|– Illustration by Sabir Nazar|
A man once came to Tariq Jameel and said, Maulana, I’m a successful musician, I sing, I entertain people, I have a huge fan following and I make lots of money, but is it enough? The Maulana looked at the man with his misaligned eyes and said, no son, it is not enough. You could be making so much more.
The Maulana told him that music, like women, was one of those things not favoured in the Quran. But other things were favoured, like television shows, designer kurtas and hour-long Ramzan specials.
The Maulana was a pious and simple man. The musician became his most trusted protégé, and he too became simple. In the head. The musician learned a lot from the Maulana and then set off to share his simplicity with the world.
He said that women should not be allowed to drive, unless they were driving to his store to buy clothes. That man was me.
When I first heard of tableegh I thought it was a musical instrument, but meeting Maulana Tariq Jameel was a life-changing experience. He explained to me the importance of displaying holiness. There’s nothing like being on television five times a day. Money, after all, is one of the pillars of faith.
In those early days of rediscovering my spirituality, and capacity to grow facial hair, I spent a lot of time repenting for all the wrong things I’d done before. Like Hum Tum. If only I’d met the Maulana earlier, I could’ve avoided that last album.
When Tariq Jameel told me I would have to give up music it obviously made me very sad. Not for myself of course — I was worried about what Rohail Hyatt and the others would do without me. I was the only reason they were popular. Without me, the band would’ve been just another Jupiters.
Believe me when I tell you that I used to be like the rest of you: confused, doubtful, questioning my faith. But then I realised, isn’t it better to question other people’s faith instead? Tariq Jameel showed me the way. I mean, if he could make Veena Malik feel guilty then my clean shave, skin-tight jeans and love songs were hardly a problem. (One of the best things about keeping a beard is all the money I save on razors.)
To be quite honest, there isn’t a lot of difference between singing naats and singing pop songs; it’s just that nobody can criticise your lyrics with the former.
When I sang Goray Rang Ka Zamana I got all this hate mail by dark-skinned people about how the song was offensive and racist. Then I had to write that awful Sanwali Saloni tune. The great thing about naats is that even if someone objects to their content they’ll be dead in a week anyway. I myself have been accused of blasphemy. I enacted a bit from a Hadith and had to leave the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the secular republic of Great Britain to save my life. Such are the hardships we put up with for having a religious state.
When I came back, they approached me about a Ramzan quiz show. At first I was unsure. If you gave the right answer you won a motorbike, sure, but if you got the wrong answer would you be lynched for blaspheming?
Believe me when I tell you that I used to be like the rest of you: confused, doubtful, questioning my faith. But then I realised, isn’t it better to question other people’s faith instead?
Eventually, Waseem Badami convinced me about the spiritual importance of a Ramzan telecast. It resulted in a lot of spiritual growth for me: I can now fill ten different bank accounts. These pseudo liberals who call me a misogynist, some day they will have to explain what that word means. It can’t mean that I hate women because that’s simply not true. I love women. I wrote songs about them, I make clothes for them, I even married one. I could’ve just as easily married a man.
Ali Zafar also asked me on Twitter if I hated women. I told him I didn’t; I only hate him and his Bollywood career.
Although, and I’m just putting this out there for argument’s sake, the world would be so much better without women. No more worrying about covering them up or stopping them from going out in public. No more family-only restaurants or men having to pretend to lower their gaze. No more learning different pronouns.
There would be this perfect, serene existence with lots of facial hair, body odour and deep monotone voices. Basically, like Raiwind every day.
I hope no women are reading this diary.
Yours truly, Maulana JJ
This was originally published in the Herald's August 2015 issue. To read more, subscribe to Herald's print edition