Happy British Muslims, produced by the Honest Policy team, is a music video featuring many British Muslims expressing their happiness against the background of Pharrell’s uplifting and catchy song Happy. In this video, Muslims dance, smile and make hilarious faces. They are active, lively and cheerful. They make me want to fly to Britain, say Salam to each person, and hug them.
It’s rare to see videos like this about Muslims. Often what I encounter in mainstream media is an array of videos with Muslims walking in protests, burning American flags, or doing some violent acts (like throwing bottles or something like that). Even videos produced by Muslims also represent Muslims in somewhat simplistic, stereotypical ways: either they are speaking in lectures or they are in the mosques; either they are reciting the Quran or they are prostrating in prayers; either they are wearing hijab (women) or they are wearing a big beard (men).
I don’t deny that Muslims do all these things. We do prostrate; we do recite the Quran, and many women do wear hijab just as many men grow their beard. But these are not all the activities we do in our life. Our worship of God is not limited to the mosque or the five-time-prayers; rather, it is evident in everything we do. Being happy and grateful is an act of worship; just as working for a better world or learning to gain knowledge is also considered a submission to God’s will. Therefore, Muslims hardly choose to live in an isolated world and limit our study of God to the Quran and Hadith. We know the world is also a Book written by God, and thus we go out there to the big world, live, and experience so that we can grow as a student of the Quran and as a mirror of God’s attributes. Simply put: you won’t know God if you don’t read his creations.
Being happy is a part of Muslim worship. But it appears that both Muslims and non-Muslims have forgotten that. For non-Muslims, Muslims are perceived as being angry and indignant, whilst for Muslims, we seem to emphasise too much on how to recite the Quran in Arabic, how to perform prayers perfectly, and how to wear hijab properly. We judge others and define one’s faith on these criteria, and somehow we forget that Islam is ultimately about faith and intention, that if we remember God in our action, then even a smile can become an act of worship.
Happy British Muslims challenges both non-Muslims and Muslims’ perception of Muslims. Of course It is still a long way to fully counter the Oriental image of backward, violent and oppressed Muslims that have resonated with many non-Muslims, but at least the video is one of the efforts to reduce the social stigma associated with Muslims. Hopefully, there will be some positive changes in the near future.
But what I hope most about the video is that it will challenge our own stereotypes of Islam and make everyone question what it means to be a Muslim. Not an Arab, not a Lebanon, not a Turkish. Just a Muslim, a faithful servant of God. I hope the video will make us realise that happiness is Islam, kindness is Islam, liveliness is Islam. We don’t have to wait till the hereafter to be happy. Belief in God itself brings happiness in this world and the next.
I am not a producer of this video. I am not British, either (so no PR here). I am just a convert who loves Islam and also happens to love arts and believe in its power to create changes. Thus, when I see that somebody out there in the world is also striving to bring unity to Muslim communities through writings, videos or any kind of works, I am greatly inspired and motivated.
[Quran 17:44] Glorifying Him (God) are the seven universes, the earth, and everyone in them. There is nothing that does not glorify Him, but you do not understand their glorification. He is Clement, Forgiver.
Belief is both light and strength. Yes, one who acquires true belief may challenge the whole universe and be saved from the pressure of events in accordance with the strength of his belief. Saying, “I place my trust in God,” he travels through the mountainous waves of events in the ship of life in complete safety. He entrusts all his burdens to the hand of power of the Absolutely Powerful One, voyages through the world in ease, then takes his rest in the Intermediate Realm. Later he may fly up to Paradise in order to enter eternal happiness. Otherwise, if he does not rely on God, rather than flying, the burdens of the world will drag him down to the lowest of the low. That is to say, belief necessitates affirmation of Divine unity, affirmation of Divine unity necessitates submission to God, submission to God necessitates reliance on God, and reliance on God necessarily leads to happiness in this world and the next. But do not misunderstand this, reliance on God is not to reject causes altogether; it is rather to know that causes are a veil to the hand of power and have recourse to them. Knowing that attempting causes is a sort of active prayer, it is to seek the effects only from Almighty God, recognize that the results are from Him alone, and to be thankful to Him.
(“The Twenty Third Word“. In “The Words – The Risale-i-Nur Collection”, written by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. Risale-i Nur collection is a comprehensive commentary (tafsir) on the Qu’ran)