AR Rahman, his daughter Khatija and the Burqa controversy

Mumbai: Oscar-award winner AR Rahman is celebrating his 56th birthday today. The music maestro is popular all around the globe for his unique composition style. Over the past three years, he has composed several masterpieces which are loved by audiences. From Tamil to Hollywood, Rahman has composed a number of hits and is still continuing.  

As you are all aware that AR Rahman was Hindu and he embraced Islam after coming into the music industry. The musician did not receive any backlash at the time of embracing Islam, but in 2019 and 2020, he was targeted by a section of netizens because of his daughter’s hijab.

It was in 2019, legendary AR Rahman took to his Twitter and shared a picture captioning, ”The precious ladies of my family Khatija, Raheema and Sairaa with NitaAmbaniji #freedomtochoose.”  In the picture, his family members are seen posing with Nita Ambani for the camera during an event.

AR Rahman’s daughter Khatija is seen wearing the hijab in the picture. Netizens started trolling the renowned composer and accused him of compelling his daughter to wear hijab. Some term him a ‘hypocrite’ while others called him a ‘dictator’.  After that controversy, Rahman’s daughter Khatija cleared that she is wearing hijab by her own choice and said that nobody has the right to interfere in her dressing sense.

Rahman also opened up about the discourse later during various interviews. In an interview with Hindustan Times at that time, he called the detractors ‘over-concerned’. He said, “These people who said such [negative] things are good people. Sometimes, they are over-concerned. They feel AR Rahman is a part of their family, so why is he doing this or that, so such reactions come from a sense of over-protection,” cite Hindustan Times.

He further added, “Khatija reflects the purity I want to achieve. She reminds me of my growing-up years. She is very clear about what she wants to do with her life and has travelled across the world, but never faced anything for wearing a niqab. She’s quite cool about it.”

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A post shared by 786 Khatija Rahman (@khatija.rahman)

After a year, AR Rahman again faced online vitriol in 2022 after Taslima Nasreen targeted the composer and the religion he follows. She wrote, ”I absolutely love AR Rahman’s music. But whenever I see his dear daughter, I feel suffocated. It is really depressing to learn that even educated women in a cultural family can get brainwashed very easily!”  

Bangladeshi writer faced severe backlash from the netizens, especially fans of the music composer after her Tweet. AR Rahman’s daughter Khatija Rahaman also gave a befitting reply to the writer on Instagram.

Sharing Taslima’s tweet in which she targeted musician’s family members and Islam, Khatija wrote, ”Been only a year and this topic is in the rounds again..there’s so much happening in the country and all people are concerned about is the piece of attire a woman wants to wear. Wow, I’m quite startled. Every time this topic comes the fire in me rages and makes me want to say a lot of things..Over the last one year, I’ve found a different version of myself which I haven’t seen in so many years. I will not be weak or regret the choices I’ve made in life. I am happy and proud of what I do and thanks to those who have accepted me the way I am. My work will speak, God willing.. I don’t wish to say any further. To those of you who feel why I’m even bringing this up and explaining myself, sadly it so happens and one has to speak for oneself, that’s why I’m doing it.”

She further wrote, “Dear Taslima Nasreen, I’m sorry you feel suffocated by my attire. Please get some fresh air, cause I don’t feel suffocated rather I’m proud and empowered for what I stand for. I suggest you google up what true feminism means because it isn’t bashing other women down nor bringing their fathers into the issue I also don’t recall sending my photos to you for your perusal.”

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A post shared by 786 Khatija Rahman (@khatija.rahman)

So, this was how a legendary musician was dragged into the ‘Burqa/Hijab debate’ by a section of internet users.