Zayn Malik: Pop Star AND Muslim
Mention Zayn Jawaad Malik and fan girls who call themselves Directioners will stop bobbing to “What Makes You Beautiful” and give you their full, undivided attention. For those who might not know who he is, Zayn is a member of the British-Irish boy band called One Direction which has risen to global stardom. The five lads started on the talent show “The UK X Factor” where the judges decided to put them together in a band after they auditioned as soloists.
The first question that instantly popped into my mind when I first heard his name was: Is he Muslim? So I took to Twitter with that very question and almost instantly got an answer:
“He is, but a lot of people have been criticizing him for drinking and having tattoos despite being a Muslim.”
Turns out, I was not the only one thinking about it.
In an article written by journalist Kari Huus, she mentions that Zayn is one of the few in the music industry who openly professes his religious beliefs. Many were confused of his religion until he tweeted the Syahadah on the 25th of August 2011, which confirmed the many speculations surrounding the topic.
Despite the love and affection shown to him by fans, he has also drawn flak from Muslim conservatives who criticize some of his “non islamic” habits like drinking, smoking, piercings and having tattoos. Even anti-Islamists have had a say in this matter:
“As One Direction tours the United States, packing concert halls from San Francisco to Atlanta, one well-known American anti-Islam commentator warned readers to “keep your daughters away from Zayn Malik’s enticing jihad.”
“He’s no dummy,” wrote Debbie Schlussel in her blog on June 7. “(Malik) knows the power he has over these mindless girls and is using that influence to preach the Islamic faith to them and try to convert them. It’s dangerous.””
However, not everyone thinks that Zayn represents all things negative. San Fransisco-based playwright & attorney Wajahat Ali, thinks that he represents progress in a way that people now see Muslims in a different light. With the extent of Islamophobia going on in the world, to see someone who is openly Muslim and still managing to be loved by so many people is a welcome change.
Born in January 1993, Zayn was born and raised in Bradford, England, to a Pakistani father and English mother. Now at 19 years old, he is living the dream. After two years of growing up musically and physically in front of the world (they were formed in 2010), it comes as no surprise that Zayn has a strong influence among the youngsters. He has more than 3 million followers on Twitter and with every tweet he sends out, replies pour in from all over the world.
His declaration of faith sparked various reactions amongst the fans. Most Directioners remain unfazed while the Muslim girls probably swooned while dreaming of him serenading them with his smooth vocals, signature hairdo and cheeky grin. This statement from him probably made them further deluded that getting together with THE Zayn Malik might not be so impossible after all.
Oh to be a fan girl.
Being a Muslim
At such a young age and with so much success, it becomes harder for one to stay true to their roots, and with so much controversy surrounding Islam, he still chose to be proud of his religion. Being a Muslim, Zayn is not the ideal Islamic role model of the generation as one of the responsibilities of a Muslim, is to represent Islam.
However, the fact that he is not afraid to tell the world of his religious beliefs is a good sign on his part. Think of the possibilities of him using his influence for youths to engage in good practices, Islamic practices. That would be a major evolution in the Muslim world. To have a young, attractive, and influential public figure that practices Islam and includes its morals and values in his daily life, would be inspiring for young Muslims who are trying to do the same.
This would sound far-fetched, but imagine if a Muslim scholar took Zayn under his wing and teaches and grooms him; anything would be possible.
Furthermore, he would be able to show the world the beauty of Islam through his actions as this religion is all about leading by example. The amount of people he could reach out to would be incredible. He could help tremendously with fighting Islamophobia especially in the west with the younger generation that need help understanding Islam. If someone as loved and as adored by many all over the world, were to reach out and spread the beautiful message of Islam, the impact would be impressive.
A girl can dream.
Although the future can hold anything, it remains a reality that he does engage in some un-Islamic practices. He drinks, smokes, has piercings and tattoos. This article does not aim to turn a blind eye to this aspect of Zayn’s behaviour. As Muslims, we should not condone these actions much less support them.
However, it is also un-Islamic to judge and hate someone just because they have made mistakes in life. It does not make it okay but if we think about it; there are quite a number of Muslim youths that engage in similar practices. We don’t have to look very far to the West; there are this group of people here, in Singapore.
Does society judge them? Yes. Does anything good come out of judging other people who do not conform to the majority? Do we inspire them to stop getting involved in the negative influences or do we push them further away from Islam by doing so? Do we incite the desire to change for the better in them or do we spark the flames of hatred inside of them for being shunned by society? Do we further increase their need to be accepted into Islam or increase their need to be accepted by their peers who engage in similar activities? Nothing good ever comes out of judging.
“If Allah guides a person through you, it is better for you than all that is on the earth.”
What we need to do is guide. If Muslims continue to hate and criticize him because of his negative aspects, will we be encouraging him to return to the right path? Gentle reminders and probably religious education should be directed at him, not harsh criticisms. This not only applies to Zayn, it applies to everyone. Everyone makes mistakes and it is never too late to change for the better.
Hence, we ought to be catalysts of change by being good examples. Invite him to talks given by Islamic scholars. Engage him in activities that are targeted towards the young Muslims. By doing this, he might realize the influence he has and that in turn, might make him more conscious about being a better Muslim as he is very much in the public eye.
With that said, at this point in time, I still see Zayn as a superstar who is a Muslim. I am still very much looking forward to the day when he becomes a Muslim superstar.
[pullquote_left]Being a Muslim never hampered him from achieving his dream and that is something we can take as an example[/pullquote_left]
Zayn Malik also represents possibilities. Being a Muslim never hampered him from achieving his dream and that is something we can take as an example. We need more Muslims in all fields, contributing to society in different ways rather than just being religious teachers who have classes and give sermons. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but having Muslims in various fields of work will definitely inspire the younger generation to follow in their footsteps. Fields like the sciences, engineering, architecture, medicine and law enforcement should have more Muslim professionals in them.
Being Muslim and embracing Islam never meant one had to tear down their dreams. If what you want to achieve is within the teachings of Islam, the only person stopping yourself is you. The sky is the limit and Muslim or not, opportunities await us. So come on, let’s stop the judging and start nurturing.
Because at the end of the day we all aim to please One:
Radhiatul Mardhiyah Mustaffa
Mardhiyah graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with a Diploma in Applied Food Science and Nutrition. She’s an aspiring writer trying to find peace and serenity that comes solely from feeling Allah’s love.