Thursday, July 4, 2019

Zaira Wasim’s spiritual discovery and renunciation of dizzying Bollywood career: personal choice or coercion?

Young and vulnerable Zaira has come up as an important “catch” for “Islamic” fanatics- a young, beautiful and iconic figure like her to preach “Islam” to the erring Kashmiri women! The impact can be far reaching. Zaira Wasim

Raj Rishi

Zaira Wasim (born 23 October 2000) is an exceptionally talented girl. This is evident not just by her brilliant academic performance--- she completed tenth grade from St. Paul's International Academy in Sonwar, Srinagar for which she scored 92 per cent in her Board examinations--  but also by her dazzling achievement as an actor followed by richly deserved accolades. She was honoured with Filmfare Award, a National Film Award and National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement by Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India in 2017.

Zaira Wasim has now announced her “ disassociation” from acting career. Her decision has not just saddened her admirers, but also actuated them to wonder how this could happen especially when she was rising so meteorically   in her film career.

Rather anomalous

How could Zaira have achieved such astounding success without   completely focusing on her acting prowess? How can a person “ disturbed” by the  compunctions of her ‘imaan” of  what she is doing put up such stellar  performance consistently for four  years in three marvelous   films,  Dangal (2016), Secret Superstar (2017) and The Sky Is Pink,  shooting completed  March 2019?

How can an artist put up an immaculate performance unless she puts all her heart and soul in acting? How can a morally ‘disturbed’ artist perform so flawlessly in an ‘environment that damaged her peace, imaan and her relationship with Allah ’especially when a thespian like Amir Khan is her mentor and  also scrutinizing each of her moves on and off sets? minutely and also when she is being constantly showered with accolades both from national and international audience and  is deservedly enjoying her success too?

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Is the statement in Instagram post her own?

It is difficult to imagine that a  girl of  Zaira’s raw  age- despite her brilliant performance in  boards- can be arrogant enough to write such a bombastic advisory. An 18 year old trying to harangue “everyone” with her “advice” like an old bearded Islamic scholar! One is reminded of Dr. Zakir Naik

Image result for dr zakir naik photo

“ but my sincere advice to everyone is that no amount of success, fame, authority or wealth is worth trading or losing your peace or the light of your Imaan for. Strive not to surrender to your desires for desires are infinite and always leap out ahead of whatever has just been achieved. Do not deceive yourself or become deluded and find believability in the self assured biased narratives of the principles of deen-where one conceals the truth while knowing it or where one picks and chooses to accept only what suits his situation or desires the best. Sometimes we have deep flaw in our iman and we often cover it up with words and philosophies…..”.

The Red Tea Detox

Zaira Wasim can certainly not be unaware of a host of Muslim men and women who have worked and are working in film industry not just in India but also several other Muslim countries and nobody has raised finger on their Muslim credentials.

It is doubtful she could have cast aspersions on  acclaimed artists like Dilip Kumar, Mohammad Rffi, Meena Kumari, Nargis, Waheeda Rehman, Shabana Aazmi, Madhu Bala, to mention  only a few.

Under tremendous pressure

It is no secret that Zaira and her family has been under constant pressure from Islamic zealots to stall her film career.

“It is also impossible to take Wasim out of her geo-political context. There are reports that her family has been at the receiving end of much criticism if not outright ostracism in the Kashmir Valley and she might have made the statement under duress. If so, this would not be the first time. Extreme right Islamist elements have over the years consistently criticised women who ‘strayed’ from the path of religion as narrowly defined by them. Pragaash, an all-girl music band of the Valley, was forced to retract and withdraw in the name of religion in 2012. Eight year old Tajamul Islam was criticised for her kickboxing activities in 2017. It is impossible to dismiss such incidents as the stray actions of a fringe. We should know better than to ignore the ‘fringe’ of any religious community, which historically attacks the freedoms of women. Liberals and liberal feminists of all shades, both in Kashmir and outside, must stand up to these elements that systematically erode hard won freedoms of women, in the name of religion or culture”:

Zaira, an important “catch” for “Islamic” fanatics for a far reaching impact on young Muslim women

Young and vulnerable Zaira has come up as an important  “catch” for “Islamic” fanatics- a young, beautiful and  iconic figure like her to preach “Islam” to the erring Kashmiri women! The impact can be far reaching.

“Zaira’s  public statement has far reaching consequences on young Muslim women making unconventional career choices which do not meet the approval of the religious patriarchs and which fall outside the conservative interpretations of religious doctrines and values. Such statements become the yardstick to judge the actions of other women and their beliefs.

In one of her recent tweets Wasim quotes George Orwell, “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” The problem today is the inconvenience of certain kinds of truth, that challenge established wisdom, prescribed norms and acceptable world views. Wasim’s public statement and those responses applauding it, must be read and debated beyond just individual choice and personal religiosity.”

Acknowledgement for excerpts: . Swati ParasharPrabha Rani from Indian Express

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