In a Country Where Religious Fundamentalism Encourages Men to Rape Minorities is Quitting Bollywood Over Religion That Big of a Deal That it is a Topic of National Outrage?

The Unnecessary And Stupid Outpour Over Zaira’s Retiring from Bollywood Shows How Much India Loves Hating Women.

I seriously just hate to write this post because this is soooooooooooooooooo lame that I have read so much unnecessary outpour that now I am forced to write this as an intellectual and a Muslim Feminist.

Just look at how many comments have these posts drawn:

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And look what matured senior people from Bollywood like Raveena Tandon and Anupam Kher have said:

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So, is it right to hate Zaira over her decision to quit Bollywood?

Abso-freakin-lutely NOT!

She is going back to or being forced to go back to regressive Islamic tradition.

She never said so.

She is supposed to be an icon of women empowerment. By quitting over religion, isn’t she harming the cause of women empowerment?

No. She has been an icon, yes, but in a nation where thousands of parliamentarians have RAPE cases against them, we cannot put the responsibility of empowering the entire womenkind on one 18-year-old girl.

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Also, who says she cannot empower women by doing something else? Can’t she be a doctor, a social worker or whatever else and still continue to empower women?

But the RELIGION interfering with her Bollywood career is a sign of regressive thinking?

NO. Please bother to read her post and understand that she has talked in her post about the ‘spirituality’ of Islam. She mentions her about her ‘iman’ and peace. Who knows maybe being in the limelight at such a tender age, getting all this attention and success, taught her something about the importance of other values or the lack of some sort of peace that she misses because of the attention. She has already achieved plenty by the age of 18 that most people strive for until their 60s. Therefore her maturity about her career should be given due respect too.

Or let’s call it being stupid. So what? When you and I were 18, haven’t we ever made any stupid decisions? She has her whole life ahead of her. Maybe someday she will realize that she enjoyed acting more than other things and she may come back to it. Whatever the case may be, it is absolutely her prerogative to decide.

Would you say the same if a Hindu girl quit Bollywood?

My argument is not based on specifics of a religion but the independence to chose for herself. So it would be the same, regardless of what the religion may be.

So, after quitting Bollywood, would Zaira be the best Muslim, an icon for piety?

Absolutely not! Allah alone can judge people and to be a good Muslim is to be a good human being. Me or you or Zaira have to practice compassion and kindness in our actions, which can be practiced as a poor person and as a wealthy successful Bollywood actress as well.

Those Muslims who are praising her for somehow practicing modesty or ‘being meek to patriarchy’ PLEASE STOP. Don’t make this about your belief that women must stay indoors to be respected. By saying things like that you are demeaning the entire womenkind and the Muslim community as a whole.

She could have faded away simply but why did she make this public announcement?

In an era where people are literally sharing information about what they had for breakfast, you want to blame an 18-year-old girl for sharing a major life decision?

Plus, her decision was a simple Facebook post, not a press conference or a media interview that it drew so much undue attention. Her intention may have been to announce her decision to people who are close to her or who follow her or even those write cinema news. Whatever, but seems like she wanted to let people know that she didn’t become invisible because she was bad at her job or wasn’t getting any offers. She is the one to quit despite being an award-winning actress.

Would you quit a job and let your friends or family think that you were fired or simply unemployable? Of course not. You would want them to know it was your decision.

Her bringing Islam into her decision reflects that she is trying to be a good Muslim which begs to ask if other Muslim actors in Bollywood are bad Muslims?

First of all, no, she did not say anything about other Muslims in Bollywood.

Second of all, I don’t think Bollywood would be the same without Muslim artists. From Dilip Sahab to Shahrukh Khan, from Nargis to Huma Qureshi, Bollywood is an epitome of religious diversity. Being a good Muslim or a bad Muslim means nothing if one is not a good HUMAN BEING.

Each human being interprets and practices religion in their own way and the Holy Quran allows that. The Quran and all the Hadith and Sunnah lay out a ‘way of life’ for its followers in order to live peacefully and have virtues like compassion and patience in times of distress.

The primary line that most extremists would conveniently forget is ‘there is NO COMPULSION IN ISLAM’. None of the prayers or anything matter if you do it out of compulsion rather than free will and love for God.

Also, this line was written because times go by and today the Quran is a book from another century. Times change and so have the meanings and interpretations. For instance, there is mention of treating your ‘slaves’ in a just manner, several times. But in this century, slavery is illegal. So, as common sense would suggest, the rule would apply to any person working under you or anyone from a poorer income/background.

Whether art does not mix with Islam, is an old debate that has been going on for centuries because it serves the extremists. It helps them create fear and hatred.

The reasons Zaira quoted though are more spiritual, rather than fundamentalist.

But let’s assume for a moment that they are fundamentalist, so what? In a nation where fundamentalists, religious extremists literally murder minorities in the name of so-called ‘god’, should our focus really be on a teenage kid quitting Bollywood?

If Sania Mirza wearing skirts for her matches is not wrong in my eyes, if thousands of Muslim artists working in Coke Studio are not bad Muslims to me, certainly one little teenage Zaira choosing NOT to be in Bollywood does not make her a target for outrage. My Feminism won’t be INCLUSIVE and INTERSECTIONAL if I did not respect Zaira’s choices.

The maturity that I acquired by being a Feminist is that I would respect people and their life choices, even if I would not choose that for myself.

For example, prostitution.

I personally would not do sex work. But that does not mean I can disrespect or look down upon those who do or mock some woman on the corner of the street for doing so. I would rather go my own way or if I feel weird, I might bother to ask if she was a victim of human trafficking, if she needed any help from me etc.

But what I would never do is call her names, mock her or feel superior because this is life and no one knows when tables might turn.

I have therefore learned to RESPECT people who are making their life decisions which I may not personally make for myself and having the maturity of giving them time and space to deal with their shit in their own ways.

So, FFS, chill and leave Zaira to discover her own life and her own path and find a better reason for your outrage.

 

 

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