jjJunaid Jamshed – our very own pop sensation turned religious personality – has been called out before for his Tableeghi Jamaat-influenced preaching but has managed to maintain a deceptively innocent and arguably moderate persona on TV for years. Whatever the reason, Junaid enjoys a warm place in viewers’ hearts as he continues to host highly commercial shows, including Ramazan transmissions, year after year.

It is only recently that I became aware of the shocking creep behind the ‘cool-maulvi’ persona that came out in one of the shows on TV, where he made highly inflammatory comments about women and how to ‘control’ them that should be regarded as outrageous by any standards.

In Nida Yasir’s show, Junaid Jamshed was heard passing judgments on women, claiming that those who watch TV soap operas and other such shows all day won’t give birth to pious children like ‘Khalid Bin Walid’.
Next, the former pop sensation and so-called heartthrob revealed how he dealt with the insecurity he felt from his wife. Admitting that his wife ‘was’ very pretty in her youth, he said he didn’t teach his wife how to drive a car fearing she might leave him.

He then uttered the golden words of wisdom for men in an already patriarchal society that should put any sane mind to shame:

If any man is watching…I want to tell him that the biggest favour you can do yourself is to not teach your wife how to drive a car or a motorcycle…because if a woman makes it a habit to stay out of the house, she cannot remain at home”

In case you didn’t know, this is misogyny 101 right here. It’s the same attitude that is threatened by women’s empowerment; the same mentality that believes in stopping women from knowing their rights; the kind of thinking that even prevents women from getting an education.

We all remember why the TTP attacked Malala, don’t we? I won’t compare savages like the TTP to the ignorant former pop sensation but the narrative is the same. And it is one that can potentially lead to violence against women. Who knows what the insecure macho men who took Junaid Bhai’s advice would do when their wives asked for rights.
The show’s presenter Nida Yasir, a prominent TV personality herself, countered the argument by asking about a situation where women were forced by circumstance to manage things themselves, including paying bills, going to the markets and running households.

To this, the wise Junaid Bhai simply said that ‘hypothetical’ scenarios should not be presented to him, adding that he doesn’t even want to answer such unlikely things. The ignorance displayed by a man of his prominence is quite astounding. I know dozens of real life examples where widows and women whose husbands left them have to deal with the harsh reality of lives all by themselves. These women are left with no choice but to work and support their households alone.

But that’s not even the point. Even if women have their husbands and other male relatives around, is this how a woman’s life is to be controlled – first by her father and brothers and then by her husband? Should society give the right to any control-freak to essentially cut the wings of the women in his house according to his own whim?
This is the very mind-set we all have to stand up against. Women are not the property of men, they never were. They are as much a person as any man. They also get their lives just once and have every right to spend it the way they want. They must have an equal chance to build their careers and independence.

We must raise our voices by calling out creeps like Junaid Bhai on this and demanding a public apology from him. We have to make it clear to such men that it’s not okay to control a woman’s life just because your petty little ego might get hurt.

Through this article, I would also urge Junaid’s wife to take matters in her own hands and learn to drive if that is what she wants. She shouldn’t need her husband’s permission for this.

And lastly, to the men who might have taken Junaid Jamshed’s advice too seriously, no relationship is worth controlling and imposing if it’s built upon trust. If you and your wife trust each other, she won’t leave you no matter how many times she goes out. On the other hand, if your relationship is not built upon trust, your jealousy and insecurity cannot keep your woman from leaving you, even if you were to keep her chained.

In case there was any doubt that Junaid Jamshed was presenting an Islamic opinion on that show, I’m afraid not. Here’s what a Sahih Hadith has to say:

Abu Huraira reported Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) as saying: Good amongst the women are those who ride camels. One of them said: They are pious women of the Quraish, and the other one said: The women of the Quraish are kind to the orphans in their childhood and look after the wealth of their spouses.

(Ref: Sahih Muslim, Chapter: Concerning the Merits of Women of the Quraish, Hadith number: 6137)

This blog post first appeared in Laaltain magazine