Good bye, Junaid Jamshed

Rest in peace, Junaid Jamshed. I hope you shine and spread love and happiness wherever you are now

Junaid Jamshed was so many things to so many people, and his loss means so much to so many individuals across the world.

I’ve been seeing a lot of dictation about who should feel what about a certain tragedy. Lots of perfectly nice people hating on perfectly nice other people just because they felt that their loss wasn’t appropriated the way they thought it should have been. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Everyone’s different and everyone’s got an opinion. Let go of what you can’t change, especially on social media. It becomes so much more vitriolic when we launch into these fights and cliques and become like shrieking monkeys instead of human beings capable of intelligence.

I saw some mullahs celebrating Junaid ‘the blasphemer’s’ death. I saw some liberals laughing about ‘the misogynist’ being dead. I can’t say the former surprised me very much, but was especially saddening to see the latter. How terrible have we become, as people, to laugh off a tragedy like this? Whatever happened to empathy? And who had Junaid Jamshed hurt? Sure, he may have had some opinions that didn’t fall in line with yours, but did he ever physically or in any other way, hurt you or anyone else? And did he die trying to hurt other people? He was on a plane, with a family member, hoping to arrive at his destination in the next half hour or so, and the plane plummeted to its death; nothing but ash and fire where 40 odd lives could have been. How could we miss all this, and focus simply on the things that we didn’t like about him?

If you grew up in the '90s, you knew Junaid Jamshed as the heartthrob lead singer of Vital Signs. His voice became the background of many a drama, romances and his iconic Dil Dil Pakistan became the voice of millions of victorious moments in Pakistani sports’ history - and continues to reverberate within our patriotic core to this day. When he turned to religion, his voice still spoke to many. Even his naats and nashheeds became super popular. His name became a fashion choice among many and despite him being constantly surrounded by controversy because of the things he said and did he was still loved by many many people.

Why is it becoming so difficult for us, as a nation and as audiences, to empathize? Empathy “is the ability to overcome your own perspective, appreciate someone else’s and step into their shoes”. Is it becoming that difficult for us to empathize to tragic incidents? Whether it is a TV reporter stepping into Edhi’s grave on the day of the funeral, or celebrities rolling their eyes and providing ‘whats ifs and buts’ when Qandeel Baloch was murdered - to people scoffing at other people about how to remember Junaid Jamshed.

To illustrious and pointedly Islamist journalists like Ansaar Abbasi, Junaid Jamshed was an Islamic preacher and nothing else. To many folks Junaid Jamshed was no more than a misogynist who stopped women from driving. To others he was nothing but a blasphemer. To another group he was a beloved preacher and Islamic personality. To another group, he was the man who sang Dil Dil Pakistan. To some he was exactly what the post-Zia era was all about, a shadow of Islamic ideology that ‘shifted’ many people from one end of the social spectrum to the other.

But despite all of that, despite the truth behind him being a flawed human being, which let’s face it, we all are, he was still someone who didn’t deserve to die such a tragic, terrible death. A lot of us who have been on airplanes, who travel frequently with loved ones, with our families, our children - we all know the anxieties. We all want to reach home safe and sound. And to think that 47 innocent people died, among them a man who was a mixture of many things uplifting and controversial, shouldn’t stop us from empathizing with the awful tragedy.

How can we tell others to mourn? How can we dictate what one person meant to them? We cannot, cannot tell or order someone’s relatability to a famous personality. Junaid Jamshed was in the public eye, and since his personality shifted in front of the public eye, he was often lampooned and criticized for it. But the public eye is critical and unforgiving. So much so that it stops us from seeing a person as a person - but as a target; a target for all our opinions and all our hate and, of course, all our love. You can be the most perfect person in the world and still not be able to satisfy a global audience. There will be always someone who hates you for your opinion or disagrees with you. But in times of tragedy, can’t we just take a break from the lampooning and the disagreements, the hate and the vitriol, just for a day?

He was a father and a friend, he was more than the questionable opinions he was prone to voice from the pulpit or the tv. He was more than a singer turned molvi. He was more than just a molvi or just a singer even. But to Ansaar Abbasi and myself alike - his voice gave us hope when days were dark and times were sad. From Dil Dil Pakistan to Mehboob e Yazdaan - he was an icon throughout. And I am terribly sad that he has gone from this world in this terrible, horrible, awful, unjust way.

Rest in peace, Junaid Jamshed! I hope you shine and spread love and happiness wherever you are now. The world is a little sadder without your voice today.

Mahwash Ajaz is a supermom by day (and night), blogger, psychologist, art, history and movie buff with all the other time that's left

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