From the Bollywood’s glamor to Islam: Story of Andalib Sultanpuri

I was seated in the darse or class in Jubail last Monday (8th September 2014) and a guest arrived, he was Shaykh Ansar Zubair Hafidaullah from Mumbai.

Our teacher Shaykh Mohammed bin Ramazan Hajari Hafidaullah who is one of the students of Bin Baaz introduced us to Shaykh Ansar. 

He expressed his insights and his experiences of working in Mumbai, the place known for Bollywood Films. Later, he mentioned about famous Bollywood Director Andalib Sultanpuri, son of famous lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri. 

He made a brief mention about him, how he left the glamor industry and adopted practicing Islam. 

I already knew him through Farooq Nadiadwala, so I quickly messaged him late night, if I can publish his story in a nutshell of how he drifted from the path of destruction toward the path of success – Islam. He replied instantly and wanted to share his story. 

Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, This is my brief journey, how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala took me from this disbelieving man to Salafiyyah. From the dark recessess of darkness into the clear light of faith. Al hamdulillah In 1993 I lost my elder brother suddenly, he was 35 yrs old in the prime of his life At that time I was Chief asst Director and planning on making many films. 

After my first film released in 1999, I was approached by a Music Director who wanted me to hear a few of his tunes. He was from an illustrious non-Muslim family, while chatting he asked to see my hand and he held on to my thumb and said: “You are a pure soul, spirits come and inform you about events that are going to take place or things that are already happening”. 

I was a little taken aback by what he said, because I was to meet up with Amitabh Bachchan to narrate a script, a Music Director friend had set up our meeting. Coincidentally another Director had narrated the exact same script to Amitabh along with the same Music Director, just a week prior to my narration. It was the most amazing co-incidence. This was before 9/11 happened and Islam was declared enemy number one. I told him the new villain is Pakistan as it represents Islamic terrorism for India. At that time I had co-written a story with a friend of mine titled Kafir based on Terrorism. I had narrated the script to Bobby Deol and he was already shooting something similar. 

Terrorism was not a genre that movie makers touched in those days, so it was uncanny how my ideas were already being replicated. This gentleman asked me to contact one of his friends who lived in Panipat. That gentleman asked me about my elder brother and if I dreamt of him etc. I don’t know how he concluded that I needed to appease his soul. 

He asked me to go to his grave and do duaa and light candles. I told him we don’t do all this as my father was from the Deoband school of thought. He was a hafidh and an Alim. Though we did not practice Islam in our house except fasting in Ramadan and of course celebrating Eid, the same way we celebrated Diwali, Holi or Christmas. 

We were never allowed to go to graves or wear taweez etc. My wife was a Shia so she used to do all this and Abba opposed her all the time and he wouldn’t allow my kids to wear taweez and threads. Anyways, I agreed to go to the Mahim Dargah and light candles and leave. He asked me to do it once a week, on Fridays so I decided to pray Jummah too. 

At the same time my wife asked me to complete one Qur’an everyday for three days. this was done by passing my finger on every line of the mushaf and say Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem. It’s a strong Shia belief that if one does this then they get whatever they desire. On completing it, I felt I had done something big in my life. I am just narrating how it happened, not that I believed in any of the things that I did. 

My home consisted of people who has a progressive and liberal thinking, my sister in law was barelvi and my wife a Shia. At that time I did not know how to pray, or recite the Qur’an. But Alhamdulillah as soon as I started I memorized Surah Fatiha, Surah Ikhlas and attahiyat, in one day. It was a big achievement for me. 

My journey towards the siratul mustaqeem had begun. Those days my little son was learning Qur’an I decided to start learning with the Maulvi too. My son was learning the mushaf (Arabic copy of Quran) and I was learning alif, baa, taa. 

I started praying Maghrib and Duhr at home. Then I told myself I pray twice why not pray three times, then four then five. Then I said why not pray at the Masjid. The people at the Masjid asked me if I was new in the vicinity, I was so ashamed I told them yes I have just come towards Islam. 

The Tableegh Jamaat embrace new entrants with open arms. In all their dars they always say the real success in life is to follow Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger sallallahu alaihi wa sallam but their actions are contrary to what they say. My father when he saw I was praying at the Masjid regularly, feared I would become a Maulvi and be radicalized. 

He was not opposed to following Islam but he was afraid I would not remain a liberal. A lot of people exited my life at that point of time. I left my “friends” and haven’t gone back to them Al hamdulillah. 

When you come towards Allah subahanhu wa ta’ala He replaces people in your life. He removes the ones you do not need with those you do. When Ramadan came I prayed 20 rakah taraweeh. I met a very dear friend of mine during Ramadaan, Ajaz Mulla, he had recently come to Salafiyyah from Tableegh Jamaat. 

He asked me to pray taraweeh with him. He said the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam never prayed more than 11 rakah. As I was only interested in following my Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam I went along with him to pray taraweeh. I met Maulana Mukhtar Nadwi rahimahullah and his son Akram Bhai. Every night Maulana Nadwi rahimahullah explained a few ayah to us. Quran 33:36 – It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error. This ayah was explained to me. 

Then in one of the dars Nadwi sahab said how are you people following the sunnah when you shave your beards everyday, that struck me and I started growing my beard. Then one day he said enter Islam completely…..and This is how I entered Salafiyyah. Though nobody influenced me and there is no cult, people who don’t practice think it is. Muslims are against Muslims who practice. 

This is post 9/11 now. Actors like Salman Khan did not wan’t to work with me because of my beard. My mentor Rajkumar Santoshi wanted me to shave my beard, people were generally uncomfortable with my beard. 

When the Tableegh Jamaat got to know about me following salafiyyah they were livid, they did not wan’t me to leave their jamaat, though I was never actually a part of it. I used to go to the Masjid just for congregation. They insisted that their higher echelons should speak to me and try and convince me, we had a munazira at my home and they returned disappointed. The only thing that was clear in my head was that I was going to follow the Messenger sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. Al hamdulillah Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala guided my wife too now in Ramadhaan we have taraweeh for women in our home and women from all sects pray the 11 rakah sunnah taraweeh. 

Maulana Mukhtar Ahmad Nadwi rahimahullah treated me like his son. He and his son Akram bhai have had some influence in my life. It is more how Akram bhai holds on to the Sunnah. I have worked in Peace tv too for 3 years. 

Presently, we have this beautiful Masjid in Mumbai where we study Islam and have regular dars by different Scholars like Shaykh Ansar Zubair Hafidhahullah, Shaykh Zahrani Hafidhahullah. Al hamdulillah Allah is keeping me in the company of some fantastic brothers. Now I just want to start an Islamic channel as there aren’t any on pure Qur’an and Sunnah, for the people of the Sub continent In shaa’Allah. 

The only thing I would advice the youth is that the world of glamour is a mirage, and those who desire that will always be empty inside. This is one life Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has Blessed us with, and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has ordered us to Worship Him alone. 

So do what you have been created for, that is the way to eternal bliss. Increase your Eemaan, learn your Deen, don’t waste your youth, it is your chance to be from one of the Seven under the shade. In shaa’Allah. 

May Allah keep us under His shade, on that Day. Aameen ya Rabb. In conclusion, I can say just one thing, if I stay in sujood all my life I can’t thank Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala enough for the favours and bounties that he has showered upon me and my family. Al hamdulillah. 

I am a very weak follower and I pray Allah subahanhu wa ta’ala keeps me and my family steadfast upon the Deen till our last breath Aameen. 

The Facebook Page of our Masjid: Masjid e Tawheed JazakumAllahu khayran. 

Andalib Sultapuri Ex-Director Bollywood Films and son of Majrooh Sultanpuri

He and his son now attends classes on Kitaabut-Tawheed authored by Shaykh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahab, Umdatul Ahkaam authored by Abu Mohammed Abdul Ghanee al-Maqdisi and other books of Fiqh and Sunnah under Shaykh Ansar. He now utilizes his efforts to promote the Deen as understood by the Salaf. He is so down-to-earth and soft-spoken, you start prizing Allah (swt) for guiding these individuals to the understanding of Islam. And how Islam changed their lifestyle and made them humble. May Allah guide our youth to practising Islam, before it gets too late. 

[Source: Facebook Conversation between AbuTalha Zahack and Andalib Sultanpuri]

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