IntroductionI have never seen Zaira Wasim act. Never got myself to see Dangal.
There was a lot of outcry when she left Bollywood for Islam (in her words, not mine).
Outraged Hindus generally said stuff like this was obvious and had to happen. The folks in the media and the film industry were saddened, some called her an ingrate while Muslims mostly celebrated her.
To be entirely honest, regardless of her motives for leaving the industry, I applaud her determination. Not many can do that despite being successful. Had it been Tusshar Kapoor (I am not aware of his present name spelling) leaving the moh maya and going to the Himalayas, I would have understood.
In any case, the 'return to Islam' or the 'Right Path' as she called in her original tweet was genuine.
Yesterday, I saw her trending on Twitter India!
Zaira trends on Twitter. Again!
This is what she wrote.
She faced a LOT of flak from others - stick whatever labels you wish on them. But she swiftly deactivated her profile (temporarily) and left.
That did not last.
She came back and her tweet continues to shine on her wall (I am not sure what you call it).
Her profile status also was interesting.
'If the truth shall kill them, let them die.'
Let us discuss both.
The response to the first tweet is along expected lines. Muslims are supporting her with the following justifications -
- Freedom of speech
- Just a quote from the Qura'an.
- We should introspect about what is going on rather than shoot the messenger
- 'They' just hate Islam, that is why Zaira is being targeted
There are some permutations and combinations but the logic revolves around the above.
The non Muslims, primarily Hindus (if twitter aliases are to be believed) are also predictable.
- This is hate speech
- Islam hates us
- This was said before, nothing happened
- Religious indoctrination is too deep
- She is brainwashed
- This is expected
Again, the vast majority os statuses revolve around the above themes.
Also let me state for a fact here, I do not condone her statement nor do I choose to ignore it outright. This is a critical examination only, nothing more. If cases are lodged against her for promoting hate, law should take its own course. Anybody offended by this post henceforth are free to connect in the comments below. In case there is merit to them, I am perfectly willing to take it off publication.
Now, let us go slightly deeper.
Digging deeper for context of the religious justification
I, for one, do not like to dismiss an educated woman's point of view as 'brainwashing'. People have their opinions. And in this case quoting THIS particular verse has a greater significance. Especially with the timing.
The good thing is that unlike most religions, Islam claims to be an easy religion to understand. It prides in itself to be simple. So, that gives us the ability to read and discuss it knowing that we will automatically understand it and hence critically examine the relevance of Wasim quoting it.
So let me point out the verse to you here.
The same verse in a very slightly modified version is quoted by the reputable Sahih International.
So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood as distinct signs, but they were arrogant and were a criminal people.A superficial reading will appear slightly offensive, considering that this looks like a justification for the floods due to the super cyclones in West Bengal, Odisha, Bangladesh and the recent locust attacks in vast regions of Pakistan and the Indian border states.
But it goes much beyond that.
For that we need the context of the verse.
Reading a few verses before and after gives us a better clue. I am following the Sahih International version. Other accepted versions are also perfectly alright (since folks converting to Islam who do not know Arabic use these).
And We certainly seized the people of Pharaoh with years of famine and a deficiency in fruits that perhaps they would be reminded.
This actually refers to an anciet story in the Abrahamic tradition, meaning it is not original. But that is not important.
What is happening here is that, according to the Qura'an, Allah had sent Moses to the Pharaohs as a Messenger (called Firaun in the Islamic tradition) to deliver the message of Islam ie. become Muslims. However, they decline again and again. By they, it is refered to the people of Egypt as a whole, since famine and deficiency did not affect the ruling kings as much as it did the general populace.
However, the people of Egypt and the pharaoh's subjects ignore these 'signs'. This is verse 7:131
But when good came to them, they said, "This is ours [by right]." And if a bad [condition] struck them, they saw an evil omen in Moses and those with him. Unquestionably, their fortune is with Allah, but most of them do not know.
The next one is a defiant proclamation from the non muslim Egyptian subjects of the Pharaoh.
And they said, "No matter what sign you bring us with which to bewitch us, we will not be believers in you."
The very next is the one Wasim quoted (with a minor translation difference).
So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood as distinct signs, but they were arrogant and were a criminal people.
7:134 shows a change in heart of the people due to all the suffering.
And when the punishment descended upon them, they said, "O Moses, invoke for us your Lord by what He has promised you. If you [can] remove the punishment from us, we will surely believe you, and we will send with you the Children of Israel."
In 7:135 we see the people stopped believing in Allah when the 'curse' was removed.
But when We removed the punishment from them until a term which they were to reach, then at once they broke their word.
So, verse 7:136 shows what happened to the people and the kingdom.
So We took retribution from them, and We drowned them in the sea because they denied Our signs and were heedless of them.
The signs here are the signs of Divinity or miracles.
The capital 'W' in 'We' means the retribution, in this case the genocide, was 'Divine'. The following verse shows what happened to the people without ambiguity.
And We caused the people who had been oppressed to inherit the eastern regions of the land and the western ones, which We had blessed. And the good word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of what they had patiently endured. And We destroyed [all] that Pharaoh and his people were producing and what they had been building.
The most plausible explanation
To give you a very very brief introduction to the life and culture of Pre Islamic and Pre Judeo-Christian Egypt - we have to go to the ancient belief systems of the Egyptians. They had numerous Gods and Goddesses, not unlike the Greek Pantheon. Their Gods had idols and these were worshipped with great pomp and glamor.
I can only guess. But this may be analogous to the Hindu civilisation of today as well. Like the Egyptians then, we also have been witness to the 'signs' and we have remained on our path of our native belief systems (Hindu/Boudh/Jain/Sikh/animism etc). Islam finds a major issue with the concept of shirk (assigning partners to God) and in all likelihood that is what Ms. Wasim is refering to.
So yes, it is a little more than JUST a justification for the misfortune the poor of this country (and many others) have found themselves in. Farmers are losing their produce, disease has taken its toll on the economy and the future is, at best, uncertain.
Ms.Wasim perhaps takes comfort in the fact that this is Allah's wrath on the pagans. Unlike her, 'we' did not 'walk on the Right path'. Our aversion to Truth, she indicates, is the cause for our downfall.
Of course, you can say that these are my deductions, not hers. I would agree with your but for the timing of her post.
To further stress on her point, she keeps her status as one spoken by the philosopher Emmanuel Kant - "If the truth shall kill them, let them die". It is debated that Ayn Rand may be paraphrasing him instead, but the context is something like this - even if one needs to lie to save oneself, one should not. There is a detailed discussion that you can refer to here.
But the point is that the focus on the quote itself strengthens her position so that she/Allah does not have to bear responsibility for the misfortune of the people at the receiving end of 'His Wrath'.
I will ignore the trolls here because their inane comments is a knee jerk response to something more profound and something that requires more thinking. The religious justifications fit much better and the hope/prophecy for the destruction of the pagans (in this case probably Hindus) and at least in this context makes this close to hate speech.
Hindus taking offence are not at fault here. Just that they are probably mostly unaware how much worse it is for them. Muslims supporting her can also barely be faulted since she quoted directly out of their Holy text verbatim. Pending any clarification or refutal of claims to the contrary, it is safe to assume she knew what she was writing and what she meant.
If I were the authorities, I would keep an eye on Ms.Wasim. Once you are free to wish ill of your fellow human beings just because they belong to a different religion, you are just one step away from doing worse to them on your own.