This post is on the request of a dear friend and sister.
In our previous post, we discussed that how for administrative and religious convenience many Muslims scholars and rulers clubbed all non-Muslim castes & tribes of India as ‘Hindus’. That period also saw the intermixing and intermingling of different cultures, languages, etc in India through different means. Many times Muslims also entered into marital bonds with non-Muslims in India. Such inter-religious marriages nowadays are seen with suspicion and hostility, and more so with allegations of love Jihad, etc on Muslims by different Brahmanical outfits. In this post, therefore, we shall discuss the issue of marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims of India in the light of the edicts & principles of Islam and its justiciability.
We shall first briefly go through the norms of Islam on this issue and then will discuss some of the historic & noteworthy instances of Hindu-Muslim marriages in India along with some modern instances before concluding this post.
What does Islam say on the issue of marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims?
The rulings of Islam are quite clear and direct on this issue. Marriage with non-Muslims is prohibited in Islam as long as they do not accept Islam. It provides that a believing bondwoman, servant or slave-girl is better for marriage for a man than a non-believing girl no matter how appealing or pleasing she might be. Marriages with those having low social status (in other civilizations) such as slaves, servants, etc have been encouraged in Islam.
Do not marry women who associate partners with God until they believe. A believing bondwoman is better than a woman who associates partners with God, however pleasing she may appear to you. Nor give believing women in marriage to men who associate partners with God, till they have believed; a believing bondman is certainly better than a man who associates partners with God, even though he may please you.Al-Quran 2:221
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty, and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman otherwise you will be a loser.“Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 27
Please note that this prohibition on marriage with non-Muslims/non-believers is on the basis of belief and not a race, caste or ethnicity. So even if a Muslim man or woman renounces Islam after marriage, he/she becomes unlawful for his/her Muslim spouse and the latter has a legally recognized right of seeking a divorce from him/her as can be observed in Muslim personal laws across jurisdictions. Holy Quran exhorts Muslims not to maintain marriages with those who deny the truth. (Al-Quran 60:10-12)
Also, note that no other civilization or faith system (except Islam) encourages its followers to marry servants or slaves (by freeing/manumitting them) or those having low status in the society and by doing so empower them. In most non-Islamic societies marrying someone with low social status is considered a taboo and therefore abhorred. In this way, Islam is extremely progressive and egalitarian.
Narrated Abu Burda’s father: Allah’s Apostle said, any man who has a slave girl whom he educates properly, teaches good manners, manumits and marries her, will get a double reward And if any man of the people of the Scriptures believes in his own prophet and then believes in me too, he will (also) get a double reward And any slave who fulfills his duty to his master and to his Lord, will (also) get a double reward.”Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 20:
On the issue of adultery and fornication as far as marriage is concerned, the Quran provides-
Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry and but a woman similarly guilty, or an Unbeliever: nor let any but such a man or an Unbeliever marry such a woman: to the Believers such a thing is forbidden.Al-Quran 24:3
Is the Islamic prohibition on marrying non-Muslims reasonable and justified?
Since this restriction on marriage with non-Muslims (as long as they do not accept Islam) in Islam is based on an egalitarian/humanitarian belief system and not on a rigid/immobile parameters of race, caste or ethnicity, it is justified. If one introspects in good faith, one will find that in most cases where Islam comes into direct or indirect conflict with other faith systems, it is always due to the idolatry, polytheism, inequity and indecency present in the latter. Whereas non-Muslim faith/belief systems often revolve around the notion of superiority/purity of race, ethnicity, caste, geography or any other like parameter, Islam is centered around the notion of submission before the Almighty God and his sanctioned way of life & righteousness wherein one is superior by the virtue of his/her conduct, characters and good manners and not due to his/her bloodline or race.
The messenger of Allah (s) in this regard famously said-“O people, verily your Lord is One and your father is one. Verily, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”
Allah does not look at your bodies nor your forms but He looks at your hearts and your actions.Riyadh-as-Saliheen Volume 1, Hadith number 7
History is a witness that prevalence of such belief systems centered around the glorification of race, caste, persona, etc have wrecked so much havoc on humanity and have also been a root cause behind all forms of discrimination and exploitations prevalent in the world both in the past and in the present. Therefore when Islam seeks to restrict such unjust belief systems by asking the non-Muslim concerned to renounce his/her deviated/superfluous faith and accept Islam, it is justified. The underlying notion behind accepting Islam is submitting before the will of God (the creator Almighty and sustainer of all) and the egalitarian, humanitarian and rational ethos as provided for in the Holy Quran. By doing so, one comes to the basic essential condition of belief/faith as was sanctioned by the Almighty at the beginning of the creation of Humanity and matters connected thereto. For more info on this aspect, click here.
How frequent are the cases of Muslim-Hindu marriages in India?
The instances of Hindu-Muslim marriages in India are rare and not frequent. Such marriages when happen, they often come into media limelight due to various reasons and controversies surrounding them. Since Muslims are generally more liberal compared to non-Muslims in taking brides from outside the community and more so if the bride or groom (as the case may be) converts/reverts to Islam, there also have been allegations of ‘Love Jihad’ by certain Brahmanical outfits (under the Hindu pseudonym) on Muslims. The term love jihad is used to spread fears that Muslim youths seduce Hindu girls in order to convert them to Islam, a concern which officials in several states have dismissed as social media rumours. But all these have sometimes resulted in violent confrontations between different groups. According to a report published in Al-Jazira, there was an 800% increase in the cases of honor killings in 2015, with 251 people killed.
However, compared to a minority upper-caste Hindus, I believe that the majority of Bahujans are more amenable to both conversion/reversion to Islam and marrying Muslims. One of the most remarkable cases is that of Tina Dabi-the topper of the 2015 civil services exams of India (considered to be the most rigorous & toughest exam in the world). Tina Dabi comes from a Bahujan background and she chose to marry a Kashmiri Muslim Athar Amir despite objections from certain Brahminical forces. Such marriages must be encouraged to strengthen the bonds and unity between Muslims and Bahujans.
What are some notable historic instances of Muslim-Hindu marriages in India?
The list includes but is not limited to-
Sultan Alauddin Khilji-Jhatyapali: Jhatyapali was the daughter of King Ramchandra of Devagiri. Allauddin married her after the conquest of Devagiri and had a son with her name Shahabuddin Omar who succeeded him as the next Sultan (Emperor) of Delhi.
Sultan Alauddin Khilji-Kamla Devi: Kamla Devi was originally the queen consort of Vaghela King Karnadev of Gujarat. After the fall of Gujarat, she was escorted to Delhi by the invading Khilji forces where she married Alauddin. On her insistence, Alauddin also secured her daughter Deval Devi who was in the custody of King Karna.
Malik Kafur-Jhatyapali: Malik Kafur had very humble origins like many other Sultans of Delhi. He came from a Hindu lower caste (Maratha according to some chroniclers) but later converted to Islam and rose in ranks during the reign of Alauddin Khilji to become the viceroy of the Sultanate and commanded one of the most powerful armies on Earth. After the death of Alauddin, he married his Queen Jhatyapali and allegedly committed excesses against the family of the former Sultan.
Khizr Khan-Deval Devi: Khizra Khan was the eldest son of the Alauddin-the sultan of Delhi and Deval Devi was the Princess of Vaghela Kingdom of Gujarat. After the murder of Khizr Khan, she married Qutubuddin Mubarak Shah and then Khusro Khan in a bloody struggle of ambitious & power-hungry Sultans who wanted to legitimise their rules by marrying the widow of the former Sultan.
Emperor Akbar-Jodhabai: Akbar was a Mughal King and Jodhabai was a Rajput princess and daughter of King Bharmal of Amber, Rajasthan. After her marriage with the Emperor, she became famous as Mariam-uz-Zamani. Her sons and grandsons went on to become the Emperors of Mughal India. A Bollywood movie ‘Jodha-Akbar’ has also been made on their lives.
Emperor Aurangzeb-Rahmat-Un-Nisa: The former was one of the most powerful Mughal Emperors of India. According to various reports, the latter was the daughter of a Hindu ruler of Kashmir and married Aurangzeb in 1638 as part of a political alliance. She is the mother to Bahadur Shah I, who succeeded Aurangzeb as the next Emperor of India in 1707.
Some modern instances of Hindu-Muslim marriages/affairs-
Omar Abdulla-Payal Nath: Omar Abdullah-a leading Muslim politician of Kashmir married Payal Nath who is the daughter of a retired army officer, Major General Ram Nath. Both have separated now citing irreconcilable differences. Their marriage lasted for over 17 years.
Sachin Pilot-Sara Abdullah: Sachin Pilot is a prominent Gujjar Politician and currently the Deputy CM of Rajasthan while Sara is the sister of former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Not much is known about their religious status but they are said to be happy in this marriage.
Amir Khan-Kiran Rao: Amir Khan is a leading Bollywood actor while Kiran Rao is a director. Both are happily married for the last 15 years. Khan’s first marriage was also with a Hindu-Reena Dutta in 1986 and it lasted for over fifteen years. Not much is known about the religion of Kiran Rao after her marriage with Khan.
Shahrukh Khan-Gauri Khan: Amir Khan is also a leading Bollywood actor and Gauri Khan is a film producer and designer. They are happily married for the last 3 decades. According to Shahrukh Khan, while he believes in the religion of Islam, he respects his wife’s religion greatly and that their children follow both religions and at their home, the Qur’an is placed next to the Hindu deities.
Saif Ali Khan-Kareena Kapoor: Saif Ali Khan is also a leading Bollywood actor and titular Nawab (ruler) of Pataudi while Kareena Kapoor is a famous actress. Both got married in 2012. Saif was first married to Amrita Singh, also a Hindu. His father Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi also married a Hindu girl Sharmila Tagore who is Khan’s mother.
Hadiya Case-This was the most controversial case (of its time & kind) of a Hindu girl Akhila Ashokan converting to Islam and marrying a Muslim man Shafin Jehan. She went through much pain and trauma when NIA (National Investigating Agency) was tasked to investigate her conversion and marriage as a result of which the Kerala High Court annulled her marriage by holding that she was a victim of indoctrination & psychological kidnapping. The Supreme Court however on subsequent appeal, restored her marriage in 2018.
Amit Saxena case-This was one of the most brazen acts of honor killing in the National Capital Region in recent times. Amit Saxena-a photographer was in love with a Muslim girl whose family, however, was against this affair and allegedly murdered Ankit in February 2018. According to police, the victim was kicked & punched repeatedly by the girl’s father and uncle before the former stabbed him and slit his throat using a chopper and a knife while her two other relatives held his arms. Such gruesome incidents are of course condemnable.
Nikhil Jain-Nusrat Jahan: Nikhil is a prominent businessman of Bengal while Nusrat Jahan is a leading parliamentarian from Bengal. In October 2019, a Deoband-based cleric criticized her for dancing in Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata, calling it unIslamic and suggested that the Bengali film actor-turned-politician should change her name and religion.
Shriya Gupta-Faizan Kareem: This high profile Hindu-Muslim wedding surprisingly happened in Lucknow at a time when marriages of Hindu-Muslim couples invite the wrath of Brahmanical right-wing organisations and lead to indeterminate violence. This marriage was also attended by senior leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party, including the state Governor Ram Naik, BJP general secretary Ram Lal, central minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and several ministers of the BJP government in UP.
Chhattisgarh Case: Here a Hindu woman had married a Muslim man, who reportedly converted to Hinduism in order to be accepted by the woman’s family. The woman’s family, however, disputed the man’s conversion to Hinduism, calling it a sham and alleged that it was a racket to trap women. When the matter finally reached the India Supreme Court, the judges therein not only asked the Muslim man concerned to produce affidavit of bona-fide conversion but also told him to be a “loyal husband” and a “great lover”.
There can be many other cases of both successful and failed Hindu-Muslim marriages/affairs in India not otherwise reported in mainstream media. One can judge their morality and validity from the Islamic perspective by going through the verses of the Holy Quran and relevant Hadiths as quoted in the beginning.
To conclude, Islam prohibits Muslims/believers from marrying non-Muslims or non-believers (as the case may be) as long as they do not believe or accept Islam. This restriction/prohibition of Islam is justified given that it is based on belief and not on rigid parameters of race, caste, ethnicity, etc (that cannot be changed) as can be observed in other cultures, civilizations or faith systems and who strictly go by notions of purity and superiority of certain bloodlines, etc. It is a reasonable restriction/condition because it asks people to renounce/denounce their superfluous beliefs in the superiority of their specific ancestors, race, castes, sects, deities, geographies, etc and come to the egalitarian fold of Islam by submitting them to the will of Almighty God. Islam also encourages and promotes marriages with those having low social statuses (in other civilizations) such as slaves, servants, etc provided they believe as can be observed in different verses of Quran and relevant hadiths.
If we go by the Indian History, many powerful Muslim Sultans & Emperors of India married Hindu women and the fact that children from these marriages also succeeded them and went on to become powerful Sultans & Emperors shows that such marriages were not always exploitative as is often alleged and portrayed by certain Brahmanical forces.
As far as religious & moral validity of such marriages from Islamic perspective is concerned, the same can be ascertained by going through the verses of the Holy Quran and relevant Hadiths as quoted at the beginning of this post.