Late music composer Wajid Khan’s wife, Kamalrukh Khan, detailed her inter-caste marriage account in an Instagram post on Saturday. In the post she has alleged to being harassed for not converting to Islam by none other than her in-laws.
Kamalrukh, who’s also a clinical hypnotherapist, says that her two kids – sixteen-year-old daughter Arshi and nine-year-old son Hrehaan – are being denied their inheritance because she refused to convert from Zoroastrianism to Islam.
After sharing her experience, Kamalrukh gained the support of Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut. In her note, Khan also addressed the anti-conversion bill and how she connected to the issue due to what she and her kids had to face.
Wajid and Kamalrukh were ‘college sweethearts’ who got married under the Special Marriages Act, allowing them to tie the knot without requiring either one of them to convert. But according to her note, she started getting pressure from his family following which, she refused. This caused a wide rift in her relationship with even her husband, which ‘affected his ability’ to be a father to their kids.
Wajid died in May this year after a cardiac arrest. He had also tested positive for the coronavirus. Wajid was a co-composer of the Sajid-Wajid duo in India, with his brother Sajid Khan.
Kamalrukh confessed the she and her children miss him but she wished he had spent more time with them, without religious prejudices. Nevertheless, here is what Kamalrukh had to say:
My name is Kamalrukh Khan, wife of the late music director Wajid Khan. My husband and I had a courtship spanning over 10 years before we finally got married.
I am Parsi and he was Muslim. We were what you would call ‘college sweethearts’. Eventually, when we did get married, we married for love under the Special Marriages Act (an act that upholds the right to practice one’s own religion post marriage). And this is why this current debate surrounding the anti-conversion bill is so interesting for me.
My simple Parsi upbringing was very democratic in its value system. Independence of thought was encouraged and healthy debates were the norm. Education on all levels was encouraged. However, post marriage, this same independence, education and democratic value system was the biggest problem for my husband’s family.
An educated, thinking, independent woman with an opinion was just not acceptable. And resisting the pressures of conversion was sacrilege. I have always respected, participated and celebrated all faiths. But my resistance to convert to Islam drastically widened the divide between me and my husband, making it toxic enough to destroy our relationship as husband and wife, and his ability to be a present father to our kids. My dignity and self-respect did not permit me to bend backwards for him and his family, by converting to Islam.
Conversion was not a value system I believed in personally. It was also not the example of a deep set rotten patriarchy that I wanted to set for my beautifully evolved children.
I fought this terrible way of thinking tooth and nail throughout my marriage. The result being outcast from my husband’s family, scare tactics to make me convert included taking me to court seeking divorce. I was devastated, felt betrayed and was emotionally drained, but my children and I held on.
Wajid was a super talented musician and composer who devoted his life to making melodies. My children and I miss him dearly and we wish he had dedicated more time to us as a family, devoid of religious prejudices, the way he did while creating his melodies. We never got to be a family due to his and his family’s religious fanaticism. Today, post his untimely death, the harassment from his family continues.
I stand fighting for the rights and inheritance of my children which have been usurped by them. All this, because of their hatred against me for not converting to Islam, such deep rooted hatred that even death of a loved one could not move.
I truly wish this anti-conversion law is nationalised, reducing the struggle for women like me who are fighting the toxicity of religion in inter caste marriages. We are bad mouthed, and labeled as being manipulative and greedy for standing our ground. The real enemy in this conversion cycle commences right at the start – the hate campaign against ‘other religions’. To declare in a public space that one’s own religion is ‘the only true religion’ and that one’s own god/prophet is ‘the only true god/prophet’ is obnoxious. Religion should be a cause for celebration of differences not separation of families.
This debate regarding the anti-conversion bill should also delve deeper into the patriarchal mindset – it is mostly always the women who are made to forcibly convert. The conversion campaign has to be recognised for what it is – spreading hatred against different religious ideologies, separating wives from husbands and children from their fathers.
All religions are the path to the divine. Live and let live should be the only religion we all practice.
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