Yesterday, I was chatting with a friend for over an hour and he was telling me all about the problems he is facing in his love life.
My friend, let’s call him Ashish for the sake of convenience, is currently doing his MBA in New Delhi. His family belongs to a certain sect of Hindu families in the UP which is quite staunch when it comes to their religion and community. And, here was my friend, in a long term relationship with Zara, a Muslim girl from the same neighbourhood.
Yes, you guessed it right.
Hindu-Muslim marriage alliance.
I don’t think there is anything grimmer or more undo-able for Indian parents to give their son/daughter off in marriage to a different religion. And yet, here we are, shoving our passports and nationalism at anyone who would listen, that we are a secular nation.
What do we mean by that, mister?
We are a secular nation, in other words, we do not bias on religion. Yet, there is bias everywhere.
There is bias against Muslims in the Hindu community, there is bias against them every time one sees a Muslim woman in her religious attire. There is bias in the places of worship, bias against communal festivals, and most importantly, even if all of these biases could be justified, there remains the biggest prejudice of all – Getting married to the opposite side.
There are thousands of couples like Ashish and Zara, who have been brought up in this secular society, where we have very well adjusted to live together, but have always kept our distances to ensure that we don’t mingle enough to get married to each other.
I don’t understand how religion is such a dividing factor in a secular country like ours. Religion is a personal choice of life. A culture influenced by a particular religion becomes a choice of life impacting many. But how does that become a dividing factor between the two very important sects of the community? It looks like religion is a competition, a platform so divided that both parties continue to fight each other to prove to the world that their religion is better than the other, and what they preach is far more superior, and that they are never involved in anything wrong and that the other sect is always biased. The prejudices run so high that the two parties eventually forget what the dividing factors/differences are – All they remember is that they are different, they need to be different and they cannot get married to each other.
If differences in looks, culture, thinking and attitude is what creates this jarring wall, isn’t this difference something beyond religion? I mean, come on, two opposite political parties also have these differences, so does two different individuals from the same religion. Then why does religion become the hot topic off the rack for dividing a nation that could really use some unity?
Zara’s father called up Ashish while I was writing this. He seemed really upset. He was, in fact, sobbing a little. He told Ashish not to stay in touch with Zara henceforth. Ashish was Hindu, but he was human. He was taught within Hinduism to always respect elders. And so he did. He agreed to her father and hung up. Zara’s father instructed his daughter to do the same. And as Zara was a staunch follower of Islam, which too, teaches to respect one’s parents, she agreed to her father.
Now, tell me, when both religions teach the same values and ideals, where is the difference coming from?
Let us all really think. What is this difference that we see in Hindus and Muslims?
Why is it so difficult for Zara’s father to give his daughter to marry Ashish?
Ashish has never said anything about Zara not following Islam after marriage. He just told me that he wants Zara to be his wife and the mother of his children. Anything else she does was, is and will always be her prerogative.
Now, come back to my question. What is the difference between Hindus and Muslims?
I want to solve this conundrum and get it out of the way once and for all today.
Hindus have multiple Gods and idol worship. Muslims believe in one God and no idol worship.
Let’s clear that – I am no connoisseur of religious studies, but as far as I know about Hinduism, it really is not “many” Gods – We believe that God is a single entity too, however, there are various incarnations/forms of the same force – Backed by our mythology, these different forms have taken shape into idols and worshiping God while trying to picture him in our mind is what we do.
This is a clear difference in practice, but not a difference in ideology, and not worth fighting over.
Hindus go to the temple, Muslims have their mosques.
Some of us, who are either Hindus or Muslims don’t even visit these places and pray at home or wherever we like.
Hindus have their numerous festivals, Muslims have a few main ones.
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, yet Islam is one of the largest in terms of followers.
Islam is the second largest religion followed in India, a primarily Hindu nation and a nation which we call secular, yet don’t feel secular enough while contemplating marriage in the “other” religion.
I am sure there are many more differences, but these differences are differences in beliefs and differences in outlook, but these differences do not have the power to change the fact that we are all human. We have the same blood and the DNA make-up going on in our bodies.
When we are born, we are not different. We are same.
When we are born and are kids, we play with Hindus and Muslims without the knowledge of religion. And then we are taught about religion. We are taught about the differences. We are taught of our superiority. We are taught that we cannot play with the other side. Marriage is forbidden too.
You see, when we are born, we are not different.
God, the great God, based on whose existence we fight these battles, did not create us different.
We are made different by religion, by society.
Sometimes I think, is it even worth it to follow something that knowingly creates this difference?
Have you ever considered religion to be a huge political conspiracy to divide humans and turn them against each other?
Finally, if Ashish and Zara can never get married to each other, how can we ever be secular?