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Saif and Kareena: Religion and Marriage

With Saif and Kareena's published information, Hindu Muslim marriage complexities are highlighted here. Any young adult considering an interfaith relationship should discuss all these issues sooner than later, for a happy and long lasting marriage even that is an interfaith marriage.

Saif and Kareena: Religion and Marriage

These days, Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan’s romance is a hot subject for Bollywood (see below for updates). Saif’s mother and a very renowned actress Sharmila Tagore converted to Islam for her marriage to Mansoor Ali Khan, changed her name to Begum Ayesha Sultana, gave Muslim names to all their 3 kids and children were raised as Muslims only. Saif's first wife, Amrita Singh, had also the same religious fate, gave Abrahamic names to their kids, and later got talaak (divorce). Considering Islam played a major role in Saif’s upbringing1, will Kareena have the similar religious fate as Sharmila and Amrita or will Kareena have the choice to remain a proud Hindu to enjoy her interfaith marriage with equality?

Sharmila Tagore started her Bollywood career as a Bengali Indian film actress. She was also the head of the Indian film censorship board. Sharmila was born in a Bengali family in Hyderabad, India to Gitindranath Tagore who was then Dy. General Manager of the British India Company owner of Elgin Mills. She is the great-granddaughter of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. On 27 December 1969, Sharmila Tagore married to Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Nawab of Pataudi and converted to Islam.

Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, nicknamed Tiger, is a former captain of the Indian cricket team. He was the 9th and last Nawab of Pataudi until 1971, when India abolished royal entitlements through the 26th Amendment to the Constitution of India. Their son, Saif, was born about 8 months after the wedding, on 16 August 1970. They are the parents of three children: Saif Ali Khan, a Bollywood actor; Soha Ali Khan, a Bollywood actress and Saba Ali Khan a jewellery designer. In June 2005, Mansoor Ali Khan was arrested for poaching an endangered Blackbuck, a type of Indian deer, also known as Krishna Mriga in Kannada and Krishna Jinka in the Telugu language.

Saif grew up in Bhopal at the family estate at Pataudi. Since his mother had converted to Islam, his childhood was spent in a Muslim atmosphere. Even with his maternal Hindu grandparents he never discussed religion. His paternal grandmother was the centre for all his religious education and theological experience. She made him read the Quran in his childhood. Their servants were all devout Muslims. When Saif went to study in England at Winchester College, his grandmother was worried that he would become a Christian. At the school he had to go to chapel for half–an–hour before he went to class. Saif went to the headmaster and said that he is a Muslim, so he won’t go to chapel. The headmaster organized a Maulvi Saheb for the two Muslims in the school. Apparently, Saif Ali Khan is a proud Muslim.

In 1991, Saif Ali Khan had nikaah, Islamic wedding, with a 12 years older actress Amrita Singh2. For his marriage preference, it has been quoted3, “Saif had clearly told Amrita that she had to fall in line and go through only a nikaah. Very nawabi when it comes to the crux.” A nikaah for a Hindu or Sikh means religious conversion to Islam by Shahadah oath and given a Muslim name (Amrita's Muslim name is not known). In 2004 Amrita and Saif decided to separate, and eventually had a talaak. The children with Middle Eastern names, Sara and Ibrahim, are now with their mother, while Saif started courting with an Italian girlfriend Rosa Catalano. It is not clear if religion played any role in disagreements for this couple leading to their divorce.

Kareena Randhir Kapoor was born to Sindhi-speaking Babita and Punjabi-speaking Randhir Kapoor on September 21, 1977 in Mumbai, India. She has an elder sister, Karishma. She is born in a family that have been actors for generations, including her paternal great-grandfather, Prithviraj Kapoor; her grandfather, Raj Kapoor; her paternal uncles, Shammi, Shashi, Rishi, and Rajiv; as well as aunt, Neetu Singh, & Jennifer Kendall, the wives of Rishi and Shashi respectively. Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor and her mother Babita Shivdasani – all of them – had been driven from Islamic Pakistan at the time of partition because they were Hindus4.

Randhir Kapoor was very protective of his daughters and wanted both of them to keep away from acting, get married, and settle down, as per the Kapoor family tradition. This led to irreconcilable differences between her parents, ultimately leading to a divorce, with both sisters leaving their dad to live with their mom5.

For her man, Kareena said “I want a man I can keep for myself. I wouldn't ever share my man with anyone else. If I found out that my man is unfaithful, there'd be no tears, no shor-sharaba, I'd just slaughter him.” Apparently, Kareena is a person with high self esteem and personal pride. She has lived secretly with Saif and at the Lakme Fashion Awards in October 2007 they made their liaison official.

Kareena, raised in a proud Hindu family, is mostly a vegetarian and enjoys yoga. Though, Kareena has been quoted saying6 “I have no religion, and God does not exist.” Does Saif carry a different belief for God? The Holly Koran repeatedly states that a non-believer in Allah (Kaafir) will get the fire of Hell. To save Kareena form the Day of Judgment (Resurrection), will Saif, being a good Muslim, spare some of his romantic time with Kareena preaching her about Allah?

Inter-religious differences are very complex. The ‘Dharmic’ religions (Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists) are not normally accepted or tolerated by the Muslims, Christians and Jews (Abrahamic or “People of the Book”) in a marriage. Hindus believe in one Supreme God, but they are free to worship the same God in many forms. However, this practice is forbidden in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and poses a serious issue when it comes to ‘Puja’ of various Hindu forms of God. According to the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods (e.g. Ganesh) before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God … punishing children for the inequity of parents, to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.”

Koran teaches that a marriage must be “accepted” by Allah. For this reason, a Muslim would expect the non-Muslim spouse to convert to Islam before a Nikaah, the Islamic wedding ceremony. As per the Shahadah oath to convert to Islam for Nikaah, one accepts and declares that there is only one God (Allah) and Muhammad is his messenger. Further, one acknowledges that associating Allah with other Gods, like Jesus or Krishna, is the greatest of all sins. Further, the Islamic law requires that children of mixed marriages must have Sunat, religious circumcision to formally announce them as Muslims, and be raised in the Islamic faith only. After marriage, Koran60:11 recommends, “Do not maintain your marriage with unbelieving women.”

Not all Christians and Muslims impose their religious beliefs and practices on their spouse. Despite all the potential marital pitfalls, a successful and fulfilling inter-religious marriage is possible, ideally, by not imposing ones respective religious beliefs on the other partner7. A similar message has been given in the movies Jodhaa Akbarvideo, Gadarvideo and Namastey Londonvideo movies. Bollywood stars Hrithik Roshan (with Suzanne Khan)8, Fardeen Feroz Khan (with Natasha Madhvani)9  and Aamir Khan (with Kiran Rao)10 kept their and their spouses' respective religions and got married by a civil wedding, and it is an admirable act. If Saif Ali Khan cannot show Kareena Kapoor this same respect and expects Kareena to forsake her birth religion for marriage, even just in name sake, the World will wonder why a proud Kareena is prepared to tolerate the intolerance being practiced against her.

Although Saif is a proud Muslim, he is “massively open–minded” about religious matters11. He has stated12, “I’ve been brought up to believe in the oneness of God. In some places, He is known as Jesus. In other places He is known as Bhagwan or Allah.”  Further, Saif said, “I would never want her (Kareena) to change her religion. That is the trouble with religion, really it expects conversion. I don’t buy or believe that any more. If and when we do get married no one has to change his or her religion13.” Though this is an admirable thought on Saif’s part, interfaith marriage is considered one amongst the most fundamental sinful actions in Islam after shrik or killing a person without any legal reason. This is the reason why Muslims wish to solve the interfaith marriage problem by conversion of the person from other faith to Islam.

Choice of a marriage ceremony is always a major issue for any interfaith marriage. To please Kareena, will Saif consider a Hindu wedding ceremony where different forms of Hindu Gods will be invoked from heaven, the earth and the water under the earth? Will Saif's family and community tolerate such an act prohibited in Islam? Alternatively, will Kareena convert to Islam for a NIkaah? If she don't want to become a Muslim, is it possible to have a Nikaah without Shahadah14 (religious conversion for non-believers in Allah)? No, it is impossible to have a Nikaah without Shahadah. Alternatively, will they consider a civil secular wedding registration and keep religions issue out? Will religions people consider married life after the civil wedding an act of adultery?

Religion of children is the most critical issue in any interfaith marriage15. Will Saif tolerate not having Sunat for his children to formally declare them Muslims by birth? This time, will he tolerate having at least one child a Hindu name? Inter-religious differences certainly put Saif and Kareena, actually to any interfaith couple, in a very difficult position.

Saif and Kareena have an opportunity to set a tone for new generation of young adults in India and around the World regarding interfaith marriages with equality. It remains to be seen if Saif Ali Khan will put religious tolerance in practice rather than preaching only on Bollywood screens.


Updates:

Saif and Kareen are now married by court. If all Bollywood stars are marrying by secular way, why any one will "fake" convert to Islam just to marry their lover? Now it remain to be seen if they will raise secular children.


If your daughter/sister is in Kareena's position, what would you recommend?

If your son/brother is in Saif's position, what would you recommend?

EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS on this topic at http://www.interfaithshaadi.org/blog/?p=257

Back to Forum for Interfaith Relationships with Equality www.InterfaithShaadi.org

Other articles/video:

45% of Muslims marry out side their faith in America  http://www.interfaithshaadi.org/blog/?p=173

38% of Hindus in America marry to Christians, Jews and Muslims   http://www.interfaithshaadi.org/blog/?p=213

Gurumaa's video message on Interfaith marriage and religious conversion http://www.youtube.com/user/InterfaithShaadi#p/a/u/0/skp09RhUfTY

Pass this information to as many young adults and their parents to educate them.