Religious conversions in India : a strategy for the future
Religious conversion in India is a hotly debated and highly controversial topic. The fact is that the modern Constitution of India does not prevent a “genuine change of heart” but it is illegal to “entice” or “force” conversions. This was expected of course, since the early politicians under Nehru who dominated the legislative process would be very much aware of the success of both these strategies under Islam and Christianity. The Muslim invaders from Qasim, Mahmud, Ghori, the Delhi Sultans, or the Mughals have consistently used forced conversions, and enticements – either direct aggression with the only choice being given as either death or conversion, or penalizing taxation.
Another highly enjoyable conversion activity of the Muslims was of course abduction, rape, and enslavement of non-Muslim women, and raising the children from such unions as Muslims. So the Islamo-philes under Nehru decided to block these Islamic technique of conversions specifically fearing that the remnant majority Hindus in India could decide to copy the Muslims now that they are no longer under the military threat of the Muslims. Nehru was genuinely saddened at the loss of Muslim populations who migrated to Pakistan, and we can understand his sense of loss of people from a culture he identified with. It is a deep irony of Nehruvian politics however, that it was mostly his rivals whom he eliminated with the help of Gandhiji and indirect help of the British, like Bose or Sardar, [Bose was consistently kept under house arrest, or exiled from India, so that he could not carry on political activities or maintain connections with his organizations, and as usual with all all nationalists anywhere whom the British hated, from Napoleon to Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, Bose consistently fell “ill” in British captivity – while Nehru was never exiled, was given the right to freely carry on his political work while free] who had genuine influence and acceptance with the “Muslims” – Bose was helped by loyal Afghan “Muslims” in his “escape”, and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan – “frontier Gandhi” declared the Congress leadership under Nehru to be one which “stabbed” his people “in the back” over the Partition. Nehru knew that he was deeply resented in many parts of India outside the Uttar Pradesh, particularly by Sikhs in Punjab and Bengali Hindus in West Bengal, and Nehru needed Muslims as a counterbalancing force to prevent the non-Muslim consolidation to maintain his tenuous control over the fractures which he could use in Indian society.
There are speculations about possible personal reasons behind Nehru’s Islamo-philia, but I am against discussing them without concrete proof. Overall, however, we can see the basic motivations behind banning “illegal” methods of conversion by “force, enticements” – as without military support, Muslims would not be able to carry out these methods of conversion, whereas sheer number and resources of the Hindus could make these methods even non-militarily feasible given that there could not be official justification for use of “Indian” security establishment to continue protection of Islamic proselytization. So the most important task in front of the Nehruvian regime was to protect the gains of Islam in India already achieved under the methods now banned and made unavailable to others.
But as I have written and given detailed historical, and practical justifications in these posts before, Islam must go from India as a “practising religion”, and I want the Muslims to come out of “Islam” but continue to be Indians – what should be the policy and strategy of the Indian nation about conversions in general?
The two most common issues that give rise to controversy about conversions are (1) inter-faith marriages/”abductions for sex” (2) enticements. It is a consistent feature of Islam that everywhere it insists on the conversion of a non-Muslim groom before he can marry a girl born a Muslim – and they are prepared to go to any length or violence to ensure this, depending on the level of support they can obtain from state authorities they live under – so that the entire state apparatus of Islamic states jump on to enforce this like in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia or Arab states, and the maximum possible help is given by the administrative and legislative institutions of countries that have usually Islamo-phile regimes like in India. On the other hand a Hindu or non-Muslim woman can be easily married [or abducted and forced in Islam dominated countries like Pakistan] by a Muslim, as once married or taken to Islamic countries such a “wife” will be treated as a Muslim, and children will be automatically deemed to be Muslim. The fact is that this is supported by the Quran, the Hadiths, the Sunnah of the Prophet of Islam, and the Shariah and the Hidaya – however much the modern Muslim theologians try to sanitize and whitewash these injunctions in the core texts of Islam away from their misrepresentation of Islam before non-Muslims – and which they are very much aware of and openly teach/preach for and within “safe” and secure Islamic audiences. There is a similar insistence on conversion into Christianity before marriage from certain denominations within Christianity, although not carried out with such violence as in the case of Islam. The Sikhs, Buddhists, also have similar insistence but over many decades now, there are fewer and fewer incidences of violence from these faiths.
In India, only objections by the relatives of a Hindu or Hindu religious groups against the marriage with a non-Muslim are supposed to be seen as “proof of fanaticism” and the “evil right-wing Hindu fascist” who “trample on the pure love between a Hindu and a Muslim” – for all other religions it is an “internal matter” of the religion concerned and Hindus are expected or demanded to shut up as Hindus should respect the “religious sentiments of Muslims” etc. In India it seems to be tacitly accepted that all other religious groups except the Hindus have the right to convert “freely” and their “forcing” should be seen as “genuine change of heart” and “friendly ardent persuasion” rather than forcing – as accusations of “forcing/enticing” are only genuine if it comes against the “Hindus”.
How do Indians tackle the task of removing extremely dangerous, deceptive, violently intolerant, and aggressively expansive movements like Islam from their immediate surroundings?
(1) Bring in a complete civil law that is not binding initially on all citizens, but which can be adopted formally by an oath and declaration voluntarily by any adult Indian citizen. This should include a complete marital, family, and inheritance law guided by modern humanitarian principles. At the moment Indians do not have any choice in their religious denomination and they are considered to belong to the religion they are born into or “adopted”. This can be a good way out for those who want to come out of Islam but do not want to face “charges” of apostasy and hence the Hadithic/Sharia injunctions not to really wait for the day of “resurrection” but to carry out immediate retribution for converting out of Islam.
(2) give a very clear warning against Muslim countries that are carrying out forced conversions of Hindus, that Islam stands to lose a much larger chunk if Indians decide to get serious about “persuading” Indian Muslims to convert out of Islam.
(3) ensure that surviving Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs in Pakistan, or non-Muslims of Indic origin faiths, in Malaysia or Indonesia are protected, either by exchange of populations or establishing direct diplomatic centres.
(4) enforcing all religious institutions to register, and have a separate unit set up, possibly under the Ministry of Culture, that will formally not only audit but have representatives on the board of trustees or management. All religious institutions will have to make transactions through bank accounts, and will not be allowed to receive foreign funding, and accounts will be regularly audited. All citizens will have to be registered in one of the religions recognized or declare themselves to be under the civil law who will not be then considered legally as belonging to any religion. Also legal steps can be taken if someone who has declared in favour of the civil law, continues to participate in activities under a specific religious institution.
(5) religions which prescribe a fixed rate of contribution from their followers, will be guaranteed the required proportion deducted in addition to regular income tax from the source of income of the religion’s followers. This money will then be forwarded to one or more religious institutions of choice as indicated by the donee. Islam prescribes Jakaat and fitra, which should then be deducted from the income of Muslims at source and handed over to Islamic institutions. All religious institutions will have to function within this source of revenue, as transparently audited and supervised by the Government, and no external source of funding will be allowed. Any breaking of this stipulation will lead to criminal proceedings against the religious institution. Those who adopt civil law will not have to pay this “religious contribution”.
(6) educational activity carried out by religious organizations will have to conform to a National Education policy, and have to cover the basic elements including all modern science subjects required in a national syllabus. Material declared objectionable and not in consistency with the Constitution, or the legal system will have to be removed, and if retained will lead to closing down of the educational setup.
(7) Conversions have to be applied for to the government, together with documentary evidence of sanction by a recognized religious body, and subject to a waiting period, during which people or bodies that have objections can raise it with the appellate body. The convertee can be subjected to repeated interviews by independent experts, and have also to agree to audit of personal accounts, sources of income expenditure and wealth, for an unspecified period of time before and after the recognition of conversion. This process will not have to be gone through in case of adopting the civil law.