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The importance of truth and love

Should religious rites and practices degrade us from comprehending the basic unity of all religions?

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 14:49 IST

My friendis a Hindu who chose a Muslim as her life partner. Her family objected but finally gave their consent. The girl and the boy are both well-educated, so it seemed highly unlikely that any conflict would arise due to their different religious identities. My friend read the Quran not once but twice, much before she even met this Muslim boy, out of her own interest to know more about different religions. She happily marked her endeavour as a source of great enlightment.

She may not be a devout Hindu but fasts on Navratras whenever she can and manages a visit to the local temple once in two months. Her eyes shone telling me she had no qualms marrying a Muslim, as she wanted to have the best of both worlds. And then her dreams came crashing down. The boy's mother wanted her to pay a hefty price for marrying a Muslim: give up her religious identity.

The boy tried to resolve things by saying she could discreetly continue being a Hindu with the one proviso of being buried rather than cremated, if only to appease his relatives when the time came. Appalled, my friend simply broke off. Not because she is not willing to embrace Islam but because she believes her Hindu identity is her right to existence and is in no way a threat to the process of learning and respecting Islam.

A beautiful relationship died its death on religious grounds. I wish the boy's mother would some day understand Gandhiji's words: "I would not only not try to convert but would not even secretly pray that anyone should embrace my faith. My prayer would always be that Imam Saheb should be a better Mussalman or become the best he can."

Gandhiji stressed the importance of truth and love to which all religions agree and can thereby establish a "Fellowship of Faith" differing only in forms and rituals. But should such rites, ceremonies and practices degrade us from comprehending the basic unity of all religions?

First Published: Feb 03, 2006 13:47 IST