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Counterview: Syed Rizvi could do a ‘ghar wapsi’ because Hinduism allows it, unlike Islam

The Tyagi community has given approval to Syed Waseem Rizvi’s ghar wapsi, and that should suffice the purpose.

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Former chairman of Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board Syed Waseem Rizvi’s decision to embrace Hinduism has earned him the irk of the Muslim community. There has also been a larger critical analysis around his choice of religion. One such commentary in these columns came from Dilip Mandal. Though the article seemed strong, Mandal does not touch all aspects related to the issue.

The author rightly says that our Constitution provides us with the right to practise any religion, convert, do a ghar wapsi or even not profess any religion. What he doesn’t mention though is that Syed Waseem Rizvi’s previous religion does not permit him to do the same. The diktat of Islam is loud and clear — anyone who leaves Islam is liable for punishment. And the diktat doesn’t validate any other authority except the Quran. It doesn’t necessarily care for the constitutional rights.


Also read: Purification ritual, chants, and ‘caste by choice’ — different ways one converts to Hinduism


Mandal writes: “This Ghar wapsi has posed a predicament for the Hindu religion. His becoming a Hindu can’t be as simple as converting to Islam or Christianity or Sikhism or Judaism. A Hindu must have a caste. ‘Casteless Hindu’ is an oxymoron, an impossibility. Rizvi’s problem was fixed by Yati Narsimhanada Saraswati, who officiated the former’s conversion at Dasna Devi Temple in Ghaziabad by renaming him Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi. And thus, the former Samajwadi Party leader got his caste, an abode to live under the bigger tent of Hinduism. What a relief. He has an address. Or has he?”

“He was inducted in a comparatively low Tyagi caste. A top-ranking Muslim should be made a Brahmin. Why else shall they convert? After all, this will be a downgrade for them in the social hierarchy.”

What the author does not tell us is that if today Waseem Rizvi has a change of heart, to which caste or sect of Islam can he return to? How many sects is the Indian Muslim hierarchy divided into? Which are the lower castes? As per my knowledge, some castes among Muslims don’t allow lower caste Muslims to bury their dead in the same cemetery as theirs. Does this resemble untouchability?

The Tyagi community has given approval to this ghar wapasi, and that should suffice the purpose.

Where the author cites Ambedkar to argue that “caste prevents Hindus from being a missionary religion”, it seems that he either lacks cognisance of Ambedkar’s knowledge or ignores essential facts. It’s true the Sanatan Hindu Dharm is not a missionary religion, but Christianity and Islam also have various divisions. Islam has hundreds of castes and sub-castes, so has Christianity. In India, there are churches that have different faiths, and not all of these recognise each other. In Islam, the divisions of castes and sub-castes is fierce, we see it every Muharram.

But Vedas provide the right to Shudras and women—and to the entire humanity—to study these scriptures and conduct rituals like the yagya. See Yajurveda 26.1, Rigveda 10.53.4, Nirukta 3.8.

Manusmriti also supports the same Vedic truth: Shudras have right to study Vedas and conduct Vedic rituals That is why nowhere in the context of upanayana sanskar or janeu (education initiation) does Manusmriti forbid upanayana or sacred thread for the Shudras as has been suggested by Dilip Mandal. On the contrary, one who refuses to accept the sacred thread of education is called a Shudra.


Also read: Becoming a Hindu is not that easy. Even if a Waseem Rizvi turns into Jitendra Tyagi


Ambedkar had clearly expressed his views on Islam and Christianity. But the author ignores them.

Here is what Ambedkar had said on conversion:

“If Dalits converted to non-Indic religions, they become de-nationalised. If converted to Islam, Muslim dominance will increase or, if accepted Christianity, increase the strength of British traitors to India.”

He further said: ‘What the consequences of conversion will be to the country as a whole is well worth bearing in mind. Conversion to Islam or Christianity will denationalise the depressed classes. If they go over to Islam, the number of Muslims would be doubled; and the danger of Muslim domination also becomes real. If they go over to Christianity, the numerical strength of the Christians becomes five to six crores. It will help to strengthen the hold of Britain on the country.”

According to Ambedkar, like Muslims, Christians are also divided into various sects. The conflicts between Catholic and Protestant Christians is well known. Ambedkar says: “Indian Christians, like all other Indians, are divided by race, by language and by caste. Their religion has not been a sufficiently unifying force to make a difference of language, race and caste as though they were mere distinctions. On the contrary, their religion, which is their own cement, is infected with denominational differences.”

Gopal Goswami is Research Scholar at NIT Surat. Views are personal.

(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)

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