Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Hyderabad Inter-Faith Killing: Why Muslim Condemnation is Not Enough

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam 6 May 2022 They Must Start An Honest Conversation On Conversion And Casteism Main Points: 1. Both religion and caste are at play in the killing of Dalit Nagaraju in Hyderabad by Muslim family. 2. Muslims have always denied the presence of caste within their communities despite evidence. 3. They have indulged in Islamic supremacy by forcing the other party to convert at the time of marriage. 4. Insistence on conversion must stop; presence of casteism must be acknowledged. ----- Nagaraju and Fathima had married against the wishes of her family. ------ The gruesome murder of B Nagaraju in Hyderabad once again underlines the fraught lives of inter-faith couples. Nagaraju, a Dalit Hindu and Ashrin Sulthana, a Syed Muslim had got married recently against the wishes of the girl’s family. This was too much to digest for the Ashrin’s brothers and they killed Nagaraju in full public view. Nagaraju was stabbed multiple times, clobbered to death while the onlookers just made videos of the gruesome incident. Having witnessed her husband die in such a grisly fashion, Ashrin lost consciousness multiple times when narrating the incident before the press. This is both a religious and a caste issue. There are Muslims who are always in denial of caste within their society and they want to see it simply as a Hindu-Muslim issue. But of late, there has emerged a group amongst Muslims who privilege caste over everything and they are arguing that this is primarily a caste issue; that Nagaraju was killed simply because he was a Dalit. It is wrong to privilege one over the other; religion and caste are so enmeshed that it is often difficult to separate one from the other. The incident underscores the fact that sections of Muslims have as much of a problem with inter-faith marriages as amongst a section of Hindus. But may be the problem is much deeper within the Muslim society as these things are not discussed as openly as it is within the Hindu society. Just like Hindus would not like their wards to marry outside the community, Muslims also are completely opposed to such a practice. It is not surprising therefore that some Muslims came out in support of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister when he brought a legislation which made it very difficult for inter-faith couples to get married. In fact, the Muslim insistence on converting the boy or the girl before marriage makes a mockery of the very term inter-faith alliances. What is left of inter-faith when one partner has to necessarily convert in order to get married? Muslims cannot leave this insistence because in their reading of Islam, conversion is a must. If people are really getting married because they love each other, what is the point of abandoning once faith then? Till the time Muslims insist on conversion, there cannot be any genuine exchange of boys and girls between Hindus and Muslims. The Hindus will always feel that their numbers are being depleted and one cannot fault them since the doctrinal position on Islamic marriage insists on conversion. Syed Ashrin Sulthana, valiantly fought off his attackers, in a horrific killing in public caught on camera Wednesday evening. --- Muslims or Hindus do not have so much of an issue over inter-faith when the woman comes into their faith. In this case, Ashrin exited the community by marrying a Hindu boy thus making violence a foregone conclusion. In such an understanding, women are simply commodities who have no agency of their own. She must always be told what to do and policed all the time, more so in matters of choosing life partners. Muslims who proudly proclaim that women have a lot of freedom in Islam need to tell us why Ashrin was not free to choose a life of her own. Ashrin told the press that Nagaraju had consented to convert to Islam still he was killed. The killing therefore can also be explained if we understand that Nagaraju was a Dalit whose intended conversion even was not acceptable to this upper caste Muslim family. Dalits are ex-untouchables, a very hard-working community, some of whom have risen through centuries of caste oppression and discrimination. Their upward mobility fractures the established social hierarchy and those who want to maintain the status quo react violently to maintain their position and privilege. Similar process was/is at work in places like Haryana and Punjab where upwardly mobile Dalit boys were getting into relationships with dominant Jat community girls. The consequences were similarly grisly in many of such cases. Something similar seems to be at work in the Hyderabad incident where the Syeds, through sheer violence, are hell bent to maintain the status quo. The remorseless face of Ashrin’s brother tells us he killed Nagaraju as a matter of duty: any transgression by lower caste had to be punished in this fashion. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Honour Killing In Egypt: Tribal Mentality Persists Among Muslims Even In Modern Times ------------------------------------------------------------------------- We also need to understand the Pratiloma (unacceptable marriage) which is working in this case. In the traditional Hindu social order, taking a girl from lower caste is an acceptable form of patriarchy but the reverse is not possible. The man cannot take a girl from a caste higher than his own. Similar sentiments prevail in Muslim society also. Nagaraju was killed not just because he was a Dalit but also because despite him being so, he dared to marry a girl from high caste. Muslims are loathe to accept the presence of casteism within their communities despite documented evidence. They keep harping on the received wisdom that Islam is an egalitarian religion without any distinction of caste or class. They also argue that whatever casteism exists within Muslims is the result of ‘contamination’ with Hindu society. This is an a-historical understanding of Islam. Much before Islam came to India, it had already developed a complex stratification system. The Turks and Central Asians who came to India had come with the principle of hierarchy which dictated that Muslims of foreign descent were always superior to other Muslims, forget about Hindus. Scholars like Masud Alam Falahi have categorically demonstrated how such notions even became part of the Indian Islamic theology. Lest we forget, hierarchy became encoded in Islam the very minute it was argued that only a Qureish can become the leader of the community. This happened when the Prophet of Islam had not even been buried. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Honour Killing – The Most Deplorable Abuse of Human Rights Is Also Against the Ethics of All Religions ------------------------------------------------------------------------- The killing of Nagaraju is a rude reminder to all Muslims that they should first put their house in order. Firstly, they should confront the menace of casteism within their own society. Ambedkar was right to observe that Muslims have all the ills of Hindu society plus something more. And that something more is the rigidity that comes with Islamic theology. What is the need of conversion when two people simply want to be together? Muslims across all walks of have overwhelmingly condemned the incident. However, such condemnations have no meaning if there is no introspection as to why such an incident happened in the first place. For a start, Muslims have to do some soul searching and come out of their supremacist notion that only their religion is the ultimate truth and all others are false or astray. If they are really serious about putting the best face of Islam, then the insistence on conversion must be dropped forthwith. Secondly, they need to start an honest conversation about caste and untouchability within their midst. ----- A regular columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. URL: https://newageislam.com/interfaith-dialogue/hyderabad-inter-faith-killing-muslim/d/126943 New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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