Conversion chaos!

Mohammad Ahmad

And they will not cease fighting with you until they turn you back from your religion if they can. And whoever of you turns back from his religion, then dies while he is an Unbeliever, these then,- their deeds go in vain in this world and in the Hereafter. And these are the fellows of the Fire, in it they abide.

                                                                                                                 -The Holy Quran.

The valley of Kashmir houses more than 70 lakh people. Ninety six percent of them are Muslims. Lately, many attempts are being made to dwindle the Muslim population in this troubled territory. Covert conversions to Christians is an indication to this assertion. The issue must not be belittled as it may astray many souls.

conversionA flood of reports suddenly appeared in the press revealing an alarming number of conversions of Muslims to Christianity in Kashmir few years ago.It started when Christian missionaries made their way into Kashmir in a big way soon after the armed turmoil hit the state. Over 20,000 Kashmiri Muslims are reported to have converted to Christianity since the inception of militancy in 1990.

A lot of such cases have been witnessed by the residents of different localities of the state. Most of the reports regarding such cases come from villages like Pattan, Beerwah and Sangrama areas. On 15th September 2006, a Christian school at Pulwama was attacked by the local people alleging that students of that school were persuaded by the staff members to convert into Christians. A video was also posted on social networking website FACEBOOK, which shows a group of young Kashmiri Muslim boys and girls converting to Christianity.

In the 8-minute video, religious sermons of Christian belief are being recited and the converts are taking a dip in an artificial pond to adopt the new faith. Chief Priest CM Khanna is shown leading the conversion process.

They are luring the naive youth of Kashmir with money to convert to Christianity.Sharia

Valley’s chief cleric, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq describes the work of the Christian missionary groups in Kashmir as a major threat, suggesting that the missionaries use material inducements to win converts, and hence claiming that their work can hardly be said  to be sincere.

In an article by the renowned Kashmri Deobandi scholar Maulvi Muhammad Mir Qasmi argues that conversion is simply an “economic choice”. He writes that a sizeable number of the converts adopt Christianity simply in order to avail the educational, medical or economic assistance that missionary groups promise to provide them with. To buttress this claim he refers to a number of converts who, after joining one denomination and reaping material benefits of some sort, then choose to join another, rival Christian denomination if they are promised further material gain.

It is believed that over a dozen christian missions and churches based in USA, Germany, Switzerland and Netherlands are operating in the state. Pulwama, Budgam and Baramullah besides border villages in Kupwara and Bandipora, upper belts of Srinagar, Ganderbal and Kangan are the prime targets of evangelists. German Town Baptists Church is targeting such poor areas.

A sub-group of the missionary is working in the villages surrounding the capital Srinagar. ‘The Goodway is active in the Patan-Magam-Tangmarg triangle, Campus Crusade for Christ works among students in Pulwama and Srinagar, Eternal Life Ministries among leprosy patients in Nagin, and Operation Agape among surrendered militants. Some missionary organisations have tried to develop culturally more acceptable forms of communication in order to make for more effective communication with prospective converts.

These missionaries are working among the surrendered and released militants as well. This group is known as Operation Gape. Another group, Assemblies of God has been concentrating on villages around Budgam, Chrar, Pakharpora and Yousmarg belts. Gospel of Asia is reported to be working in border villages of Baramullah, Kupwara and Bandipora districts.

Al Bashar Mission, The Goodway, Call of Hope and Overseas Social Service, Indian Pentecostal Church of God, Roman Catholic Missionaries, Gospel for Asia (GFA) and National Missionary Intelligence are other evangelist groups operating in Kashmir.

It is genuinely a matter of great concern that needs immediate attention. But I don’t see any merit in the allegations that this is “forced” conversion. To accuse and abuse others is simply to shirk responsibility. Christian missionaries are doing what they are supposed to do. They are great servants of their cause and faith.

It is a sad irony that religion is not a belief but a profession for most of our Muftis, Imams, Khateeb’s, Pirs, scholars and politicians. They practice or follow it only to a level where they can earn their daily livelihood from it. They have opened different counters and put Islam virtually on sale.

It should have been the mission of Muslims to reach out to the non-Muslims with the message of Islam. Muslims are expected to be able to make known, both in word and deed, the meaning of godliness and righteousness.

To protect and project Islamic faith is not the responsibility of individuals only. It is rather societal obligation of the overall Muslim community, which, in fact, begins from the home. Parents have the primary responsibility to inculcate Islamic faith and values in their children. In a family it could be a father, mother and other elders that are role models for the younger members. Teachers, religious scholars, Muftis and imams come next. The society in general comes only later.

(Muhammad Ahmad is a Srinagar based author and is a student of Chartered Accountancy, He can be mailed at [email protected]).

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is accepted by all that all the Kashmiris were Hindus before non Kashmiri Muslims from middle east converted them!!So the flag bearers of Islam today are ALL descendants of Hindus!!So there were no fatwas or issues when people were converted into Islam!!The Mughals converted people with utmost application of force.
    now if people are getting converted into a religion why muslims are so opposed to it??!!
    I think Kashmir will be a lot better place if the imported Islamiyat is diluted by kashmiriyat which is secular and tolerant!!

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