Muslim Celebs Who Should Become The Flag-Bearers Of Progressive Islam
Like on most average weekdays after work, I was staring at the Netflix homepage in the late hours of the night before finally deciding to play American comic Hasan Minhaj’s latest gig Homecoming King. And along with the laughter that the Daily Show comedian incited, there were pangs of very different emotions as a progressive Muslim-born, with direct references to the racist and Xenophobic times that we live in.
(There is no justification for monstrous acts like the London attack or any of the preceding ones in the West; but it works the same way when it comes to the resulting hatred manifesting at completely blameless people born in Islamic families)
Not a single day passes by when the world is struck by another tragedy in the name of Islam and people like London mayor Sadiq Khan become scapegoats at the hands of forces like American President and certified joke-of-a-world-leader Donald Trump. But is the problem with Islam completely extrinsic or is there a need for the followers of the faith to look into the mirror as well?
In his recent column for the Hindustan Times, veteran actor and a champion of the liberal school of thought, Naseeruddin Shah had written about how Muslims in India need to shift their focus from the ‘the length of Sania Mirza’s skirt,’ which causes more agitation ‘than the lack of modern education and employment opportunities for our community.’
(Notably, he also took a swipe on how there has been very little uproar against the likes of ISIS in India, just like how there haven’t been many Hindu voices condemning lynching incidents in the country.)
Talking of liberal Indian celebrities, it’s also worth mentioning that a certain superstar called Shah Rukh Khan has had to justify his ‘nationalism’ on multiple occasions; yet he has never once deterred. Though, he has admitted recently that he now holds back to express his opinions entirely because of all the hatred that goes around on social media.
But during his TED talk, he proudly wore the badge of being an Indian freedom fighter’s son on a global platform. He might not be the favourite among right-wing fundamentalists in India, but he certainly is a credible face for the liberal Muslim in the country. Just like a certain Shabana Azmi, who has time and again stated that being a Muslim is a part of her identity that encompasses so much more.
Women like Amal Alamuddin are taking the same campaign forward globally. Upon tying the nuptial knot with George Clooney, who is a lifelong liberal, the former UN adviser has broken all clichés regarding interfaith wedlock. The human rights lawyer has also been at the forefront of empowering women in the Muslim community who have been forced into practices like a hijaab.
(We do believe that hijaab is a matter of choice, but discourage the idea when it’s forced upon someone)
With Islamophobia at its peak, it’s high time for these Muslim-born celebrities to step up and not just break all stereotypes regarding Muslims, but also lead a revolution within the followers of the faith to set examples for the generations to come. They could take a cue from the Homecoming King segment where the younger sister Ayesha puts her foot down when their father backs out of the comedian’s Hindu-Muslim wedding at the eleventh hour. Inspiration can come from anywhere.