Part - III, Love Jihad?

Excerpts from the book:

In 1894, a young musician named Abdul Karim Khan and his brother, Abdul Haq, came to Baroda. They were sons of a Delhi musician and, for close to a decade, they had performed in numerous courts and cities-including Meraj, Meerut, Mysore, Jaipur, Junagadh, Kathiawad, and Malwa. Now they came to try their luck in Baroda. It was a court well known for its patronage of music as well as for its famous musicians. Abdul Karim and Abdul Haq came to hear those musicians sing, perform in the court if invited, and to uphold the kirana gharana tradition to which they belonged.

Soon the brothers were the talk of the town. Baroda musicians debated their controversial musical performances, and their fearlessness pleased the ruler, Sayajirao Gaekwad. Their accomplishments might have led to a long career as Baroda court musicians, but instead their stay came to a precipitous end. In 1898, four years after his arrival, Abdul Karim stole out of Baroda under cover of darkness. By itself, this stealthy departure does not leave any wrinkles on the fabric of music's history. What turns Abdul Karim's departure into one of Hindustani music's most loved scandals was that a young woman, Tarabai Mane, went with him.

Sardar Mane heard Abdul Karim sing, and impressed by his knowledge of bhajans, he bestowed his protection on the two brothers, asking Abdul Karim to teach music to his daughter. In 1894, when they first met, Tarabai was fifteen years old and Abdul Karim was twenty-two.

Tarabai and Abdul Karim's elopement required stealth. She was Hindu, young, and the daughter of a Baroda court sardar, Marutirao Mane. He was a Sunni Muslim Pathan, already married, (Karim Khan's first wife, Gafooran was the sister of another Kirana master Abdul Wahid Khan, who was also his cousin.) and a struggling, poor musician to boot. The couple ran off to Bombay, where they lived together for a year before getting married. Following their marriage, they had seven children, five of whom survived.

----- He insisted that his daughters dress with the modesty that behoved proper Muslim girls, give up travel and learning music, stay at home, and acquire an Islamic education from a qazi

....... After coming back from Mysore, in 1914, Abdul Karim went on the road again, this time to Ichalkaranji, Meraj, Burhanpur, and Bombay. It was around that time Tarabai voiced her concern about her husband. His new school attracted a large number of students, including many baijis, who made Tarabai suspicious. When she demanded that he stop taking on such women as his students, Abdul Karim conducted private tuitions behind Tarabai's back,….

------- Abdul Karim traveled again. Within a year, he took two new students, two sisters, Hira and Banno. In 1922 , he married Banno, who became his third wife…

Take Away:
Even in those days there were Hindus justifying these kinds of marriages or justifying the exploitation of young Hindu girls by Muslims. Balkrishnabuwa Kapileshwari, a student of Abdul Karim and author of his biography noted:

"Readers of the biography might be tempted to assume that the two eloped because they fell in love. Kapileshwari quickly puts that impression to rest. The libidinal energy and excitement of a romance is nowhere to be found in the narration. Abdul Karim and Tarabai come together solely for noble reasons. There is no love, passion, laughter, or any suggestion of lightheartedness about this young couple or what they may have felt for each other. Instead, on her part there was worship, devotion, and duty, and on his, distanced protection. The only reason this nonromantic alliance came to a head is because of a dramatic moment of epic tragedy. The young Tarabai’s mother passed away and her father, who had turned to drink, made her life a living hell by accusing her of complicity in her mother's possible betrayal of him. Paranoia, jealousy, cruelty, and intoxication come together to produce for a hapless and desperate Tarabai an intolerable situation. It is solely to rescue his student from this situation that Abdul Karim takes time out of his riyaz to bestow upon her a noble and passionless act of protection.”

Rather than highlighting the fact that a Hindu girl was being used as a slave and child producing machine, the author explains how the Muslim rescued the girl from the clutches of her father. The concept of Love Jihad is very old. It is just that now it is taking place at a massive scale. Abdul Karim Khan initially married a Muslim and then went on to marry Hindu girls one after the other. With age the Muslims' approach has become more aggressive. Saif Ali Khan and Amir Khan both divorced the Hindu girls they married and went on to marry other Hindu girls.

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