Veena Malik & The Fatwa Factory

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First Appeared On the Dawn Blog


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Last night, I happened to watch the most brilliant (and at the same time, disgusting) TV show on a local Urdu news channel. Brilliant, because in an hour it summarised everything that is wrong with this country and our mindset. The show featured our entertainment industry’s starlet Veena Malik and, Mufti Abdul Qawi.

Not that I was expecting anything but vitriol on the show, but even then I was shocked. From the way Veena Malik was introduced to the closing statement of the show, every single minute was filled with chauvinistic and downright derogatory remarks.

The programme started with clips from the Indian reality show (Bigg Boss) that Veena was a part of, a show that has stirred quite a controversy. The subject of controversy being that apparently, Veena did not correctly represent Pakistan or Islam on the Indian TV show.

Throughout the hour-long programme, the host kept attacking Veena by using words such as “oryan,” “fahash”  and kept insisting that Veena had brought shame to Islam, Pakistan and our culture. The Mufti on the show was asked to judge Veena’s presence on Bigg Boss in the light of Islam. Here, I must also add that the host tried his best to emphasise that the Mufti had the right to impose a fatwa on Veena for her actions. Might I add, that the host of the show was far more eager to get a fatwa issued than Muft Sahab himself.

I must commend Veena for standing her ground with such grace. Despite the kind of language and slander that was being hurled her way, she braved a response and a commendable one too: “From my wardrobe to everything else, nothing on that show was in anyway different than what we see our actresses doing or wearing in our films. I was representing the entertainment industry of the country. One click on the internet can justify it all.”

Her response to the Mufti and the host, brought to the forefront the harassment women have to face that has conveniently been camouflaged as ‘honour and dignity’. But what really pushed me to write this blog was a question Veena asked Mufti Abdul Qawi: “Why am I being treated this way? Why am I being questioned? What is my fault, Mufti sahab? Because I am a woman? A soft target?”

It is true, no one would have dared to speak in such a way to a man, call him names or even questioned his character or his activities on national television. Not that they should, but has anyone ever questioned Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan or the numerous others who have worked in Indian films, produced music and music videos in India?  Has anyone ever scrutinised their actions? We have never discussed if any of their videos merit Islam or our culture. Yet, we consider it our right to slander a woman and make her look like the sole custodian of the country’s ‘honour’.

Those who believe such vehement reactions are justified need to rethink their definition of ‘honour and dignity’. Honour that gets disrupted because of a woman’s appearance on a reality show but remains unscathed when over a 1,000 infants – most of them girls – are killed or abandoned to die. This is nothing short of hypocrisy.

In a country, struggling with insurgencies, poverty, inflation, and failure of governance, what Veena Malik did or said on a reality show should be the least of our concerns. But it seems as though moral policing has become our favourite past time. To be more precise, such slurs are actually called ‘slut-shaming.’ What this means is that when a woman acts in a way that is not considered acceptable in the society she lives in, she is verbally attacked and slandered in order to rule out her credibility; in order to divert focus from the main issue.

Veena Malik is just one example how certain factions of our media have resorted to moral policing and even advocating fatwas on anyone and everyone. Never mind that we have never pushed for fatwas against suicide bombings, honour killings and many other heinous acts justified in the name of Islam.

I recall thinking at one point during the show, how Veena Malik did not represent me and that we should stop making this about the ‘country’s image’. But after watching her response to the slurs being hurled her way, I take it back. Veena Malik represents me and many, many women in this country who have been subjected to moral policing. In a country where rape is justified, murderers glorified and women threatened by fatwas, Veena speaks for me and many others.

At the end of the programme, a teary-eyed Veena questioned the absence of outrage from her fellow countrymen, when she was being abused, bullied and subjected to hate for being a Pakistani on the same show. In those last minutes, she struck at the very heart of hypocrisy that is rampant in this country.

The Moral Police or the Ghairat Brigade conveniently turns a blind eye to horrific incidents like when infants get raped, but creates uproar if a woman dares to make choices for herself. It is my request to my readers and everyone who indulges in such behaviour to please stop; stop this madness, the moral policing and the fatwa factory before it devours us all.


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22 thoughts on “Veena Malik & The Fatwa Factory

  1. Sana Saleem what makes you think that Veena Malik represents woman. First thing is that muslims dont agree with even men doing something that Veena Malik did. None of the Mullahs approve of Music or Zinah like the films or anything else. But perhaps you stating that Veena Malik represents you is quite overboard. Cause you playing the blame game to make Veena right when your own faith disapproves both men and women from the act which Veena did on screen.

  2. I want ask one thing from all the “Mullas”
    Why no fatwa have been issued agains the chiefs of Jamaat e Islami, Jamiat e Ulema Islam for keeping silent on the murders and suicide attacks on innocent victims? According to religion killing of one muslim equals to killing the Uma

  3. She did what she did. As a Muslim, people have a right to disagree with her. As a Pakistani, I have absolutely no qualms about her behaviour. The trouble is, people in Pakistan are simply unable to keep their Pakistaniyat and their Musalmaniyat separate.

  4. Sana, I am of the opinion that all three Kamran Shahid, Veena and Maulana are wrong and need to justify their actions as all are the representatives influencing mediums of society media, film Industry and religious leaders respectively.
    We can review the role of each medium as follows

    Kamran Shahid: Media undergoing a transitional phase from infancy to adolescence and war b/w channels to grab the audiences is driving them towards exploitation of the situations. A strong code of ethics is required to be designed with consultation of all stakeholders.

    Veena Malik: I don’t blame Veena for her personal actions as a woman but being an actor she is a public figure and her actions do matter for me as well as society she lives in. Like America is a sex free country but when their President is found involved in a sex scam, it becomes intolerable for the whole nation. One does not stand responsible for personal actions but public figures

    Maulana: Religious leaders are are confused b/w religion and culture. Our society is more culture driven and less religion driven. In this world no religion exists with a gender biased discriminatory law. All the gender biased discriminations exist at different levels in cultures of different societies world wide. Our society was evolved from Indopak Hindu dominant culture where woman or female were not considered as equal rights holder. Is there a single example in the Indopak history where a son has been honor killed, always are daughters. So a strong need arises here to differentiate b/w religion and tradition. In addition to all this Islam is the only religion to define the clear rights of woman/female in this world.

    Let me offer you another point of view for your thought, in Pakistan Christians use dupatta/scarf while in Europe Christians led governments are banning the dupattas/scarfs. How shall we justify all this?

    There are lot of issues to be debated……………….

  5. Wonderfully written and thought provoking. THANK YOU for giving readers another “view” another “side” of the story that made us actually “think”. Before this article (I would be honest to admit) at least I was too busy being swept away by the anger and hatred towards yet another, cheap fame loving, good for nothing actress. 🙂 Thank you for changing my opinion on all this.

  6. question here is what lead to such retaliation against veena malik,i do not support mullas or liberals, i will only support islam, and with that said, where in islam it is allowed what veena malik did on the show? and if she did what she did, by justifying her acts righteous being a muslim, i think one should reconsider the preaching of islam, there is no justifications for veena maliks acts, but then there is justifications for such a radical reaction either.

    on the end note, her acts are shameless, she should have avoided physical affection with another man, she is not married to him, and she cannot be since he is not even muslim.

  7. I agree with some of the points but one thing has to be noticed.
    There were many other female celebrities, but no one has reacted as Veena has done and exposed herself.
    Only one simple ques to Veena, can she wear those dressing in Pakistani TV Channels?
    Off course No…..

  8. WOW! well i didn’t watch the show myself but this post actually twlling me that i missed something that is worth watching… :p

    Sana i personally do not like what you usually write and i quite a bit agree with your twitter profile in-short boring… but i must compliment that this post is a bit different from the one i have gone through on Dawns blog.

    I must say She was there to represent the film industry not the culture that we have in our houses (i used the word houses as its really different from what we portray in our films/dramas) and if the point is to represent the film industry then its very much ok with me though she is one of the amazingly pathetic actress i have ever seen. (have seen her few dramaz and a TV show on some local TV channel)

  9. There are a million problems that need to be addressed by media.. “So Called Mullas” should save their Fatwey for some real problems.

    Dear Mulla’s, If you think what Veena did is against your idea of an Islamic nation, please visit a local theater near you and watch out some Mujra’s done by our Muslim sisters, also issue a fatwa against corrupt politicians .. or at least the ones who abuse during the parliament sessions (believe me, they are a bigger embarrassment to an Islamic Nation then what Veena has done). Also, a Fatwa for the Pathan brothers up-north for beating the hell out of a women for no-reason. Another Fatwa for the man who kills his entire family because of poverty and unemployment. Another Fatwa for Street Crimes all around the nation. Another Fatwa for the politicians having fake degrees.

    Dear Mulla Sahab,
    “Masjid Mein Charagan.. Ghar Mein Andhera”
    We need a strong Fatwa against suicide bombing and religion extremism too..

  10. I wonder why Veena chose to appear on a cheap show and decided to ‘justify’ everything being said about her. She was neither representing Pakistan nor Islam. She does not represent me and I have no bloody right to ask her questions about anything being a Pakistani or a Muslim or a woman.

    Kamran Shahid is one cheap fellow out there. A cheap host staging cheap shows for cheap profits in the name of Islam and Pakistan.


    Mufti has only played his role in increasing hatred towards the respectable title ‘mufti’. Shame on him for issuing character certificates on a cheap show.

    Well written Sana!

  11. Veena Malik is an actress, she wants to get the sympathy of INDIAN nation to get a pass to BOLLYWOOD, that is why she did all this, that Pakistani Nation shall criticize her and she gets the ticket to BOLLYWOOD, simple as that. GET SOMETHING AND GIVE SOMETHING.

    Disrespecting an ALIM is a SIN, KABEERA GUNAH you have to respect the ALIM of your religion.

  12. One of the finest articles that I have read on the Dawn News. Sana, you hit the nail on its head. The religious rhetoric in Pakistan continues to subjugate women and minorities. However, the most unfortunate aspect of this narrative is how the Pakistani middle class has capitulated and acquiesced to these moral cops. The vitriol and open justification for violence is simply stunning. I see this as an existential threat facing Pakistan.

    1. so? what difference does it make? there are 10+ anchors doing the same job. not counting the writers/producers/directors

  13. that Kamran Khan show was no more than just another episode of Big Boss. Give audience a “Show”, raise rating and earn money. whether Dolly as challenger, or Mufti Sb, a giaganto as netural or Kamran Shahid, Veena on trail or Anna Nicole… its all for pure simple Entertainment. Why anyone think for a second that it might change anything or benifit Islam/Pakistan/Musalman in a positive way???

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