On 30th June came a Facebook post that grabbed almost everyone’s attention. A post that spoke clear of Zaira Wasim disassociating herself from the film industry and quitting the field and profession forever as she believes it comes in the way of her ‘imaan’ (faith).
How well do we know our society by now? Anything that is even remotely related to religion has to spark reactions from different corners of the nations. While many welcomed and respected Zaira’s decision, others were seen to be slightly disappointed.
The Dangal child actress, Zaira Wasim, in her social media post clearly states that she isn’t happy with the kind of person she is and feels that due to her profession, her faith and religion is being threatened. Nowhere in her words does she mention that her religion is against the profession she chose for herself 5 years back.
However, some known personalities like Raveena Tandon a Bollywood actress, Taslima Nasreen a writer and human rights activist, and Priyanka Chaturvedi a politician belonging to Shiv Sena seem to have interpreted Zaira’s words in a different way.
Her message was construed in a way that spoke of Zaira showing disrespect towards all those working in the film industry sharing the same religion as hers. She is blamed to demean the film industry and the people working in it. Her message and opinion were twisted unnecessarily. Some also picked up on her for calling the Bollywood industry ‘anti-Islam’.
While Priyanka Chaturvedi stated that such a message from Zaira Wasim purely gives out a message of Islam being intolerant, Raveena Tandon, on the other hand, said that she wished Zaira would have quitted gracefully without creating a fuss and should have kept her “regressive views” to herself.
What we need to understand here is that Zaira Wasim throughout her message has only spoken about herself and her personal choice of quitting a particular profession and has stated her own personal reasons behind the same. She hasn’t spoken against or disrespected anyone.
The primary focus of the message should have been the actress’s decision to withdraw from the film industry but the reasons stated for her withdrawal attracted needless attention. If the actress feels that it is due to her career in acting that has made her ignorant towards her faith, then we must take note that it is her personal opinion on her life and she isn’t answerable to anyone.
Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir not just respected her decision but also raised his voice in support of Zaira through a tweet that stated that quitting the film industry is Zaira’s individual decision and that no one has the right to question her.
There was another incident where a newly elected TMC member of parliament, Nusrat Jahan too faced flak on the day of her oath-taking ceremony for wearing sindoor (vermilion). A fatwa was issued against her by Darul Uloom for marrying a non-muslim. She was criticised for getting dressed like a Hindu bride and wearing a mangalsutra (nuptial chain) and sindoor.
Nusrat Jahan recently got married to a Kolkata based businessman named Nikhil Jain. After being criticised, Nusrat tweeted saying that
She respects all religions and still continues to be a Muslim. Further adding, she stated that no one has the right to tell her how she should dress up or what she should wear. She also said that “faith is beyond attire”.
Yet another issue of Sunaina Roshan, sister of Hrithik Roshan and her relationship with a Muslim man Ruhail Amin, has become a matter of headlines for the Indian media. The news media, drawing reference from Sunaina’s tweets, has reported that Rakesh Roshan, father of Hrithik and Sunaina is against his daughter having a relationship with a man just because he is a Muslim. Shouldn’t love too be beyond religion?
India, though a free country, is trapped by many social evils, religion being the prime one. It takes just one person to comment or act on something even remotely related to religion no matter how irrelevant it might be, and it will not once go unnoticed. The above-mentioned issues are examples of this.
India’s constitution grants it’s every citizen the freedom to hold and practise his/her own faith, religion and views. Similarly, it also grants every adult individual to decide for himself/herself to be with and marry the person of his/her choice irrespective of caste creed and religion. Sadly though, many fail to recognise this.
On one hand where we glorify India as a culturally and religiously diverse nation, but it is important to ask ourselves, have we embraced this diversity in its entirety though?