Love is said to bind hearts not religions and identities. Unfortunately, not all friends and lovers seem to think this way. No wonder we have endless number of people bringing up conditions of conversion before they get married to one another. I have known so many people who seemed made just for each other with no hassles at all about religion or lifestyle when they were courting but suddenly when the issue of marriage came up things turned topsy turvy. Someone had to bow down. Someone had to compromise. The pity is that what had to be given up was not any material thing, not even lifestyle; it was the most important thing that one held dear in life – faith.
Faith is what holds you all along, from birth to childhood to adulthood. Suddenly, to give it up is not easy. It is like tearing a part of your self. But then, you have a terrible choice to make. Love of your life or the faith that has been holding you strong all these years. When in love, it is like walking on a tight rope. You love the person. You love your faith too and don’t want to give up either. When you hesitate, the question is hurled at you like a bomb.
“Do you love me or your faith?”
“Are you hesitating because you don’t love me enough?”
The problem here is that the person being asked to give up his/her faith to unite in holy matrimony never asks back, “So, if you want to marry me only if I convert to your faith, does that mean that You love your faith more than me?”
You are so much in love and so shocked to encounter such a situation of conversion that you just don’t know how to react. Most of the time, the person being asked to convert does it, against his/her will. He/she has to start life from scratch. Worship a form of god he/she may have never believed in, maybe even despised. It is the most brutal and cruel form of bondage. Love somewhere here dies a sad death. To the outside world, you are united as one family but inside a blooming plant has suddenly withered all because someone black-mailed or even brain washed you into leading your life with him/her by giving up your faith.
Is conversion to another faith a symbol of real love?
Is conversion a sacrifice worth giving?
Is conversion going to give you the real happiness that you had been pursuing all along?
There are so many celebrity couples who manage to retain their identities even though they marry people following different religions. Sharukh Khan- Gauri, Naseerudin Shah- Ratna Pathak, Hritik Roshan- Sussanne, Sunil Dutt- Nargis, VJ Mini Mathur- Kabhir Khan, Sachin Pilot-Sara Abdullah and so on. But, these people have a public image already set. Their celebrity status gives them the freedom to lead the lives they want to with nobody to point fingers at them. Of course, there are personalities like Sharmila Tagore too who in spite of belonging to the great Tagore family along with a popular sexy tag of an actress converted to Islam when she got married to cricketer Pataudi.
There is a hypocritical attitude here too. When a woman converts to marry the love of her life it is taken to be ‘aam-baath,’ something that she just has to do if she really wants to marry the man she wants. But, when the same thing happens with a man, this is what society has to say.
“He must have loved her so much to even give up his religion for her” someone responds.
“Did he really have to do it?” somebody else says.
“Not man enough to get her converted” someone else quips.
“Do women really do this now-a-days?” another statement.
“Why did she have to descend to such a level?” another comment.
What many people leave out asking is, “Is conversion really necessary” be it for a man or a woman?
Some people convert to avoid the torture of family and society. Some convert to purchase peace for themselves. For them religion is only a means to the end. It is not as if people of two faiths cannot live in harmony with each other while pursuing their respective religions. I have a family friend, a Christian who is married to a Hindu woman. When you enter their house the first thing that you notice is a small statue of Mother Mary and Infant Jesus standing beside an idol of Krishna. A candle and a lamp are lit every evening. Their two children pray to both. There is no conflict and yes, the family is happy. Nobody has converted. Both of them go to the church and the temple. Because of certain laws existing in society, children of inter-religious marriages tend to follow their father’s religion if their mother has not changed hers. But, they are free to change their religion when they grow up into adults. The point is that their mother or father was not forced to convert.
The ordinary man/woman does have a choice. Love is not conversion. Love is accepting the person you had always loved for what he/she was and that includes his/her faith. Love is not emotional blackmail. Love is an unconditional feeling of affection for another in spite and despite everything. Conversion only stinks of a lack of love, trust and respect for another.