Muslim Actress Decision to Quit Bollywood Stirs Debate

The decision by teenage Indian Muslim actress Zaira Wasim to quit Bollywood has stirred faith debate in the Indian peninsula, triggering countless reactions, especially on social media, Al-Jazeera reported.

“I don’t know what made you take this tough decision, but I am feeling sad,” a fan named Khushboo Kapoor commented on Wasim’s Facebook post, which had more than 17,000 comments and was shared over 13,000 times.

Former Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon suggested Wasim could have exited “gracefully” and kept her “regressive views” to herself.


Wasim wrote a lengthy post on her social media accounts on Sunday, saying that working in the film industry constantly interfered with her iman (faith) and threatened her relationship with her religion

“While I continued to work in an environment that consistently interfered with my ‘iman’, my relationship with my religion was threatened,” the teenager, who has acted in two films so far, wrote.

Many felt Wasim’s departure from films would make it harder for other Muslim women in India to pursue a career in cinema.

Actor Mohammad Ali Shah told Al Jazeera that while Wasim’s decision to quit acting because of her religion “should be respected”, she could have done it “quietly”.

“She should have left quietly and not made it public as it sets a wrong precedent for other Muslim actresses who have worked hard to earn their name in the field,” he said.


While many criticize the young teenager’s decision, others have come to her support.

Delhi-based Islamic scholar Ali Ahmed Qasmi stressed that working in films was prohibited in Islam for both men and women, as he welcomed Wasim’s decision.

“Women, according to Islam, are not even allowed to speak or meet people from outside their family. How can it be right then to work in films where they have to expose their bodies?” he said.

Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of the Jammu and Kashmir state, questioned the people criticizing the teenager’s decision.

“Who are any of us to question Zaira Wasim’s choices? It’s her life to do with as she pleases,” he said.

“All I will do is wish her well and hope that whatever she does makes her happy.”

On the other hand, film critic Stutee Ghosh said it was normal for people to be surprised and shocked because Wasim was a “role model, not only for the Kashmiris but even otherwise”.

Wasim was born to a Muslim family in Kashmir, India to Zahid and Zarqa Wasim. Her father works as an Executive Manager in Srinagar and her mother is a teacher.