Of Indian Marriage Laws and Conversions: The Case of Saifeena

Celebrity marriages always come with a lot of public anticipation, and this was the case with the wedding of Saif Ali Khan and  Kareena Kapoor, who after five years of  a very public courtship, married on Oct 2012. However, the speculation surrounding the relationship didn’t end post-marriage. Apart from being India’s heartthrob, Saif Ali Khan was crowned the Nawab of Pataudi in 2011, after his father’s death. The Nawab of Pataudi is considered to be the Islamic religious head in the state of Pataudi, Haryana. So it was not very surprising when the Darul Uloom Deoband proclaimed that, as Kareena Kapoor hadn’t converted to Islam prior to marriage, the “Saifeena marriage” is illegal and “anti-Islam,” and that “Since Saif has married a Hindu girl, he wouldn’t be a believer in Islam.”

Saif Ali Khan’s mother, Sharmila Tagore, who is a renowned actress herself, converted to Islam and became Begum Ayesha Sultana before marrying the then Nawab of Pataudi, Saif Ali Khan’s father, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, and was under pressure from her mother-in-law who didn’t want  a “sexy siren who wore bikinis and worked in films’ as her daughter-in-law.” [Read more...]