Everything is fair in love and art?
How exciting is the content pouring into our newsfeed: celeb hot news, steamy photoshoots and the latest movie releases! Seems like the Pakistani media industry is really taking off! Or is it taking a hit? If you see with the divine lens, everything changes. It gets depressing to see how we’ve morally regressed while everyone thinks we’ve progressed. Competing with Bollywood and Hollywood, we forget our Islamic core. Every other release is shockingly disturbing- but not for all Muslims.
We feel like religion and entertainment are worlds apart, and the two shouldn’t be mixed. People who speak against the norms are labelled ‘molvis’. But the question is: Do you own Islam? Every Muslim should manifest that spirit, not just the ‘molvis’. Get your divine glasses on and look through the good, bad and evil of the latest media happenings.
Sajal Aly & Sheheryar Munawar’s photoshoot
This July, Pakistani stars Sajal Aly and Sheheryar Munawar got trolled hard! For what? Their bold photoshoot with a deep message behind it. Oh, how the aesthetics of film noir and those classy vintage vibes come together to drop a bombshell! Let’s explore its message before getting into what threw them off-track with the viewers.
Chunks from Munawar’s own Insta caption give us an insider into the story behind the shoot. In his own words, here’s how it goes:
A deep concept behind the photos is: “the story of a self-indulgent, narcissistic and emotionally unavailable artist, and his muse”. Munawar plays the artist, while Aly is shown as his lover and muse.
Add in the sense of purpose: “to show the repercussions of being in an emotionally abusive relationship”. Would Aly’s character have to bear the pain of the artist being so distant and uncaring? That’s what’s shown.
Level up with nostalgic real-life characters to pull on heartstrings: “inspired by true life events (the courtship and later marriages of Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, and Kamal Amrohi and Meena Kumari)”. Talk about being ever-so-obsessed with Hollywood and Bollywood.
What do you end with? A piece of art!
But the question remains: Is everything fair in love and art?
Apart from the revealing clothing and poses, what shook the internet was… alcohol! There you could see it! Resting in a crystal bottle with a glass held up, it was clear to view. Perhaps the alcohol was added to show just how ‘self-indulgent’ the character was. So if it’s all in a negative light and for the sake of art, what’s so wrong with it? Why does it have all the negative comments streaming in?
Let’s pause and think. What’s being normalised here? Getting a woman’s attention, fame, art and pure class are linked to… alcohol. It is the game of “subliminal messaging,” a subconscious effect that makes us tie one concept to another. In this case, it’s tying alcohol to everything classy the character has.
What’s going to be the impact on our society of this subtle promotion of alcoholic drinks? Messages have deeper messages. Impact has layers. We need to look through all the layers. Here, what we see is that alcohol is a part of the artist’s posh lifestyle: tying it to all the elegant positive attributes that we dream of attaining.
On the other hand, we have the role model of the British footballer Moin Khan who rejected a photo session because it included champagne. Cricketer Usman Khwaja asked his team not to include popping bottles for celebration as long as he’s there. Was their fame compromised? Were they kicked out of their careers? Certainly not. Allah (SWT) elevates those whom He wishes to.
Slaying zombies in the Resident Evil video game brings up ’90s nostalgia! Pakistani actor Ahad Raza Mir became the talk of the town by starring in Resident Evil. It’s a huge step for ‘our’ Pakistani talent to make a break at this level. A personal milestone in his career to get a big role amongst western co-stars for sure! But it all comes at a cost. What would he be ready to sacrifice for such fame? And how much would we support him to make the trade? As many point fingers at him for his intimate scenes, let’s analyse whether it was all worth it.
Here are the real questions: is it okay for someone who identifies as a Muslim to publicly kiss a na-mehram (opposite gender) in the name of media? What example is he setting, and how’d it go for us if other Muslim celebrities followed the same route? Take it and weigh it on the scale of eternity. Is a loss of morals worth temporary, worldly fame? But what if it’s for Netflix! Well, what if it’s for the love of Allah (SWT)? Let’s strive to be famous in the heavens.
Transgender representation in Pakistani movies:
The Pakistani entertainment industry has warped ancient concepts and rose up on the Hollywood ladder by adapting western LGBTQ trends in their movies and TV shows. Worst of all, they tend to mix up concepts of trans-genders and intersex to plunge our youth into confusion.
Previously, the two words, intersex and transgender, were used to define two different kinds of people. An intersex is any person whose sexual anatomy doesn’t fit into a male or female box, and they are born with this biological construct. A transgender person, on the other hand, is someone born biologically male or female but chooses to have a gender identity that’s different from their actual sex. For instance, if they are born male, they’d want to identify as a female, often imitating one which our Prophet (SAW) has condemned.
The problem now is that the word transgender is being used as an umbrella term to fit both kinds of people! Innocent people just born differently are being equated to the ones who are born normal but choose to go against their own nature. This has led to many of our youth mixing concepts of a transgender person with an intersex.
The term transgender is an entirely western and un-Islamic concept. It is Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
“The Messenger of Allah (SAW) cursed the women who imitate men and the men who imitate women.” [Jami Tirmidhi – 2784]
Adaptations are being created using the term ‘transgender’ in the Pakistani entertainment industry. A recent example includes the award-winning film Joyland which depicts a married man falling in love with an ‘erotic’ transgender dancer. While this film is getting long-standing ovations and international and national applause, can we stop and analyse its subject content? It uses the term transgender, which was only introduced recently by the western world. This deludes the youth into confusing them with the 1.7% intersex population that actually needs recognition and saving from discrimination.
The recent rise in the transgender movement clashes with the women’s rights movement. Because gender fluidity and the ability to proclaim yourself as either male or female have become so easy in the West, biologically born males have been taking advantage of this. A rapper named Zuby recently broke world records by beating everyone in an all-women fitness context. He claimed to identify himself as a woman when he registered for the competition. Once he broke the world record, he returned to being identified as a man by claiming he was ‘gender fluid’.
Another example was a sex offender walking inside a woman’s spa in America, claiming he was recognised as a woman. He then proceeded to make women present there uncomfortable. All of these examples show that this new trend is putting women’s safety at stake and making them more vulnerable to attack and being discriminated against in sports. No amount of injections and hormonal drugs can reverse a biological male’s bone density and muscle mass, and in no way should they be allowed to compete alongside women.
In recent interviews, some psychologists in the West have claimed that if a child of 4 years old, who is biologically a male, claims that he wants to be a woman, his gender change procedure will start at that very moment, and he will be ‘treated’ with puberty blockers. This 4-year child, who can in no way give any sexual consent to an older predator, now miraculously has the ability to give consent to change his gender? We need to really step back and observe what sort of content we absorb every day and whether we are unconsciously leading our nation towards moral depravity.
Why is it such a big deal?
You shrug your shoulders and think, what harm is something behind the screens really gonna do? Is it worth such a backlash? And why do we, the viewers, come into play?
Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:
“Indeed, those who love to see indecency spread among the believers will suffer a painful punishment in this life and the Hereafter. Allah knows, and you do not know.” [Quran 24:19]
This means that not only indecent acts but those who love seeing them are also at sin. It’s not just the people involved but also those who support him. Will we be one of them? We all make mistakes and sins. But here, sins are being glorified and glamorised. They are being openly publicised.
History tells that great Muslim nations have declined because of lewdness and immodesty, leading Salahuddin Ayyubi to say his popular quote: “If you want to destroy any nation without war, make adultery and nudity common in the next generation”. As recent as the past decades, we’ve seen how the media industry has had a strong impact in spreading filth in the Muslim nation of Pakistan as well. Immodesty mixes filth with the purity of Islam.
Noam Chomsky once said:
“People not only don’t know what’s happening to them, they don’t even know that they don’t know.”
We fail to see the big picture when we’re just a pixel. The media portrays a fake reality of great acceptance of what’s wrong even when society hasn’t actually lowered its standards that much. That’s what normalisation looks like. Would we fall into the trap of moral regression? So open your eyes! We have to be way more conscious of what we see and what we let slip by.
Why is it such a big deal after all? It’s all just for harmless entertainment, after all, right? Well, two shining Hadith (narrations) brighten our moral path, letting us know exactly how important the matter is. Prophet (SAW) says:
“Indeed, haya (modesty and shyness) and Iman are Companions. When one of them is lifted, the other leaves as well.” [Bayhaqi]
“If you do not have haya (modesty and shyness), then do as you please”. [Bayhaqi]
So let’s not blindly follow everything enjoyable.