Monday, 6 May 2013


Attended a very fruitful party seminar in Delhi ON 4-5 mAY 2013, which was addressed by leaders such as Advaniji, Dattatreya Hosabale, Shanta Kumar, etc. I spoke on the 'Interaction between Indian Religions and Semitic religions' and emphasized the essential difference between the two sets: that, while the former believes in the motto ‘we’ll mind our business, let them mind theirs’, or 'live and let live', and make no concerted effort to spread or proselytize, Christianity and Islam (not Judaism), by far presently the more dominant Semitic faiths are proselytizing religions to the hilt. They believe in conversion, and also believe that unless a person is converted he cannot be ‘saved’ – presumably from hell-fire. There have been tussles between Islam and Christianity on the one hand and Indian-origin faiths on the other, and some of the tussles have been bloody, and some very very bloody. This is history-absolutely incorrect to pretend that such bloody tussles never happened. However, I emphasized, that it is incorrect to equate the two proselytizing Semitic faiths, paint them with the same brush. This approach may give rise to costly mistakes. The interaction of faiths between Indian-origin faiths and Semitic faiths is required to be studied strictly separately for Islam and Christianity. 

The principal differences in approach of Christian and Islamic proselytization, according to my perception, are the following:
(a) Christianity has proselytized mostly by persuasion, which at times has included deceit or money; Islam, mostly by force.
(b) Their attitudes towards women are very different. 
(c) Christianity is not something immutable, and changes with time, which is a feature it shares with Indian faiths. Just as Hindus no longer practice suttee (widow-burning), likewise Christians do not burn heretics at the stakes as they did to Joan of Arc. However Islam is not only immutable, but takes pride in being so. The Hadith, or Islamic Traditions, are next only to the Qur’an in terms of sacredness to Muslims, and teach how the Prophet had acted, what he said, and what was done in his presence without his disapproval. Every devout Muslim is required to follow these Traditions. They contain provisions such as stoning to death for adultery – for which the punishment prescribed by the Indian Penal Code is only five years of imprisonment, and that too only for the male in case of adultery with a married woman. Adultery is not a criminal offence in most countries where Christianity is the dominant faith.
(d) Christianity does not imply internationalism, which Islam does (and interestingly, so does Communism). There is no Christian Jahan or Umma, and an Indian Christian, however devout, is not particularly upset by some Christian in some neighbouring country being killed or subjected to some injustice or some church being attacked. As everyone knows, this is not the case with Muslims – all the cases of anti-Hindu pogroms in Pakistan and Bangladesh have started with some real or imagined news about ‘Islam being in danger’ in India.

These are some of the features that have to be remembered while considering interaction. The entire point of my talk was to underscore the facts that (a) We have to live in India in amity among all religions (b) to do that it is necessary to put a stop to proselytization (c) it is incorrect to hide history and pretend everything has been smooth in this interaction and (d) the two Semitic religions will have to be looked at separately.

Good, fruitful seminar. Thanks to the organizer, our Legal Cell Chief Alok Kumarji 

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