Written by Haseeb Rizvi
I woke up this morning to find all my social media news-feeds plastered with a YouTube video entitled Happy British Muslims. In short, its a video of a diverse range of British Muslims miming and dancing to a song by artist Pharell’s song ‘Happy’.
The objective of the video, according to its creators is as follows:
“We Brits have a bad rep for being a bit stiff, but this video proves otherwise. We are HAPPY. We are eclectic. We are cosmopolitan. Diverse. Creative. Fun. Outgoing. And everything you can think of.
This video is to show the world despite the negative press, stereotypes and discrimination we are burdened with we should respond with smiles and joy, not anger.”
Naturally, this was going to cause controversy, especially within the more conservative chambers of the British Muslim community but even the ‘moderate’ Muslims, which is what i would categorise myself as if I had to, have found themselves slightly confused and challenged. Most people will be offended at the use of music and the dancing, as Islam according to most interpretations, forbids both.
What is now bound to happen, is a creation of friction within the British Muslim community over the next few days, in the public arena, as the ultra conservatives take on the ultra liberalists. It wont be a surprise if a few fatwas and death threats are issued too. This will go against the message and purpose of the video, in which case I think it would be fair to argue the people responsible for this video are extremely naive for kicking the hornet’s nest, despite their good intention.
My issue with the video is not the overall message, not even the music and I’m still debating with myself in my head about the dancing… My issue here is about what this video/stunt actually means. Do British Muslims need to make a video of themselves singing and dancing, to show non-Muslims people they are happy, and by extension normal and ‘just like everyone else’?
I feel it is a great sign of weakness if anything, especially if we have to bend Islamic laws on music and dancing in order for the mainstream populace to accept British Muslims as being normal. Rather, than pandering to pop culture’s superficial understanding of what happiness is, we as Muslims should use our positive energy on spreading real happiness which actually lies within us, inner peace if you will.
The argument likely to be thrown back to this standpoint is ‘stop being so negative’ and ‘cheer up’ – believe me, I enjoy nothing more than spreading positive messages and joy but as with anything, there are boundaries that should be respected, sensitivities that should be kept in mind, and more importantly people should consider the possible negative repercussions of whatever they decide to do whilst spreading positivity.