Islamic Perspectives

Religious conversions

Muzaffarnagar: Shiv Sena’s former city head of Khatauli, Sushil Kumar Jain, has embraced Islam. He made this announcement on Mahavir Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Lord Mahabir, founder of Jainism. He was working in the revenue department but was very dissatisfied with its workings. In disgust, he abandoned his faith and embraced Islam and chose Muhammad Abdul Samad as his name. Only a few days earlier he was a Shiv Sena activist and head of its city branch. In a press statement written on Shiv Sena letterhead, he said that being disgusted with the working of Nagar Palika Parishad and the revenue department, he is embracing Islam. He also complained about the behaviour of the people of his own fraternity who had been exploiting him. He said that he was greatly influenced by the speeches of Dr. Zakir Naik. He said that he had embraced Islam in Dongri, Mumbai on 15 April. Now he offers five times daily prayers and reads Qur’an Sharif also.

Another case not only of religious conversion but also of inter-religious marriage had taken place in Mandya in Karnataka on 17 April when Ms. Ashitha Babu and Shakeel Ahmad married under tight security. The marriage reception was held at the Taj Convention Hall in Mysore same evening. About a week before the marriage, Ashitha had converted to Islam and adopted Shaista Sultan as her new name. The duo were classmates and both are MBAs and were friends for more than a decade. Members of Hindutva organisations, particularly VHP, and Bajrang Dal and their ilk had opposed this conversion and inter-religious marriage and had raised the bogey of “love jihad” but both partners as well as their families , headed by Narendra Babu, a doctor by profession and Mukhtar Ahmad, a businessman, openly and firmly declared that this marriage was a collective decision by both families. A couple of days before the marriage members of VHP and BD etc had come to Narendra Babu’s house and wanted to persuade Ashitha to cancel this marriage but she refused. Enraged, they made uncharitable and vulgar remarks which made Ashitha cry. Her mother said that my husband told the activists that the marriage will not be cancelled and that they had no right to interfere in our personal matters. At this the VHP etc activists went away shouting slogans.

In yet another case of religious conversion, the mother (Radhika) and brother of Rohith Vemula, the PhD student of Hyderabad Cenral University who had committed suicide on 17 January and belonged to a dalit family, converted to Buddhism on 13 April, the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, at a ceremony in Mumbai in the presence of Dr. Ambedkar’s grandson, Prakash Ambedkar. After the conversion, Vemula’s brother Naga Chaitanya said that this marks the beginning of a ‘life free from shame, free from daily humiliation’. The conversion or deeksha ceremony was organised by Buddhist Society of India. Along with Vemula’s mother and brother, about 50 other SC people converted to Buddhism. However, no protest, agitation or opposition was made by VHP and Bajrang Dal activists at this mass conversion. They raise a great hue and cry only when conversions to Islam and Christianity take place.