By Arman Kazmi
Ensuring equal rights and safeguarding the interest of the minority has been a challenge for democratic governments around the world. There is always a fear that a democratic government which is seen as something that stands opposite to dictatorship, in value, may turn into the same for minorities. Therefore, the litmus test for a democratic government is the way minorities are treated under their governance.
In the past few years, the ruling party of the “world’s largest democracy” has brutally failed this litmus test of addressing the concerns of its minorities, especially the largest minority in the country, the Muslims.
There is a sense of alienation prevailing among Muslims for very long and not much has been done to address it and fulfill the promise of a secular country where people from all faiths are to be treated as equals. Despite this, there was a sense of security among the minority communities because of the constitutional laws and values—laws which were supposed to be based on the values of equality, fraternity, and justice.
In recent years, however, the constitutional values that were meant to ensure the safety of Muslims in India have been heavily compromised. Some of the newly passed bills like Triple Talaq, CAA are in their very essence against Muslims. They seem more like a legal framework to put Muslim men behind bars. These laws and the mindset they create are the reason that despite being only 14 percent of the total population, Muslims constitute 16.6 percent ofconvicts, 18.7 percent under trials, and 35.8 percent of detenues in Indian prisons, as per the NCRB data.
As the present BJP government continues institutional oppression and criminalisation of Muslim identity, the new tool to ensure this nefarious agenda is what has been termed as, “Love Jihad”.
The word “Jihad” may qualify to be the most abused and misunderstood word of the Islamic Ideology. Quite often on social media, Muslims are called ‘Jihadis’ with a completely negative connotation of this word and making it synonymous with terrorism.
For Muslims, jihad is not just an Arabic word but a Quranic word, which means it forms a part of their faith and religious ideology. The word “jihad” literally means striving and working hard for something.
In Quranic usage, it means struggling with an intention of getting closer to the ultimate being/reality, Allah. There are two types of Jihad: Minor Jihad and Greater Jihad.
Minor Jihad (Jihad Al Asghar), is when a Muslim is supposed to defend his/her life and property from the enemy and fight the oppressor. While Greater Jihad (Jihad Al Akbar) is when a Muslim struggles against his/her own vices and desires to moves towards the path of spiritual perfection.
There is no mention of any other Jihad in the revered books of Islam. For an action to be called Jihad, it should be for Allah and therefore based on truth. The act that the BJP government calls ‘Love Jihad’, is an act of deceit where a hypothetical Muslim man deceives the other person into marrying him and then forcefully converts her. According to the Islamic teachings, this in no way comes close to either Jihad or conversion but qualifies as an act which Islamic teachings also considers impermissible.
Thus any legislation on ‘love jihad’ will not just target Muslim men but will also show Islamic principles in an entirely negative light, adding to the already growing Islamophobia prevalent in our societies. First, it was the beard, then the skull cup, and now it’s the love of a Muslim man that one must be scared of because there always lies a heinous hidden motive in actions performed by Muslims.
The sword of suspicion hangs around Muslim men in whatever they wear, eat, or even feel, and can cost them their lives. There are high chances that, very soon, a Muslim man may get lynched because he was merely talking to some non-Muslim woman.
The telos of law in a democracy is to ensure justice in the society, but the rationale behind these laws is nothing more than vilifying a particular community and portraying a fearful image. Otherwise, the act mentioned under “love jihad”, does not require a new law or bill to criminalise it. There are already laws against deceit, forgery, and forceful conversion. There stands no other purpose for the BJP governments in this bill than to promote Islamophobia and secure their Hindutva vote bank. All this is being achieved by mocking the values and principles of the Islamic faith and hurting the sentiments of the followers of this faith.
Arman Kazmi is a Kashmiri student. He recently completed his master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Hyderabad. Views expressed are personal