of religion

This post touches upon two really sore topics – Hindu-Muslim marriages and gender bias.

Reader discretion is advised.

***

I am not a big fan of religion because of the inherent principle of there being a misogynistic old man in the sky that wants women to remain pure for their husbands and wear veils and traditional clothes unless they want to rot in hell. Oh but he loves you so much, he will send you to heaven if you follow all the rules (which, btw, include propagating your religion and making donations to  places of worship).

Growing up, my sister and I were taught to read the Durga Chalisa on a daily basis and to offer (diluted) milk to Shiv ji. We saw our mother, who was otherwise “modern”, cover her head in the presence of the male members of the family. We yawned through several all-night jagraatas where people sang on loudspeakers and wore gaudy clothes and danced together in a sort of reverie; limbs brushing against each other, cleavages showing (and being seen) and the formality of the  purdahs forgotten. All this probably made god very happy.

We were taught that it was ok to talk to muslims. But experience taught us other subtleties. It was not ok to eat or drink in a muslim household. We could visit them and talk and smile and laugh at their jokes, because all religions are alike; equal, even. But we couldn’t eat there.

So when my sister was 19 and in love with D., a muslim boy, I knew that the charade of equality was just that, a charade. I knew that I was perhaps the only truly secular one in my family. I gave her my blessing because I could see nothing wrong with two people wanting to be together. I couldn’t see why religion had to be in the way of their happiness.

I thought about how their children could be taught true secularism, and how this little change would have an impact on society. Boond boond se ghada bharta hai. Ever inter-religion relationship counts.

My sister was more than thankful. I met the boy. I thought he was intelligent and very much in love with my sister. He was a jeans-clad college student who did not wear a white kurta-pyjama with a cap and did not sport a mulla  beard. He looked just like any other college student.

He didn’t have much money and too many brothers and sisters and lived in a shabby locality in old Delhi, but money can be made and brothers and sisters are great and localities can be changed.

My sister and I spent nights talking about how she would never give up wearing shorts and t-shirts, wear a burqa or stay in old Delhi or have too many children. She wanted to marry him, but follow her own religion and bring up her children to be human, not hindu or muslim. I knew that she would. She was a headstrong woman even as a ten year old.

Five years later, my sister had turned into a person who kept her head covered at all times, wore only salwar kameez, addressed her boyfriend as “yeh”, and knew how to read and write Urdu. “Hey bhagwan” had turned into “ya allah”. She went by a muslim name and had changed her religion and was being serenaded by a bearded man who always wears a white kurta-pyjama that ends just above the ankles and a cap.

She married him two years later.

I got separated the following year.

She listened to everything I had to say and then told me how a woman’s duty was to put up with everything in a marriage, because all men are basically babies that need mothering and I had no hope of finding another man if I were divorced. She gave me some really good advice too, but I couldn’t think beyond the comments that sounded a lot like “you’ll be second-hand material”.

Then, she went around my back asking people if I was having an affair with Mister, because a man and a woman can never be friends. I didn’t, I couldn’t speak to her for a whole year after that.

And I’m not telling you my life story; only what religion can do to a person.

Imagine a boisterous college student who walks around showing off her midriff and not caring if people are looking at her. And then picture a burqa clad woman who has panic attacks if someone catches a glimpse of her hair. Would you believe me if I told you it was the same person before and after the brainwashing?

She lost her baby yesterday because she fasted for a week during the month of ramzan.

I was so horrified I kept asking myself the one question: If my sister had refused to convert, would her now-husband change his religion just to be with her?

Religion is so sexist it fucking sucks.

But then as I was writing the above sentence, another thought occurred to me that depresses me even more.

Would a Hindu man marrying a Muslim girl convert just to be with her?

I don’t know the answer to that question. Do you?

 

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anawnimiss

Blogger. Crazy bitch. Stalkee. Weirdo magnet. Wannabe housewife. Corporate Slave. Find me at anawnimiss.wordpress.com!

54 thoughts on “of religion”

  1. Damn! It is so annoying when religion takes the shape of greed and insensitivities.. I dont know for what purpose a religion was invented, I always thought it was there to make life simpler. Most cases it looks like it is hell bent on screwing up peoples lives just cos some others can feel good about themselves..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I thought that fasting was optional for pregnant women, travellers or others who needed food for health reasons. That was what I was told, I have no personal knowledge. It is sad that she had a miscarrage.my best wishes to her and your family.I should safely away from personal religious discussions – I’ve already been told today that I’m a bigot for disagreeing with Muslim violence. Life goes on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul you are right !…fasting is optional for pregnant women ..I am a muslim and I have not seen any household where a pregnant women is forced to fast ….! also a pregnant women fasting for a week will not result in miscarriage ….I think they could be something else going on in that household …which is kind of sad .

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thanks Paul. I don’t think she did it because of pressure from her family. I suspect she’s trying to hard to be a “good muslim” and that pisses me off. Trying too hard to be anything other than who you are is plain stupid.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. To be honest, I don’t have a lot of hope. Religion isn’t bad, we just don’t understand how it works. It can’t be ok in any religion to be fasting when you’re pregnant.

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  3. Religion is never about extremism. Religion teaches you a code to live life peacefully. Whether we talk about hindus or muslims, either one who practices extremism that effects the society in a negative way is wrong. I am a Muslim but I am not against eating and sitting with Hindus. I have many Hindu friends who are beautiful by heart. And I have never practised voilence on the name of religion or things like that.
    As far as losing her child because of fasting is concerned, Islam always teaches you to go easy on yourself. If you can follow the rules, it is good. If you can’t because of some reason then it is completely okay. She was pregnant, if she wouldn’t have fasted, there won’t be any violation or anything but she didn’t take care of her health just on the name of religion…this is the extremism that I hate.
    Muslims or Hindus both are just the simple human beings equally beautiful. If they practice a religion wrong, it doesn’t make that religion wrong by itself. Religion(No matter what) is just a path to reach God and live life happily by helping other fellow people. I felt so sorry about your sister, what she had to go through and about everything that happened to her for her entire life. I wish these type of incidents come to an end. Love you !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You hit the nail on the head, Lala. I don’t think Islam, or any other religion, is bad. We think of guidelines as rules, and that’s what the problem is. If only we could learn to do everything in moderation!
      Some of my closest friends are muslim, and I respect them for always doing the right thing. They are good human beings, and they use the quran as a set of guidelines. Nothing more. I respect and appreciate that. My sister and her family, on the other hand, seem to be on the other end of the spectrum, and I just don’t get it.

      Btw, I love you right back!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Really, when religion takes shape of forcing someone to be something that is socially wrong then it does sucks, well also sometimes our opinion does matters. We should act in a way that we feels is right.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The thing is, she wasn’t forced. She was brainwashed to an extent that she thought it was a “sunnat” to be fasting. I don’t know how starving your baby to death can feel right to anyone.

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  5. So many things here….. I would agree that ‘organized’ religion is sexist and manipulative. I think religion is a private matter, one of the heart (and soul if you’re so inclined). I would not change who I am for anyone. Sure, the little things would change, but never my core belief(s). I’m so sorry for what happened to the baby, but it’s illustrative of the blind allegiance that we see and read about on the news each day. The killing in the name of God. To answer your question, don’t convert, marry for love and let God sort it out in the afterlife.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. it is such a shame that she has lost herself in the shadow of her husband and in his religion. In a way it is a loss close to death because she will never be the person she was unless she leaves him, and after the indoctrination and threats she has most likely had concerning anything like this and she sees what happens to women who do leave their husbands, it will never happen. Religion is sexist and manipulative. Even the Christian Religion was “changed” to ensure it fit the Misogynist vision of the times. There is more and more evidence that women were more involved in the religion and it was a religion of equality at the beginning. Hopefully we will move back in that direction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope I don’t sound like a pulpit pounder or something. I have faith and am a Christian, but I fully see and understand how any religion, even the most peaceful can be twisted and transformed into something that is controlling, destructive and violent in it’s name.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You don’t sound like a pulpit pounder at all, Pavanne. Religion is a good thing, twisted into the ugly form that we see today. I hope that some day we’ll go back to how it was supposed to be. And I hope it’ll be soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. So sorry for what happened with your sister and for her baby. But blaming Islam or any other religion isn’t a solution. It is unfortunate that your sister married someone who leaned towards extremities that other never a part of true Islam. Burqa with face covering is optional. not at all a compulsion or an order. Also fasting when pregnant is 100 percent optional. I never fasted when I was pregnant and no one forced me to. So yes religion is personal. But at the end of the day it is a code of life meant to make life easy, not downright torturous. I sincerely hope that your sister finds some middle ground. Because thats essentially what islam is about. A balance. There is no room for extremism in it. Anything that ia over the top is deliberate and a personal choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not against Islam, Nida. I’m not against Hinduism either. What I don’t understand is the barbaric stuff that goes on in the name of religion across the world. Balance is what seems to be missing everywhere. Surely you’ve heard about honor killings in Hindu communities. So my problem is not with religion but with the people that kill in the name of religion. Any religion.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t know the answer to your question, but I can definitely say that whenever religion is involved, there will be problems. There is no such thing as personal religion since it goes against the very nature of it, and will always effect an individual’s worldview. I grew up in a strict christian home and saw first-hand the damage it causes everyone, both personally and corporately. There is no peace in it. There is no tolerance. I appreciate your ability to rise above the brainwashing and see it for what it is. 🙂

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  9. Religion is the root of so many social evils today and yet people are keen on following the beliefs blindly. For your last question, I know people who have done that but it is very rare. Although I suggest that no one should convert or transform. Everybody should follow their own beliefs irrespective of what religions tells us to. Sorry to hear about your sister. I wonder when things will change !

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  10. It’s so complex and so annoying. Yes! Religion sucks and why love and marriage can’t bloom on its own? It’s ridiculous to convert if we are truly in love. Ive been in a passionate relationship and at that time, the person was asking if we were meant to be together, what religion our kids will follow. At that time, I was blinded to love and now when I look back, I feel what love got to do with religion. It sucks and our mindset is so confined!!
    I can identify with this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Vishal. Why does it matter what religion kids follow, anyway! Religion should be a matter of choice, not compulsion! I would want my kids to choose the religion they want to follow. I don’t want them to be Hindu just because they were born in a Hindu family!

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  11. The lowly ones settle for comfort and pleasure. Some go beyond that and strive for money or success. Only a small minority listen to their inner call for Truth. Spirituality is for them.

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  12. I’m not sure if a Hindu boy will convert to Islam to marry a muslim girl but yes some of them will convert to have two or three wives. I have heard that’s what our own Dharam Pajji did.

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  13. I have a problem with this “all religions equal equal” argument

    A cleric read the verdict before the truck came and dumped a large pile of stones near the municipal garden. Jihadi fighters then brought in the woman, clad head to toe in black, and put her in a small hole in the ground. When residents gathered, the fighters told them to carry out the sentence: Stoning to death for the alleged adulteress.

    None in the crowd stepped forward, said a witness to the event in a northern Syrian city. So the jihadi fighters, mostly foreign extremists, did it themselves, pelting Faddah Ahmad with stones until her body was dragged away.

    “Even when she was hit with stones she did not scream or move,” said an opposition activist. who said he witnessed the stoning in Raqqa, the main Syrian stronghold of the Islamic State group.

    The July 18 stoning was the second in a span of 24 hours. A day earlier, 26-year-old Shamseh Abdullah was killed in a similar way in the nearby town of Tabqa by Islamic State fighters. Both were accused of having sex outside marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At least none of the people of her village stepped up to perform this despicable act. I am sure they wish they could have picked up the stones and stoned these men. But, too many armed men. I wish there was a way that the people being over run could stand up for themselves. They could and they may even be able to surprise them and gain a victory, but how long would it last before they would be exterminated. But, every revolution and every successful resistance started with the few who wouldn’t take it anymore. If the Muslim/Islamic society/religion as a whole would protest and denounce these acts perhaps more could be done, but their silence is deafening. And I also know that life is cyclical. They think they have won, but truth and light will win out eventually. Dictatorships fall, religions fall. The more they oppress the harder the backlash will be.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Its a very powerful piece no doubt. Your hatred is justified and rightly so. But as others said, every religion can be twisted to suit personal agendas. It was your sister’s misfortune that she fell in love with the wrong man, or that she never logically thought what she was doing. I am a Hindu and I have a lot of Muslim friends. They are in no way different than us. In fact some of the best people I know are Muslims. Religion is a powerful thing, it can be wielded as a deadly weapon or a life saving force – it all depends on the people.

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    1. So true. Religion can actually change lives for the better, if we could all just stop and think about what we’re doing before we do it. Following anything blindly will only land people in a ditch. My sister is a burning example!

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  15. I don’t know what to say. I am against any extremism. Such religious affinity is akin to terrorism. It is saddening. Sorry.

    I do know of a hindu boy who converted to islam to marry his girlfriend. They are ok, but then the boy doesn’t have any siblings and only a old mother. It is not exactly pleasant.

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      1. Ana, I have a new co worker, who is a young Italian American woman and highly educated and she has converted to Islam for her persian Anerican Boyfriend in Medical school. Her devout catholic family has no clue and will be shocked. She faces a lot of criticism at work from the mainly white men who wonder why she would choose Islam, I always end up defending here because as non religious as I am, I believe everyone has the right to choose their own religion. She fasts all through Ramadan and I believe fasting while pregnant,nursing, during your periods, travelling is not permitted. HR had to step in and ask us to respect everybodys religion and not make it an issue discreetly during a seminar. So she does not face as much intrusion. The point being your sister is a grown ass woman and can make her own decisions and she did. Is Islam an extremist religion, you betcha but so is Christianity, so is Judaisn, so is Hinduism. Morever I truly believe Indians are the worst racists on the planet. I have been to Desi parties and seen different plates being handed out to non hindus or low caste desis. And mind you these are literate people with Medical degrees etc. but not educated obvisouly. your sister could have easily converted to christianity and been an extremist. Bottom line it was her choice. How do your parents deal with it?
        I know a Hindu man who married a Muslim relative and she converted to hinduism. Her kids are all hindus but they do experience both religions.

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        1. The thing is, I don’t blame Islam. I blame my sister for her obviously bad choices. My parents were devastated when she made her decision and refused to even talk to her, which did not go down well with me, because it was really her choice and they shouldn’t have tried to control her. So they stopped.

          That having been said, I’ve studied in a Muslim college and have seen the community up close. They seem overly interested in propagating their religion and making sure they do everything by the book. I have Christian friends and Jewish friends and a Hindu family, but nobody else seems that obviously in-the-face about their religion. That is a fact.

          So while I’m all for my sister making her own choices, I also know that if she had converted to any other religion, she would likely be better off than she is now.

          And I’ll say this again – I’m not against Islam. Only the extent of the extremism that is in some of the people that follow it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I agree, and you have faced with Islam and its extermism. Over here Islam is hush hush..and toned down but I have to deal with Jehovahs Witness showing up at my door to show me the Kindgom of Heaven and such. I believe Judiasm is the one religion along with Hinduism that does not propogate conversion. Power in numbers that all there is to the religion spin. If you were to tell people wash and stay clean so you dont get sick and stink Nobody will do it..,Put a spin, God will punish you if you dont and we have a deluge of people doing Wazoo and Snaans. Get my point. Your sister is lucky she got to maek her choice because millions of women around the world do not have that choice.

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      2. Christians can get pretty bad. I know the Jehovah Witnesses that Ariana spoke of can get bad sometimes. I will close the door and pretend I am not home if I see them coming. They are not well liked by other Christian sects because of it. The difference between Christianity and Islam from my perspective is when it comes to extremism we have no problem calling out these extremist factions for what they are. We will openly, publicly denounce them-LOUDLY that they do not have the love of Christ in their hearts, because if they did they could not speak and do the acts that they do. We do this especially in America. That is one good thing about this country, is we can do that. This is not being done from what I have seen and heard from the Muslim community. From what I understand, it is more important to show solidarity with their “Islamic” brothers. If I am mistaken I apologize. I can only speak from what I am reading and hearing. I see no huge articles in the newspaper. No TV shows denouncing their actions from multiple Muslim/Islamic sources. As I have said and others have said as well. The silence is deafening. Is the corruption of the Islamic faith and the spreading of the religion by force and intimidation more important than holding to the true tenets and peaceful intent of the religion. As Christians have begun to realize in many of our sects a forced conversion is no conversion.

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  16. I’ve seen quite a few people who have converted to a different religion for various reasons. Some such people tend to be over-enthusiastic, almost fanatical about the new religion. This could be something internal, or maybe they want to prove to the family/friends in the new religion that they are genuinely devoted. This is probably what happened to your sister. Knowing this will not undo whatever damage has been done, but may help in dealing with any similar situation with another person in the future.

    To answer your question whether a man will convert just to marry a woman: I have seen quite a few cases of conversion from and to many different religions. In my opinion, conversion is gender-neutral.

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  17. Hello,
    I chanced upon your blog a few days ago and have been reading your posts. You writing is quite endearing.

    I haven’t wrote a comment on the internet in years. But I had to say this. There are quite a few people above who intend to demonstrate that relegion by itself is rather harmless and that the extremist and bigotted followers aren’t the true face of these relegions. I do not have the patience nor the inclination to refute such an argument, but I have this much to say. Anybody that thinks that morality can be derived from relegion alone, and that all relegious teachings are good but only interpreted wrongly by extremist followers, are just plain wrong.

    Morality can be arrived at by logic as the great philosophers of both the west and east have shown. Relegion is just a bunch of nonsensical sayings by men who were apparently high on something.

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