I'm saddened by this tragedy. Junaid Jamshed, despite having some personal flaws, was a good man. Growing up, I was a fan of his music. Later in his life, he practiced a brand of Islam that was mild and soft and didn't bear ill will towards other humans.
I would like to use this opportunity to address a smarter and a business side of his personality. Once he saw that his music career was dwindling down and he was getting depressed, he tapped into a more conservative but much bigger and lucrative market of Pakistan, which made him extremely successful and wealthy. Unlike other modern pop singers who rose to fame quickly but couldn't sustain the popularity, he saw a music-related opening that would appeal to the religious segment of our society. He started singing ‘hamd & naat’ and the religious and conservative Pakistan got a music celebrity overnight, something they never had before. Music is considered more of a taboo among religious circles in Pakistan, unless the songs revolve around God and his prophet, and no modern instrument is used. The conservative old and young never found much attraction towards old, fat, and bearded men singing ‘naats’. But here came a handsome, relatively young pop star who ushered in a new era of religious music.
Cashing in on his new found love for Islam and his new fan base, he then saw another business opportunity in the clothing line and other similar business spin-offs. As expected, he rose to the top overnight. His clothing line J., offered designer but conservative clothing around the world at a hefty price, often over 10,000 Rs for a simple ‘kameez shalwar’. His brand reached out to women, girls and children as well offering them fashionable burqa, hijjab, kurti, and so on. Again, just like the religious music, the posh conservative clothing market was wide open at that time. If liberals and modern folks could be proud of their Armani and Gucci suits, why couldn’t wealthy conservative families show off their J. line of clothing? A perfect business opportunity!
For me personally, it was hard to see a modern dude dressed in traditional clothes along with a foot-long beard. Could he do away with the beard? Yes, sure, could. He didn't have to grow a beard to be a faithful. He would have been welcomed by the conservatives as long as he was singing 'naats'. But there was a danger. A clean-shaved 'naat khawan' would have made some religious circles suspicious about his conversion. Some could have said that perhaps he hadn't embraced Islam fully, and he was still lingering on to some liberal values. So, he knew that he had to throw in a hundred percent effort. Replacing jeans and T-shirt with a kameez sharwar wouldn't be enough. It had to be accompanied by a long beard and a 'tasbeeh' to appear authentic. Kudos to him, even at the start, his business-minded brain was thinking long term.
Kameez shalwar is a very interesting outfit. It hides well even if a man or a woman has gained a few extra pounds. I saw Junaid's pictures several years later and was surprised to see that he had developed a hump in the middle and was looking like a typical 'A' shaped body, a hallmark of most Pakistani men in their forties and fifties. A jeans wouldn’t fit any longer after the weight gain but luckily that's not the case with 'kameez khalwar'. Actually, to think of it, the new look gave Junaid a little 'homey' look that a lot of Pakistani men could relate to.
Getting out of shape could be a career killer for most celebrities but in Junaid Jamshed's line of work, it was more like an asset.
He married three times. If he had stayed modern and progressive, I doubt that his wife would have allowed him to have a second wife. However, in conservative circles, the bar is set very low on who can have multiple wives. If a wealthy man like Junaid Jamshed can't do justice among wives, who else can? So, this deed alone certified his credentials that he truly belonged to the ultra-conservative segment of the society, a key group needed to make his brand successful.
To date, I’ve met several men who have gone through similar transformation in their lives, and in almost all cases, and for some strange reason, they ended up having multiple wives. Perhaps a fresh air in the form of multiple women is needed in order to go through the rigorous and harsh religious rituals, such as prayers, fasting, and preaching. Junaid was no different. He embraced that aspect of Islam fully and completely.
At the time of Junaid’s death, I'm not going to judge him over his decisions to change his personal life style several years ago. I take him at face value. Perhaps he found inner peace in the religion and his conversion was absolutely sincere. At the same time, some could argue that his transformation was motivated by financial gains. But, never the less, I want to applaud and appreciate his business acumen. He could never become a pilot like his father. He could never be an engineer, even after getting an engineering degree. But, he ended up being a trend setter in both pop and religious music. And more importantly, he proved to be an astute and a shrewd businessman, a skill that is missing in most celebrities.
In other words, he came, he saw, and he conquered!