Your recent announcement to dissociate from Bollywood has sent ripples across entire industry and India alike. It goes without saying that you were a total sweetheart and a rising star which many people did look forward to seeing more of. I have seen Dangal and Secret Superstar myself and was impressed by your skill.
Although some naysayers will always have something to say about your performance, your decisions, your ways or thinking and perception of life, rest assured that till there are sane people in the world, the decision to follow one’s heart is always going to be respected.
Our constitution is built on the several fundamentals, one of which is secularism. But whether we choose to accept it or not, it is an open fact that this basic right for all citizens seems to be receding nowadays, with more and more people being openly critical about the other person’s religion. These sensitive issues have often sparked violence amidst an otherwise peaceful population, and the ones who see benefits in this are doing nothing but seeking small term profits.
Each of us in this world is entitled to believe in whatever we wish to and choose a path that best suits our mental peace. A lot of people think the career of acting is fulfilling irrespective of religion and spirituality, but some like you and me may think otherwise and opt to look away. Same goes for all other career choices in the world. And there are no set rules that if a person who has been associated with one career cannot find something else to believe in and pursue later. A person can be an excellent tea seller at one time and yet later turn to politics, and even go on to become the PM someday. Does anyone judge that person’s choice of leaving his previous job? No one! Then why be surprised by your choice?
And about finding peace in religion, definitely you will if you’re on the ‘Straight Path’. Our religion teaches us the code of conduct for life and makes us who we are deep down. Our etiquettes, manners and ways of life stem from our beliefs entirely. Our parents do reinforce their traditional beliefs but once we’re adults and develop our own thinking capacity, we do our best to find proofs of the things we have so far believed in. We may or may not find the proof sometimes, but it’ll all depend on how hard we look and how much we grasp. It would also depend on The Almighty’s will and Hidayah (guidance), because not all are blessed with it like us. It makes a huge difference to have it and then see the world as it really is – a journey! Thus, let’s all be thankful for the same, because to realise that you’ve been blessed with the correct vision, the divine information, to have the strength to act upon it and to be thankful for it all is a gift very few actually receive.
Critics will surely try to discourage you from acting upon this decision like you mentioned in your post. Some from family, friends, media and the industry will always remind you of the ‘successful’ career you had or could have made had you continued to tread on that path. But I request you to not deter from your choice now because what you’ve chosen is not because someone told you to, but only because you were led to it by the enlightenment of your heart. Let not the people who value worldly benefits lead you astray again, because living a life of seclusion is better that living a life of lie where you are never at peace with your choices.
Every individual is entitled to choose a path that brings mental satisfaction and inner peace. To term this as oppression is only to make their matters worse than they seem. Islam in its true sense never oppressed women like some may argue. There are several proofs for it if only people looked for them with open minds. I am a Muslim, but it never stopped me from becoming a doctor and neither will it stop you from choosing any other halal path where your Imaan is not compromised. Thus, I urge you to choose well now and I’m confident that you will InshaAllah. Allah has brought you to it, and He will bring you through it. There hundreds of thousands of people who are with you in your decisions, Muslim or not, because people of sanity will never be judgemental of any actions or decisions which do not harm anyone.
Bollywood may think that it has lost a jewel, but I say that the world has now gained a bigger gem which will InshaAllah outshine it’s previous glow. We, your sisters in Islam, are not and will not ever be subjects of chauvinism unlike the ideology of most critics and we stand in solidarity with eachother every passing hour because only we know our positions in the bigger picture of things. You are free to choose whatever path your heart desires, now that you’ve planned to start afresh. If your mind believes you can do it, then go for it and be your best. When holding onto something that you deeply believe in, nothing can stop your success ever! May Allah bless your journey and make us all meet in Jannah one day. Aameen
Written by Dr. Aafreen Kotadiya