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Conversions weaken national fabric -- a response

Vinod Kumar

This is apropos the article "Conversions weaken national fabric" by Joginder Singh, The Pioneer , Nov 15, 1999.

The article while making many valid points is full of factual errors specially with respect to Islam and Muslims.

Singh wrote: "Islam entered with Mohammed Bin Quasim in 536 AD, in the Indian subcontinent." This is wrong. Muhammad bin Qasim came to Sindh in the year 712 AD but Islam had come to India long before -- soon after Muhammad started preaching his message in the year 610 AD which he claimed to have come from Allah. Hindu kings gave the Muslims land to build their mosques, freedom to practice and preach their religion and villages to support them. To the contrary when Muhammad bin Qasim came to Sindh, his victory was followed by general massacre and forced conversion to Islam as were the victories of every Muslim who came to India..

True, as Singh wrote "Islam had its origin in the battles by the Prophet, Mohammed Sahib, against non-believers." Then he goes on to write "He had to protect himself, his followers, and his teachings and broke new path in the age of darkness." This has two interesting points. Firstly, Singh fails to define how Muhammad protected "his followers and teachings"? He fails to mention that he killed every one who came in his way. Like Asma bint Merwan who ridiculed Muhammad's revelations and poetry against it -- she was ordered killed by Muhammad and was dispatched to death in the middle of the night with her child at her breast. Other assassinations worth noting are those Abu Afaq, Kaf among others. No mention is made of the massacre of the entire tribe of Beni Koreiza -- to the last man -- and offer to Rehana the Jew the same evening her husband, all her male relatives and her tribe have been put to death -- an offer which she declined.

Singh seems to imply that it was alright for "Prophet" Muhammad to indulge in massacres to protect "his followers and teachings". If it was alright for Muhammad to do so, then shouldn't it be alright for every one else to do also? By this logic and justification, Hindus have a long way to go to learn how to "protect their followers and teachings".

And let me mention that that was not an age of darkness. The world does not become dark just because one man says so.

On the topic of Muhammad's treaty with the Meccans, he made the treaty when he felt he was weak and broke it when he knew he was in strength. To say "His followers had different ideas" is only misrepresentation of facts but complete lie. He had such control over the lives of his followers that they would not even relieve themselves in a manner not approved by the "Prophet" -- clear instructions on how to do so in the Hadiths is a living proof of it. Breaking a treaty signed by the "Prophet" is a grave offence unthinkable by any follower of Muhammad -- even today.

Muhammad placed only two choices before the vanquished -- accept Islam or die except in rare cases when a jiziya was imposed and some Jewish tribes left to live their lives in abject humiliation. The Muslim rulers throughout the world where Islam went followed the practice, as they did in India too. Those who converted were exempt from the jiziya. Jiziya was so extreme specially on the poor segment of society that they preferred to be converted than to pay this heavy capitation tax for being a non-Muslim. India is full of such "jiziya" Muslims. That is how there are about 400 million Muslims, by a conservative estimate, in the Indian subcontinent -- not 330 million as Singh wrote in his article.

I must say, on one point Singh is right. "Most of them (Muslim rulers) had the one-point programme of seeing all their subjects professing their favoured religion. India was subjected to massive conversion to Islam. It faced the onslaught of conversion for over 1200 years, till the arrival of the British India." But he fails to explain why all Muslim rulers had this "one-point" agenda. Without going into details let me state because this is the fundamental teaching of Muhammad -- the "Prophet". Muhammad claimed that Allah has revealed that only those who become Muslims i.e. believers will go to Heaven, all others including the Christians will go to Hell. The Koran is full of descriptions of Hell for the infidels and Hell for the Muslims.

Yes, it is a travesty that the Indian government which takes great pride in calling itself secular honors the memory of a man like Aurangzeb or Babar or Tughlaq or any other Muslim ruler for that matter who destroyed the millennia old monuments that housed the art of India, plundered the country, massacred non-Muslims subjects by the millions, prohibited the open practice of any religion other Islam, imposed jiziya tax on non-Muslim subjects. Hypocrisy -- unless one wants to use the word timidity or sheer fear -- is a rather mild word for this act of the Indian government. Why should the streets of India be named after such bigoted men who are known for every thing but secular? Why would one want to perpetuate and glorify the memories of one's own oppressors?

Hindus tend to believe in the naive notion that if we are tolerant to others and respect others' faith and religion, others will also respond in kind. This notion is purely silly. It has not worked with the Muslims over the past 1300 hundred years. The latest evidence of partition of India and the massacre of all the non-Muslim population, the ongoing secessionist movement in Kashmir are just two of many examples of the failure of this policy and the Christian groups assault on the Hindus and the Pope's open call for conversion are clear signs of the utter failure of this doctrine with the Christians too. They evidently do not respect Hindus liberalism and tolerance of others.

The misrepresentations of Islam aside, Singh is right that conversions weaken national fabric.

Poor economic conditions or caste discrimination being the cause of conversion is as lame an excuse as there can ever be. This is to say that after conversion to Christianity there is no poverty. One has only to go to some African and Central and South American countries to see the futility of this argument. However abhorring the caste discrimination might be, the discrimination phenomenon is not unique to India or the Hindus -- no, I am not trying to defend the caste discrimination. We all know the apartheid in Christian South Africa and also the discrimination against the blacks in the USA -- the country that sends most missionaries to India preaching the message of equality. Caste discrimination or poverty even among the Christians in India is also no hidden secret.

The reason for conversions either to Islam or to Christianity is simple -- these religions have no respect for individual freedom to practice the religion of one's choice, mush as they might like to talk about it. These religions have only one belief: "Ours is the Only Way".

There is no doubt that conversions result in new demographics and ultimate conflict and partitions of the countries. India -- Pakistan and Bangladesh, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Chechnya, the ongoing conflict in Sudan and Phillipines are a clear and living proof of its outcome.