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Bollywood threatened my relationship with Islam: What Zaira Wasim wrote in her open letter

Dangal actor Zaira Wasim announced her decision to quit Bollywood on Sunday. Read the full text of her open letter.

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New Delhi: National Award-winning actor Zaira Wasim announced her decision to disassociate from Bollywood and a career in acting Sunday, saying that the lifestyle had taken her away from her faith and towards a ‘path of ignorance.’

In a detailed post on her Facebook page and other social media platforms, the 18-year-old Kashmiri-born star of Dangal fame said that the Indian film industry’s work environment “consistently interfered with my imaan (faith)” and threatened her relationship with her religion.

Read the full, unedited text of her open letter below:

Five years ago I made a decision that changed my life forever. As I stepped my foot in Bollywood, it opened doors of massive popularity for me. I started to become the prime candidate of public attention, I was projected as the gospel of the idea of success and was often identified as a role model for the youth. However, that’s never something that I set out to do or become, especially with regards to my ideas of success and failure, which I had just started to explore and understand.

As I complete 5 years today, I want to confess that I am not truly happy with this identity i.e my line of work. For a very long time now it has felt like I have struggled to become someone else. As I had just started to explore and make sense of the things to which I dedicated my time, efforts and emotions and tried to grab hold of a new lifestyle, it was only for me to realise that though I may fit here perfectly, I do not belong here. 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. As I continued to ignorantly pass through while I kept trying to convince myself that what I was doing is okay and isn’t really affecting me, I lost all the Barakah from my life. Barakat is word whose meaning isn’t just confined to happiness, quantity or blessing, it also focuses on the idea of stability, which is something I struggled with extensively.

I was constantly battling with my soul to reconcile my thoughts and instincts to fix a static picture of my imaan and I failed miserably, not just once but a hundred times. No matter how hard I tried to wrestle to firm my decision, I ended up being the same person with a motive that one day I will change and I will change soon. I kept procrastinating by tricking and deluding my conscience into the idea that I know what I am doing doesn’t feel right but assumed that I will put an end to this whenever the time feels right and I continued to put myself in a vulnerable position where it was always so easy to succumb to the environment that damaged my peace, iman and my relationship with Allah. I continued to observe things and twist my perceptions as I wanted them to be, without really understanding that the key is to see them as they are. I kept trying to escape but somehow I always ended up hitting a dead end, in an endless loop with a missing element that kept torturing me with a longing I was neither able to make sense of nor satisfy. Until I decided to confront my weakness and began to strive and correct my lack of knowledge and understanding by attaching my heart with the words of Allah. In the great and divine wisdom of the Quran, I found sufficiency and peace. Indeed the hearts find peace when it acquires the knowledge of Its Creator, His Attributes, His Mercy and His commandments.

I began to heavily rely upon Allah’s mercy for my help and guidance instead of valuing my own believability. I discovered my lack of knowledge of the basic fundamentals of my religion and how my inability to reinforce a change earlier was a result of confusing my heart’s contentment and well being with strengthening and satisfying my own (shallow and worldly) desires. I discovered my disease of doubt & error that my heart was afflicted with- There are 2 types of diseases that attack the heart, one; DOUBT and Error and the second; LUST and Desire. Both are mentioned in the Quran.

Allah says, “ In their hearts is a disease (of doubt & hypocrisy) and Allah increased their disease. [Quran 2:10]. And I realized the remedy to this could only be attained through the guidance of Allah and indeed Allah guided my path when I lost my way.

Quran and the guidance of Allah’s messenger (PBUH) became the weighing factor in my decision making and reasoning and it has changed my approach to life and it’s meaning.
Our desires are a reflection of our morals, our values are an externalization of our internal integrity. Similarly, our relationship with the Quran and Sunnah defines and sets the tone of our relationship with Allah and our religion, our ambitions, purpose and the meaning of life. I carefully questioned the deepest sources of my ideas of success, meaning and the purpose of my life. The source code that governed and impacted my perceptions evolved into a different dimension. Success isn’t correlated with our biased, delusional and conventional shallow measures of life. Success is the accomplishment of the purpose of our creation. 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]

Our purpose, our righteousness or terribleness isn’t defined by our selfish consumption, it isn’t equated by the worldly measures. Allah says, “I swear (by Al-Asr) by time (that’s running out). Verily, man is drowning in great loss, with the exception of (a few) those who believe , do good deeds and call on another to the way of truth and counsel one another to patience and perseverance. [Quran 103]

Also read: Dangal actor Zaira Wasim says Bollywood leading her away from faith, quits acting

This journey has been exhausting, to battle my soul for so long. Life is too short yet too long to be at war with oneself. Therefore, today I arrive at this well-grounded decision and I officially declare my disassociation with this field. The success of the journey is dependent on how you take the first step and the reason why I am openly doing so is not to paint a holier picture of myself but this is the least I can do to start afresh and this is just my first step as I have arrived at the clarity of realisation of the path I wish to be on and strive for and during this time I may have consciously or unconsciously planted a seed of temptation in the hearts of many 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. What we say is not in our hearts and we seek every manner of excuse for clinging to it and indeed He is aware of the contradictions, He is aware of all the thoughts unspoken for He is All-Hearing (As-Sami), the All-Seeing (Al-Baseer), and the All-Knowing (Al-Aleem). “And Allah knows what you conceal and what you reveal”. [Quran 16:19]. Instead of valuing your own deceptive conviction, make genuine efforts to strive and discover and understand the truth yourself with a heart full of faith and sincerity. “O you who have believed, if you are conscious of Allah, He will give you the ability to distinguish right from wrong”. (Quran 8:29).

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 Prophet said, “A person will be (raised on the day of Judgement) with whom he loves.” And do not become arrogant to seek advice from the better informed but position yourself away from your ego and arrogance and rely only on Allah’s guidance, indeed only He is the turner of the hearts and the ones He guides, none can lead astray. Not everyone has the conscience or the conscious to recognise the what we need to know or change and hence, it is not for us to judge, abuse, belittle or mock such people. It is our responsibility to make a positive impact by reinforcing the correct understanding by reminding each other. “And remind, for indeed the reminder benefits the believers” (Quran 51:55).

And we must do so not by ramming facts down each others throats by abuse or hostile behaviour or through violent disapprovals but it can only be done through kindness and mercy that we can affect the people around us. [If you see that one of you has slipped, correct him, pray for him and do not help the shaytan against him by insulting or mocking him- Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab].

But before we do that we must remember to exemplify Islam and it’s understanding ourselves in our knowledge and in our hearts, actions, intentions and behaviour and then use it to benefit the ones lack grasp on the fundamentals of the religion in terms of understanding, beliefs and manners. And remember that when you will start your journey or to find your ground in His Commandments- you are going face hardships, resistance, ridicule or discomfort from others and sometimes it can come from people who you love and are the closest to you. Sometimes it can be because of how you have been acting previously or have acted all your life, but do not let it discourage you or lead you to lose hope in Allah’s mercy and guidance- for He is Al-Hādīy (The Guide). Do not let your previous actions stop you from seeking repentance, know that He is Al-Ghafaar (The repeatedly forgiving). Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves. [Quran, 2:222]. Do not let the judgement, ridicule, abuse, words or fear of people take you off from the path you wish to be on or stop you from expressing yourself to the fullest, remember He is Al-Walīy the helper. Do not let the worry of tomorrow get in your way to reassess your life, for he is Ar-Ražzaq (The Provider).

It can be a tough, complicated and sometimes an unimaginably lonely path, especially in today’s time but remember the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “There will come upon the people a time when holding onto the religion will be like holding onto hot coal.”

May Allah guide our boats to find its shore and help us to distinguish between truth and deception. May Allah makes us strengthen us in our Imaan and make us amongst the ones who engage in His remembrance and make our hearts firm and help us to remain steadfast. May Allah give us a better understanding of His wisdom and allow us to exhibit our efforts to alleviate doubt and error at individual levels and guide each other. May Allah cleanse our hearts from hypocrisy, arrogance and ignorance and rectify our intentions and grant us sincerity in speech and in our deeds. Ameen

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  1. Very good decision.Money and fame is not everything.

    Many people will misunderstand her. Actually you have to understand her religion. If you don’t know then don’t just write anything.

    It’s like a Muslim trying to figure why a vegetarian does not eat meat.
    He is missing out the yummy dishes!

  2. She is making a personal choice and a brave choice. We should not feel threatened by that. I don’t see any hate or intolerance but just an announcement of her views, she wishes to make a ‘clean break’ from film industry. I wish her success, I pray for her success. Reading the comments I sense that a lot of commentators are very uncomfortable with her worldview. While they accuse her of intolerance, it’s they who are intolerant
    It’s her relationship with God her creator she is referring to this should unite as humankind

    • Applaud your courage! You have the ability to discern at such a young age. Stay true and stay blessed.

  3. Couldn’t understand a single line of this open letter. It was more of a religious statment scripted by some maulvi.
    If you want to tell then tell us what was the exact issues which effects ur religious practice.

    This letter waa jist1 talking non sense. “Unwanted Gyan”.

  4. Dear zaira Waseem, this is such an appalling letter that you have written. First of all..I don’t know whether you are aware that you are an amazing actor!! Aren’t you getting good roles in movies???.I think if good projects are coming one’s way, no committed actor would think of quitting their profession at its infancy. The reasons you have laid out for quitting is bizzzzzar. Pls understand that being an artist is not a sin.. rather it’s a blessing which not everyone is endowed with. So pls try to grow and have the boadness in your heart to understand and appreciate the world with all its diversities……thank you

    • Zaira…one thing I failed to point out in my previous reply was that it is very much understandable that you might have had to face some unpleasant and harsh situations in your career …and you have all the right to quit your job as and when you please..but to explain that you didn’t have to take the people through such excruciating details. If one wants to say no to something ,he or she can say it just by sheer will power and character…and there have been many instances where women have done just that ..not only in the film industry but other places of work as well.

  5. Another Jehadi Bride in the making.

    Religious fanatisicism masquerading as piety is laughable. Her ignorant ramblings about virtue and god do NOT take away from the fact that she is basically calling everyone else as “corrupt” and “hypocrites” and “deviant” from her version of God.

    She is a fanatic islamist with a dangerous delusion about bollywood and unconsciously becoming a vessel for Islamic misogyny , intolerance and hatred for everything “un islamic”.

  6. Zaira wasim , Bollywood don’t need actors like you , just go and at least feel secure in ur pants , follow ur imaan , such a dumb u r

  7. Dear zara. Keep your mind set on ISLAM. Your decision is right
    There is no religion better than islaam. I will say only one thing. “Well come back to Islaam”

  8. She has to be more specific on how Bollywood hampered her religious beliefs…otherwise she must change the misguiding title…she can keep her relationship between her faith and herself to herself, who is interested?It is difficult to cope with competition and survive… her mental position now requires peace… yoga can help

  9. Quoting things out of context will never help anyone or yield productive dialogue. I’m not disowning the Verse from Qur’an but the context in which it is said has to be clearly understood or else it shows the hatred propaganda or a hidden propaganda one has towards a Islam. The verse quoted by Mr.Babloo is from Chapter 9 (At-Tawbah) Verse 5, we need to read the previous verses and succeeding verses to understand the context and defenition of disbelievers stated in the Verse 5. The disbelievers defined in the Verse states the disbelievers who broke the peace treaty with Prophet Muhammad (). We as Indians celebrated Abhinandan for shooting down the fighter jet for upholding peace but won’t accept the same if a Muslim say’s. This shows our level of hypocracy towards Islam. Please read the next verse which reads “And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah . Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know” (Al-Qur’an 9:6). Qur’an asks to grant protection to those who seeks even after transgressing the peace treaty, let’s be quite if we have shallow knowledge and not spread hatred.

    To understand the verse listen to the short explanation from Dr Zakir Naik in YouTube by searching the verse number.

    Allah (God) Knows Best.
    Thank you

  10. 200+ years of Islamic rule couldn’t threaten Hinduism. But this Islam fears movies and cartoons. Meanwhile, all the Mullahs who issue fatwas spend plenty of time watching haraam content.

  11. Bollywood is threatening Islam? What a joke. This is the only so-called religion in the world that is threatened by cartoons, movies, music and literally anything that most of us would consider ordinary.

  12. What the title should be :

    Islam threatened my relationship with Bollywood: What Zaira Wasim wrote in her open letter

  13. And All have ranks according to what they do “Al-quran”.

    Dear Zaira,

    I appriciate your way of choosing a new life for better cause, many of will disregard your decision and would putt you in different thinking of paradigms but stay with your own heart and congratulations to be selected in eternal peace.

    stay blessed

  14. It’s to her credit that she is giving up a life of fame and notoriety. Of course, she is young and inexperienced. It wouldn’t be a surprise if she discovers that a pious and religious life is not all that it is meant to be. This is all part of personal growth.

  15. Watch out : “kill the idolaters wherever you find them and take them prisoners, and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush.”
    watch out , the holy month has ended ! lol

  16. This is an interesting story to be followed by media.. It would be worth watching how long will it take when she become dissatisfied by her religious life too. I am not discounting her returning back to Bollywood. When a person repeatedly fails and the person can’t get any help to come out of the failures, religions provide the hope and the strength to face this cruel world. Religions’ invention by humans is due to this very aspect of human life.

    • Next time she is seen without burqa, she should be fined. Rs. 5000 per burqa-less sighting. Let’s see how she fares.

  17. When you pluck a 15 year old and put him/her in a harsh and competitive industry, what follows is psychological chaos. Why bring religion into it? Just leave the industry silently and join a good university. Why this attention grabbing? Why pollute others’ thought process with your dogmatism, and your family’s inability to help you cope with challenges?

  18. Where did she says in this note that someone in Bollywood degraded her or her faith. The title of this article seems to be misleading. She is talking about her relation with her god and she feels her faith is pure. Let us leave it to her choice of what she wants to be. She would have acted in Dangal and later on would have felt that acting in movies may not be her cup of tea and wanted to quit. Better leave her alone, rather Bollywood as industry was unfaithful to her. Industry need not be faithful to her. She has to be faithful to industry, if she want to be part of the industry. Otherwise, it is her choice to quit and chase her own faith.

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