Why Zaira Wasim’s Arguments are Dangerous given the Quranic context
Recently, the Bollywood actress Zaira Wasim wrote a long facebook post (please see below the article) where she talked about quitting acting and her career because it was not aligned with her religious beliefs.
In a rather long post, she laid out her thoughts and opinions on why she said that.
The reactions of many so-called liberals in India, who are no more than Islamic apologists in most of their stances (and Hinduphobic on the flip side) ranged between:
- It is her life, her decision, so why bother?
- How is it different from someone taking Sanyaas?
What I found incredible was that even those who aren’t necessarily drinking the Indian “liberals” kool-aid, were suggesting something similar. One person on my facebook wall commented along these lines as well.
Zaira’s top themes
If you read through her post, you will find a few prominent themes that she lays out.
My Religion Threatened by my work:
“This field indeed brought a lot of love, support, and applause my way, but what it also did was to lead me to a path of ignorance, as I silently and unconsciously transitioned out of imaan. While I continued to work in an environment that consistently interfered with my imaan,my relationship with my religion was threatened.”Those who do not ‘believe’ in the Quran’s (concept of) “hereafter” are in deception:“We have forgotten the purpose we were created for as we ignorantly continue to pass through our lives; deceiving our conscience. “And That the hearts of those who don’t believe in the hereafter, may incline to it (the deception) and that they may be well pleased with it and that they may earn what they are going to earn, (and it’ll be evil). [Quran 6:113]”Only Quran’s word is the truth and other understanding a “deception”:“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 a deep flaw in our iman and we often cover it up with words and philosophies.”Should not allow Transgression of Quran’s commandment:“Don’t look for role models or measures of success in the displeasure of Allah and the transgressions of His commandments. Do not allow such people to influence your choices in life or dictate your goals or ambitions.”The supremacy of “Allah”:Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves. [Quran, 2:222].
This is what Zaira wrote. But what is she really saying? Let us understand.
In short, if you are not a practicing Muslim, a Muslim who doesn’t subscribe to hardline definition of “imaan”, an atheist, OR a non-Muslim who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about either Allah or Quran or the so-called “hereafter” – then you are a deceived person. A kafir and one who is trying to spread “mischief and deception”.
Why is this important? Because what she is describing in such “tolerant language” is Fitnah – which was first used to describe the “transgressions” of the Meccan tribes that did not take Muhammad on his word.
Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing… but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun(the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)”
If you want to get the entire context of the verses and many other verses which instigate violence against those that Zaira is describing, please read my earlier post – 55 Quranic Verses that Establish the Islamic Path of Genocide and Terror
But wait.. what is she really saying?
So when she talks about how she thinks her life hitherto was governed by desire, deception, and loss of link to her imaan, and why she wants to now align herself with the “commandments” of Quran, it is also an indictment of all those who do not “submit” to Quran or Allah.
Because she is saying – in Quranic lingo – that she was basically committing Fitnah. In English she makes it sound as if it is a “self-cleansing” process, but these arguments by Zaira have a context! That context is not just Quran but a 1400 year old violent history of genocide and subversion.
So it is not all that innocent as it sounds.
Even when she makes it “about her”, it is really not just about her. Because she is setting a context – where she is on one side and all others who do not follow her faith are on the other. And that “other” is full of deception and sin.
And, let us be very clear here, specifically to those who have a habit of equating the definition of “God” across religions – Allah isnot
a universal definition of the divine as we know it. Allah is considered God within a specific context and definition. If you want to define or approach the divine in any other way, it will be violating the understanding and belief about Allah. Which places you bang in the middle of the context of Quranic verses mentioned above (2:191 – 193).
If anyone has any doubts, please go to any Mullah and ask him to announce that Allah is the same as Krishna and he will remove your doubts in very short order. If you think this lady agrees with you, you can check it out with her as well. That may give you a good lesson in “inter-faith dialog” as well.
So we know that Allah is a term defined within the Islamic texts and has a specific meaning. It is not universal or even inter-changeable within the “religions of the book”. How a Christian defines as “God” will be very different from the Allah of Quran.
Per Zaira, those with doubts about the supremacy of Allah or “hereafter” beyond this life (as ordained by Quran), are fundamentally deluded. Of course, those who not only have doubts in their minds – like the writer – but outrightly reject the authority of any book or person to define it for everyone would probably be the worst committers of sin per this lady and her faith.
Why Zaira’s Action does NOT equate to Sanyaas of a Monk
When a person takes Sanyaas or Monkhood – whether in Jainism, or Buddhism or the Hindu/Dharmic way of life, he is not making a statement on others, but himself. He is saying that he has a goal that is different than others and he is devoting his life energies full time into that endeavor.
First, it is not a comparative decision as in “Monkhood is morally superior, while anything else is sinful” – but a path for liberation from narrow identities.
Second, Monks have never used their decision to suggest that since their way is better, they will force it down other’s throat. There is no “Fitnah” and no need to “And fight them until there is no more Fitnah” for anyone who does not go that path.
Sanyaas is not about cutting ties to the world or saying everything else is wrong and they are right – but about saying that one is choosing to throw out all manners of conditioning. Every human being is conditioned by the society’s prejudices, one’s parents and families, and past experiences. Sanyaasis go to the extent of even doing the last rites of their near and dear ones, including parents, to step out of all manners of conditioning and look at things the way they are.
If one meets each moment without any preconceived understanding or notions of how to deal with it, then one can be truly free to act in a way that is needed. Many monks stay within the world after their entire journey but are above the conditioning. Any conditioning. Even of the books or others. At some point, even their own Guru, their Master.
So you see, the idea is not about choosing one way or the other. A Monk’s way is to choose NO way at all! It is a journey to be liberated from all influences and conditioning.. and have a canvas that is even larger than existence itself. It encompasses existence and non-existence.
Zaira’s way, on the other hand, is of comparison. She is not leaving all influences. Actually, she is merely prioritizing ONE room on the path of conquest (not liberation) over every other room and path! She has no objective to free herself of all conditioning and prejudices. IN fact, she wants to promote ONE set of prejudices over all others. Which have throughout history been accompanied by genocides and violence.
So let us understand the basic difference between true Liberation and Conquest.
Finally.. it IS about me
What she does is her business – has been the argument of most so-called liberals in the Indian media. But is it?
There are many things she said about those who “transgress the ways of Allah” – or commit Fitnah if one were to use the Islamic context – without clearly defining the what a believer has to do with those who commit Fitnah. And that is the real rub!
Her post is like the proverbial bikini – what she reveals is interesting, but what she hides is critical. And what is critical is the Quranic prescription for those who commit Fitnah.
Quite obviously, she may not go around carrying out that prescription, but she is justifying it by holding Quran higher than any other understanding of the world. And thus laying the ground for those who have the guns and the means to carry out the prescription to do so.
So when she talks about getting off the path of “deception”, she is not talking about deception in the way we all understand. For deceiving she is – by revealing part of the context of her decision without the real Islamic context (Fitnah and consequences) – but she is getting off the road of Fitnah as she (and Quran) understands it.
And, deception in the normal way, where it equates to integrity of one’s word, is something that she has always indulged in. Remember how she made a spectacle on a flight where she publicly indicted one man on the basis one ONLY one power – her celebrity status. She accused him of molestation on a flight. One doesn’t know how the case ended, but the eyewitnesses clearly said that no such thing had happened.
This lady had messed up the life of this innocent man completely on the back of complete deception.
So, that deception that she wrote so eloquently about was not in the so-called desires that come with celebrity ways and glamor but the actions she had taken consciously to destroy an innocent’s life without any basis. A fact that she never talked about. If she wanted to atone for her “deception”, maybe she should have owned that up and tried to set his life back in order as much as she could.
She, on the other hand, accused everyone else of Fitnah (in eloquent English) and indicted them once again!