By Raza Habib Raja.
Junaid Jamshed’s untimely death has saddened us all but at the same time also revealed deep schisms in our society. Many are mourning the singer Junaid Jamshed and among them some are also explicitly mentioning that they do not approve of his misogynist and regressive comments, he made when he turned religious. Many on the other hand are mourning the religious Junaid Jamshed and applauding his decision to quit music and dedicate his life to preaching.
Personally I belong to the first type. I grew up loving Junaid Jamshed’s music but it was hard for me to like him when he turned preacher. I don’t have anything against people who turn religious but the kind of views Junaid started to air were extremely regressive and misogynist.
His drastic transformation is something which is worth examining. He was what is called “a born again Muslim”. This type is an interesting type which rediscovers religiosity at a later stage in life. Nothing wrong with becoming religious as for many religion is a way to find inner calm and some people become kinder and better when they become religious. However, what I have noticed about many “born again” types, is that when they become religious they often become extremely conservative as well.
One of my close friends also recently has become more religious and with that he has started to espouse extremely conservative views. Before his transformation, he used to be fairly secular in his general way of living. As I have mentioned earlier that nothing wrong with becoming religious as it is one’s connection to God and some people become better humans when they find that connection to God.
However, his transformation is quite radical. He has started supporting a beard and made his wife (who till then had been a fairly moderate and outgoing person) wear the hijab. Since she has practically disappeared from sight there is no way for me to know whether she was forced to take it or she also shares his new found conviction.
But supporting a beard and donning a hijab are still personal choice (though the latter can be forced), the real and worrisome change has started to come into his general outlook. He is increasingly voicing misogynist views and now firmly believes that women’s place is in the home and they are subservient to men. He has started to vehemently criticize the entertainment industry and thinks that music is forbidden in Islam. He often gets into violent arguments whenever the topic of Islamic fundamentalism comes up and thinks that most of it has either been orchestrated by foreign powers to “malign” Islam or is the reaction to their “atrocities”. Naturally he has become virulently anti-USA, Israel and India.
Moreover, he has become extremely critical of the way Muslims generally practice Islam. Whereas previously he was largely indifferent with respect to the way Muslims practiced their faith, now he is extremely observant and always judging various sects and their practices negatively. He thinks that Ahmedis (a sect within Islam) are heretics and Shiites are not “true” Muslims.
It is the development of these symptoms which are worrisome. Why these born again types often start espousing extremely conservative and even regressive views? Why can’t their religiosity be of kinder and mild sort?
Late Junaid Jamshed’s some of the views were also unfortunately very conservative and even regressive. Once he made a condition to appear in a talk show that the female anchor and all the women in the audience wore Hijab. Just to make him appear in the show, the anchor and all the females sitting in the audience had to wear hijab!
Subsequently Mr. Junaid Jamshed was once again in the news for stating that women should not drive. Then again he caused an uproar by saying that God did not like women’s name to be mentioned in the Holy Quran and therefore they are not mentioned in it.
It was these views which disgusted many moderates and liberals, who today at his death are only trying to remember his pre-transformation days.
The central question is that what makes this type so conservative? I think that “rebirth” often comes out of personal conviction, the level of commitment to religion is quite strong. Secondly and perhaps more importantly there is also a desire in them to actually prove HOW MUCH they have changed. This often results in overcompensation for their earlier “misdeeds.”
Moreover, they become extremely expressive to make sure that others find out the extent of their transformation. They develop the tendency to wear religion on their sleeves and conduct efforts to convince others of their beliefs.
They often become too vocal and at times turn into preachers. In the case of famous individuals, the desire to spread this newfound conviction is augmented by their fame which ensures a considerable media coverage and sizable captive audience. Their impact is often considerable and some impressionable youngsters get really fascinated by their “amazing” transformations. Some even end up emulating their examples.
I personally think that this is a serious matter because becoming religious should not essentially lead to these kind of transformation which are regressive in nature.