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From Bollywood to lecturing women on faith
By Jamil Khan December 23, 2014
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DUBAI: Life takes unknown turns for everyone. People can hardly guess what is in store next. Such a scenario fits in perfectly for Murcyleen Peerzada, who some couple of years ago was in the limelight of Bollywood with prominent film makers, but now changed her life completely and devoted to religion, delivering lectures to women.

With such life-changing events, the learning and now devoting her life for Muslim world, Peerzada has so much to share. 

In an email interview with The Gulf Today, Murcyleen Peerzada unfolds her life story and makes clear that the lack of information for masses results in various problems. She is set to start a series of lectures in January 2015 in Dubai to address women and educate them about Islam as religion and its practice in daily life. She belongs to a Kashmiri Muslim family and was born and raised in Mumbai, finished graduation from Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics (Mumbai) and holds a degree in Mass Media and Communications. She grew up in a “liberal Muslim household” and received basic Islamic education. She was not a practicing Muslim till she was 21. 

In the search for answers to her questions, Murcyleen began reading books on Islam for the very first time in her life. She came across a transcript of a video of Zakir Naik on the topic “Women in Islam” and read it all in one evening. She began to train under Farhat Naik, wife of world renowned Islamic speaker and orator, Dr Zakir Naik, who heads the ladies wing in IRF and within a short while became one her most dedicated students. Excerpts from the interview:

How difficult was it to leave the Bollywood world when you were so close to having a successful career?

Of course, it was difficult but Allah made it easy Alhamdulillah. People who have known me since my childhood can’t believe to see me taking up Islam so seriously.  So it’s like I planned something but Allah had different plans for me.

It’s good that I did get those many offers and opportunities, that way I don’t have any regrets now. I got what I wanted and then realised that I didn’t want it.  Walking out of a look test for my movie was probably the most difficult thing I ever had to do, but it took me six hours in front of the camera to give up something that I wanted.

I worked with the best talents in Bollywood for about two years. I was extremely focused towards being an actress. I started with assistant direction in YRF so that I could learn the whole process of film-making and while doing that I got many offers to be a lead actress.  

Are you addressing issues faced by the women in society generally or issues particular to Muslim women to understand Islam and practice it in their daily lives? 

I want to appeal to the ones who don’t have a strong Imaan (faith) because not too long ago I was exactly like that. I have had a very liberal upbringing and have been a very regular teenager. 

We live in a different time and it’s hard to balance between the deen and the Dunia. Islam liberates women from judgment, norms and trends. The burqa doesn’t make us “backward” nor does a mini skirt make us “modern”. I would obviously want to help the society in general but mostly I’m interested in addressing issues faced by the Muslim women... That will be my first priority. I want to help the Muslim youth realise the importance of maintaining our identity and be proud of being a Muslim. Understanding Islam in the right prospective is very important for us so that we can carry it off in the right manner.

Who will be your target audience in Dubai? 

Not just Dubai but Muslim girls everywhere, I want to spread a lot of goodness in the world. I have been in two very different careers. I have with all opportunities that have come to me chosen this for myself. I’m not a stranger to all the current trends and way of life. I understand the dilemma that young Muslims are facing. I want people to come back to Islam by understanding the wisdom and relevance of our faith. 

Besides Mumbai, have you delivered lectures in other cities/states in India?

I recently organised a conference in Kashmir. There were several women speakers from IRF, Mumbai including myself and Farhat Zakir Naik. It was a great turnout more than we expected, around 6,000 women attended the event.  The whole auditorium was filled with young girls and women, we couldn’t make space for a lot of people. 

What I realize is Muslim women are very interested in learning more about the deen, but we don’t have too many platforms for them. I want to change that. I plan to create a wider platform for women to be heard and especially women in the field of Dawah. 

After Dubai are you planning to address women in other countries by going on an international tour? 

Something like that is definitely on the cards. Dubai is my favorite city so I’ll start from Dubai. I’m a student of Deen and I’m yet learning about the various subjects in Islam. Inshallah I do want to make a larger difference.  

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