Love Jihad - War in the Name of Love
(Hinduwebsite Editorial - Exploring Truth Amidst Illusions and Distortions)
Jihad is an Arabic word, which is closely associated with Islam and its history. Jihad literally means making a determined effort, striving or struggling to oppose something or achieve an ideal or a noble goal. It may be an individual effort to achieve some perfection within oneself or a collective effort for the welfare or improvement of the community.
Jihad is supposed to be a spiritual effort, very similar to an austerity in Hinduism to achieve noble aims or transcend human imperfections. However, with the rise of extremism in many countries it is now being used rather negatively to denote the use of violence, terrorism and war like activities to express anger, establish political or cultural dominance or divide and isolate communities.
The word “Love Jihad” is a rather recent development. It probably started in India. However, its ramifications are known to people in various parts of the world, which have been exposed to religious violence, intolerance and extremism, and where the extremists have left no doubt about their intentions and ultimate aim to spread Islam.
Love Jihad means using love and sex to convert people to Islam or establishing dominance over them. It refers to any attempt made by religious zealots and Muslim fanatics to lure Hindu and Christian women into a conjugal or sexual relationship and use it as an opportunity to convert them by force, indoctrination or persuasion.
In love jihad, the element of love is used as a weapon or means. It does not refer to the instances of genuine love, which may spontaneously develop between two consenting people because of mutual attraction, despite their different, religious and social backgrounds. Instead, the attempt is to pry upon vulnerable women and draw them into a relationship with an ulterior motive.
Thus, love Jihad is a political ploy, or an organized, covert effort by misguided youth who intend to use the emotion of love against vulnerable women for a sinister purpose. Its goal is to convert non-Muslim women to Islam and produce children through them to increase the local population of Muslims and thereby change the demographics of a non-Muslim country.
Rumors about love Jihad initially appeared in the news a few years ago when a few incidents were reported from Kerala, involving radical Muslim men and non-Muslim women. When they surface, people were skeptical about the incidents and made light of them. The reports suggested that radical Muslim men were hatching a sinister plan to lure Hindu and Christian women into marriage with the sole purpose of converting them and forcing them to become Muslims.
However, as the new kept coming, people began to pay attention. The Catholic Bishops Council of Kerala reported that in 2009 alone about 4,500 girls in the State were targeted for the purpose. Another report from a Hindu organization estimated that about 30,000 girls in Karnataka were converted similarly. While these figures were not officially verified, the Kerala Chief Minister stated in a report that since 2006 the number of women who were converted to Islam through marriages stood at 2667.
While the media and many Hindus looked away, Love Jihad gained momentum and became a national and international issue. Reports began to appear that innocent women who were drawn into the plot and deviously converted were also subject to coercion and harassment. Incidents of love jihad were reported from both urban and rural areas and even from outside India. There were reports that radical Muslims in London were using the love jihad as a ploy to convert many Hindu and Sikh women.
Initially, many people both in India and abroad reacted to incidents of love jihad with indifference or disbelief. Some ridiculed the whole idea or undermined it by considering them conspiracy theories and criticized those who reported them, imparting communal motives.
Those who are familiar with Islamic laws know that Islam does not favor inter-religious marriages without the conversion of the non-Muslim people, both men or women, who agree to marry Muslims. There is a taboo on Muslim women in Islamic nations not to engage in any marital or sexual relationship with men of other religions. The punishment in such cases is often instant death.
Men of other religions also, who dare to establish such relationships with Muslim women in these countries, face the prospects of a terrible end. Even mere suspicion is sufficient to implicate the people involved. The taboo is not confined to men of other religions only. Muslim men from countries such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are subject to similar treatment in many Islamic nations since they are considered inferior to the Arabs.
Honor killing in orthodox Muslim families is a traditional practice. Women who try to defy the tradition or the family values are killed, forcibly married or held in captive. According to Islamic law and customs, non-Muslim women who marry Muslim men or live with them as live-in couples enjoy no better status than slaves. They have no right to their lives or claim a share in the property of their husbands. They can be freely sold, gifted or auctioned, as many terrorist groups practice in the territories they occupy and impose their rule.
In today's world, people have a right to choose their life-partners. Love can happen between total strangers across social, cultural and geographic barriers. Many inter-religious marriages have been proven to be successful in many parts of the world, despite social and family pressures. In most cases, the couple follow their respective faiths and teach their children the importance of religious tolerance.
However, love-jihad is a sinister ploy and should be viewed as such. It cannot be taken lightly because it is sporadic, or such incidents are rare. Hindu community must spread awareness about the problem, just as they caution the children to be wary of strangers and sexual predators. When incidents of love-jihad happen, they must be brought to light and reported by Media, without bias, so that people in the neighborhoods can take preventive measures.
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