if they converted to Islam. Therefore, under him, 4,000 to 5,000 Hindus converted in Bhadnor alone. (there are similar references in Gujarat and Punjab)
Hindus sometimes rescued Hindu girls forcibly married to Muslims. Many Hindu Rajas and elite kept Muslim women in their seraglios, sometimes as a symbol of revenge and continued to capture Muslim women wherever they felt strong. Khafi Khan and Manucci both affirm that the Marathas used to capture Muslim women because, according to them, “the Mahomedans had interfered with Hindu women in (their) territories”. There are indications that Sikhs also followed this Maratha example in some cases.
The Islamic dominance and insistence kept marriage a one-way traffic of Hindu women into Islamic households. Hindus were forced to avoid marrying Muslim women on the pain of the favourite Islamic method of killing – decapitation. Modern Indian media or the so-called eminent historians of the Thaparite school will never have the spine to consider publicly the possibility that generations of traumatic experience at the hands of Islamic practice in regard of inter-community marital relationships has made the Hindu wary and rigid.
In subsequent posts I will deal in details with historical cases as well as modern trends, and what the future holds.